The new Shimano Ultegra R8000 has been released and immediately there is a comparison with the recently released Shimano Dura Ace 9100. For many Shimano followers, Dura Ace is the pinnacle but the young pretender, the new Ultegra R8000 is a serious alternative.
In our opinion the new R8000 groupset is simply incredible!
Compared to the new Dura Ace, it shifts and brakes with almost the same precision. It’s slightly heavier, but the finish and functionality are superb. Plus, at a saving of £700 compared to Dura Ace, it becomes a tempting choice.
Ultegra R8000 vs 6800
However, if you have the outgoing Ultegra 6800 you’ll want to know if it is worth an upgrade. Here are a few observations from those that have ridden the new groupset.
It has borrowed a little from the new Dura Ace and features a more comfortable contoured hood and a shorter throw for gear changes.
A previous complaint of the 6800 by those with smaller hands was the lack of adjustment to suit their needs. The R8000 has addressed those complaints with more adjustability for different size hands and bar shapes. One of the benefits is that gear changes are more precise for a wider range of riders.
One of the most notable improvements is in the braking performance. Braking power has increased by a whopping 43% with improved modulation ensuring a real confidence boost. Many riders moved to disc brakes for the greater power and modulation but given an appropriate wheelset, the R8000 may tempt people back to rim brakes it’s that good.
One of the most obvious changes is that the rear mech now sits within the width of the frame and no longer protrudes and improves aerodynamics. It looks neater and more compact when viewed from the rear. Will the longer rear mech be more likely to be damaged in a crash? Only time will tell.
The front mech now offers a very precise cable adjustment to make front changes super smooth. The 6800 front mech worked well but the R8000 now takes it to a new level.
A couple of other things worth noting:
- the chainset is now compatible with axle widths of 135 and 142 mm (for discs) with 410 mm chainstays;
- now includes the option of an 11/34 cassette for a super low bottom gear to cope with any climb thanks to the new rear mech design.
The Ultegra R8000 groupset brings a number of significant improvements. Sure, it’s not quite Dura Ace but would most of us notice the difference in practical terms? Probably not. If you’re thinking of an upgrade to your groupset, we think you would not regret that decision especially when you consider price. Most retailers are offering the groupset at c.£800 representing a massive saving of c.£700 on Dura Ace. Superb shifting and braking just became affordable for many.
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Check out Global Cycling Network’s tour of the Ultegra R8070, electronic Di2 shifting with hydraulic disc brakes. And don’t forget to subscribe to GCN at http://gcn.eu/SubscribeToGCN
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