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Find out how these two super-popular groupsets compare before you spend your cash

If you’re deciding between Shimano 105 and Shimano Ultegra groupsets, either on a complete bike or as an upgrade, here’s everything you need to know to make the right choice.

Starting at the basics, a groupset is a component manufacturer’s collection of mechanical parts, usually covering the derailleurs, shifters, brakes, chainset, cassette and chain. Brands group these parts together in various different levels.

Going from the top, Shimano's current road groupsets are:

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

Additionally, Dura-Ace and Ultegra are available with Di2 electronic shifting. We’ll leave Di2 to one side here because there’s no 105 version to consider. If you want it, your decision is between Ultegra Di2 and Dura-Ace Di2, and that’s outside the scope of this article.

Check out our Complete Guide to Shimano Road Groupsets.

Shimano usually updates each groupset every three years. The latest version of Shimano 105 is called R7000 (the disc brakes are R7020) and the most up to date Ultegra is R8000 (the disc brakes are R8020, the Di2 is R8050 and Di2 with hydraulic disc brakes is R8070).

A Shimano 105 groupset with rim brakes retails at £612.91 (without pedals) while an equivalent Shimano Ultegra groupset is £982.91 (without pedals) – that’s £370 more, but what do you actually get for the extra money?

We quote official recommended retail prices here, of course, but we've also included typical online prices. The weights listed below are Shimano’s official figures.

Both 105 and Ultegra are 11-speed systems and there are many more similarities between them than differences. Although Ultegra is more expensive, all of the same technology features in 105, and you operate them in exactly the same way.

The differences are mainly down to materials used, and because of this 105 components are a little heavier.

We've put all the prices and weights into a table at the bottom along with the scores we awarded when we reviewed each groupset independently, just to make life easier for you.

Check out our full Shimano 105 review here and read our full Shimano Ultegra review here.

Dual control levers

shimano_105_r7000_groupset_-_brake_levers.jpg

 

  RRP Weight Typical price
105 £199.99 500g £169.99
Ultegra £319.99 438g £184.99

 

The dual control levers are high points of both the Ultegra and 105 (above) groupsets and they each work in exactly the same way. They’re slim and comfortable to use with a short stroke and a light action (much lighter than earlier incarnations).

Shimano Ultegra R8000 shifter - 1

When he reviewed the Ultegra levers (above) Stu Kerton said, “The biggest difference of R8000 [current generation Shimano Ultegra] over 6800 [the previous version] is the shape of the brake lever. The curve for your index finger is more pronounced and if, like me, you like to wrap your finger around the bar when on the hoods then you'll find it very comfortable.

"The shape allows you to use just your second finger for braking to slow down, and to quickly add all your fingers for hard braking efforts."

The 105 levers have been redesigned with shifting mechanisms that make the shift a bit more snappy than before, and the shape of the lever is squarer, slightly more compact and features a patterned rubber cover for extra grip on the hoods.

There is a difference in the materials used. Ultegra dual control levers have carbon-fibre reinforced plastic brackets and main levers while 105 has glass-fibre reinforced plastic brackets and aluminium main levers.

The 105 levers are a little heavier but you won’t notice any difference in performance.

Chainset

  RRP Weight Typical price
105 £144.99 713.4g £109
Ultegra £249.99 674g £183.95

 

The 105 chainset (below) has a spider with four unevenly spaced arms, the idea being to provide stiffness where it’s needed while saving weight over a five arm design. This is technology that started off in the top-level Dura-Ace groupset and has trickled down via Ultegra.

shimano_105_r7000_groupset_-_cranks.jpg

Both 105 and Ultegra (below) are available with 53-39-tooth, 52-36-tooth and 50-34-tooth chainrings, and Ultegra is also available in a 46-36-tooth cyclocross option. All of them use the same bolt circle diameter (110mm) so you can easily swap a 53-tooth outer chainring for a 50-tooth, for example.

Storck Fascenario 3 - crank.jpg

The 105 and Ultegra chainsets use the same technology and the same materials in key areas. Although many rivals have shifted to carbon-fibre cranks, Shimano has stuck with aluminium. Its Hollowtech technology results in a hollow crank arm to keep the weight low while retaining stiffness.

The 105 chainset's outer chainring is heavily machined on the inside face to reduce weight, retaining splines across the machined section to make sure stiffness isn't compromised. It's not quite as technically advanced as the Ultegra outer chainring which features a two-piece construction, but you wouldn't know unless you looked at it from the back. The design is a bit more susceptible to storing grime in all the recesses but that's not a huge issue.

As usual, there’s a slight weight penalty if you go for 105.

Whereas some chainsets feature a aluminium axle in a 30mm diameter, Shimano uses a steel axle with a 24mm diameter across the board.

The weights given above are for chainsets with 50/34-tooth chainrings.

Front derailleur

shimano_105_r7000_groupset_-_front_mech.jpg
  RRP Weight Typical price
105 braze on £32.99 95g £28.80
105 band on £34.99 111g £27
Ultegra braze on £47.99 92g £31
Ultegra band on £49.99 106g £36.99


The 105 (above) and Ultegra (below) front derailleurs each come with a glass-fibre reinforced plastic outer link, an aluminium inner link, a chrome-plated steel chain guide, and light shifting. A trim position allows you to avoid chain rub as you move across the cassette.

Storck Fascenario 3 - front mech.jpg

Both the Ultegra and 105 front derailleurs have been redesigned and use a cam arrangements to actuate the shift, allowing the units to be much more compact than before.

They each feature a tension adjustment screw, which means there's no need for an inline barrel adjuster.

The largest chainring recommended for use with each of them is 53-tooth. That’s fine for most people although some time trialists who like pushing big gears might struggle.

Rear derailleur

  RRP Weight Typical price
105 short cage £44.99 225g £37.40
105 medium cage £49.99 232g £41
Ultegra short cage £84.99 200g £53
Ultegra medium cage £89.99 210g £58.99

 

Both Ultegra and 105 (below) rear derailleurs are available in short cage (SS) and medium cage (GS) versions to suit the chainset and cassette that you are using. Go for the medium cage version of either and the maximum sprocket size you can officially use is 34T (although in reality they'll handle much more).

shimano_105_r7000_groupset_-_rear_mech


They're similar to one another in terms of materials although the Ultegra model has better pulley bearings.

canyon_grail_cf_sl_8.0_sl_-_rear_mech.jpg

For the latest versions of its top three groupsets, Dura-Ace, Ultegra and 105, Shimano has incorporated its Shadow technology, brought over from the mountain bike side of the business.

Its design means that the rear derailleur profile is much narrower when you look at the bike from the rear, sitting 12mm closer to the bike when in the bottom sprocket of the cassette. This means that should you crash or the bike gets blown over there is less chance of damage to the bike or wrecking your gear hanger.

The new design is compatible with direct mount frames, although there aren't many of those in the road sector right now.

In his review of Shimano Ultegra R8000 Stu said, "The gear shifts feel slightly quicker and lighter than on 6800, and it really is a joy to use."

Once set up, we found 105 shifting to be precise and consistent across the whole cassette. It's crisp and light whether you're using the short cage or the medium cage rear derailleur.

As well as the normal rear derailleurs, Shimano offers clutch-operated Ultegra RX options (£99.99 for the cable-operated version, £259.99 for the Di2 version) which are aimed at the gravel/adventure market. There's no Shimano 105 clutch derailleur.

Cassette

  RRP Weight Typical price
105 £44.99-£49.99 269g (12-25) £38.99
Ultegra £74.99-£79.99 243g (12-25) £51.95

 

shimano_105_r7000_groupset_-_cassette.jpg

Both 105 and Ultegra are 11-speed systems. 105 cassettes (above) are available in 11-28-tooth, 11-30, 11-32, 11-34 and 12-25 options. Ultegra is available in all of those plus 11-25 and 14-28. There’s no reason why you can’t use an Ultegra cassette with an otherwise 105 groupset, or vice versa.

With both 105 and Ultegra, the largest sprocket you can officially use is a 34-tooth, although in truth you can go much larger than that; we have gear systems with 11-40 cassettes that work very happily.

In both cases, the sprockets are made from nickel-plated steel, although an Ultegra cassette has a carbon/aluminium spider arm and an anodised aluminium lockring while a 105 cassette has an aluminium spider and a nickel-plated steel lockring. These differences make for a difference in weight, but we're talking about 23-35g, depending on the size of the cassette.

Dual pivot brakes

  RRP Weight Typical price
105 front £44.99 379g (pair) £29.99
105 rear £39.99 379g (pair) £29.99
105 direct mount £49.99 346g (pair) £80 (pair)
Ultegra front £69.99 360g (pair) £55
Ultegra rear £69.99 360g (pair) £45
Ultegra direct mount £79.99 320g (pair £106 (pair)

 

Both Ultegra and 105 SLR EV dual pivot rim brakes are made from anodised aluminium and we rate them very highly. They’re essentially the same design: a symmetrical twin pivot system that’s designed to equalise the braking forces through each arm allowing for better control and power.

shimano_105_r7000_groupset_-_brakes.jpg

In reviewing the 105 brakes (above) Dave said, “The Shimano symmetrical dual-pivot brakes are, for me, the best road rim brakes out there. They have a very solid feel and modulation is excellent. I've been using the brakes on my race bike, which has Swiss Side Hadron 485 wheels that have an alloy brake track, and the brake performance is about as good as you're going to find for a rim brake. The 105 callipers are not noticeably inferior to the Ultegra brakes in anything other than weight, and even there the difference isn't great."

Storck Fascenario 3 - front brake.jpg

The maximum tyre width Shimano recommends for its Ultegra (above) and 105 SLR EV Dual Pivot brakes (below) is 28mm.

Shimano also offers direct mount brakes in both the Ultegra and the 105 groupsets. They’re virtually identical to one another, each taking tyres up to 28mm.

Hydraulic disc brakes

  RRP Weight Typical price
105 calliper front £47.99 138g £44.99
105 calliper rear £47.99 147g £44.99
105 dual control front £164.99 610g (pair) £154.99
105 dual control rear £164.99 610g (pair) £154.99
105 disc brake rotor £27.99 133g (160mm) £23.99
Ultegra calliper front £59.99 138g £47
Ultegra calliper rear £59.99 148g £45
Ultegra dual control (front) £229.99 554g (pair) £199.99
Ultegra dual control (rear) £229.99 554g (pair) £199.99
Ultegra disc brake rotor £49.99 128g (160mm) £33.49

 

Shimano has offered 105-level and Ultegra-level hydraulic disc brakes for some time but it's only recently that designs have actually been incorporated into each of the groupsets.

Shimano R7000 hydraulic -1.jpg

The new Shimano 105 mechanical shift/hydraulic brake dual control unit is based on the cable-operated version (above), with the same lever design and a similar hood profile with the textured finish for better grip in the wet. The body of the hood is a bit bigger, especially at the bottom where the hose exits the lever, but not so much that it's a problem.

Read our Shimano 105 R7020 hydraulic disc brake review here

The 105 system has an aluminium brake lever while it's engineering composite if you go for Ultegra, which is a little lighter.

Shimano R7000 hydraulic -3.jpg

The brake callipers are very similar to one another, although the body on the 105 version is painted while it's anodised for Ultegra.

Will you notice a difference in the quality of the braking if you opt for more expensive Ultegra? In short, no. It works brilliantly whichever you choose.

You can buy a brake calliper and dual control lever separately (see table above) or you can buy a set that includes the lever, the brake calliper and the hose (£249.99 per brake in the case of 105, £309.99 per brake for Ultegra).

You'll also need to factor in £55.98 for two Shimano 105-level disc rotors, or £99.98 for two Ultegra-level rotors to complete the package.

Chain

  RRP Weight Typical price
105 £29.99 257g (114 links) £26.99
Ultegra £34.99 257g (114 links) £25


Both the Ultegra and 105 chains undergo a Sil-Tec low friction plating process that’s designed to make them run smoother and require less maintenance, as well as increasing the durability.

shimano-ultegra-r8000-chain-1 v2

The only difference between them is that the 105 chain has this treatment on the roller link plates (the inner ones) only while the Ultegra chain (above) has it on the pin link plates (the outer ones) too.

It's great to see that Shimano is finally offering its chains with a quick link similar to those used by KMC and others, making them much easier to fit and remove.

Bottom bracket

  RRP Weight Typical price
105 £29.99 77g £16.99
Ultegra £29.99 77g £16.99

 

Shimano BBR60 bottom bracket - 1

Shimano recommends the same bottom bracket whether you go for an Ultegra or a 105 groupset. The BBR60 (77g) is available in both British and Italian threaded versions, while the BB72-41 (69g) is for press-fit systems.

Pedals

  RRP Weight Typical price
105 £109.99 265g £78.99
Ultegra £149.99 248g £86.99


The Ultegra and 105 (below) pedals both have wide carbon composite bodies, widely spaced bearings, chromoly steel axles and adjustable entry and release tension. The Ultegra pedals have slightly more stainless steel body plating, designed to reduce flex and wear, and a little more clearance (33° as opposed to 31°).

shimano_105_r7000_groupset_-_pedals.jpg

The Ultegra pedal is also available in a version with a 4mm longer axle for more clearance between the crank arm and your shoe.

Conclusion

If you’ve read everything above, looked at the pictures, and come to the conclusion that there’s not all that much difference between 105 and Ultegra components, you’re right. They work in the same ways, the shaping is the same and so is the engineering. There are no major technological features in the Ultegra groupset that aren’t included in 105.

  105 Ultegra
  Price Weight Price Weight
Dual control levers £199.99 500g £319.99 438g
Chainset £144.99 713g £249.99 674g
Front derailleur (braze on) £32.99 95g £47.99 92g
Rear derailleur (short cage) £44.99 225g £84.99 200g
Cassette £44.99 269g £74.99 243g
Dual pivot brakes (pair) £84.98 379g £139.98 360g
Chain £29.99 257g £34.99 257g
Pedals £109.99 265g £149.99 248g
Bottom bracket £29.99 77g £29.99 77g
Total £722.90 2,780g £1,132.90 2,589g

Table comparing the prices, weights and road.cc review scores of Shimano 105 and Shimano Ultegra components

The differences are minor and mostly come down to materials. This results in Ultegra components being a little lighter than their 105 counterparts. No single Ultegra component is massively lighter and the small savings add up to just 191g across a whole groupset (the figure could be a little more or a little less than that depending on exactly which options you choose).

We reckon that 105 is as good as it gets in terms of bangs per buck right now and there is no compromise in functionality: this groupset is better than top-level Dura-Ace was a few years ago, for a fraction of the price. There's no aspect of its performance that would be meaningfully improved by going one rung up the groupset ladder.

We awarded both Shimano 105 and Ultegra 10/10 for performance, and we give out very few 10/10 marks. We marked Ultegra 7/10 for value while giving 105 9/10 courtesy of offering a very similar level of performance at a significantly lower price. That might or might not be important to you.

Whether the small weight saving you get with Ultegra is worth the extra cash is something you have to decide for yourself based on your bank balance and your priorities.

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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.

62 comments

Avatar
iUpham [177 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

I have just changed from 105 to Ultegra (due to getting a new bike) and genuinely can not identify any real difference between the two groupsets.

 

The Ultegra levers look a little bit better with the groupset name down them rather then the plain lever of the 105. But this is personal preference.

 

One real difference not mentioned in this report is the Gear shifter cables. The Ultegra comes with some sort of liner/coating on the shifter cables.

"Polymer wrapped stainless steel inner wire leaves a smooth surface for low friction and reduced sliding resistance providing a lighter quicker shifting operation"

If I'm honest, I think this is going to wear off and may even cause blockages... It already looks to be showing wear around the rear derailer connection and I've only done 500 odd miles..

 

I have kept the 105 groupset from my old bike as it only had 1000 miles use. Once the main components on my Ultegra begin to wear out, i will switch back to 105.

Avatar
CasperCCC [62 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes
iUpham wrote:

I have just changed from 105 to Ultegra (due to getting a new bike) and genuinely can not identify any real difference between the two groupsets.

 

I upgraded my winter bike to the 11 speed 105, and the summer bike came with Ultegra.

I can definitely tell the difference. The shifting on the winter bike is noticably better. Go figure.

It's not like the Ultegra on the summer bike is bad. It's not - it's absolutely great. Slick, positive, never misses a shift, barely needs any adjustment. But the 105 on the winter bike is just a little bit smoother.

I'm sure that the Ultegra is theoretically better, and that in a perfect A/B test, it'd come out on top. Maybe it's just a bit better set-up on the winter bike (which would be a miracle, as I did it myself...), or the cable routing is a bit better. All I really think it shows is that 105 is now so good that the difference between it and Ultegra is pretty marginal.

(Although if I was buying a new bike, I'd still probably go for Ultegra. Because... you know... Ultegra. Bling. I'd never pretend to be rational.)

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will [989 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Now, you see to me, I believe there is a night and day performance difference between the two groupsets. 

In that I am talking about braking performance and durability. 

My 105 groupset is now approach two years old, and in that time, I have;

 - worn out 2x rear mechs

 - worn out 1x bottom bracket

 - worn out 1x large chainring

 - 2x cassettes

 - Front STI

 - Both brakes callipers

Conversely, the last Ultegra 6800 groupset I rode (which convinced me to purchase 105), had worn through nothing after 12 months of use.

I've not included chains in teh above, as I am fairly religious at changing these every 2,000km. 

The braking performanc eof 105 is no where near as good as Ultegra, which is purely, IMO, down to the greater resistance in bearings, pivots nad cable of the 105 set up as apposed to Ultegra.

 

Avatar
CasperCCC [62 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

The braking performanc eof 105 is no where near as good as Ultegra, which is purely, IMO, down to the greater resistance in bearings, pivots nad cable of the 105 set up as apposed to Ultegra.

 

I think you might have been unlucky with your 105's durability - I've not noticed any difference in wear. Or it could be that I've been lucky with mine.

To be fair, I can't really comment on the difference between the brakes. I've got long drop non-Shimano calipers on the winter bike, rather than 105. (And they're terrible...)

Avatar
Ogi [164 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

@Jimmy

Could you tell me what's the mileage you did in those two years, resulting in 2 cassette changes? 

I'm asking as I have run 105 for 11,000km in about 1 year and 3 months - changed one BB (at 6000km), RD pulleys (at 10,000km) and two KMC chains (at 5,000 km). I'm still on first cables (Jagwire), but in maybe 2000km I will change them.

How did you manage to destroy so many components? I suspect you have Peter Sagan's wattage or some part of maintenance (cleaning/lubing) is not ideal, or just luck maybe.

Note that I'm also relatively large (192cm, 85kg) with lots of wattage 

Avatar
Mungecrundle [1175 posts] 2 years ago
6 likes

The higher spec components are sort of a development tax on those who can afford the difference and don't mind paying a bit extra for their hobby. The extra money in the component manufacturers pocket enables them to make choices about investing in R&D that they might not otherwise have. The benefits of which trickle down to the more budget lines in due course.

Avatar
Chris James [449 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

My 105 groupset is now approach two years old, and in that time, I have;

 - worn out 2x rear mechs

 - worn out 1x bottom bracket

 - worn out 1x large chainring

 - 2x cassettes

 - Front STI

 - Both brakes callipers

I have 105 on a 10 year old bike and it is on the orignal rear mech and STIs!

Cassettes, bottom brackets and chain rings are consumables to a degrees, so I suppose the longevity depends on how many miles you do. Mind you, I am still very surprised that you can wear out a large chain ring in two years (and in the same time as two cassettes - normally chain rings wear at a glacial pace compared to cassettes).

I don't know how you would even wear out brake calipers.

Avatar
IanW1968 [368 posts] 2 years ago
5 likes

I've just opted for a bike with the new Tiagra . 

Reasoning being it was £300 cheaper, I have loads of cassettes, 10 speed seems to be enough for me, it's function is excellent better than any of the old 105, ultegra 10speed stuff and according to road.cc it weighs 2584 grams so lighter than new 105.  

Avatar
Plasterer's Radio [472 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

More expensive to replace then.

Avatar
recurs [35 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

I have both, and I rather regret the extra spent on Ultegra.

 

I really think they should just have three non-garbage levels:

- Make Tiagra 11 speed 

- Marry 105 and Ultegra

- Dura Ace

 

That way, there's a clear upgrade path from entry-level to pro, and none of the confusion that this article attempts to address.

Avatar
kenyond [88 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Ive recently put the new tiagra set on my bike and love it, youd be had pressed to tell its not 105 from a quick glance 

Avatar
Nick T [1165 posts] 2 years ago
8 likes

How in god's name do you wear out a rear mech, let alone two in two years

Avatar
Nick T [1165 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Unless you've just been going to a dodgy bike shop for "maintenance". 

Avatar
Saint Mikie 41 [63 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

I have 105 on the winter bike and ultegra in the summer bike. 105 brakes are better and shifting is the same. Leaning towards 105 on the next new bike as I can't really see the point in the extra money for ultegra.

 

Avatar
Carton [396 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
Duncann wrote:

"There’s no reason why you can’t use an Ultegra cassette with an otherwise 105 groupset" says the article...

Of all the mixing and matching, WTF would you do that? Cassettes are consumable items and not even distinguishable to the eye. I can't see any reason why - of all things - you'd want to spend an extra £25 (according to the article's table) on an Ultegra cassette when the rest of the kit is 105!

If you want to treat yourself, at least spend on something that you or others will notice a difference in, like the chainset or rear mech or shifters - even if, as the article confirms, that difference is largely cosmetic.

Quote:

Both 105 and Ultegra are 11-speed systems. 105 cassettes (below) are available in 11-28-tooth, 11-32-tooth and 12-25-tooth options. Ultegra is available in all of those plus 11-23, 11-25 and 14-28. There’s no reason why you can’t use an Ultegra cassette with an otherwise 105 groupset

I have no use for an 11-23 or an 11-25, but some people do time trials and crits. Other people just enjoy gurning their knees to dust.

Avatar
andyjjackson [4 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

I paid £440 for 6800 (Ultegra) in January and it's worth every penny. 

Upgrading an older 105 (3-4 years old) to current or last years Ultegra is well worth it but the price difference between the 2 groupsets on new bikes can be huge for big brands and not really worth it IMO. Just get the 105 model and replace it when worn. In my experience, 105 lasts about 4 years and Ultegra just lasts and lasts and lasts (my commuter now has 6600sl - it just won't die!).

We can get entire 5700 and 6800 groupsets for £340 and £440 - £100 difference! 

Avatar
rix [242 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Just changed left arm on Ultegra crankset to 105 (Stages) and crankset didn't feel that stiff anymore. When compared, Ultegra crank has bigger cross section than 105... hence goes the stiffness I guess.

P.S. 105 chainring has different construction with crevasses and accumulates a lot of dirt.
 

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Avatar
frankierae [18 posts] 2 years ago
12 likes

Fantastic review. Real world concerns for the average consumer. Kudos @road.cc

I help friends and colleagues with bike purchases a lot, and this is exactly the sort of advice only a bike nerd can generally provide. Brilliant that a publication like yourselves can summarise this for everyone.

+1

Avatar
bikebot [2117 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes

Close enough, that it might be reasonable to suspect the only reason they're still distinct groupsets is to maintian the premium position of Di2. I can't see a 105 Di2 appearing soon unless someone else produces a midrange electronic groupset that undercuts them.

Avatar
macrophotofly [322 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

For some reason I don't get as good braking on my 105 as on my Ultegra, but I do agree there is more tyre clearance. The 105 brake is still outstanding compared to previous brakes, just not quite as good as Ultegra. Suspect, as someone mentioned above, that lesser braking is down to a combination of cable, brake pivots and the bike itself.  Apart from that, the groupset doesn't feel that different.  I think I would pay (max) GBP 100 more for the Ultegra groupset to get the better Crank and total weight loss but only on my best bike. 105 is fine for the winter one.

One other point - on the pedals, the 105 pedal allows a lighter release setting than the Ultegra. I find the ultegra pedal takes a fair bit of a sideways push to release it and would not be an ideal pedal for rider starting out on clipless. Other than that you need to go up to the D-A pedal with its third larger bearing to notice a difference in pedals.

Avatar
enas [23 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
CasperCCC wrote:

To be fair, I can't really comment on the difference between the brakes. I've got long drop non-Shimano calipers on the winter bike, rather than 105. (And they're terrible...)

Slightly off topic, but are you aware that Shimano has the R650 long drop calipers, which are supposed to match Ultegra level? They're supposed to be as good as short drop Ultegra calipers, though I've never tried them myself (I put TRP RG957 on my otherwise Campagnolo equiped bike, which are very good too but even more expensive).

Avatar
Tjuice [264 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes
frankierae wrote:

Fantastic review. Real world concerns for the average consumer. Kudos @road.cc

 

This.  Couldn't agree more.  Thought this was one of the best things I've read on road.cc in a while.  I am pretty nerdy about bike components (my wife's never really sure whether I prefer building/tinkering or riding bikes...) and found the above article of real value.

 

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Duncann [1443 posts] 2 years ago
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Carton wrote:
Duncann wrote:

"There’s no reason why you can’t use an Ultegra cassette with an otherwise 105 groupset" says the article...

Of all the mixing and matching, WTF would you do that? Cassettes are consumable items and not even distinguishable to the eye. I can't see any reason why - of all things - you'd want to spend an extra £25 (according to the article's table) on an Ultegra cassette when the rest of the kit is 105!

If you want to treat yourself, at least spend on something that you or others will notice a difference in, like the chainset or rear mech or shifters - even if, as the article confirms, that difference is largely cosmetic.

Quote:

Both 105 and Ultegra are 11-speed systems. 105 cassettes (below) are available in 11-28-tooth, 11-32-tooth and 12-25-tooth options. Ultegra is available in all of those plus 11-23, 11-25 and 14-28. There’s no reason why you can’t use an Ultegra cassette with an otherwise 105 groupset

I have no use for an 11-23 or an 11-25, but some people do time trials and crits. Other people just enjoy gurning their knees to dust.

Fair point. Probably the best reason to spend extra on an Ultegra cassette.

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Duncann [1443 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

"There’s no reason why you can’t use an Ultegra cassette with an otherwise 105 groupset" says the article...

Of all the mixing and matching, WTF would you do that? Cassettes are consumable items and not even distinguishable to the eye. I can't see any reason why - of all things - you'd want to spend an extra £25 (according to the article's table) on an Ultegra cassette when the rest of the kit is 105!

If you want to treat yourself, at least spend on something that you or others will notice a difference in, like the chainset or rear mech or shifters - even if, as the article confirms, that difference is largely cosmetic.

Otherwise, a good article.

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MrB123 [88 posts] 2 years ago
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Does anyone happen to know how the tire clearance on the Dura Ace 9000 rear brake calipers compares with the current 105 and Ultegra models?

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Sandro2015 [1 post] 2 years ago
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There is a moment that all you do is take weight on the bike will be expensive. The important thing is to have a light and light bike you will have to pay more for it

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Griff500 [312 posts] 2 years ago
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I saw a similar comparison a while back which said there was minimal difference between Dura Ace and Ultegra, so the logical conclusion here is that 105 and Dura Ace are not dissimilar. None of this should surprise anyone however. In any product type, the law of diminishing returns comes into play, whether it be hifi, cars, or cameras, with marginal improvements in performance costing a disproportionate delta. We all decide how far up the curve we want, and can afford, to go. Some are happy to accept a minimum usable performance, some want to make sure they have the right label on display, some try to compensate for lack of ability by throwing money at kit, and to some, there is a very real and measurable gain in performance due simply to the psychological benefit of knowing they have the best.

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DaveE128 [1008 posts] 2 years ago
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So do you have a bike with 105 and one with Ultegra? Or used consecutively on same bike? For many people with two bikes it'd be the 105 equipped bike that gets used in poor weather. If it's the same for you, that'd easily explain the longevity difference.

Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

Now, you see to me, I believe there is a night and day performance difference between the two groupsets. 

In that I am talking about braking performance and durability. 

My 105 groupset is now approach two years old, and in that time, I have;

 - worn out 2x rear mechs

 - worn out 1x bottom bracket

 - worn out 1x large chainring

 - 2x cassettes

 - Front STI

 - Both brakes callipers

Conversely, the last Ultegra 6800 groupset I rode (which convinced me to purchase 105), had worn through nothing after 12 months of use.

I've not included chains in teh above, as I am fairly religious at changing these every 2,000km. 

The braking performanc eof 105 is no where near as good as Ultegra, which is purely, IMO, down to the greater resistance in bearings, pivots nad cable of the 105 set up as apposed to Ultegra.

 

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DaveE128 [1008 posts] 2 years ago
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CasperCCC wrote:

I can definitely tell the difference. The shifting on the winter bike is noticably better. Go figure.

Out of interest, how does the cable routing compare?

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paulrattew [283 posts] 2 years ago
1 like
DaveE128 wrote:

So do you have a bike with 105 and one with Ultegra? Or used consecutively on same bike? For many people with two bikes it'd be the 105 equipped bike that gets used in poor weather. If it's the same for you, that'd easily explain the longevity difference.

Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

Now, you see to me, I believe there is a night and day performance difference between the two groupsets.

In that I am talking about braking performance and durability.

My 105 groupset is now approach two years old, and in that time, I have;

 - worn out 2x rear mechs

 - worn out 1x bottom bracket

 - worn out 1x large chainring

 - 2x cassettes

 - Front STI

 - Both brakes callipers

Conversely, the last Ultegra 6800 groupset I rode (which convinced me to purchase 105), had worn through nothing after 12 months of use.

I've not included chains in teh above, as I am fairly religious at changing these every 2,000km.

The braking performanc eof 105 is no where near as good as Ultegra, which is purely, IMO, down to the greater resistance in bearings, pivots nad cable of the 105 set up as apposed to Ultegra.

 

 

I've got both the current version of Ultegra (on a Rose Xeon CDX) and the current version of 105 (on a GT Grade - although this has the 'ultegra' level hydraulic shifters not the crappy '105' versions).

Both are really good. The shifting is very slightly better on the Ultegra, but there's not much in it. I'd go as far as to say that i have experienced no noticeable difference in the rear shifting, whereas the front on the ultegra is a bit smoother.

I've not tried either with rim brakes and both my bikes use the RS685 'ultegra' level disc brakes and shifters. I have tried the RS505 disc brake shifters (105 level) and these are a long way behind the RS685s.

I've not noticed any massive difference between Ultegra and 105 in the longevity of the deraileurs or chain - both seem to be lasting well given the abuse they are getting.

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