Production-ready Dura-Ace 7900 makes Grand Tour debut

Race tech: Giro d'Italia, May 19, 2008

Any doubts as to whether or not Shimano would be introducing its new Dura-Ace 7900 mechanical group this year were erased at this year's Giro d'Italia. No fewer than 14 riders from the Rabobank, Française des Jeux, Milram, Gerolsteiner and High Road teams were using what looked to be production-ready components whereas previous sightings were clearly prototype test mules.

While the parts weren't visually badged as 'Dura-Ace', some of them were clearly marked with official model designations. We've already revealed most of the technical details on the upcoming new group but this sighting provides more detail on the visual cues we can likely expect to see in a few months' time.

We already knew that the new brake lever blades were going to be carbon fibre but we can now say in good confidence that they'll bear a sleek unidirectional finish and a pronounced hook at the tip for a positive grip while in the drops. Reach adjustment looks to be accomplished from the top of the lever beneath the hood and the derailleur housing, at least on the Milram, exits the lever on the outboard side. For now, it is unclear if the option exists for running those lines to the inside as with Campagnolo's Ergopower and the latest generation SRAM DoubleTap levers..

"It is working good; it is working perfectly for the moment," Milram mechanic Geert Rombauts told Cyclingnews. "There are some small problems such as a screw sometimes coming loose, but it is just the first ones they made and they will work on it.

"It is working perfectly without the wires outside and the riders are happy with it. It is about 200 grams lighter, too. The brake callipers are also different. They are more powerful and the riders are happy with that - they say they are working great."

Companies such as Shimano usually aim to have new kit ready for the Tour de France, and Rombauts expects this to be the case. "We don't know exactly when we will have the final version. We hope to have the cranks for the Tour de France; then the group will be complete."

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