Shimano Dura Ace BR-7900 Brake Calipers
- Item: SHI0154 Actual Weight:"Actual Weight" means we weighed this item ourselves. 294 g
We've been accused of over-interpreting things in the past, and maybe that's exactly what we're doing here. Bear with us, please, and allow us to start with a question: Has anyone here ever had a headache of note with a set of Dura-Ace brakes, regardless of the generation? Sure, we remember the 7700-series brakes that came with terrible pads back in the Michele Bartoli-era and we all upgraded to salmon-colored Kool Stop pads to achieve better stopping power. But except for that one now-forgotten incident, would we all agree that Dura-Ace brakes are pretty much phenomenal? In our minds, this isn't controversial stuff.
What's interesting, then, is the fact that the folks over at Ciamillo Components who manufacture the ultra-lightweight Zero Gravity brake calipers seem to have a bit of a bullseye on Dura-Ace. Visit their site here and find the page titled "Powercam". On this page they make an argument that Zero Gravity brakes are superior because as you pull more brake cable they provide intensified braking power. By virtue of this argument, they suggest that Dura-Ace brakes are inferior because they provide equal braking power no matter how much cable you're pulling.
We're not engineers. We're bike racers. So the first time we read this page we asked ourselves whether predictability is a good thing. When we're buzzing down the road at 30mph in the middle of a 60-man field, fighting for wheels, tapping our brakes -- is this a circumstance where we're aware on a moment-to-moment basis of what Zero Gravity calls "% of pull/arm travel"? Maybe we should be, but we're not. Our experience is this: Whether we're touching the brakes or grabbing them, we want to know how much stopping power to anticipate. We don't have time for slide rules and quadratic equations, and we certainly can't define at any given moment whether we're at 20% or 60% of our allowable lever pull. Without this info, Zero Gravity suggests, we can't properly anticipate how much stopping power we'll experience.
In their technical literature for the Dura-Ace BR-7900 brake calipers, Shimano seems to tell their side of this story. With the BR-7900, Shimano provides "increased linear response" (emphasis ours). No fancy sine curves here. You get steady, consistent stopping power throughout your lever pull. And thanks to the fact that they've redesigned the brake arches -- they have a chunky industrial look to them, which is a bit deceiving since they weigh 30g less than the Dura-Ace BR-7800 calipers that preceded them -- you get more powerful braking altogether.
Kudos to Shimano, too, for refusing to eliminate important set-up and adjustment features. Its low-profile cable stop makes set-up a near-brainless affair, and the spring tension adjuster and adjustable toe allow easy customization of the calipers for your bike and your preferences.
The Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900 brake calipers come with new pads that double wet-condition stopping power, and increase dry stopping power by 20%. According to Shimano, they are compatible with the Shimano Dura-Ace ST-7900 STI levers and the Dura-Ace BL-TT79 brake levers. However, they are not compatible with the Dura-Ace ST-7800 STI levers or BL-TT78 levers.