Shimano teased us with it last year at the Eurobike trade show but now it's official – Shimano Metrea, a dedicated groupset for urban cyclists, will be available from April 2016.
Shimano has been bold enough to state that this could be ‘the most exciting development in cycling since the dawn of mountain biking’, no really. What they were talking about was Metrea, a new 11-speed groupset designed specifically for the urban cyclist (pricing to follow once we have it).
The name? It's a hybrid of metropolitan and real; two words that Shimano claims are key concepts behind what it calls the urban sports category. What exactly is urban sport? Well, put in a more down-to-earth way it means daily commuting. Shimano does have a point – after all, any hybrid or commuter bikes right now tend to use drivetrains that have been developed for road, mountain biking or touring.
What should you care about?
Probably the biggest news is that Shimano is now behind 1x transmissions on the road for the first time. A wide-range rear cassette, namely the CS5800 block from Shimano’s existing 105 group can be paired with either a single (42t) or double (46-32t) Metrea chainset – ratios Shimano has optimised around urban riding. People are usually split when it comes to the aesthetics of a crankset, and this one will probably divide optionion more than most. An anti-corrosion finish and integrated chainguard (gotta keep those trousers clean) are also neat touches.
An integrated chainguard means no oily chain on your inner leg
Then there’s Shimano’s new H-bar handlebar concept, which – similar to bullhorn designs of old – has been designed to position a rider’s forearms in a natural position. In this position a rider’s hands mimic those of someone on the brake hoods of a conventional drop handlebar setup.
The H-bar concept: 11-speed mechanical shifting with hydraulic braking in a unique, aero position
Shimano has also developed a dual control shifter to be used with this setup. The ST-U5060, almost looks like a mechanical version of Shimano’s ST-9071 Di2 shifter from the world of time trialling and yet presumably houses the hydraulic gubbins necessary to control the groups braking systems. Alternatively, Metrea is available with flat handlebar versions of its shifters and brake levers.
The ST-U5060 looks weird now but could we be looking at the future of dual-control components?
That leads us nicely onto the braking of this groupset which Shimano puts solely down to discs, and hydraulic ones at that. The BR-5000 is a twin-piston brake that makes use of Shimano’s latest flat-mount standard. It's paired to a new IceTech disc rotor, the RT500-SS.
Unique braking hardware makes for a futuristic look
Finally there’s the WH-U5000, Metrea’s disc-brake specific wheelset, which features a clincher rim and rotates on quick-release axles.
We look forward to getting out mitts on Metrea and seeing for ourselves whether it's worth the fuss. As ever, we'll keep you posted…