Redesigned road components have Dura-Ace features and fit a wide range of uses.
Joe Lindsey |
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Redesigned road components have Dura-Ace features and fit a wide range of uses. – By Joe Lindsey
While the top-level component groups from Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM get all the headlines and love, it’s the second-tier groupsets we often find we like the best. They have almost identical features and quality, with near-identical performance. Often the biggest drawback is slightly higher weight, but they cost quite a bit less.So we’re excited about Shimano’s new Ultegra 8000 group, which the company announced today. As expected, it shares design and features with the Dura-Ace 9100 series released last year.
Probably the biggest thing that jumps out at us is the versatility of the new 8000 group. It will offer several different braking configurations; mechanical or Di2 electronic shifting; and a wide range of gearing options that covers everything from hardcore road racing to adventure and gravel riding.The crankset and mechanical-shift/rim-brake groups will be available starting in September 2017. Di2 and hydraulic disc brake configurations, along with the wheels, will follow in Dec/January 2018.Here’s some top-line info on the updates:
Redesigned, Ultegra-branded disc brakes with new rotors (instead of the old, non-series approach)
Updated Di2 shifting features
New derailleurs for both mechanical and Di2 electronic, including a rear Shadow-style derailleur
More gearing options that cover a wide range of uses
Here are the details:
The new Ultegra gets the updated four-arm crankset design found on Dura-Ace. The arms are hollow-forged, while chainring teeth are redesigned for better chainline compatibility with newer disc-brake frames that feature a 135mm rear-axle spacing paired to short, 41cm chainstays. In the past, Shimano recommended longer stays for optimal chainline and shifting performance – a recommendation that bikemakers roundly ignored, so we’re pleased to see Shimano adapt instead of doggedly insisting that bikemakers design frames around its drivetrains. We are ever-so-slightly disappointed to see that the powermeter Shimano introduced as an option for Dura-Ace 9100 is not also available at the Ultegra level. That said, there are tons of options these days for powermeters, and in any event the new Ultegra is fully compatible with the 9100-P crankset.
The 8000-level STI brake/shift levers will be offered for cable or hydraulic disc brakes and for mechanical and electronic shifting. The brake levers get a larger reach-adjustment range, great for those with small or large hands, lighter shifting action, and improved ergonomics on the hydraulic versions that makes them slimmer and slightly more comfortable in the hand. Shimano is still pointedly sticking with multiple front chainrings and does not offer a 1x drivetrain configuration. The Di2 shifting system gets all that and access to Shimano’s Synchro Shift function, which has two modes. Semi-Synchro shifts multiple cogs in the back to compensate for front shifts to the small or large ring, so you keep gear ratios consistent. Full Synchro mode makes the drivetrain a two-button up/down operation and shifts the front chainring automatically for the most efficient combination for the desired gear ratio. These are optional modes that can be turned on or off while riding. Shimano e-Tube compatibility means you can use the D-Fly controller unit and iOS or Android app to tune shifting behavior, including the number of cogs shifted in Semi-Synchro mode, and shift speed. There are also TT/triathlon Di2 shifters with a new, single-button design on the Dual Control lever that’s intended for use with the Synchro Shift mode (aerobar remote shifters remain two-button).
The new Shadow rear derailleur offers quicker and more reliable shifting, while also hiding the body of the derailleur under the chainstay for better crash resilience and offering two cage-length options to handle cassettes with up to a 34-tooth cog. The redesigned front derailleur has integrated cable tension for easier setup and tuning, and a wider throw range to accommodate disc-brake bike chainlines, with wider rear axle spacing and short chainstays. There are cable and electronic versions. Rear derailleurs are offered in the new direct-mount configuration, while front derailleurs come in direct mount or clamp-on style.
R8000 Shadow (rear)
-short-cage fits up to 11-30 cassette
Weight: 200g (cable); 242g (electronic)
R8000 front derailleur
-92g (direct-mount, cable); 106g (clamp, cable); 132g (Di2)
Cassettes keep the cogs-on-carriers design for the largest five cogs, and come in a wide variety of gearing options: 11-25, 11-28, 11-30, 11-32, 12-25, 14-28 and 11-34. Weights range from 232g (11-25) to 335g (11-34).
When Shimano first introduced hydraulic disc brakes for road, it went with non-series parts that could be paired to any level of drivetrain (provided the drivetrain was compatible with the shifters). But last year, Shimano finally introduced Dura-Ace branded disc brake parts, and follows through with Ultegra. Calipers are flat-mount only, and the Ultegra rotor is Ice-Tech (a steel-aluminium sandwich construction that dissipates heat while holding down weight) with Shimano’s Freeza fin design for heat shedding on long descents. It comes in Shimano’s Centerlock attachment only and in 140 or 160mm diameters.
Rim brakes come in a wide variety of configurations: traditional single-bolt dual-pivot, direct-mount, and direct-mount for under-chainstay in the rear. The design offers clearance for up to 28mm tires.
R8000 Dual pivot caliper: 182g (front), 178g (rear)
R8010 Direct mount front: 174g
R8010 Direct mount rear: 172g
R8010 Direct mount under-chainstay: 160g
R8070 Hydraulic caliper: 140g (front or rear)
RT800 Centerlock rotor: 40mm (106g); 160mm (127g)
Shimano also redesigned its Ultegra-level wheels to offer tubeless compatible versions for rim and disc brake. The RS700 rim-brake wheels feature the aluminium-carbon laminate construction found on Dura-Ace level wheels, with lighter hubs; the RS770 disc-brake wheels use aluminium rims and through-axle attachments front and rear.
A new Ultegra-level SPD-SL pedal gets a redesign with a 0.7mm-lower stack height than the old 6800 version and a 4mm-longer axle. Weight is 248g (pair, no cleats).