We all knew this was coming sooner or later; it was just a question of timing. Two weeks ago SRAM launched Force-22 which brought much of the technology of RED including an 11-speed cassette to the more price oriented Force group. Today we see Shimano doing the same with its Ultegra group. BikeRumor and BikeRadar both took a look at the changes to Ultegra today, and we can give you the highlights.
The biggest item will obviously be the upgrade to 11-speed, but to say that the only benefit of 6800 over 6700 is an extra cog would be ignoring all that Shimano has done with its newest iteration of Ultegra. Ultegra 6800 has been upgraded from top to bottom with trickle down technologies from its DuraAce big brother. Most noticeable is the 4 arm crankset we first saw with DuraAce 9000. By going from the 5 arm to the 4 arm you save 26g with no loss of stiffness. The new chainring will be offered in 53-39, 52-36, 50-34, and 46-36, and is interchangeable with DuraAce.
The new 6800 rear derailleur is all new, and includes a new spring mechanism that ensures consistent shifting across the cassettes range. On our test bikes we have bother Ultegra 6700 and DuraAce 7900 and one of the items we have always notices is how much crisper changing the rear cogs felt with DA. With the upgrades in 6800 we expect to see Ultegra feeling just as crispy as its big brother. The road shifters also got an upgrade in the form of carbon fiber levels and a new polymer coated cable which results in a lighter action and shorter throw, both borrowed from DA9K.
For the same reasons we were such huge fans of SRAM’s Force 22, we are equally as happy to see the new 6800. You are getting fantastic components, with trickle down technology from their big brothers for much less money and just a little more weight.