I’ve long been on the search for a pair of clipless shoes that work well on the bike and provide enough comfort to wear all day. Also high on the want list was a pair of shoes that didn’t look too bikey. I’m happy to report the CT80s are pretty close to perfect for my wants and needs.
With a look that says more “approach shoe” than “bike shoe,” the CT80s don’t look out of place with jeans or casual riding wear. These shoes are part of Shimano’s Click’r lineup, which includes shoes and pedals aimed at beginner or casual riders. I matched these up with minimalist pedals from Shimano’s mountain bike line, and everything worked just fine.
More than fine, really. The shoes are stiff enough to keep my feet comfortable for three to four hours of casual riding, but flexible enough to walk around for more than a few blocks. The cleat doesn’t scrape on flat surfaces, and the sole has plenty of traction to scramble around on dirt and rock. The laces tuck into an elastic band to keep them out of the chain. The sole isn’t designed for really muddy days, and as expected, it didn’t do well in those conditions.
The fit is wider than most Shimano shoes and has a broad size range (38-48 or about 5.5-13 in U.S. sizing). With my 9.5 feet, I went with 44s, and wish there was a 43.5, but alas, no half sizes.
I like these shoes, a lot. Being able to ride places and then walk around, sometimes for hours, is something that is hard to do in most clipless shoes. For everything but marathon days on the bike or more racy pursuits, I give these shoes a happy pair of thumbs up.
Ed. Note: This review was originally published in Bicycle Times 45, which came out in early 2017. Since the review was published, Shimano has stopped making the SH-CT80 but makes similar shoes in the same category. Check out the brand new SH line here. The SH-CT80 can also still be purchased numerous places, probably at a great price.Tweet Print
Cyclocross racing, with its drop bars, skinny tires and lycra-clad racers, might seem like a distant cousin to mountain biking, but it’s also definitely not the same as road riding. For starters, it’s done mostly off the road, and the bikes have wider tires with some serious tread. However, the sport still requires road strength and mountain bike skills, and a whole lot of finesse…and fitness. Have a look at some of this video of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup stop in Namur, Belgium this past weekend. I guarantee that course would be more than challenging for most fat-tire lovers. Yet the men and women racing on Sunday crushed it with fully-rigid bikes sporting tires no wider than 33mm.
2014/2015 UCI Cyclocross World Champion Mathieu van der Poel from the Netherlands took the win for the elite men on Sunday, as well as the previous day at the Scheldecross in Antwerp. Finally recovered from an injury that hampered his performance last season, van der Poel is on fire recently, taking several wins ahead of current world champion, Wout van Aert.
We had the good fortune to spend some time pouring over van der Poel’s Stevens Superprestige cyclocross rig before his win along the sandy river banks in Antwerp, Belgium. The Stevens Superprestige, named for the famed cyclocross series in Belgium, features a full carbon fiber frame and fork, with hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain.
Let’s have a closer look.
Shimano’s Sora group is the latest to receive the inevitable trickle-down of technology and styling from Shimano’s higher-end drivetrain options.
The new Sora R3000 group looks nearly identical to the other Shimano groupsets, including the integrated shifters and brakes that route the housing under the handlebars to the distinctive four-bolt crankset with a sleek black and gray matte finish.
The 9-speed group also offers mechanical disc brakes with the Shimano flat-mount design and thru-axles derived from mountain bike designs.
Sora can be set up in different configurations, on either drop bar bikes or those with flat bars. Both double and triple cranksets can match to an 11-34 cassette for a massive gear range.
Sora will be available on complete bikes and sold separately this summer. Pricing is not yet available.
Derived from the words Metropolitan and Real, Metrea is a new groupset from Shimano based on the concept pieces shown a few years ago. It’s designed to be sleek and sophisticated for sporty, urban riding that bridges the gap between road and trekking. It includes many of Shimano’s recent designs, including the flat-mount disc brakes, 11-speed gearing and a wide-range cassette.
Two handlebar configurations are possible, one with traditional flat bars and another with “bullhorn” bars and special integrated brake/shift levers.
The cranksets are available in either single or double chainring versions, with a sleek, integrated chain guard to keep your pants leg clean.
The brakes are hydraulic only, and mate to a disc-specific wheelset with subtle graphics and bladed spokes.
Metrea will go on sale this summer and will likely appear on complete bikes this fall. Pricing is not yet available.
Shimano also announced the introduction of a quick link for its 11-speed chains, something that has been popular for SRAM and other chain brands for a while now.
The 11-speed mountain bike drivetrains now have a super-wide gear option with the introduction of the 11-46 cassette. There are also new cranksets with lower gearing, including a 2×11 34/24 option and a 3×10 40/30/22 option.
Finally, there are two new hydraulic brake options, sitting below Acera, that will bring hydraulic braking to new bikes at an even lower pricepoint.
When Shimano announced the XM9 and XM7 earlier this year, I couldn’t have been more excited. These shoes looked to be perfect for cool fall, winter and spring riding. Now with a couple weeks of riding in these shoes, I’m stoked to report the XM9 is every bit as good as I had hoped.
This is the most rugged offering within Shimano’s “Tour” footwear lineup. The mid-height construction extends up over your ankles to provide coverage, support and protection. The Nubuck upper is made waterproof and breathable with Gore-Tex; a rubberized toe protects against impacts and scuffs. A plastic heel cup pairs with a mid-foot strap to ensure a secure fit as the laces are tightened up.
The XM9 is constructed on Shimano’s Volume Performance Last, which offers ample volume and E-size width. A half-length shank provides stiffness at the pedal interface, but allows the sole to flex for walking. On Shimano’s 1-11 stiffness scale, the XM9’s sole registers a three. A Vibram outsole provides great walking traction.
I’ve been riding the XM9 non-stop since receiving them for everything from mountain bike rides to commuting and I’m happy to report they’ve been nothing shy of awesome. For all-around use, the sole stiffness is a great balance of flexibility for walking and stiffness for all but the most aggressive riding. For longer, more performance-oriented rides, Shimano’s M647 pedals provided additional support thanks to their outer cage. This combo would be my recommendation for more aggressive riding, or any application where you want to maximize on-the-bike stability.
Folks in cold climates will need an insulated winter boot for the coldest months as the XM9 is not insulated. On the warm end of the scale, I found these shoes to be comfortable into the lower 70s.
Overall, the XM9 is my new go-to shoe for cool weather riding. They offer versatile performance and excellent comfort on and off the bike. Historically, Shimano shoes have held up very well for me over the long haul. Assuming the XM9 hold up similarly, they’re well worth the asking price of $250.
Wolf Tooth Components’ Drop-Stop one-by chainrings are now available for Dura-Ace, Ultegra, 105, and Tiagra cranks with Shimano’s asymmetric 4x110mm bolt pattern.
Machined from hard-wearing 7075-T6 aluminum in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the chainrings take advantage of Wolf Tooth’s patent-pending Drop-Stop® tooth profile for chain retention and mud shedding.
The 38-44t even-sized chainrings are ideal for cyclocross, road, and gravel applications, bringing the advantages of quiet, lightweight, and secure single-ring drivetrains to Shimano cranksets. They are designed to be mounted in the outer chainring position and are offset for a 1x road-optimized 44mm chainline.
Wolf Tooth 110 BCD asymmetric 4-bolt chainrings in 38t, 40t, 42t available now in black for $78.95; 44t available Nov 13. Complimentary US-made, single-ring specific 6mm chainring bolt sets are also available in eight colors.Tweet Print
With its high-ankle protection and walking support, the XM9 takes on the appearance of a hiking boot rather than a traditional cycling shoe. Strategic ankle padding prevents debris from entering the shoe and offers more ankle support than a regular cycling shoe without interfering with pedaling movement.
Further protection from the elements comes in the form of a durable rubber toe cap, natural nubuck leather and a breathable, waterproof Gore-Tex liner for optimal climate comfort. Traditional laces provide the closure system with metal hook eyelets for lacing, combined with a Mini Power Strap, TPU heel, and cupped and grooved insole to secure your foot in the shoe.
Designed for riders who are likely to spend as much time off the bike as on it, the XM7 delivers the best of both worlds. Natural Nubuck leather and a reinforced rubber toe box provide protection and durability, whilst a Gore-Tex liner allows your feet to breathe. Much like the XM9, a Vibram outsole provides grip and a flexible half-length shank plate and shock absorbing EVA delivers outdoor walkability in all conditions. The lace closure system with its Velcro cross-foot top loop-strap provides a snug fit and allows laces to be tucked away.
Both the XM9 and XM7 come with a screw-in plastic cap for the recessed SPD cleat. This multi-functional cap is designed for use with flat pedals but is designed to fit an SPD pedal for those who want to get used to the cleat entry and exit action before committing. The cap simply unscrews when you’re ready to add Shimano’s SPD cleats.
A new addition in Shimano’s off-road shoe line-up, these insulated and waterproof boots are fleece-lined for protection from rain and cold. They have a waterproof Gore-Tex insulated comfort liner and heat-retaining fleece lined insole as well as Shimano’s Torbal torsional midsole giving you a stiff instep section and an independently flexible front and back section. This gives the foot a natural flow for descents and also provides you with efficient power transfer to the areas of the foot that need it most. Meanwhile high-traction rubber studs on the outer edges of the sole ensure excellent traction on a wide variety of terrains and conditions.
For mountain biking, the MW7´s molded toe cap and ankle support, cupped high sole and instep, and tough, padded synthetic leather surround protects the foot from on-trail rocks. Lacing is taken care of with speed-lacing pull-cord and Velcro armored lace shield to ensure a quick and secure fit.
Pricing and availability
The MW7 shoes will ship in September. The XM series will ship in October. Pricing has not been set.
Hot on the heels of the release of the latest road components from Shimano are details of the new Tiagra group. In classic Shimano fashion it includes several design and technology highlights first pioneered in the more expensive groups. While it remains a 10-speed group, it adopts much of the look and style of its more expensive predecessors.
The gear range for road components continues to expand, and the new Tiagra group can now fit an 11-34t cassette. There are also 11-25t, 11-28t and 11-32t cassettes. If that isn’t enough, a triple crankset is available too. Both the double and triple chainrings have also moved to the 110 bcd, offset, four-arm design found on other Shimano road groups.
The front derailleurs feature the extra long, high leverage design that first appeared in Dura Ace models to achieve faster, more powerful front shifts, and the rear derailleurs are available in two cage lengths for specific setups.
In addition to the drop-bar shifters are a pair of 10-speed flat bar shifters with Shimano’s excellent two-way release shifting. They can be paired with a new flat bar brake lever.
The rim brakes themselves offer a 30 percent increase in brake power and better adjustability.
Flat Mount calipers
Shimano has released two new hydraulic disc calipers that make for a cleaner fit on road and cyclocross bikes. The new Flat Mount calipers are reversed from ISO mount brake calipers in that the female end is on the caliper and the bolt goes through the (specially designed) chainstay and into the caliper. This results in a flush look on the frame. On the fork the caliper uses a special adapter to fit standard ISO mounting points. Adapters will also be available that allow the as-of-yet unreleased bikes with the Flat Mount to accept traditional ISO brake calipers.
The new calipers will be available in both Ultegra-level and 105-level.
So what bikes can you fit these on? None at the moment, though it’s a given that there will be some released at the Sea Otter expo in a few weeks. With the certain likelihood that disc brakes will be introduced into pro racing in a year or two, Shimano seems committed to designing products specifically for the road market rather than adapting mountain bike designs.
105-level hydraulic brakes
The inevitable trickle-down of Shimano technologies continues with the introduction of the new ST-RS505 shift and brake levers. A more affordable alternative to the ST-RS805 Ultegra-level models, the shifters pair 11-speed mechanical shifting with Shimano’s amazing hydraulic disc brakes. The units feature a reach and free-stroke adjustment to keep them comfortable for all riders. The ST-RS505 shifters of course will be compatible with the new Flat Mount calipers but will also compatible with standard Shimano disc calipers. The ST-RS505 levers are not technically part of the 105 group but are equivalent in terms of features and price. All of Shimano’s drop bar hydraulic disc brakes are “non-series” components but usually align with the existing groups.Tweet Print
My favorite rain jackets are ones that can do double duty on and off the bike, something the Shimano Storm jacket does very well. Despite what the hang tag may say, no jacket is entirely waterproof and super breathable, and usually falls somewhere in between. The Storm jacket sits at the dry end of the spectrum, with great protection and coverage, but it’s too thick and warm for summer use.
The engineering in the $120 Storm jacket is impeccable. The hood is generous, but not actually large enough to cover a helmet—which is a bonus in my book, since I’m far more likely to use it when I’m not riding my bike than when I am. It’s also removable via a few Velcro tabs for quick stow-and-go.The extended back flap is also optional, as it can be folded up and secured when you don’t need the extra coverage on your booty. It has a built-in elastic hem too, to hug your curves.
The finishing touches include a simple vent in the upper back, two zippered handwarmer side pockets, an extended inner cuff and an inner mesh zipper pocket for easy access to small items.
Available in sizes XS – XXL and in three colors (electric lime, electric blue, and black), the Storm jacket is a great all-purpose piece that can do double duty in your closet. At $120 I think it’s also a great value compared to some rain shells that can easily run $200 or more.
Explorer Jersey ($75) and Shorts ($80)
The Explorer jersey and shorts offer a fit and features for cyclists who fall somewhere in the middle between full mountain biking or road racing. The cut of both is form fitting but not snug, and the shorts hit above the knee—a bit higher than most modern mountain bike shorts.
The jersey includes a small loop to hang your eyewear from and an absorbent wipe pad on the hem to wipe them clean if they get smudged or fogged. The full-length zipper is easy to use, and the three rear pockets are augmented by a small zippered pocket for keys or other valuables.
The shorts have limited visual detailing except for the colored zippers and reflective hits. A pair of slash pockets in the front add versatility when you’re off the bike, the large cargo pocket keeps bigger items handy, and the zippered rear pocket gives you peace of mind if you carry your wallet there. The waist is adjustable with simple Velcro straps and the four-way stretch fabric is soft and comfortable. The included chamois liner is nice too, with a large pad that’s perfect for casual to spirited riding.
Both items are available in sizes XS to XXL, and the jersey is available in black, electric blue or amber orange.
All of these items fall into Shimano’s Lifestyle Gear collection of apparel and accessories.
Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #32 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss a product review, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.
With the AMA Supercross series in the midst of its California leg, Shimano hosted its sponsored motorcycle athletes and industry friends on a road bicycle ride from its U.S. headquarters on January 18, the day after the Anaheim 2 Supercross round. The second annual Shimano Moto Athlete Road Ride attracted an impressive turnout of participants who took part in the 20-mile ride before enjoying lunch in Shimano’s showroom.
Concluding the event was a screening of the new movie “The Rise of Enduro”, with cast member and enduro racer Kyle Warner in attendance.
“Moto athletes are getting more and more involved with cycling,” said Joe Lawwill, Shimano mountain bike marketing specialist and son of former professional motorcycle racer Mert Lawwill. “Some of these guys are more interested in learning about Di2 or our 11-speed drivetrains than the latest factory race bikes. These riders have a lot of fans who look up to them and may not be exposed to Shimano on a regular basis. It makes sense for us to share the brand with a new crop of people. This event is a really good opportunity for the moto athletes to see what happens behind the doors here at Shimano and get in a little ride. Hopefully they have fun and stay excited about Shimano.”
Prior to the ride, the turnaround of which was at the popular motorcycle hangout Cook’s Corner, a moment of silence was held in remembrance of Tommy Aquino, a former Shimano moto athlete who lost his life in a motorcycle crash a couple of weeks after the inaugural Moto Athlete Road Ride.
The list of Supercross racers on hand included Cole Seely, Justin Barcia, Broc Tickle, Cooper Webb (who had won the previous evening’s West Region 250SX main event), Marvin Musquin and reigning East Region 250SX Champion Justin Bogle, along with legends from the past like Jeremy McGrath, Jeff Ward, Mike Bell, Micky Dymond, Jimmy Button and Phil Lawrence.
“I always do a little recovery ride on Sundays, so it was nice to link up with a bunch of friends and have some fun,” said Seely, who had finished sixth in the 450SX main event at Anaheim 2. “Cycling is a passion of mine, and I’m thankful to have Shimano support me.”
The Team Honda racer had ridden to the event with his trainer Brian Lopes, a multi-time mountain bike champion. In addition to the supercross crowd, attendees included 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden and his brother Roger, Josh Hayes, Melissa Paris, Chris Fillmore, Eric Bostrom and Jake Lewis. Surfing legend Sunny Garcia and watercraft hero Victor Sheldon also participated.
“It was a really nice event with a great group of people,” Nicky Hayden said. “Shimano has nice components and takes good care of us. It was fun to do a nice ride and to get to check out their facility.”
Aptly highlighting the moto/cycling crossover were a host of mountain bike athletes, including trials pioneer Hans Rey, trials rider Ryan Leech, multi-time world champion Jill Kintner, downhiller Bryan Atkinson, enduro racer Cody Kelley and BMX Olympians Robert de Wilde and Joris Daudet.
Click on the magnifying glass to enlarge the photo gallery:
First off, this is NOT Ui2. There is no such thing and never will be. A lot of folks think the “D” is for Dura-Ace, the trim level where the electronically-controlled shifting first appeared. It actually stands for “Shimano Digital Integration Intelligence” – Di2, get it?
In the six years since it’s introduction, the concept of a battery and servo operated shifting system has proven itself capable in nearly any conditions, from Grand Tour victories to continent-spanning tours—in the winter mud of cyclocross to the drenching rain of spring in Belgium. It has even come to mountain bikes with the introduction of the latest Shimano XTR group. (Read about that in our sister magazine, Dirt Rag.)
The group we have in to test is the second generation Ultegra 6870 Di2 group, essentially a trickled-down version of the current Dura-Ace version. It features the second generation of the E-tube connector cables and firmware that make it super simple to set up and adjust, and is cross-compatible with most of the Dura-Ace 9070 system and even some of the previous generation 6770 Ultegra group. Just as with a mechanical groupset, you can mix and match shifters, derailleurs, cranksets, etc., with the lone exception of the sprint shifters that are only compatible with Dura-Ace 9000.
The plug and play nature of the E-tube connectors means that setup time is actually easier in many ways than a mechanical drivetrain. The biggest concern is how to route the cables. If you have full-length internal cable housing, you’re all set, the E-tube will slide right through. If you have internal routing with a bare cable moving inside the frame, you have to get creative.
This Specialized Tricross Disc was an excellent candidate, as it has a wide opening under the bottom bracket to route cables, and required only a tiny hole drilled in the bracket where the mechanical cable enters. Because this piece is welded into the downtube I had no concern with drilling an extra hole in it, and the bike can still be returned to mechanical shifting if desired and the hole will even be covered.
Click through this gallery for some insight on how we installed the system.
Shimano offers a few different options for connecting things and powering them, with internal and external versions of the junction box and the battery. In this case I used the external junction box and the internal battery, which slots perfectly in the Shimano PRO seatpost, though can be adapted to fit nearly any round seatpost.
If you have to route the cables externally, you have some challenges. I used a piece of Shimano’s own stick-on cover and some cable ties to hide it behind the chainstay. Standing next to the bike there are almost no visible cables, so I’m very pleased with the installation.
The rear derailleur moves the chain across 11 cassette cogs, and is available in a short-cage and a mid-cage, pictured here, which is compatible with up to a 32 tooth cassette for the steepest terrain.
The crankset is shared with Shimano mechanical groups and features the new four-bolt arms that are used for both compact and standard chainring sizes. In fact there is a new 52/36 combination that should appeal to nearly everyone. Pictured here is a more cyclocross-friendly 46/36.
The reason this practice wasn’t adopted with five-bolt chainrings is that a 110 bcd chainring with 53 teeth was usually far too flexy to shift well. Shimano’s new hollow and 3D chainrings solve this problem and shift unbelievably well. In fact, it’s hard to believe the Di2 system could shift any better than the mechanical groups already do, but it does. Not only is a switch between chainrings available at the touch of a button, it operates as quickly as a rear shift, and can even shift under load.
Another cool advantage of Di2 is the ability to mount shifters virtually anywhere—after all, it’s just a button. These climbing shifters are great for riding on the tops and shifting the rear derailleur. Time trial bikes make good use of this feature by mounting shifters in all sorts of places. You can even reprogram the buttons on the main shifters to alter the shift functions if you’d like.
When you click them, the action is similar to that of clicking a mouse button. It moves a little and there is some tactile feedback that it worked. The shifts happen instantly thereafter, no timing or soft pedaling required. You can jump on and just abuse it and it will shift fine. You can hold the button for multiple shifts, but it seems faster to just click it a bunch of times as fast as you can. Because it’s so easy and shifts so well, I found myself shifting more often than I probably would on a mechanical setup. Think > Click > Shift. It’s that simple. The wide range and smaller steps on the 11-speed 11-32 cassette also means you can make tiny adjustments to your cadence without interruption.
So far the Di2 system has been flawless and nearly without fault. The only minor problem I has was a shifter that wasn’t working until I realized the E-tube wire had become unplugged under the shifter hood. Yes you have to keep it charged, but it’s not like your phone. We’re talking once every couple months, depending on how often you use it. If it does get low, you’re not screwed. On one ride the battery did get low enough where the front derailleur stops working, a signal that you should probably head home—which I did, still shifting away with full control of the rear derailleur.
I will say the move to electronic shifting is incredibly easy too. Once in a blue moon I hit the wrong button, but for the most part you don’t need to reprogram your brain with new shift systems or control locations. Everything works exactly as it always has, just faster and crisper. There is a slight loss in tactile feedback of pushing that big brake lever inwards to bang out a downshift, but I can’t say I really miss it.
One drawback is that in extremely bumpy terrain (such as cyclocross or in spring classics) it might be harder to shift, and you see some pros running the mechanical drivetrain at races like Paris-Roubaix. The other downside is that it can be difficult to shift with bulky gloves on, as you lose the tactile click feel and the buttons are inherently smaller than moving the entire lever blade.
Included in our test setup is a pair of Shimano’s CX75 mechanical disc brakes. They are compatible only with short-pull levers (like road shifters) and are much smaller and lighter than the less-expensive R505 calipers. Like most mechanical disc brakes they operate the pad on one side only while the other side is fixed, though still adjustable for pad wear.
Now, I just have to say, in my experience Shimano brakes are the best on the market. Road, mountain, disc, whatever. That’s why I was a bit disappointed in the CX75s. My initial setup resulted in a super-long lever throw, which does help with modulation, but certainly didn’t instill confidence. It also required quite a bit of muscle to get some stopping power, more than a traditional rim brake. Because there are no barrel adjusters built into the design, I cheated the caliper’s lever arm up the cable to get a shorter throw, which got the lever pull where I wanted it, but still didn’t find the braking power I was looking for.
Speaking of, I’ve also been riding another bike with Shimano’s R785 Di2 levers for hydraulic brakes, and they are sublime. All the braking power you could dream of, with silky-smooth operation, at the tug of a single finger. Probably one of the most game-changing products I’ve sampled. But you’ll have to wait for that bike review for more…
After spending a few months with Di2 I’m really struggling to compare it to cable actuated derailleurs. It’s just so, so different that it doesn’t seem fair. Is it “better”? Well it shifts perfectly every time, the cables never stretch, it never goes out of adjustment and the battery issue is basically a non-factor. Would I install it on my everyday lock-up bike? Of course not. But on a nice road or cyclocross bike, it has some clear advantages over its cable-operated cousin. I, for one, welcome our robot shifting overlords.
Most likely anyone’s first introduction to Di2 would be when purchasing a complete bike, but if you want to build a set à la carte, here is the MSRP pricing from Shimano:
- ST-6870 shifters: $379.99
- RD-6870-GS rear derailleur: $279.99 ($10 less for SS cage)
- FD-6870 front derailleur: $269.99
- Junction box A (under stem): $129.99
- Junction box B (inside frame): $34.99
- Wire (prices vary depending on length): $29.99 – $34.99
- Internal battery: $179.99
- Climbing switch: $129.99
The Scott Solace 15 is somewhat of a rarity these days, a disc road bike that unabashedly declares itself a road bike with disc brakes. Not a gravel bike, not a cyclcocross bike, not a touring bike, but an endurance road bike with room for at least 28mm tires and disc brakes.
Scott describes this bikes thusly:
The SCOTT Solace 15 Disc was designed to provide you with a perfect balance of comfort and performance on the roads. Its HMF Carbon Fiber frame was designed with two zones, a Power Zone and a Comfort Zone, in order to result in a stiff and responsive bike that will also keep you comfortable all day long- regardless of frame size. Now equipped with disc brakes, the Solace 15 Disc will help you find your Solace on all roads and in all weather conditions.
I didn’t get to try out the Solace in all-weather conditions, but did take a mixed surface ride to the Hoover Dam with Blackburn Designs (which explains the lights mounted up in the photos). This turned into a decent test of the all-around nature of the Solace. The Solace might be an all-weather road bike, but without fender (or rack mounts) wet weather riding will require either clip-on fenders or a HTFU attitude.
It is a very easy bike to get along with, and the 28mm Schwalbe Durano tires handled everything from pavement and gravel to the floodwater spillways that double as bike paths in Boulder City, Nevada. While there are no claims made that this bike is some kind of gravel-grinding beast, it did very well on the non-paved portions of the ride.
On the pavement, the Solace doesn’t feel that far from a standard road racing bike, although the position is more upright, but still quite aggressive. The Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain performs very well, but the real story is the Ultegra-level hydraulic disc brakes. The initial power takes some getting used to and it can be easy to inadvertently lock up a wheel for riders used to less powerful rim brakes, but hands down, the feel and power of these brakes is a dramatic step above rim brakes.
A note on spec: the test bike we rode was equipped with Di2 but the production bikes will be mechanical Ultegra shifters with the hydraulic braking.
Other nice touches are thru-axles front and rear, a carbon seatpost in a bump-absorbing 27.2mm diameter, a 50/34 compact crankset paired with a wide-range 11-32 Shimano 105 cassette. At a claimed 16.45 pounds, this is a lightweight bike that should keep up with modern road racing bikes on the road, but have the ability to handle most unpaved road surfaces as well.
Renderings courtesy of Shimano
Shimano has never been afraid to reinvent the proverbial wheel, and today it has announced it has done it again with a new road disc brake mount standard dubbed Flat Mount.
The new mount has been developed with “leading road bike brands” and we will likely see it equipped on some 2015 models this fall. The design allows road bike manufacturers to move away from the traditional mountain bike mounting system for a cleaner, more integrated look. It will still be backwards compatible with the proper adapters, Shimano says. It also has no visible hardware and will allow easier tool access for rear brake calipers tucked inside the rear triangle.
No actual product images yet, but when they are available we will post them here.
It was time for a new XTR, and with the introduction of single chainring groups from SRAM knocking at the door of the premier mountain bike component group, Shimano was facing a serious challenger. When the press gathered a few weeks ago at Shimano’s U.S. headquarters in Irvine, Calif., we were aware of the basics, now it was time to hear the how and why of the new XTR.Tweet Print
This year the 105 group gets hit with the trickle-down stick, getting updated with the technology and refinements first release on Shimano’s Dura-Ace and Ultegra groups. With wide range cassettes with 11 gears, asymmetric crank arm spiders, and new brakes, not a single part is untouched. It will be available in black or a polished silver finish.
Also new is the pairing of mechanical shifting with hydraulic braking – a first for Shimano’s road groups. The ST-RS685 levers and BR-RS785 calipers bring Shimano’s hydraulic braking system to the mechanical-shifting masses. Just like the Di2 shifters with hydraulic braking, they do not fall into any of the traditional product lines, but are considered to be Ultegra-level in quality and spec.Tweet Print
If 10 or 11 gears are just too much for you, don’t fear, Shimano’s eight and nine speed drivetrains keep getting better and better, receiving many of the trickle-down technologies from higher priced units. For 2015 Shimano has updated the Tourney and Alivio groups, plus made tweaks to Alfine and Nexus.Tweet Print