This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
Shimano’s new Ultegra groupset has now been officially announced. Dubbed R8000 for the mechanical version and R8070 for the electronic Di2 variant with hydraulic disc brakes, the new Ultegra's components will supersede the incredibly successful 6800 and 6870.
The biggest news is that Ultegra branded hydraulic disc brakes are here, though headline improvements include support for a 34t cassette along with the usual weight loss and stiffness enhancements we've come to expect for a group that benefits heavily from Shimano's flagship Dura-Ace line.
There are also a couple of new Ultegra branded wheelsets and an update for Ultegra's carbon SPD-SL pedals.
Shimano Ultegra R8000: every variation explained
Shimano's alphanumeric designations can get a bit confusing, so here are the four versions of the new groupset:
R8000: Mechanical shifting / mechanical rim brakes
R8020: Mechanical shifting / hydraulic disc brakes
R8050: Di2 electronic shifting / mechanical rim brakes
R8070: Di2 electronic shifting / hydraulic disc brakes
The trickle-down treatment
It won’t surprise many of you to learn that most of the technology that has made it onto the new Ultegra R8000 groupset has migrated across from Shimano’s top-tier Dura-Ace line.
In fact, most of the components share what we can safely assume to be more than just a resemblance to the latest generation Dura-Ace 9100 components, which were released back in January.
The all-important colour appears to have got a shade or two darker from the outgoing Ultegra, with the new parts wearing a two-tone contrast finish.
The new Shimano Ultegra Di2 in all its glory
Shimano Ultegra BR-R8070 hydraulic disc brakes
For the first time ever we are seeing the Ultegra marque stamped on hydraulic disc brakes. The closest we’ve come prior to these parts is Shimano’s popular RS-ST685 shift levers, which were sold at roughly an Ultegra level but never held the branding.
The angular flat-mount BR-R8070 calipers appear extremely similar to the BR-R9170 components that belong to new Dura-Ace and include Shimano’s Ice-Tech pads for improved heat management.
Shimano's BR-R8070 flat-mount brake calipers borrow heavily from Dura-Ace
The SM-RT800 disc rotor uses the same three-part sandwich construction as previous designs, putting an aluminium core either side of two stainless steel layers.
Larger cooling fins make for an almost solid appearance but one that is easily distinguished from the mostly black Dura-Ace rotor.
The new SM-RT800 rotor is similar to the Dura Ace equivalent part
Shimano Ultegra R8000 STIs – more precise and ergonomic shifters, further Di2 functionality
The new ST-R8020 hydraulic/mechanical and ST-R8070 hydraulic/Di2 levers appear to have ergonomics similar to that of Shimano’s Dura-Ace equivalents, those being the ST-R9120 and ST-R9170 levers.
Both the Di2 and mechanical levers are said to offer a more defined and positive shift action, which addresses criticism that has often been levelled at Di2 levers of old.
All of the levers in the range are claimed to feature a more positive shift action
Front shifting is claimed to be lighter when paired with the new FD-R8000, and the levers offer a greater range of reach adjustment than before, as well as more free stroke adjustment for the hydraulic versions.
Shimano also claims to use ‘lightweight race-ready materials’ for their construction, and right now we are interpreting that to mean a carbon lever blade.
Shimano ST-R8050 shifter
The Ultegra Di2 levers feature the same programmable button at the top of each hood as the Dura-Ace Di2 parts. These can be assigned various functions such as cycling through menus on GPS computers, controlling lights, or even gear shifting itself.
Shimano Ultegra FC-R8000 Hollowtech II crankset
The new 4-arm chainset has a design that differs slightly from that of the latest Dura-Ace 9100 group
In aesthetic terms the new FC-R8000 Ultegra cranks are somewhere between the outgoing 6800 version and the more recent Dura-Ace 9100 part.The beefy 4-arm design is said to be stiffer and lighter (by just 2g for a 50/34t) than the current 6800 design.
The crankset’s outer chain ring features Shimano’s Hollowglide technology, meaning it's a highly rigid yet hollow structure to cut down on weight and maintain strength for more precise front shifting. As with 9100, a wider gear pitch increases clearances for road bikes with discs, particularly for those with a shorter rear triangle. In practice that should mean a groupset that's more tolerant of sub-optimal chainlines.
Crankset options include a standard 53-39t ratio, mid-compact 52-36t, compact 50-34t, along with a cyclocross-specific 46-36t. Unlike Dura-Ace it doesn’t seem like we will be seeing an integrated power meter anytime soon.
Shimano Ultegra FD-R8050 Di2 front derailleur
The FD-8050 front derailleur is still easily distinguishable as an electronic component but look back to first generation Di2 derailleurs and you'll see how far things have come
Details are light on Shimano’s new Ultegra Di2 front derailleur but we do know it has been designed to offer smooth shifts even under high pedalling torque. Just like the chainset, improved clearances mean that this part will now play nice with chainstays as short as 410mm on bikes with a regular 135mm rear end.
Shimano Ultegra RD-R8050 Di2 rear derailleur
The RD-R8050 rear derailleur is remarkably compact for a Di2 component
The new RD-R8050 rear derailleur looks remarkably compact for an electronic component — just cast your mind back to the chunky first generation Di2 derailleurs. The RD-R8050 also sports the low-profile Shadow design that debuted on Shimano’s mountain bike derailleurs many years ago and more recently on Dura-Ace 9100.
Two versions will be sold, an SS short cage part, which is good for cassettes between 11-25t and 11-30t and a longer cage GS version which will now support a cassette with a 34 tooth big sprocket.
Shimano Ultegra CS-R8000 and CS-HG800 cassettes
The new CS-8000 cassette is available in 11-25t, 11-28t, 11-30t, 11-32t, 12-25t, and 14-28t while a wider 11-34t cassette will also be sold
The 11-speed cassette sprocket of new Ultegra comes in six 'standard' sizes (CS-R8000; 11-25t, 11-28t, 11-30t, 11-32t, 12-25t, 14-28t) while the new wider range 11-34t (CS-HG800) cassette that we mentioned above can be used with the longer of two derailleurs (GS rather than SS).
The 11-34t is the same width as Shimano's mountain bike cassettes, so it will fit on MTB wheels or road wheels with an extra spacer.
A deconstructed example of Shimano's CS-R8000 cassette demonstrates how intricate this part is
Like Shimano’s current Di2 components, the new generation parts are fully compatible with the company’s full and semi-synchronized shifting programmes. The former requires the rider to operate one shifter only (the right-hand one, by default), issuing an ‘up’ or ‘down’ command, and the system decides when to shift the front derailleur.
In ‘semi-synchronized’ mode, the rider shifts normally, but front shifts are accompanied by an automated rear shift to smooth the transition, avoiding a sudden change in effort.
As with Dura-Ace, there's considerable scope for customisation of the shifting arrangements using Shimano's own app.
Shimano Ultegra FD-R8000 mechanical front derailleur
Shimano is particularly proud of the FD-R8000 front derailleur, claiming that its new link construction matches the "force curve" of the hand more naturally, to reduce effort towards the end of a shift.
This new design does away with the long arm used on the current 6800 Ultegra and at the same time also allows for more flexible cable routing, as a cable tension adjustment is built into the derailleur.
There's no need to mess around with the old TL-FD68 cable setup tool, and no inline barrel adjuster is required either. Like the Di2 equivalent, it works comfortably for designs with a short rear centre (minimum 410mm with a rear O.L.D of 135mm).
Shimano Ultegra RD-R8000 rear derailleur
Shimano's RD-R8000 rear derailleur borrows Shimano's Shadow technology for a slicker and presumably more aero part
Like the Di2 version, the RD-R8000 mechanical rear derailleur inherits Shimano’s low profile Shadow design. The mechanical derailleur's limit adjust screws now use hex heads as they have done on Di2 for some time.
Shimano Ultegra BR-R8000 dual-pivot brake caliper
Shimano BR-R8000 dual-pivot caliper brake
A new angular design distinguishes Shimano’s latest dual-pivot caliper brakes from the parts used in the 6800 groupset and they’re claimed to be more efficient too.
A narrower gap between the arms makes for slicker looks, despite this there’s still room for 28mm tyres. Lighter direct-mount front and rear versions are also going to be available.
All-new Shimano Ultegra wheels
Shimano's new WH-RS700 C30 wheelset
Complementing the new Ultegra line-up are two new lightweight wheelsets: the tubeless carbon-laminate WH-RS700 rim brake wheels (which replace the Ultegra WH-6800) and the tubeless WH-RS770 disc brake wheels (pictured below) with thru-axles.
The all-new RS770-C30-TL wheelset
New hubs (HB/FH-RS700/770) at the heart of each wheel save just under 60g compared to a pair of Ultegra 6800 hubs, while the rims use a new lighter yet stiffer carbon layup procedure to create a rim brake wheelset that comes in 80g lighter than its predecessor.
Shimano Ultegra ST-8060 Synchronized TT shifters
A new pair of new dual control Ultegra ST-8060 levers offers a simpler and lighter shifting solution for triathletes and time trial riders.
These shifters use just one button per side and utilise Shimano's Syncronized Shifting technology (as explained above). One shift button and the switch box of the ST-6871 unit have been removed, making the design smaller, shorter and more aerodynamic.
Shimano's ST-R8060 shifter simplifies things significantly for triathletes
For those who still want two buttons, compatible options here still include the non-series SW-R671 TT shifters plus the SW-R600 or SW-R610 climbing or sprint buttons.
Shimano Ultegra R8070 Di2 groupset
Shimano Ultegra R8000 weights
In its lightest configuration (Di2 w/ mechanical rim brakes), Ultegra R8000 comes in at a claimed 4,071g, which is an 84.5g saving over Ultegra 6800.
By comparison, new Ultegra gives away just over 500g to a Dura-Ace R9100 groupset (3,566g) with equivalent components.
BikeRadar has obtained an exclusive first look on the Ultegra R8000 mechanical rim brake groupset, and actual verified weights are as follows:
FC-R8000 crankset (50/34, 172.5mm): 685g
ST-R8000 levers: 419g/pair
RD-R8000 SS rear derailleur: 198g
FD-R8000 front derailleur: 89g
BR-R8000 brakes: 183g front / 180g rear
CS-R8000 11-28t cassette: 246g
Bottom bracket: 76g
Pricing and availability
Ultegra R8000 mechanical rim brake components can be expected to arrive in Europe from June, while Di2 and disc brake components are said to be arriving from August. International pricing is to be confirmed.
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