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Ultegra Di2 or Dura Ace mechanical

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Ultegra Di2 or Dura Ace mechanical

Old 03-26-20, 02:34 PM
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grizzle54
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Ultegra Di2 or Dura Ace mechanical

I'm looking at a setup that offers these two component sets for the same price... I've not used electronic shifting. Any opinions and reasoning behind them? I get the electronic vs mech pros and cons, but does it matter when comparing across models?
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Old 03-26-20, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by grizzle54 View Post
I'm looking at a setup that offers these two component sets for the same price... I've not used electronic shifting. Any opinions and reasoning behind them? I get the electronic vs mech pros and cons, but does it matter when comparing across models?
Chloe asks if this is even a real question
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Old 03-26-20, 02:51 PM
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Di2 hands down.

- DA will be lighter.
- Di2 will probably shift as well if not better and means you will not likely need to ever change your shift cables.
- You'll be changing bar tape only when the old gets chewed up.
- If the frame is all internal cabling, you won't be dealing with a yearly swap of shift cables, which are a bit more effort for internal.
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Old 03-26-20, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by grizzle54 View Post
I'm looking at a setup that offers these two component sets for the same price... I've not used electronic shifting. Any opinions and reasoning behind them? I get the electronic vs mech pros and cons, but does it matter when comparing across models?
Not really. Ultegra vs Dura-Ace is largely an issue of weight, there's not really any functional difference between them. And really, there's not much room for there to be functional difference between them: even Claris works pretty much perfectly when it's in good adjustment.
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Old 03-26-20, 02:59 PM
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Hey eduskator, thanks for the snarky response. See that word under my name... it says newbie. That means I'm not only new to the forum but you could also guess cycling(only a few years). I'm having trouble understanding the nuances of components. I've read enough to hear people always say they would get DA if they can afford it... and others that say Ultegra is great if you don't mind the little bit of weight, which I shouldn't really care since I'm not a competitive rider.
I'm more concerned about smooth shifting since I'm heavier and have a lot of hills(can be rough shifting under load). I also don't care about cost so I'd like something I'm not going to out grow.

Last edited by cb400bill; 03-26-20 at 04:48 PM. Reason: No name calling
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Old 03-26-20, 03:02 PM
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Thanks Steve and HTupolev
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Old 03-26-20, 03:39 PM
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I've never ridden any electronic groupset, so, I am of no use to you on that--sorry.

That said, I have ridden mechanical Ultegra and 105 extensively. I've only ridden the 9100 version of Dura Ace once and pretty briefly. Amazing. Now, I am not some kind of cycling genius, just a guy who rides a lot. What I would say about these three mechanical groupsets is that, were I riding blind, I don't believe there is any way I could distinguish between the shifting performance of 105 R7000 and the current DA. Perhaps on some psychotic hill and a sudden need for immediate, total stoppage, maybe those Dura Ace brakes are a bit better? Dunno about that, but as far as shifting goes, to me, they are the same. Obviously, DA has some technology the other two lack and is, of course, much lighter.

Not really sure where Shimano is going with this, business-wise. 105 is currently such an insane value, I don't know what their value proposition for customers buying new Ultegra is (mech., that is). I have owned and do currently own some Ultegra. But were I buying a bike with mechanical now, I would almost certainly get the 105 R7000 and put that extra money in wheels/other gear. Another nice power meter. etc. Shimano are going to have to do something to better differentiate the two in the next round of updgrades, or Ultegra will become irrelevant for many buyers, IMO. Just my own personal business take and others' mileage may, of course, vary.

Some people really like SRAM. I have owned it and really liked that unique shifting setup. I have found Shimano to be a bit more reliable, though. It might be also worth considering. Don't know anything about Campagnolo.
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Old 03-26-20, 04:29 PM
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THUMBS UP!! If you have nothing constructive to add to the conversation than keep quiet, nod your head, and SMILE!
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Old 03-26-20, 04:41 PM
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I have ridden both and currently have Ultegra DI2 on my bike. Same price? It is DI2 all day. When I first got the Ultegra a couple of years ago, people asked about it. At the time I said that it was fantastic but wasn't necessarily worth the extra money unless you had it to spend or were a racer or whatever. It shifts faster and better than mechanical - picture going up hill and having to grab a lower gear under heavy load. No pause or scraping or whatever. It just happens! Do it, do it now
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Old 03-26-20, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by grizzle54 View Post
Hey eduskator, thanks for the snarky response. See that word under my name... it says newbie. That means I'm not only new to the forum but you could also guess cycling(only a few years). I'm having trouble understanding the nuances of components. I've read enough to hear people always say they would get DA if they can afford it... and others that say Ultegra is great if you don't mind the little bit of weight, which I shouldn't really care since I'm not a competitive rider.
I'm more concerned about smooth shifting since I'm heavier and have a lot of hills(can be rough shifting under load). I also don't care about cost so I'd like something I'm not going to out grow. It's too bad my first encounter is with a snobbish dick than someone willing to mentor and educate. You do the sport proud.
To someone who isn't a professional racer or else Bill Gates (I'm old, maybe now I should start saying Jeff Bezos?) Ultegra is our Dura-Ace in that it's lighter and better than all the lines below it, but is still relatively affordable. As far as Di2 goes, it's the future baby, and you may as well go big or go home. Seriously though, I have Ultegra Di2 (the second most recent version, 6870, not the R8000-series version) and it's just plain awesome. I'd say if you have a choice between mechanical Dura-Ace and Di2 Ultegra for the same cash, go Di2 and don't look back. That's just one schmuck's opinion.
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Old 03-26-20, 04:46 PM
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grizzle54, a couple years ago I faced a similar decision. I chose the Ultegra Di2 and haven't once regretted that decision. It is very reliable and shifts very smooth and quick. It doesn't complain when I shift it under load. It has been everything that I hoped it would be.
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Old 03-26-20, 07:23 PM
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Thank you for the thoughtful replies. I think the U Di2 is the right choice for me.
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Old 03-26-20, 07:29 PM
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+1 for Ultegra di2, I have about 1200 miles on my new di2 bike and it's fantastic, I won't ever go back. In fact, I'll be switching the gravel bike to di2 when the budget allows. I went through four rear shift cables last year, and now I never have to worry about cables again.
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Old 03-26-20, 07:37 PM
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For the record, the two setups are on the Trek project one site. The SLR 8 is the DA mech and the SLR7 is the U Di2. Both start at the same price.
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Old 03-26-20, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by grizzle54 View Post
I'm looking at a setup that offers these two component sets for the same price... I've not used electronic shifting. Any opinions and reasoning behind them? I get the electronic vs mech pros and cons, but does it matter when comparing across models?
Originally Posted by eduskator View Post
Chloe asks if this is even a real question
Originally Posted by grizzle54 View Post
Hey eduskator, thanks for the snarky response. See that word under my name... it says newbie. That means I'm not only new to the forum but you could also guess cycling(only a few years). I'm having trouble understanding the nuances of components. I've read enough to hear people always say they would get DA if they can afford it... and others that say Ultegra is great if you don't mind the little bit of weight, which I shouldn't really care since I'm not a competitive rider.
I'm more concerned about smooth shifting since I'm heavier and have a lot of hills(can be rough shifting under load). I also don't care about cost so I'd like something I'm not going to out grow.
Lighten up Francis. Don't be so thin skinned.

As you've seen from the responses here, that's not much of a question. Di2 is simply better than mechanical shifting, and the real difference between Ultegra and Dura-Ace is weight.

Last edited by noodle soup; 03-26-20 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 03-26-20, 07:56 PM
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For me, Di2 hands down without question any day of the week. I have a P-One SLR 7 and absolutely love it and Di2. First bike I've ever owned with electronic shifting and have zero regrets with the purchase. Honestly, DA would a total waste for me since I'm a recreational/enthusiast rider and would never realize any real benefit from DA. In fact if I had to choose between Ultegra & DA I'd pick Ultegra & pocket the difference or buy a power meter or something else I would enjoy. But that's just me and my non-racing riding style.
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Old 03-26-20, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
Lighten up Francis. Don't be so thin skinned.

As you've seen from the responses here, that's not much of a question. Di2 is simply better than mechanical shifting, and the real difference between Ultegra and Dura-Ace is weight.
Yes exactly, answers from people who have politely explained that distinction. Is that an unreasonable thing to ask for? I joined to tap a knowledge base, not be dismissed. Btw, thanks for telling me how I should react to jackasses.
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Old 03-26-20, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by grizzle54 View Post
Yes exactly, answers from people who have politely explained that distinction. Is that an unreasonable thing to ask for? I joined to tap a knowledge base, not be dismissed. Btw, thanks for telling me how I should react to jackasses.
are you new to internet message boards?
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Old 03-26-20, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
Lighten up Francis. Don't be so thin skinned.


As you've seen from the responses here, that's not much of a question. Di2 is simply better than mechanical shifting, and the real difference between Ultegra and Dura-Ace is weight.

Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
are you new to internet message boards?

I have looked... and you know what you find? DA, Ultegra, 105 and Tiagra all weigh and cost differently. Is the DA derailleur engineered differently to provide smoother shifting than ultegra... and ultegra better than 105... is that even a thing.. is weight the only factor between the models? That's something a novice wouldn't know. You also find Di2 vs mech. Obviously(based on said internet message boards) Di is smoother when comaparing U di2 vs U mech... but if there is a difference in shifting between models, does that mean DA mech is as smooth as U di2? Show me that comparison.


I find it funny that in a time where I literally can't go to a bike shop(thanks covid) and have to turn to what appears to be a knowledgeable online community, I find a couple of guys who would rather sit in a circle jerk and ridicule honest questions than to be decent and help("oh you should know that moron.. hiccup burp"). Numbers don't tell the whole story so personal experience and input from veterans is invaluable. I am thankful the majority of people here are open to bringing new cyclists up to speed and building a larger community. There are people like you in every industry... I get it... the world is less for it unfortunately.
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Old 03-26-20, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by grizzle54 View Post
I find it funny that in a time where I literally can't go to a bike shop(thanks covid) and have to turn to what appears to be a knowledgeable online community, I find a couple of guys who would rather sit in a circle jerk and ridicule honest questions than to be decent and help("oh you should know that moron.. hiccup burp"). Numbers don't tell the whole story so personal experience and input from veterans is invaluable. I am thankful the majority of people here are open to bringing new cyclists up to speed and building a larger community. There are people like you in every industry... I get it... the world is less for it unfortunately.
You're just making it worse. You've gotten some good feedback from quite a few folks here who directly answered your questions. If you engage those people, and ignore the others, you'd probably be better off.

To your other questions: the mechanical derailleur sets are so good these days you'd really have to be picking at nits to find the noticeable advantages of one over the next level up or down in terms of actual shifting. Shimano tries to impress upon us that the higher-end sets use some more expensive materials, or get some extra machine steps, or whatever, but in the end, the biggest advantage of them is weight and prestige. If you're not a pro, and you're also not vain, then there's no real reason to go with Dura Ace unless you just want to. Cycling is a hobby for most of us, and hobby money expenditures don't have to be justified by things like logic and cost/benefit analyses. Some people like having the best, and it really floats their boat to have it, so they buy it.

For whatever combination of personal vanity or just some indescribable and unjustifiable personal preference I'm an Ultegra guy. It's the best of all the non-Dura Ace sets, while still costing just half of what Dura Ace costs. The difference in cost from Ultegra on down is much smaller, so I personally consider Ultegra to be the "sweet spot" on a price per goodness basis. I'd be hard pressed to justify my preference for Ultegra over, say, 105, by pointing to actual benefits other than a couple hundred grams or something. For a 255-lb clydesdale that's not an argument I'm prepared to make, other than I just like Ultegra better, so there it is.

Anyhow, Di2 is awesome. It's more than just the smooth and quick shifts. It also takes almost no effort. You're literally just clicking a button. I'll just reach down with my middle finger (to shift up) or pointer finger (to shift down) and press it, and it's nearly instantly and smoothly done. Is it really worth the hundreds of dollars difference in price? I don't know. Thankfully I don't have to justify myself to anyone but my wife, and she was cool with it. I also like that I never have to swap brake cables, I can adjust my derailleur if I need to with a few clicks on the button, no screwdrivers, no looking up on the internet what the screws are for again because I forgot since the last time I adjusted them, no nothing. Oh, and I've only got something like 2300 miles on my new bike with Di2, and have only charged the battery I think twice, and the second time it wasn't even close to gone, I'd just gotten home from a military deployment and figured it would be a good idea to start with a fresh charge and not have to worry about it for another 5 or 6 months. Di2 is the shiznit my friend. Get it and you'll never go back.
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Old 03-27-20, 12:27 AM
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Rear Cassette

I see you ride hills. Probably ought to consider cassette gearing available for each rear derailleur.

Another question to ask yourself is “Do I want a lower gear range cassette that requires a GS derailleur”?

105 & Ultegra are available in both SS short cage and GS. I don’t believe DA mech or elect are. Don’t know about Di2

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Old 03-27-20, 03:30 AM
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Originally Posted by BarryVee View Post
I see you ride hills. Probably ought to consider cassette gearing available for each rear derailleur.

Another question to ask yourself is “Do I want a lower gear range cassette that requires a GS derailleur”?

105 & Ultegra are available in both SS short cage and GS. I don’t believe DA mech or elect are. Don’t know about Di2
This is a great point. Ultegra comes with a "medium cage" rear derailleur which enables you to accommodate an 11-34 cassette which is not possible with Dura Ace RD. This gearing is more optimized for climbing at higher cadence. Domane SLR7 comes with this RD.

I have several bikes with UDI2 including my latest Project One below. It is simply wonderful.

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Old 03-27-20, 03:45 AM
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I stopped reading a few posts back, but I gather we've got some crossed wires here.

OP, your question is totally fair enough from a noob's perspective, but it's also exactly the sort of post that can go on for pages and pages, like disc vs rim brakes, hence eduskator's dismissive response; I'm pretty sure he took you for a sock puppet, which I don't think anybody's made clear.
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Old 03-27-20, 04:13 AM
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How about 9100 Di2? I have both and they perform exactly the same, but that Dura-Ace logo looks better. (Finish may look better too)

Get the Di2 and don’t look back. I have it now on all 3 bikes and it’s a no brainer.
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Old 03-27-20, 05:35 AM
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I'd say the answer to this question depends whether you're a sensible person, or just a little bit nuts for bikes, and want to feel that state of the art drivetrain through the tactile nerve of a mechanical cable. And also, mechanical derailers look better.

I'd be torn. If we're talking disc though, the purism is broken; I'd go for the Ultegra Di2, but with the less ugly Dura-Ace rotors.
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