Shimano Dura-Ace Groupset Review
Shimano have announced that their latest Dura-Ace 7900 series is one of the best groupsets they have ever produced. Our testers agreed that in certain areas, in particular the braking system, the Dura-Ace is most definitely one of the best groupsets Shimano have ever created.
The Dura-Ace 7900 has been completely redesigned, particularly the aesthetics of this groupset, but while its appearance has improved one of the impressive aspects of this series is the introduction of some impressive features. The shapes and design have been ergonomically redesigned, in particular the design of the levers. Several of our testers commented on the redesign of the levers, explaining that the wider circumference of the levers felt more substantial, while the flatter design helped to evenly distribute pressure. Overall, Shimano have created extremely comfortable levers, especially during longer rides.
A conflicting redesign of the Dura-Ace is the concealed cables, while many commented that it created a sleeker look, others noted that this redesign removed the extra hand position of the 7800 model. Instead, riders are left with a smaller nub, which doesn’t offer as much grip. A similar conflict in design is the Dura-Ace’s derailleur housings; these can be routed to the font or the back of the bar. Unfortunately, placing the housing on the back of the bar leaves an uncomfortable bump in a rider’s palm, which also wore into the hood.
While the redesign of the Dura-Ace may cause disagreements amongst riders, as does the shifting performance of Shimano’s groupset. The 7900 groupset is only able to downshift two gears per sweep instead of the desirable three, while the lever throw remains quite high with a 20 degrees arch. Some of our testers also commented that the Dura- Ace 7900, maintained the 7800 rear shift performance, the 7900 Light Action feel and lack of cable friction meant shifting felt indistinguishable. However, the chain movement across the cassette is undoubtedly perfect, with riders able to enjoy smooth and precise shifts. The front shifts are also fantastic, with the levers feeling light. While the extremely rigid hollow outer chainring, which is almost 20 percent stiffer than the 7800 series and redesigned front derailleur guarantees that the shift performance is extremely smooth and responsive.
One aspect of the Dura-Ace 7900 every tester agreed upon was the groupset braking performance. Each tester agreed it is one of the best they have ever used, it is very responsive, quick and considerably more fluid compared to other brakes. The callipers are reinforced, ensuring that they are rigid, while the higher linear of the braking pads guarantee concise and predictable braking.
The crankset of this groupset remains as rigid as its predecessor, while the cassette also remains the same. The new asymmetric chain is fantastic; it is extremely quiet whilst also providing riders with smooth shifting at both ends of the 10-speed chain. Clearly, Shimano’s Dura- Ace 7900 groupset does possess some disappointing aspects, yet it does include some notable improvements over previous models, in particular a fantastic braking system and front shifting. While it also weighs an impressive 112 grams less, making the Dura-Ace a fantastic groupset for passionate riders and the small faults of this great groupset relatively insignificant.