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Shimano 105 vs. Ultegra vs. Dura-Ace

By Bruce Lin


Shimano is the component world’s heavyweight champ, dominating sales and winning many riders' hearts and minds. Major competitors like SRAM and Campagnolo hold their own and have loyal fans, but If you’re looking for a new or used road bike, chances are good that it'll be a Shimano-equipped bike.

In the Shimano vs. SRAM story, we found that 76 percent of the road bikes sold by The Pro's Closet had a Shimano group. It is far-and-away the most ubiquitous component manufacturer. Competitors like SRAM offer great alternatives, such as the AXS drivetrains, and they’re sure to steal market share in the future, but right now, most people in the market for a road bike will end up choosing from bikes with Shimano drivetrains.

Let's start with Shimano’s component hierarchy, in order from entry-level to top-of-the-line:

  • Claris
  • Sora
  • Tiagra
  • 105
  • Ultegra
  • Dura-Ace

    Many beginner- and budget-focused bikes are equipped with Claris, Sora, or Tiagra groups. These entry-level groups will satisfy the needs of most recreational and casual cyclists. But for anyone interested in performance, or a more refined road bike, the groups in the upper half of Shimano's catalog — 105, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace — are where you should look.

    How do you know which Shimano group is right for you? The top three groups are very similar and offer many of the same features. This article will consider the differences in price, weight, and performance to help you decide what you should choose for your next bike. 


    Shimano Ultegra R8000A full Shimano Ultegra R8000 group consisting of shifters, front and rear derailleurs, crankset, cassette, chain, and brakes.

    Shimano denotes its group generations with a numbered system. The current generations of the 105, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace groups are called “105 R7000,” “Ultegra R8000,” and “Dura-Ace R9100,” respectively. 

    When looking at Shimano-equipped bikes on The Pro’s Closet, this model series number will be listed in the specifications.

    If you're looking at older bikes, the previous two iterations of 105 were called “105 5800” and “105 5700.” The previous two iterations of Ultegra were “Ultegra 6800” and “Ultegra 6700.” The previous two iterations of Dura-Ace were “Dura-Ace R9000” and “Dura-Ace 7900.”

    Shimano releases new generations about every four to five years. Dura-Ace is generally updated first, with Ultegra and 105 updates coming over the following two years. The latest Dura-Ace 9100 group was released in 2016, followed by Ultegra R8000 in 2017, and 105 R7000 in 2018. It’s likely a new Dura-Ace (probably called R9200) is already in the works.

    The current generation of Shimano 105, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace groups are all 11-speed. The previous generation (5800, 6800, R9000) are also 11-speed. The generation before that (5700, 6700, 7900) were all 10-speed groups.

    All three groups are available as mechanical groups with rim brakes or hydraulic disc brakes. Ultegra and Dura-Ace are also available as electronic Di2 groups that offer electronic shifting with rim or disc brakes.

    Trickle-down technology

    Shimano is known for trickling down technology from its top-of-the-line Dura-Ace group to the Ultegra and 105 groups. Because of this, current-generation 105 and Ultegra groups could be considered a step up from the previous generation Dura-Ace group. This can be down to interpretation, however, because the main things that separate the three groups are weight, materials, and manufacturing. Even though a current 105 group may have newer technology than an older Dura-Ace group, some riders still consider the older Dura-Ace group to be more refined due to its lighter materials and better machining and finish.


    Price is the most noticeable difference for riders comparing road bikes equipped with 105, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace groups. A frame built with Dura-Ace will cost significantly more than the same frame built with 105. An Ultegra build will land somewhere in the middle. These prices reflect the least-expensive mechanical, rim brake groups, with chain and bottom bracket included:

    • 105 - $649.95
    • Ultegra - $1049.95
    • Dura-Ace - $1999.95

    It is possible to find complete groups at discounted prices online, but these numbers reflect the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. They show that each group is nearly twice as expensive as the group below it. For some riders, especially novice and casual riders, the retail price of a Dura-Ace group alone might blow their budget for a complete bike. (Read our article on how much beginners should spend on their first bike to learn more.)

    Components have a major influence on the bike’s total cost. As a very broad generalization, 105 groups will often be found on bikes in the $1,000-3,000 range, Ultegra groups on bikes in the $2,500-4,500 range, and Dura-Ace groups on bikes that cost $4,000+.

    Of course, there are plenty of bikes that fall outside of these ranges, especially when looking at pre-owned road bikes. Bikes with past-generation Shimano groups also fall outside of these ranges, allowing riders to save on used bikes with older Dura-Ace. But it gives you a basic sense of how much you’ll likely spend on a bike with a specific group.

    Manufacturers get price breaks for buying large quantities of components for original equipment (OE) spec, so it is generally more economical buy a complete bike than it is to buy a bike and upgrade the full group later, or build a bike up from a frame (though that does have its own benefits).

    So what do these differences in price get you?

    Technology, weight, and materials

    The main things that separate the three groups are weight, materials, and manufacturing. The top-of-the-line Dura-Ace group will be the lightest, and it will use expensive and exotic materials like titanium and carbon fiber more liberally. Certain components will feature more extensive machining. The rear derailleur is a good example.

    Dura-Ace vs 105 rear derailleurCompared to a 105 derailleur, the Dura-Ace derailleur has less material. More time has been spent to machine away excess metal, reducing the weight. The difference is slight, but parts of the Dura-Ace derailleur are visibly slimmer, with more beveled edges. This machining takes time and effort, increasing the cost, but it will save around 60-70 grams over the 105 derailleur. Ultegra also features more machining than 105, but less than Dura-Ace. 

    The Dura-Ace (and Ultegra) rear derailleurs also use more expensive and higher quality bearings that marginally reduce drivetrain friction. This can save a watt or two but it’s unlikely you’ll feel it in the saddle. Finally, the Dura-Ace rear derailleur's finish is much nicer. Dura-Ace components, like the crankset and derailleurs, are finished with what Shimano calls “mirror black.” It’s glossy with a hint of sparkle. I find it very attractive and photos don’t really capture how good it looks in person. 105 has a bit more of a bland satin look, but that might appeal to less ostentatious riders.

    Other than these differences in weight, bearings, and aesthetics, the derailleurs are largely the same. Current Dura-Ace, Ultegra, and 105 rear derailleurs all use Shimano’s Shadow technology, brought over from its mountain bike rear derailleurs. The rear derailleur profile is narrower when you look at the bike from the rear, sitting 12mm closer to the bike when in the bottom cog of the cassette. This means if you crash or the bike falls over on the drive-side, there is less chance of damaging the derailleur or bending your derailleur hanger. This technology has trickled down from Dura-Ace and gives the current Ultegra and 105 groups a small leg up on older generations.

    Riders who do more gravel riding may be interested in the Ultegra RX rear derailleur, which adds a clutch mechanism to improve chain retention. Neither 105 nor Dura-Ace offers an RX option with a clutch so there is that small difference.

    Dura-Ace R9100 cranksetIf we compare the machining and finish of the cranksets, it’s a similar story. The 105 crankset features a one-piece chainring design, where the inner and outer chainring are machined together and remain connected with splines. Dura-Ace, on the other hand, has machined inner and outer chainring as two separate pieces (Ultegra does as well). This allows much more material to be machined away, reducing weight.

    This difference isn’t visible unless you remove the crankset and look behind it. In my experience, the 105 design is a bit more susceptible to storing dirt and grime in all the recesses between the splines that connect the chainrings, but it’s not a huge issue. The weight difference, however, is more significant at nearly 120 grams.

    In the looks department, again the eye-catching mirror black finish of the Dura-Ace crank just does it for me. For others, it can be too much. Ultegra splits the difference a bit with a two-tone matte and mirror finish on all its components.

    Shimano Ultegra R8000 carbon shiftersThe only other areas riders will notice major differences in material choice are in the shifters and cassette. The shifters' internals are all the same, so shifters from all three groups function the same. Dura-Ace and Ultegra shifter, however, use carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic brackets and carbon levers while 105 has fiberglass-reinforced plastic brackets and aluminum levers. Dura-Ace shifters weight up to 100 grams less as a result. Ultegra is around 30 grams heavier than Dura-Ace due to some slightly heavier internal hardware. 

    The cassettes use sprockets made from nickel-plated steel. The 105 cassette holds the larger cogs together with an aluminum spider and a nickel-plated steel lockring. The Ultegra cassette reduces weight with a carbon/aluminum spider and an anodized aluminum lockring. Dura-Ace takes it a step further with the five largest cogs all being made from titanium. Ultegra cassettes are about 25-35 grams lighter (depending on tooth count) than 105. Dura-Ace cassettes, amazingly, shed about 150 grams over the 105 cassettes. Keep in mind though, the titanium cogs make Dura-Ace cassettes very expensive to replace once they wear out.

    Otherwise, components like the bottom bracket are exactly the same between groups. Chains will be marginally lighter as you move up from 105 to Dura-Ace due to machining. The rim and hydraulic disc brake calipers are more or less all the same. The rotors for the hydraulic disc brakes, however, are pretty different. The brake track is the same, but Dura-Ace level rotors feature larger and more prominent cooling fins which Shimano claims will drop the temperature of the rotors an additional 50 degrees Celcius.

    Overall weight

    Comparing the weight between complete groups, we can see the larger differences. We weight all bikes and components at The Pro’s Closet so we have a good amount of data on the true weight of particular components. In general, Shimano is very accurate with their claimed weights and we’ve seen instances of a few rare components coming in 10-20 grams under the claimed weight. The weights provided below are added up using the lightest examples (all were mechanical disc groups) I was able to find in our shop over the last year:

    • 105 R7000 - 2,286 grams
    • Ultegra R8000 - 2,156 grams
    • Dura-Ace R9100 - 1,807 grams

    Will the approximately 200 grams Ultegra saves over 105 or the 480 grams Dura-Ace saves over 105 matter? Well, that’s up to you to decide. I’m a recovering weight weenie and seeing those numbers laid out in front of me, it’s very hard to not instantly choose to spend more for the lightest Dura-Ace option. But that may not be the right course of action for you. (Read our article "Does bike weight matter" to learn more.)

    Ride feel

    Shimano 105 vs UltegraFeel is where things get subjective. A big claim many riders have when touting the advantages of Dura-Ace and Ultegra groups over 105, or even Dura-Ace over Ultegra, is improved feel. I won’t spend much time here. In the past, with Shimano’s 7800 generation Dura-Ace group, I truly felt it had noticeably better feel compared to the Ultegra 6600 and 105 5600 groups of the time. With the current generation, if I were blindfolded, I probably would not be able to tell the difference in feel between any of the three.

    The shifters feel exactly the same in your hands. They have the same overall measurements and dimensions. Some riders claim the 105 shifters feel slightly bulkier but a simple check with calipers will disprove this.

    When I press the paddles or levers to change gear, no matter the group, it shifts cleanly and precisely. I honestly can’t tell the difference. This is a good thing. It means riders who can’t afford higher-end Ultegra and Dura-Ace groups aren’t missing out on much in terms of feel and experience when riding their bikes. In a lot of ways. That’s what matters most. Perhaps incredibly perceptive riders might be able to feel a slight improvement in shift feel when moving up the groups, but regular people like me likely won't notice. Shimano’s current generation of groups has become so good, that’s they’re all just exceptional in terms of feel.

    The one place feel really changes is with electronic shifting.

    Electronic Di2 shifting

    Shimano Ultegra Di2Current Shimano Di2 derailleurs are incredibly light and sleek.

    Both Ultegra and Dura-Ace are available as Ultegra Di2 and Dura-Ace Di2 electronic groups. There has yet to be a 105 level Di2 group. Electronic shifting is already a big deal, and likely it’s the future of cycling. Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 was the first commercially viable electronic drivetrain and its technology has trickled down to Ultegra Di2 over the last 10 years. Di2 uses electronic motors instead of cables to actuate the derailleurs and perform shifts. Nick Legan, road brand manager for Shimano North America, explains the advantages.

    “The motors on the derailleurs actuate at the same rate every time,” says Legan. “That rate is paired to our chain, cassette, and chainrings. That timing is optimized with our electronic groups to shift perfectly for the shift ramp profiles. It’s a more consistent shift. You will hit the gear you want every time, perfectly. It does give you a competitive edge and most people who've ridden both will prefer Di2 because it's just a little more precise, and a little more accurate.”

    Despite having to charge the battery, Di2 also requires less maintenance and tuning. It stands up to harsh, wet, and muddy riding conditions better than mechanical groups. It offers a host of other advantages I explained in an earlier article: Do you need electronic shifting?

    Complete Ultegra and Dura-Ace Di2 groups are lighter than their mechanical counterparts by about 100 grams. Also, because the shifters no longer require room for mechanical internals, the hoods have a smaller, more streamlined shape that some riders prefer. This is good for riders who find the current mechanical hydraulic disc hoods to be slightly too bulky.

    Electronic shifting alone puts Ultegra Di2 and Dura-Ace Di2 in a class above any of Shimano’s mechanical options. If you’re are looking for the best tech possible for your bike, these are the two Shimano groups to consider.


    Shimano gearingThe ability to fit a bigger cassette can improve your gearing for climbing.

    One final factor to consider is the gearing each group provides. All cranks can be found in standard (53/39t), mid (52/36t), and compact (50/34t) configurations. 105 and Ultegra essentially offer the same cassette options. Dura-Ace, however, offers fewer cassette options for riders who desire easier gears. This points to Dura-Ace’s history as the group chosen by professional racers who generally don’t need easier gearing.

    Dura-Ace offers a single rear derailleur option that can accept up to an 11-30t cassette. Ultegra and 105 both have short-cage derailleurs that accept up to 11-30t cassettes, and mid-cage derailleurs that accept up to 11-34t cassettes.

    Does this mean you’re out of luck if you want to use Dura-Ace and an 11-34t cassette? Well, Shimano has a reputation for being pretty conservative with its maximum cog recommendations. If you search online, you’ll find riders who have successfully run a Dura-Ace derailleur with up to a 36t large cassette cog. Some riders, looking for the most range possible have pushed the mid-cage 105 and Ultegra derailleur up to 40t.

    Of course, none of this is recommended officially. Your mileage may vary, and if you choose to do it, you do so at your own risk. Ultimately, if you’re looking to swap to easier gears, Ultegra and 105 make it much easier. 

    Which Shimano group is for you?

    So knowing the differences, how do you choose between the three. First and foremost, your budget is likely going to be the biggest factor. If you can’t afford to go higher than 105 then, your option is 105. But if you’re wondering if it’s worth it to spend more, there are three things to consider: marginal gains, prestige, and joy.

    Marginal gains

    Shimano Dura-Ace vs UltegraIf you're in a race for the top, Dura-ace could make the difference.

    Because the three groups feel the same (for mechanical options — electronic groups are a different story), the major performance differences relate to weight.

    Dave Lawrence, Shimano’s Road Product Manager explains, “Dura-Ace is Shimano’s no compromise, highest performance, and lightest-weight road groupset.”

    For riders competing at the sharp end, who need every advantage possible, Dura-Ace is the only option. It’s what top pros choose when running Shimano on their own bikes.

    For those who count grams and need the lightest bike possible, a sub-2,000 gram group like Dura-Ace makes building a sub-15 pound bike much easier. The time spent machining, and the liberal application of carbon and titanium all add up the blingiest and lightest option possible.

    Of course, That all comes at a price. That’s what marginal gains are. You have to do a lot more (i.e., spend more money) to get a little bit in return. But if you’re competitive, that little bit might be just the edge you need. It's just going to cost you. 

    “But Ultegra represents the best balance of high performance and value,” says Lawrence. Ultegra makes the compromises Dura-Ace won’t. There’s less machining and attention to detail on all the pieces. Steel and aluminum are used more in the hardware and components. But Shimano has done just enough to satisfy those trying to balance high performance and cost.


    Dura-Ace is one of the most influential groups in the world. It’s been at the top for so long it’s the benchmark for drivetrain performance.

    “It is where new technology is born,” says Lawrence. What happens with Dura-Ace can change the market. When Shimano introduced Dura-Ace Di2 in 2009, it sparked a revolution, and soon SRAM and Campagnolo had to follow with their own electronic groups.

    Riders who obsess over bike tech love Dura-Ace because of what it represents. It is the pinnacle of performance. It's lust-worthy.

    In my mind, choosing Dura-Ace won’t make your bike “better,” but it will make it “nicer.” I compare it to buying bananas in the grocery store. The organic bananas might cost 20 cents more than the regular bananas. Organic bananas are probably a bit healthier. But if you gave me both and didn’t tell me which was which, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. They taste more or less the same. But it’s the label and the extra bit of work put behind it that makes the difference. Some people just prefer the organic option.

    Unfortunately, you can want these things but they can still be out of reach. But that’s why the lower end groups exist.

    “Shimano 105 is the gateway to Shimano’s top-level road performance,” says Lawrence. It gives you the same feel and technology, but at a greatly reduced price. You may pay for it with weight, aesthetics, or refinement, but it still allows you to have the same riding experience. In the end, it’s the ride that should matter most.


    Joy is hard to quantify. But some riders are just happier with having the best equipment, whether or not they actually need it. That’s totally fine!

    “The fascination some of us have with cycling is not just the experience of riding a bicycle outside, but it's also with the thing itself,” says Nick Legan. “The bicycle is really compelling and we're interested in the technology.”

    Much of the joy I experience with bikes come from trying to make my own bikes as nice as possible. Having a high-end drivetrain sparks joy (yes, I’ve been reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”). It helps me appreciate my bikes. It motivates me to take good care of them, clean them, and tune them regularly. A bike I love pushes me to go out and ride, train, and improve. It adds to my enjoyment of cycling, and that alone is worth it to me.

    Is it worth it to you? Well, again, it depends a bit on your personality. Plenty of riders will be happy on 105 because the prestige of Dura-Ace isn’t that important to them. But if you’re constantly drooling over Dura-Ace bikes, that probably will make you the happiest.

    Final thoughts

    2018 Specialized Allez SprintMy beloved 2018 Specialized Allez Sprint the day I bought it from The Pro's Closet. It came with 105 5800. But it wasn't long before I swapped it all to Dura-Ace R9100.

    My first “serious” road bike was equipped with 10-speed Shimano 105. It worked flawlessly, and I rode and abused this bike for years. It was the bike that ignited my love of cycling and sent me down the path of tech obsession. Like Lawrence said, it was my gateway. Though my bike was fine, I hungered for something “better.” After a couple of years, I upgraded and moved onto a bike with Ultegra. I rode more, set bigger goals, and began competing. Then, eventually, I moved to a massively expensive super-bike equipped with Dura-Ace.

    My upgrade path followed my progression as a rider. As I got faster, fitter, and more skilled, I upgraded accordingly. I felt that any improvement as a rider warranted better bikes and components.

    I’ve jumped around in recent years, going back and forth between the three groups. Am I faster on a Dura-Ace bike? No, of course not. As always, the rider matters more than the bike. When I was at my fittest, I happened to be riding 105.

    If you’re practical and want a bike that will work reliably for years and handle regular riding and some racing, 105 is hard to beat. It’s affordable, robust, and effective. I ride just as well on a 105 bike as I do on Dura-Ace. But Dura-Ace is what I’m most attracted to. The finish is gorgeous. Its quality and prestige bring me joy. My Dura-Ace bike is the one I’ll hang above my bed and stare at. It’s the bike I’ll pose for elaborate glamour shots. It’s the bike that motivates me to train and improve. It’s the one that makes me happiest because refined, beautiful objects just make me happy. I know this about myself, and that’s why I try to buy high-end components when I can.

    That may not be you. If you’re somewhere between extremes of practicality and me, then Ultegra might be the right option. In general, Ultegra is the best happy medium option that provides many of the benefits of the top-of-the-line Dura-Ace group without a massive increase in price over the 105 group.


    All photos courtesy of Shimano.

    Do you ride 105, Ultegra, or Dura-Ace? Which is the best group for you? Let us know in the comments!


    • Shimano glues multiple pieces together to make their Dura Ace and Ultegra cranksets. 105 cranksets are forged. The bonding process used in the higher end cranksets have been known to fail in a wide variety of riders. I had bonding fail on me during a climb on the Sparta Loop ride (Dogwood Century) in Southwest Missouri. 105 cranks don’t suffer from this poor decision on Shimano’s part. That’s a big plus for 105 in my opinion. Reliability is important for average riders. More than enough conversations on the Internet along with pictures of failed Shimano cranksets. I wish Shimano would rethink their manufacturing process. 105 clearly is a good value if you are looking for reliability.

      Clay Bowler on

    • I ride a ‘99 Trek 5200 that I fitted with the 105 groupset that came on my 2013 Specialized Venge. The Venge was upgraded to Ultegra… the Ultegra is a sweeter shifting system, but you’re right. I probably couldn’t tell the difference in “feel”. Nice article.

      Jim Lanave on

    • You are better off obsessing on the perfect FIT rather than what components come on your bike. Far better to ride 105 on a bike that fits than DA on one that almost fits. You can always upgrade over time. You can’t upgrade a fit.

      Bryin on

    • Nicely researched and written article. I ride a 2009 Specialized Tarmac Comp that came with the 105 groupset. It was my first “real” bike, and it’s still a joy to ride. I enjoy doing my own tech work and have found the 105 to be very reliable and easy to service. On European tours, I’ve had the pleasure of using DI2 technology, and while it was lovely, it was not a disappointment to get back home to my old favorite.

      TimInVA on

    • My first road bike was a GT Series 3 with Tiagra, 10 speed. And it was light and fast. I realized I didn’t like road riding and decided to try gravel. At purchase, both of my gravel bikes are 105’s. The new one, a Giant Revolt Advanced 2 was soon upgraded to GRX Di2. And I love it; the smooth shifting brings a smile each time. Yet I roll along on my BMC with 105 more. And I recently acquired another 105 bike which will be updated to Ultegra; not sure yet whether it be Di2 or mechanical Ultegra.

      Raphael K on

    • I just recently “upgraded” from a 2014 Cannondale SuperSix with a SRAM Rival / Apex groupset to a 2021 TREK Domane SL5 and the difference is obviously night and day from the dated SRAM to the more “dura ace feeling” 105 R7000. My bike is on the heavy side being that it sports a larger tire set and less expensive groupset in the 105, but I can’t complain because the 105 R7000 groupset is a beautiful thing to behold and feel during rides . I do get the occassionaly “why are you on a 105 set and not on the ULTEGRA?” questions from other riders but I am very happy (and proud) to sport the 105 logo on my TREK Domane SL5. =) This is a great review and gives a very detailed look at the various nuances of each groupset.

      Obei on

    • I have ridden the same 105 for, dare I say, 16 years and it has performed flawlessly all that time. I ride about every other month and the servicing is next to nothing. A great group set. It linked to the cycle computer and I will miss that when I get my new bile, with ultegra. Great article

      Jonathan Kershaw on

    • own a 2018 Canyon ultimate SLX all dura ace components, when i wear out the cassette I replace it with a ultegra , for a few extra grams and alot cheaper well worth the savings

      michael bayer on

    • No one has mentioned that 105 brifters have the shifter cable coming out of the side, while Dura-Ace and Ultegra have it routed under the hood. I have used Ultegra for 10 years on my Synapse and recently had to replace a broken brifter. My LBS installed a 105 since no Ultegra was available. The mechanic mentioned that he thought 105 shifted better than both Ultegra and Dura-Ace, and I agree it does. Shifting with 105 is smoother and takes less effort because the cable comes straight out of the side and is not circuitously routed under the hood. While there is a slight aerodynamic disadvantage with the exposed cable on 105, the hood is smaller, which allows more room for hands on the handlebars.

      Lee Padgitt on

    • Great article. Have always wondered what the difference was. I myself, am a weight weenie. My previous Trek Madone that I was riding for 8 years was just shy of 15 pounds. Had Mavic RSYS wheels and SRAM RED. Loved that bike but a really bad crash that left me in the hospital for 3 days took care of that bike. Bought a brand new Domane but that ride was WAY to heavy. I found my current Madone SLR 7 at The Pro’s Closet and love it. Weight just over 15 pounds and has Dura-Ace. Articles like this are great as they inform us of actual weights of installed components on bikes.

      duane mcgowan on

    • What a great article, very helpful and engagingly written. You are so right to consider the joy factor alongside the technical details. A bike we love inspires us to ride more, and in that way makes us better cyclists.

      Richard on

    • I really enjoyed reading your article. it’s not just the informative content, but the way it was delivered. I now have a vivid picture in my mind on how a bike will ride. A local bike shop in Charleston is building me a Lynskey road bike and I can already imagine how it will ride. Keep on riding and writing.

      Antonio M Hernandez on

    • Haven’t got my bike yet, my first road bike way back when, was a Raleigh record ace. Seriously considering getting into biking again, pan mass challenge goes by my home every year. Sold my fishing kayak. My bike of choice is currently looking like ,TREK DOMANE AL5 ,with the 105 group set. 1800$, investment, but I’m fairly convinced that I want the 105, and nothing less. But as I’m sure you are aware, everything is on backorder, and my local shop won’t have anything new till spring 2021 I believe. Well that’s my current plan, more research on my end and anticipation of of getting something shiny and new, wish me luck. Thanks for the info, chuck 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

      Charles R Jordan on

    • Got my first road bike in the later 80s. A Team Miyata—the same one the Miyata Team rode for Capri Sun (Sonne?) in the European classics and, of course, the gruppo was Shimano Dura Ace. (Miyata=Japanese=Shimano, not Campagnolo like the other European teams.)

      I was in my late 40s and new to the harsh reality of what felt like sitting directly on the seat tube and experiencing fire in my thighs. My racing, 7-speed, 11/21 cassette with 54 teeth up-front was a seriously dangerous way to break my knees into this new adventure.

      By my fifties I was doing five-hour centuries and breezing through RAGBRAIs. The former fueled by determination, the latter fueled by alcohol. My last 100 was on a day that hit 100 degrees—on RAGBRAI at 65 years of age (but not in five hours).

      I dropped out for a dozen years. But decided at 80 to come out of retirement. After 25,000 miles the Dura Ace is still smooth and positive and over time has only required one repair to the rear derailleur. Technology has advanced the design and materials of today’s gruppo and I hear tell you don’t have to reach down to the down-tube to shift.

      I love to brag that my bike is full Dura Ace (no mention of the year). And there truly is a “joy” factor to possessing the best of something. But there’s a practical reality to getting the best, too—it rarely fails or disappoints.

      Take the hit. Bite the bullet. Live large. Get the Dura Ace. You’ll never regret it.

      Jerry Roman on

    • I was fortunate to have obtained my Dura-Ace group on a purchase of my Trek Domaine from Pro’s Closet. Funny that on a group ride I first heard about the rear cassette limitation but now reading the article may be tempted to push the limit a bit. A few more teeth could help since I’m not getting any younger!

      Gregory Collins on

    • Good article. However would challenge Dura Ace weight. Right Rim Brake is lighter than disk and it weighs closer to 2007 grams without cables! For past 45 years I’ve ridden Shimano has never been the low weight in any of its top three levels. I’ve owned both Ultegra and Dura Ace Complete group sets on both mine and my wife’s personal bikes and on 4 tandems.

      Frank Davis on

    • I’ve loved beautiful things, but until recently, have not been able to afford them. I have usually purchased bikes with mid-range components (e.g. Shimano Ultegra, Campy Athena), and then upgraded specific components as I’ve “recovered” from the big buy. With the way companies are making components that are very “line” specific (e.g. can’t use Ultegra levers with DuraAce derailleur, or vice versa) this becomes a much less viable option. It’s too bad.

      Robert Ray on

    • I am riding an Ultegra gravel bike. Ultegra came on it and it is ok. I am riding SRAM on my MTB and it works better. I will upgrade the rear derailleur to the RX Ultegra because the clutch will help. Ultegra did not like a better (KMC) chain, it seems to prefer Shimano.

      Dave Zirkelbach on

    • Thank you so much for clarifying the Shimano differences, a great article!

      Kenneth B Parker on

    • Great article. Keep publishing this type of content.

      Scotty on

    • A beautiful, engaging, very informative well written article! My whole cycling life I spent on one of my several Campagnolo equipped Raleigh 531 bikes. Then came Sram on my mtn bike in the late 90s and early 2000s.
      In 2014 I went back to the road and in the summer of 2015 I finished building my last Campy equipped Raleigh but was curious about the shifting on the brake levers that I had become aware of. I was offered to test ride a Shimano equipped Trek. I had never experienced anything like that.
      Long story short, I had to have Di2. Got a Cannondale Black Edition the first issue, with Uterga Di2 group. Phenomenal machine for a guy in my 70s, perfect. And your article just reaffirmed my feeling that I truly have a 21st century bike of some note, thank you.

      Cecil Robbins II on

    • I first had a Giant TCR 3 with Shimano 105 that I purchased in 2005. I totaled it in 2006 after striking a truck that parked in the bike lane. The impact completely snapped the frame at the top tube and down tube. With Giant’s crash policy I was able to upgrade to a TCR2 with Ultegra and rode that for many years and miles both here in New England and the Northeast as well as Wyoming and Utah. In 2014, I was able to demo ride a Cannondale Super Six EVO Hi-Mod for a charity century ride. I was hooked and for obvious reasons I had always believed the Cannondale brand was calling my name.
      In 2017, I had the money for a new bike, there was a left over Super Six EVO Hi-Mod available with rim brakes which is exactly what I was looking for. Discussing some other options with the dealer and him being familiar with the area where I ride (uphill in every direction) we decided on the 34T rear cassette which required switching to the Ultegra Di2. It was the best decision about a bike I ever made and we made the same choice for my wife when we purchased a Cervelo R3 disc bike for her in 2018.
      The electric shifting and the compact gearing makes riding in this area much more enjoyable. —J. Cannon, New London, NH

      John Cannon on

    • I echo the sentiment that nicer components can inspire you to ride more and take better care of your bike. I recently bought a decent-but-old bike with old Dura-Ace (7700-series) and treat it much better than I do my newer-model bike with lower-end components.

      Geoff P on

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