New Shimano Ultegra R8000 mechanical and Di2 groupsets unveiled
Triathletes can look forward to an affordable road group that uses the latest technologies from elite Dura-Ace R9100 road components and delivers refined rider ergonomics, increased shifting performance and confident control in all riding conditions
After a few weeks of leaks and rumours, the new Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset has been revealed, officially. The Japan-based bicycle component builder has announced that the latest version of its second-tier road components are ready to roll out. Some components will be available in the next few weeks, while others (wheels and Di2 parts) are scheduled to appear in late summer.
The update comes almost a year after Shimano premiered its latest Dura-Ace iteration. The new Ultegra contains many features seen in its top-level sibling.
Disc brakes that Shimano Ultegra R8000 can call its own
While Ultegra riders have been able to run off-series rotors and calipers on their disc-brake-equipped rigs, they now can use Ultegra-specific components. The BR-R8070 hydraulic disc-brake calipers, front and rear, are flat-mount and both weigh 140 g. The SM-RT800 Center Lock disc rotor features Shimano’s Freeza technology: an “aluminum sandwich” between layers of stainless steel that dissipates heat. The look of the rotor isn’t as refined at the Dura-Ace SM-RT900, however, the Ultegra 140-mm rotor is a reasonable US$60.
Shimano Ultegra R8000 rim brakes
Shimano offers both dual-pivot rim brake calipers and direct-mount calipers. The gaps between brake arms are now narrower. There’s also a stabilizer between those arms to add rigidity and improve efficiency. The calipers can accommodate tires as wide as 28c. To compare weight and price with Dura-Ace, an Ultegra direct-mount front caliper is 174 g and US$85, while the Dura-Ace model is 155 g and $US246.
Shimano Ultegra FC-8000 crankset
The crankarms of the Ultegra group have gone Dura-Ace beefy and come in four lengths: 165 mm, 170 mm, 172.5 mm, 175 mm. The chainring profiles have been changed to overcome challenges Shimano faced with disc-brake setups. Previously, Shimano recommended that chainstays be 415 mm long for proper shifting on disc systems. With the new chainring profiles, a 410-mm chainstay length will work with a 135-mm O.L.D. hub. Shimano has achieved this change without increasing the Q-factor of the crank.
Shimano Ultegra R8000 and R8050 rear derailleurs
The design of new Shimano Ultegra FD-R8000 rear derailleur (and FD-R8050 for Di2) draws from the Shadow technology on Shimano’s mountain bike side. The long pulley cage helps to guide and connect the chain better to the cogs. Both mechanical and electronic rear mechs come in two lengths: one for cassettes that range from 11-25 tooth to 11-30 tooth and one for 11-28 tooth to the new 11-34 tooth sets. The derailleur has a low profile, which helps to keep it safe when the rider and bike go down in a crash. The shorter-cage mechanical model is said to weigh 200 g and cost US$95, while the short-cage Di2 has a mass of 242 g and price of US$270. Each derailleur is roughly 40 g heavier than its Dura-Ace counterparts. In the case of the Ultegra shorter-cage mechanical derailleur, it is roughly US$200 cheaper than the Dura-Ace model.
Shimano Ultegra R8000 and R8050 front derailleurs
On the mechanical side, the Ultegra front derailleur has lost its lever arm, just like the Dura-Ace one did. It makes for a more compact arrangement. An integrated cable tension mechanism also keeps things neat. The design offers more options when routing cable throughout a frame. It also works well in maintaining the proper chainline on disc-brake equipped bikes. The model of derailleur that mounts directly to the frame (that is, not via clamp), weighs 92 g and costs US$60. (The Dura-Ace equivalent is roughly 69 g at US$150.) The Di2 front mech (FD-R8050) allows for Synchro and Semi-Synchro shifting. Syncho lets you get all your shifting done with two buttons. As soon as you max out your gears with the small chainring, the front derailleur moves the chain to the big ring and then there’s an adjustment at the cassette. With Semi-Synchro, you can set the system to make an adjustment shift whenever you change chainrings.
Shimano Ultegra ST-R8000 and ST-R8020 levers
Mechanical hydraulic disc or electrical hydraulic disc—Shimano has slimmed down the levers for those two systems. With Dura-Ace, the company went to great lengths to achieve the same lever ergonomics among all brake and shifting options. With the new Ultegra, the ergonomics seem close, but not identical. All models have improved reach and free stroke adjustment. The Di2 levers feature buttons on the tops of the hoods that can be programmed as additional shifters or to work in conjunction with a bike computer or even compatible lights. A pair of mechanical rim brake levers are US$360 and 438 g. A pair of mechanical hydraulic disc-brake levers are US$560 and 550 g. If you go electric, expect to pay $340 for a pair of rim-brake levers that weigh 295 g. For discs and electronic shifts: $560 at 360 g. A set of Dura-Ace mechanical rim-brake levers are US$650.
Shimano Ultegra wheels
The WH-RS700 ($700/pair) rim brake wheels will replace the Ultegra WH-6800 hoops. The new wheels feature aluminum rims with carbon-laminate. The new composite layup process brings the weight down by 80 g to 1,568 g for the set. The WH-RS770 ($750/pair, 1,639 g) are road disc wheels with Shimano’s e-thru axles. Both pairs can run tubeless tires.
Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 SPD-SL pedal
The new platforms shed a few grams: down to 248 g from 260 g. The pedals with carbon bodies and stainless-steel wear pads also lost 0.7 mm in stack height. There’s a version with 4-mm longer spindles to increase a rider’s Q-factor if it’s needed for fit.