Saturday, July 30, 2022

Focus Paralane: Dura-Ace Di2 12 Speed Rear Derailleur R9250

Next component to be introduced for the new 12 speed road system is the rear derailleur! The new Dura-Ace R9250 rear derailleur has a lot of stuff packed into it, I will get into the details in just a while.

This is the next generation electronic rear derailleur, upgraded from the previous 11 speed R9150. This post will focus on the new 12 speed rear derailleur and what it can do. All these components will go onto the Focus Paralane road bike.

New Dura-Ace RD-R9250 Di2 rear derailleur for 12 speed road drivetrain!

Glossy black surface finishing, in line with the appearance of this groupset. Even the hardware such as bolts and screws are black in colour.

Limit screws and B-tension adjust bolt are still located in the familiar locations, while the motor has been tucked in further inwards.

Even the ends of the link pivots has a black sticker to cover it up for better appearance, as this is 
Dura-Ace grade.

Cage stopper is molded right into the outer plate, instead of a screw-on stopper.

Carbon fibre outer plate for reduced weight. Cage looks rather long, but this is to make it compatible to larger 34T cassettes.

One issue I noticed with the rear derailleur is the amount of grease on it. Many surfaces on the rear derailleur is covered in grease, making for an unpleasant experience when I am handling the rear derailleur and taking pictures of it. I had to clean it up by wiping all surfaces with solvent.

Greasy cage area

Plate member is greasy as well, making the glossy surface even shinier.

Grease everywhere...

Worst area is the matte plastic cover on the motor. Looks terrible for a high end component!

Looks better after cleaning up. Di2 port is still above the motor. and the linkage system looks the same.

There is now an LED on the top side and a button on the under side of the motor unit. This is because this rear derailleur now has wireless capability to communicate with the 12 speed Di2 road shifters.

The saver spring unit, designed to disengage and protect the motor if there is an impact on the rear derailleur. 

Carbon fibre inner cage plate as well. Length will be measured in another comparison post.

Small bits and parts that come with the rear derailleur. It is stored in a small paper bag, don't throw it away! The paper alignment guide will be used to set the correct pulley distance from the sprocket.

New Di2 wire tool, smaller to match the new narrower SD300 Di2 wires.

Cable clip on the left to guide the Di2 wire, rubber boot on the right to provide more protection at the connecting port area.

I wanted to connect all the components to test it, but found that I had to charge the Di2 battery first, which is completely flat. For this new system, the charging port is located on the rear derailleur, and it will charge the Di2 battery via a Di2 wire between the rear derailleur and the battery.

Charging cable connected to the rear derailleur, and the blue light indicates that charging is in progress.

On this new 12 speed Di2 rear derailleur, the capability of the previous Junction A and also Wireless Unit has basically been built into it. This makes it very expensive, while also adding some weight to it.

Dura-Ace 12 speed Di2 Rear Derailleur RD-R9250 weighs 216 grams.

The new rear derailleur is about 20 grams heavier than the previous generation 11 speed rear derailleur, mainly due to the longer cage and also more electronic stuff built into it. On the other hand, the weight of the Junction A and Wireless Unit are completely eliminated, which means no weight increase overall.

Focus Paralane: Dura-Ace Di2 Shifters R9270

The previous upgrade for the Focus Paralane was the change to a 2x11 speed drivetrain, up from the original 1x11 speed system. Reasons for the change can be found at the previous post.

Now, we are entering a new phase for this all-weather commuting road bike. With the release of the new Shimano 12 speed road groupset, it is time for me to scratch the itch and upgrade the bike again!

Due to high demand and restricted supply, I had to wait quite a bit to receive all the components for this 12 speed upgrade. As most of the components are not compatible with the previous 11 speed system, almost all the components need to be changed at the same time.

Let's take a closer look at each of the new 12 speed components before assembling them onto the bike. This time, the 12 speed Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupsets were introduced simultaneously, so riders can choose either groupset to suit their needs and budget, or even mix and match if that is what you prefer.

Starting with the 12 speed hydraulic Di2 road shifters, let's check out each of the new components. A new blog page has been created for the 12 speed Focus Paralane.

Dura-Ace ST-R9270 hydraulic Di2 road shifters! Comes pre-bled with the brake calipers for convenience.

Instead of using plastic packaging, paper packaging is used to make it more environmentally friendly. Looks like curry puff packaging to me...

Here is how the pair looks! Dura-Ace has the shiniest clear coat you will see on any bike component.

Trying a more sexy pose

Side views of the new shifters. For a comparison with the previous generation ST-R9170, check out this post.

Glossy plastic front cover, which looks like a fingerprint magnet to me. I actually prefer the matte front cover on the Ultegra shifters.

Another view showing the glossiness of the front cover and brake lever. 

On the Canyon Endurace, when I assembled the 11 speed Dura-Ace shifters and brake calipers, I bought the shifters and brake calipers separately, so they were not pre-bled from the factory. That required quite a bit more work as I had to bleed the brake system after connecting them together.

This time, to save some work, I chose the J-Kit version, which means that the shifter and brake caliper comes as a set, with hydraulic fluid already inside the shifter, hose and brake caliper. All I need to do is to connect them up and they will work. Even if I trim the hose length, there is no need to rebleed the system.

Hydraulic oil is already inside the shifters, sealed by this yellow plug.

To prevent accidental activation of the brake lever, causing leakage from the hydraulic port, a white stopper is installed to block the brake lever.

Once the stopper is removed, the brake lever can be operated. This stopper should only be removed after the hose and brake caliper are connected to the shifters properly.

Dura-Ace ST-R9270 shifter weighs 185 grams per side, including oil, yellow plug and flanged connecting bolt.

I was not able to get the Dura-Ace shifters' "dry weight", as it is already pre-bled. Without the oil, yellow plug and flanged connecting bolt, the shifters probably weigh about 175 grams per side, giving a dry weight of about 350 grams per pair.

Compared to the Ultegra shifters' weight of 384 grams per pair (dry weight), the Dura-Ace version weighs just 30+ grams lesser. Some of it is from the titanium clamp band, and some from the carbon brake levers. Other than that, the other parts probably weigh the same.

The Dura-Ace shifters are a lot more expensive than the Ultegra shifters, so if you are not concerned about a little bit of weight difference, the Ultegra shifters make a lot more sense.

There are many more new components to introduce, stay tuned for the upcoming posts!

Friday, July 29, 2022

Shimano RX8 Gravel Shoes - Bronze

Just a short post showing the new RX8 gravel shoes that I just got! I really love the RX8 gravel shoes as they are so comfortable and yet still high performance. They look like sleek road cycling shoes, yet uses the more walking-friendly SPD cleats.

Check out this new Bronze colour! I had previously bought the Silver colour and also the limited edition Cactus Berry colour versions.

Great looking bronze colour! Fades to black colour towards the rear of the shoe.

I also installed new Sidas insoles which provide a more stable pedaling platform for me. Recommended by LOUE Bicycles after the bike fit.

Fresh SH56 cleats on the brand new sole! Set to the same cleat setting as on the other RX8 shoe.

All the RX8 shoes side by side!

Rare picture of all 3 colours at the same time. Silver version will be retired as the sole is rather worn out.

If you want a high performance cycling shoe that you can also walk comfortably in, and also looks nice and not bulky, this RX8 gravel shoes are perfect. There is really nothing that I can complain about this shoe, I just like it so much that I might eventually collect all colours.

UItegra Di2 Shifters R8070 vs R8170: Internal Comparison

Now, let's look at the internal area of the shifters, with the rubber hood removed. Just before that, check out the weight difference of the shifters.

Old ST-R8070 shifter, 182 grams per side, giving 364 grams per pair.

New ST-R8170 shifter, 192 grams per side, giving 384 grams per pair.

There is a slight weight increase of 20 grams per pair, which is not a problem given that the ergonomics have been improved quite a bit, along with the wireless capability.

Next, the rubber hoods are removed to check out how it looks under the cover.

Old shifter on the left. Ribs and cutouts are larger on the new shifter. General shape and layout looks similar.

Di2 ports are located at the side, connected to the top hidden button and shifter buttons below by wires.

New shifter on the right has a fixed front cover for aero hoods grip, while the old shifter on the left has a top section that swings out when you operate the brake lever.

New shifter on the right has a taller hood that houses the battery, while the bleeding port has been shifted rearwards.

New shifter on the right has larger and fewer ribs and cutouts, but they are much deeper. Free stroke adjust screw and lever reach adjust screw are at the same place.

Both shifters have a hidden top button under the rubber hood, which can be customized for different functions. I actually prefer the Di2 button location on the GRX Di2 shifter, which feels more ergonomic to me.

Levers look almost the same.

Rear of the master piston is actually hollow to save weight. The new design on the right looks more lightweight.

From left to right, the 1st gen (ST-R785), 2nd gen (ST-R8070) and 3rd gen (ST-R8170) road hydraulic Di2 shifters.

Side view comparing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd gen shifters.

In summary, the older 11 speed and new 12 speed Di2 shifters are quite similar internally, except for the fixed front cover area. Otherwise, the layout and concept remains the same.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

UItegra Di2 Shifters R8070 vs R8170: External Comparison

Now that I have both the new 12 speed road shifter and the previous generation 11 speed road shifter, I can do a side by side comparison!

The new 12 speed road shifter is the Ultegra Di2 ST-R8170, while the 11 speed road shifter is the Ultegra Di2 ST-R8070. Note that for these two generations of shifters, the Dura-Ace and Ultegra versions are very similar, so I will often refer to them interchangeably.

For this post, I will compare the exterior features, with extra focus on the ergonomics. If you are interested in other Di2 shifters, such as the GRX Di2 ST-RX815, check out this other post!

New shifter on the left, old shifter on the right. Old brake lever has a more pronounced "kink" to it, while the new lever is nearly straight.

Old shifters are positioned 0 degrees from the vertical axis, so the levers have to curve outwards to make it easier to shift and brake. On the new shifters, the entire bracket and lever is tilted 10 degrees from the vertical. The top tilts inwards, while the lever tilts outwards. This outward lever tilt means that even a straight lever will naturally be offset outwards for better shifting and braking ergonomics.

When the brake lever is activated, the old shifter has a top portion that rotates outwards, similar to mechanical shifters. This area is actually not necessary, and was removed in the new shifter. It is replaced by a fixed front cover which is used in the aero hood riding posture.

The electronic shifting buttons are nearly the same, but with different texture. The new shifter has a longer release lever for easier reach when holding the drops.

The new shifter has a taller hood, which is obvious with a side by side comparison.

Side view showing the taller hood on the new shifter. It is not a big difference in absolute millimeters, but quite obvious visually.

New shifter on the right has an inward curve and tilt for better ergonomics.

Old shifter on the right has a waffle pattern on it, which tends to trap a lot of dirt. The new shifter on the left has a more subtle pattern that works just as well.

New shifter on the left has a different texture at the bottom, which looks more sophisticated.

Let's move on to the ergonomics of the shifters, which have been improved on the latest 12 speed road shifters.

For road shifters, the most common gripping position is the cruising position, where the index finger wraps around the front of the brake lever. This works a bit differently between the old and new shifters.

On the old shifter, there is a clearly defined depression on the lever member for you to place the index finger in the cruising position.

On the new shifter, there is no such location for the index finger. Still works well though as the index finger can rest comfortably anywhere along the brake lever.

Old shifter has space for only 2.5 fingers under the bracket.

New shifter is slightly longer, allowing almost 3 fingers under the bracket. On the actual bike, it is a small but noticeable difference.

Next, we move on to compare the height of the shifter hoods. The new shifter has a taller hood, which normally means a more bulky shifter. In this case, the taller hood is actually better, as it offers a more secure gripping area for the aero hoods riding position.

Old shifter has a shorter hood, which means that only about 2.5 fingers can grip the hood securely.

When the fingers are closed, only 2.5 fingers are able to grip the hood, making it risky to hold as the hand can slip off easily.

On the new shifter, 3 full fingers can grip the hood as it is taller and has a more ergonomics shape.

This allows a very secure grip on the hood, which makes the new shifter much better for riding in the aero hood position.

On the old shifter, this is the amount that protrudes above the hand.

On the new shifter, the hood protrudes more as it is taller. This also makes the handhold more secure when riding over bumpy terrain.

Old shifter, aero hoods, only 2.5 fingers able to grip.

New shifter, aero hoods, 3 fingers able to grip securely.

Confident and secure holding in the aero hoods position.

Old shifter that is not tilted from the vertical axis.

New shifter that is tilted 10 degrees from the vertical axis, and also curved inwards.

With this comparison, the new shifter has many small but noticeable improvements in the ergonomics. It is more comfortable for larger hands, and yet also friendly for smaller hands as the lever reach and bracket size remains unchanged. It is definitely worth upgrading to the 12 speed system, as the shifter ergonomics has a good improvement, even though the old one was not too bad.