11 Speed Trickles Down, Shimano’s All New Ultegra 6800 Group
We all knew that with the success of Shimano’s 11 Speed Dura Ace 9000 group, an extra cog was soon on its way to the next step down. Not one to disappoint, Shimano looks to have taken much of the changes that were seen at the top of the line and incorporated them into the work horse of the component world, Ultegra 6800.
It’s more than just another gear, read on for more detail and exclusive tech.
Easily one of the crown jewels of the new group is the all new 4 arm crankset design borrowed from 9000. Due to the 4 arm spider design, chain rings are able to be offered in standard double, compact double, and cyclocross options all on the same crank.
Chainrings will be offered in 53-39, 52-36, 50-34, and a new 46-36 combination specifically for cyclocross racers. This also means that the rings from 6800 Ultegra and 9000 Dura Ace are now interchangeable. This could be good news is you have a Dura Ace equipped bike with a standard double, but maybe need a compact double for a special occasion. Of course the colors won’t match up perfectly, so they’re not completely compatible. Not only will the crank offer more options for gearing, but it shaves about 26g from the previous crank with a crank/BB weight of 765g. The cranksets will be paired with a new, lighter weight threaded bottom bracket for those few lucky frames that still have threads.
Wrapping around the cogs will be the new, narrower Ultegra 11 speed chain. Coated with the same Sil-Tec treatments of the new XTR chain, CN-6800 should offer lower friction, better life, and quieter performance, all while reducing chain weight by 14g.
6800 chains will have the same dimensions as the 11 speed Dura Ace 9000 chains, which are precisely 0.26mm narrower than the 10 speed variants. The intriguing part is that the inner width stays the same, which means the cogs and chain rings are the same width as before.
Furthering the rider tuned gearing options, Shimano is now offering more cassette options from 11-23 to 11-32.
The 11-32 option is thanks to the new 6800 GS mid cage rear derailleur which allows for the bigger 32t cog, up from the previous 30t. While both 105 and Tiagra GS models can handle a 32t cog on 10 speed drivetrains, Ultegra will only run the 32t with the new 11 speed drivetrain since the new derailleur has been built with more clearance for the larger cog. Both front and rear derailleurs have been redesigned with the front derailleur equipped with the same longer leverage arm as 9000, to decrease front shifting effort by a whopping 35%. If you’ve ridden 9000, then you know how good front shifting can be and we’re hoping it’s just as good on Ultegra.
Ergonomics of the new lever are claimed to be near-identical to 9000 levers which is a welcomed change from 6700 for many riders. Combined with a new polymer coated cable set, and the new shifters, 6800 is said to have lighter action and a shorter throw with release throw decreased by 13%. Along with the 6800 group, Shimano is introducing a new polymer coated cable kit that will have a lower price point than the Dura Ace kit, though final pricing is still TBD. The new Ultegra shifters will also receive Shimano’s Vivid Index technology to better define shift engagement by amplifying the feel of the click. In order to help riders dial in the ergonomics, Ultegra will feature 10mm of additional reach adjustment via an adjustment screw just like on the 9000 levers.
No disc brakes here, but there are 6800 versions of the new dual symmetrical pivot rim brake design that offers 16% better performance than the previous brakes. Offered in both standard and direct mount versions, rim brakes just keep getting better.
In order to bring the Ultegra tubeless wheels up to date with 11 speed, 6800 hubs have been updated with a new freehub. In addition, they feature a new cone digital adjustment system for better adjustment and for reduced axial force on the bearings from the quick release. Dropping 12 grams from the hubs brings the WH-6800 wheelset down to 1640g for the set.
Previously only available in the Dura Ace hubs, the Digital adjustment system eliminates the double lock system found on most cup and cone hubs. Instead a ratcheting ring is hidden under an end cap, and to adjust it you just remove the end cap with a 5mm allen, and then simply rotate the ring to remove any play in the bearing.
SPD-SL 6800 pedals are exactly the same, save for some new graphics. Molded from short fiber carbon opposed to Dura Ace’s long fiber, the Ultegra pedals are still within 10 grams of the higher end offering, with a slightly lower bearing spec for a lot less money.
Every time there is a new group, one of the questions inevitably is “will the new X work with my old Ys?” Well, with 6800 the answer is probably not. While the brakes and the new bottom bracket are backwards compatible, the rest of the drive train is not compatible with 10 speed components. Not surprising since it’s an entirely new platform. The good news is that at least Dura Ace 9000 and Ultegra 6800 are now completely compatible which will allow manufacturers and consumers to mix and match.
Weights and Pricing:
Thanks to big weight savings in the crankset and shifters, 6800 ends up 35g less than 6700 even with an extra cog and a few products that are actually heavier. Purchasing an entire group minus the wheels and pedals will run right around $1249.92.
- RD – 195g – $99.99
- FD – 89g – $59.99
- Shifter – 425g – $399.99
- Brake – 335g – $174.99
- Crank/BB – 765g – $319.99
- Cassette – 212g /11-23, 232g/11-25g, 243g/12-25, 251g/11-28, 292g/11-32 – $109.99 (11-28)
- Chain – 253g – $49.99
- Wheels – 1640g – $749.99
- Pedals – $199.99