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Shimano DuraAce Di2 Supports the Ultegra 11-32 Cog Cassette After All!

See also Shimano Di2 DuraAce and Ultegra — Weights and Why and Which to Use.

I’m doing all my riding with the Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette for the past year, cranking a SRM 9000 50 X 34 DuraAce crankset on my Moots Vamoots RSL.

For the past year, I lamented that the Di2 DuraAce derailleur would not support the Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cog cassette. That turns out to be erroneous. After hearing from two reliable sources that DuraAce + Ultegra 11-32 works, when I needed a new chain, I had the Shimano RD-9070 DuraAce Di2 derailleur installed along with it.

The first ride with the DuraAce upgrade tells the story: operation is flawless including 50 X 32 and over the range, and the shifts are noticeably snappier—a nice step up from Ultegra, and 51 grams lighter as well.

See additional notes at end of post.

Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette, 9000 series
f13 @ 0.4 sec, ISO 100; 2016-05-19 07:20:33
PENTAX K-1 + HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR @ 70mm

[low-res image for bot]
Shimano DuraAce 9000 rear derailleur with Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette
f9 @ 0.8 sec, ISO 64; 2016-05-26 19:08:22
NIKON D810 + Zeiss Otus 1.4/28 ZF.2

[low-res image for bot]

Jonathan W writes:

I think without a mid-cage RD you might encounter issues in the extreme cross-chain gear combinations (i.e. 11x39 or 32-53). I know you probably won't use those gear combinations however I have heard 'it works!' too often without a disclaimer that certain gears won't work. Below is a link on YouTube showing a guy with a 11x32 and a short-cage RD. You can see at 00:40 the shift from 12 to 11 was very slow. This is because the chain is too long and there isn't enough tension in the chain. At 1:25 you can see the drivetrain just froze as the chain is too short in this gear combo.

Do you experience such problems? I've been following your blog for a long time and this my first feedback (I just found the link!) Keep up the good work and I'm glad you weren't hurt in your crash.

WIND: my Moots Vamoots RSL runs a 50 X 34 crankset (SRM 9000). The rear derailleur is the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 RD-9070, purchased in May of 2015. And as far as I know there is only one length cage for 11-speed DuraAce.

Shimano specifications call out Max rear sprocket = 28 teeth for the Di2 Rear Derailleur 9070. That’s why I never ran it for the past year, assuming that was is true. And maybe it is true with a 53 X 39 or anything larger than a 50 X 34—I don’t know.

I’ve had nothing but fantastic snappy shifting in big ring and small (50 X 34), way better than Ultegra when I push those gear changes fast and under high wattage.

I was forced to cross-chain extensively during climbs at 50 X 32 during the 2016 Davis Double, because I lost front shifting after a collision at mile ~40. That is, only big ring for ~160 miles and 8000' of climbing. I was thus forced into 50 X 32 for any of the moderate to steep climbs.

Update 17 June 2016: two double centuries and a total of ~1000 miles of riding have shown no issues.

Important notes

Not all configurtaions may work properly:

  • The size of the chainrings almost certainly restricts things: 50 X 34 may be the only combo that works. There may be others, but it is very likely that the common 53 X 39 crankset does not work.
  • Crank offset may be a factor (some bikes are asymmetric slightly).

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