[This article was last updated on January 18, 2018]
Shimano's new Ultegra R8000 groupset is now widely available, both on bikes and as parts. If you're considering an Ultegra upgrade, should you get the new groupset, or pick up the old Ultegra 6800 at a bargain price?
Here are the potential advantages of grabbing an Ultegra 6800 groupset.
First, and most obviously, there’s the cost.
Chain Reaction Cycles, for example, is currently selling the Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset for £464.99 (compared to the RRP of £999.99). That comprises the chainset, dual control shifters, brakes, derailleurs, cassette, chain, bottom bracket.
The RRPs on that lot for new Ultegra R8000 are:
|Dual control shifters (mechanical/rim brake)||£319.99|
|Brakes (dual pivot, pair)||£139.98|
You can get Ultegra R8000 for quite a bit less than list price already, but you’re not going to get it for under £500.
Shimano boasts that, “At its lightest set up (Di2 with mechanical braking) Ultegra R8000 weighs 4,071g, which is an 84.5g saving over Ultegra 6800.”
Okay, but that 84.5g saving includes wheels and pedals, and many people will already have favourite wheels and pedals.
In some formats, outgoing Ultegra 6800 is actually a little lighter than incoming Ultegra R8000.
If you want mechanical shifting and rim brakes, for example, this is how the two systems compare (according to Shimano’s own figures):
|Ultegra 6800||Ultegra R8000|
|Dual control shifters (mech)||425g||438g|
|Front derailleur (braze on)||89g||92g|
|Chain (114 links)||257g||257g|
So in that setup Ultegra 6800 is 44g lighter.
Weight certainly isn’t the be all and end all – function is way more important – and 44g is negligible anyway, but the point we’re making is simply that you’re not necessarily going to save grams by going for Ultegra R8000.
Ultegra 6800 is well-proven
Ultegra 6800 is an excellent groupset; check out our review here.
road.cc’s Dave Atkinson said, “The bottom line is: for the serious fitness rider or privateer racer, as a package, this is as good as a mechanical groupset has ever been.”
We’ve used Ultegra 6800 loads since that review was written and we stand by the view that, “As a whole package… Shimano Ultegra 6800 is everything you want from a mechanical performance groupset. It's light, the shifts are crisp and quick, the braking is truly excellent.”
It has proven to be durable too.
Knowing Shimano, Ultegra R8000 is likely to be equally impressive, but we know for sure that Ultegra 6800 is a fantastic option.
Fair enough, you might want some of the new features that Ultegra R8000 offers (go to our previous story to read all about those). Dual pivot brakes with enough clearance for 28mm tyres might be important to you, for example, you might really like the new hoods and levers design of the R8000 dual control shifters, or you might be putting together a low-geared build for riding in the mountains and want R8000's ability to handle a 34-tooth sprocket.
If you’re not interested in those features, though, Ultegra 6800 remains an outstanding groupset.
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Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.