Sometimes Analog is Better.
Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 is the second generation 11-speed road group from the Japanese giant and the first time we see Dura-Ace hydraulic disc brakes. The Dura-Ace ST-R9120 Hydraulic STI Lever & Disc Brake Caliper feature the shift upgrades found in the mechanical R9100 STI Levers and a master cylinder and caliper for disc brake use. If you prefer the more positive feel of mechanical shifting but want the all-weather performance of hydraulic disc brakes, this is the shifter/brake combo you're after. For those of you building up a new road bike, already running 11-speed Shimano road, or looking to upgrade to disc brakes, these levers are fully compatible with Shimano 11-speed road groups. Available in front and rear options, the R9120 levers come complete with BR-R9170 hydraulic flat mount calipers and housing.
Shimano doesn't brand a product "Dura-Ace" unless performance and finish are the best available, and the ST-R9120 levers are worthy of the group's designation. The shifting? Easy but with a positive response through the lever. The braking? It's disc and it's Shimano. What more needs to be said? The aesthetics and reliability? Again, it's Shimano, and no brand has had a larger influence on the shape of lever bodies and hoods in the last 20+ years. The main body is a durable and light composite construction. The lever blades are carbon fiber, and the system glides on 4 bearings. The design may not be perfection in the literal sense, but it's just about as close as the cycling industry has come to date.
The new Dura-Ace mechanical 11-speed shifters reduce lever throw by 24% on the outer levers and 14% on the inner ones, and you can throw the levers with less effort and a lighter touch. Similar to the XTR mountain levers, the Dura-Ace inner lever now features Instant Release with no dead spot between the lever stop point and when the cable advances. The ergonomics and looks between these hoods and the rim brake versions are virtually indistinguishable. Perching your hands atop the levers feels very similar to the non-disc version and worthy of the first disc brakes under the Dura-Ace moniker. The durometer of the rubber and textured surface feel great with or without gloves and in wet or dry conditions. The brake levers those hoods are sheltering have 14mm of reach adjustment, so riders with both large and small hands can dial their fit. The inboard release lever saw an increase, too, making it easier to distinguish the levers while you're on the rivet and all the blood is rushing from your head to your legs.
The OT-SP41 housing contains silicone grease and sealed end caps, and it ensures that indexing and speed are Shimano-precise to keep mechanical shifting relevant versus electronic offerings. The cables themselves are super-smooth stainless steel and coated with a polymer treatment. Shifting performance is as slick as Anquetil's hair on the top step of a podium.
Flat mounts are the standard on new road disc, cross, and gravel framesets. They are backwards compatible with post mount systems, have a smaller aerodynamic footprint, and—thanks to the superior mounting—they handle braking loads better. Rotors are not included, but the SM-RT900's are designed to be used with these calipers and are available in 140 and 160mm diameters and for CenterLock hubs.
The low profile BR-R9170 flat mount brake calipers allow Shimano to drop weight and increase power and modulation. The mono-body calipers are a hair over 250g and eat eco-friendly mineral oil to advance and retract the brake pads on ceramic pistons. IceTech technology at the rotors, pads and calipers ensure that the brakes operate optimally without overheating. The L02 pads provide silent, consistent stopping power with excellent modulation, and the aluminum fins and pad backing plate quickly dissipate heat.
- The first Dura-Ace mechanical shifter/hydraulic disc brake set
- New ergonomics keep hood size similar to rim brake levers
- Refined lever shapes with more positive shift response
- Shorter lever throw and a lighter touch to effect a shift
- Ceramic pistons and cooling fins dump heat to preserve braking
- Mineral oil is safer and resistant to high temperatures