Shimano has officially announced the new Ultegra R8000 groupset and we're pretty excited.
Words - James Raison
The new Ultegra release is a big deal. Shimano's second tier groupset is fitted to a huge number of bikes. It offers most of the performance of top-tier Dura Ace but for signficantly reduced price. Speaking of cash, we haven't seen a price list yet but according to Shimano Australia the groupset will be available in August of this year.
Shimano has released a lot of info about the many variations of the groupset so we've pulled out the major parts for your reading pleasure.
The new R8000 crank is basically a lower tech, similar looking to R9100 the series crankset, but in grey. The outer chainring has Hollowglide tech to improve front shifting.
We’re really digging the matte grey finish. It’s a nice touch and will please a lot of people who didn’t care for the R9000 series glossy black. I was a bit sceptical about the R9100 series aesthetic but I think it looks better on the R8000.
- 53/39 - 690g
- 52/36 - 681g
- 50/34 - 674g
- 46/36 - 668g
There’s a whole lot going on with the new shifting system with options for rim and hydro disc with both mechanical and electronic shifting. So here goes…
Shimano are promising standard improvements here: better ergonomics, smoother shifts etc. Ultegra 6800 was already excellent so improving that is just fine by us. The shift action will likely be close to R9100s ultra-snappiness.
Mechanical systems have removed in-line barrel cable tension adjustor and replaced it with an allen key adjustment. That’s expected to make fine adjustments for easier and more precise.
Mechanical shifter options:
- Rim brake ST-R8000 438g
- Disc brake: ST-R8020 550g
There looks to be a major improvement on the electronic shifting side with new shifting capabilities and re-vamped buttons.
The new Di2 system ships with Synchronised Shifting capability. Feel free to read our full description of Synchro-Shift but in short, you can let your Di2 system either be set to:
- Full Synchro Shift: automatically changing the front derailleur and rear derailleurs when you start cross-chaining.
- Semi Synchro Shift: just change the rear derailleur when you shift chainrings to keep a smoother cadence.
It looks like the shifting buttons have grown considerably in size, which is brilliant news. The old Di2 buttons were a little on the small side.
Shifters are now series-specific with the new ST-R8070, rather than the old R785 shifters that were the only option for electronic hydro. They’ve sprouted Dura Ace 9070’s Di2 magical mystery buttons on top of the hoods that can be programmed to change gears or even interact with compatible bike computers or lights. It'll be fun to play with the button mapping through Shimano's E-Tube software. Four shift levers, plus 2 buttons on the hood, and Synchro Shift mean there could be some very creative shifting going on.
Electronic shifter options:
- Rim brake: ST-R8050: 295g
- Disc brake: ST-R8070 360g
There’s a promised improvement to lever stroke adjustment, something that we are looking forward to. The R785 took a lot of lever pull to get the brakes to engage so hopefully that can be reduced.
The new Ultegra carbon SPD-SL pedals reduce stack but 0.7 mm and shave off 12g from the 6800 series.
What we like is the option for a 4 mm longer axle. Good news for anyone needing that extra width for a greater range of fitting options.
Once again we’re looking at a trickled down R9100 rear derailleur design. The “Shadow” design means it tucks in a lot closer to the frame than the previous generation. Aerodynamics are the speed benefit, but we’re more interested in the daily functional benefits. The derailleur is closer to the bike, and thus more protected from scrapes and bashes. That should mean less damage if your bike happens to fall over, or some jerk scrapes it against a wall trying to make space for their own bike. We’d hope that also protects derailleur hangers a bit more too.
There’s a short for 11-25T to 11-30T cassettes and long cage for 11-28T to 11-34T.
The new rear derailleurs have a properly aggressive look to them with sharp angles everywhere. With the proper tweaks it's likely that they'll be able to handle cassettes bigger than what Shimano recommends - but naturally we wouldn't encourage that. We are looking forward to seeing what the mechanics can do with them.
The front mech has had a cosmetic and tech upgrade taking from R9100 and comes with promises of improved shifting under load. It's been optimised to work with the front chainrings for better shifting. Can't deny they look badass either.
There’s a lot of stopping options for the new R8000 series with rim and disc brakes getting an overhaul.
There’s an all-new BR-R8070 disc caliper that weighs in at 280g. Those are paired with a blingy new rotor that rocks some new fins for greater surface area and thus heat disippation.
The sweet new discs weigh in at 212g for the pair.
The dual-pivot design is back for the R8000 series and it’s joined by a direct-mount design. Both will accomnodate a 28 mm tyre. Dual-pivot has a stabilizer between the arms for greater braking efficiency. You’re looking at 360g for a pair of the dual pivot rim brake calipers.
The new Ultegra brings both a tubeless carbon laminate rim brake version - WH-RS700 - and a thru-axle tubeless disc brake version - WH-RS770. They're good looking wheels too with a subtle aesthetic. The last generation was a little decal heavy.
Shimano have managed to shave 80g off the 6800 series wheels with 60g out of the hub alone.
Shimino make rock solid wheels. We're looking forward to trying their new disc set pictured below.
There’s now 6 size cassette sizes giving consumers a wide range of options.
- CS-R8000: 11-25T, 11-28T, 11-30T, 11-32T, 12-25T, 14-28T
- CS-HG800: 11-34T
You'll soon be able to rock a 34x34 combo with your Ultegra drivetrain.
There's just so much to go through with the new groupset. We've upload the ENTIRE gallery of images for every part of the new Ultegra for the ultra nerds!