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by James Huang
June 8, 2017
Shimano today announced the much-anticipated redesign of its workhorse Ultegra groupset. In typical Shimano fashion, the new Ultegra R8000 groupset is a close cousin to its Dura-Ace R9100 big brother in terms of both design and functionality, including the same updated four-arm crankset design, enhanced Di2 electronic shifting capabilities, and — finally — true Ultegra-branded hydraulic disc brake controls and calipers in both mechanical and electronic variants.
Data-minded cyclists will be disappointed to hear that there is no Ultegra crankarm-based power meter option confirmed as of yet, but R8000’s heavier weight and less elaborate finish relative to Dura-Ace R9100 will nevertheless make it vastly less expensive — and, undoubtedly, will keep it as popular an option as ever for performance-minded riders on more reasonable budgets.
Update (09/2018): Read our in-depth review of Shimano Ultegra R8000.
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Shimano has carried over the previous Ultegra groupset’s striking matte/glossy, dark grey finish, but there’s no mistaking the more modern, Dura-Ace-like aesthetic. This is most obvious in the new crankset, which retains an asymmetric four-arm chainring mounting pattern and hollow-forged aluminum construction, but with radically oversized dimensions throughout that Shimano claims provides greater rigidity while nevertheless shaving a couple of grams relative to the current version.
As before, that same four-arm spider will be shared across all four chainring combination options — 53/39T, 52/36T, 50/34T, and 46/36T — and the outer rings will again feature a deep-profile, hollow structure to boost shift performance. Just like on the latest Dura-Ace R9100 crankset, Ultegra R8000 will feature an inner chainring that is shifted slightly inboard to reduce drivetrain interference on disc-equipped bikes while still officially allowing for chainstays as short as 410mm. Available crankarm lengths will include 165, 170, 172.5, and 175mm.
As before, the Ultegra cassette is built with steel cogs that are attached to a mix of aluminum and carbon fiber composite spiders. Photo: Shimano.
Despite the prevalence of BB30, PF30, and BB386EVO-equipped frames, Shimano is sticking to its long-standing 24mm-diameter, hollow chromoly bottom bracket spindle configuration; there is no 30mm-diameter version available, and Shimano will continue to rely on third-party solutions to fit its cranks into frames with oversized bottom bracket shells.
Gravel and adventure riders will note the distinct lack of smaller sub-compact or single-ring drivetrain options on Ultegra R8000, but Shimano has at least expanded the range of available 11-speed CS-R8000 rear cassette choices. These will include the more traditional road variants (11-25T, 12-25T, 11-28T, 14-28T), but also ones more specifically aimed at long and steep climbs (11-30T and 11-32T). In addition, there’s an extra-wide 11-34T option (CS-HG800) that will fit on Shimano/SRAM-compatible 10-speed freehub bodies, which will allow gravel and adventure riders the freedom to use mountain bike wheelsets and hubs.
Aside from the additional gear ratios on the cassette, neither the cassette nor chain on the new Ultegra R8000 groupset have otherwise changed from the previous edition. Photo: Shimano Australia.
All of those cassettes will use chrome plated steel cogs, with the largest ones mounted to a mix of aluminum and composite spiders.