In 1973 Shimano decided to take on the insurmountable task of producing their first road racing component series… Dura-Ace. This would prove to be a challenging proposition, given the massive effort needed to break into the European market with players like Campagnolo dominating the racing world at the time.
Looking back at the the history of Dura-Ace, we were struck with a bit of nostalgia. Remembering the nomenclature of Dura-Ace and the effects that they had in our day-to-day riding lives.
Dura-Ace EX (1978) / Dura-Ace AX (1980)
Dura-Ace 10… EX, AX7300, 7400. Reminiscing on the gargantuan wins by the likes of Lance Armstrong at the 1999 Tour de France riding on a 7700 Dura-Ace group set (now stricken from history), which was Dura-Ace’s first Tour win. Then 7800 Dura-Ace winning another Tour de France in 2004 by the legendary Alberto Contador, by far one of our most vivid memories.
Recounting when we were first introduced to electronic gear shifting: Shimano, never wavering from being innovative while keeping to their ethos of the pursuit of unprecedented quality in terms of design and functionality, in 2009 Shimano would announce the launch of Dura-Ace 7970 “Digital Integrated Intelligence” also known as “Di2”. Placing Dura-Ace once again at the top of the food chain in the bicycle components market, now winning in multiple disciplines with many hundreds of riders.
Dura-Ace 7970 Di2 (2009) - Dura-Ace 9070 (2013)
Shimano would launch two more Dura-Ace group sets in the coming years… 9000/9070 with their now iconic 4 arm, shiny black crank design in 2012, and R9100/R9150 in 2016 which brought us all into the modern hydraulic disc era.
Dura-Ace continues to create and evolve with an ever-changing ecosystem. The NEW R9200 is a semi-wireless group set which tips its hat to all predecessors while looking directly forward to the future. The group comes in both rim and disc versions, but now runs a Di2 drivetrain for both.
The photos in this series were inspired but the connection we have between machine, humans and nature, working symbiotically together in road cycling. A cold front, an electric signal, and our damp breath on a spring morning.
Images by Michael Kazimierczuk