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  1. #1
    Senior Member smurf hunter's Avatar
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    Difference between Shimano road cranks

    Hi,

    I'm looking to upgrade my lowish-end 10 speed Bontrager crankset that came stock on my LeMond. I'd prefer something a bit stiffer, better quality chain rings, and saving some weight would be welcomed, but isn't crucial. I also plan to keep it triple, since my drive train is setup that way, and I'm not ashamed to use the granny gear on the last half of a hilly century ride. Also assume 105 is the lowest group I'd go with.

    1) What are the differences in the crank arms between 105, Ultegra and D.A.? (exclude rings)
    2) What are the differences in rings between those?
    3) Can the same external BB cups work interchangeably across those groups?
    4) Can rings be used interchangeably across those groups?

    I'm not opposed to buying used, eBay, or a non-standard setup (different ring sized etc.).
    Thanks

    -Sean
    1990 Merida Albontech DX
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  2. #2
    2011 TCR Advanced SL Spinz's Avatar
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    Aside from a few cosmetic differences --- weight. Lp

  3. #3
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    The latest Dura Ace version (7900) doesn't offer a triple and the previous one (7800) had an odd-ball arangement where the granny ring bolted to tabs on the middle ring. So, for a real triple you are limited to 105 or Ultegra.

    Differences are weight, minor cosmetics, bling and, of course, cost.

    Yes, all of the external bb cups interchange. Chainrings do interchange also except for the Dura Ace 7800 granny.

  4. #4
    Gear Hub fan
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    It used to be that the 105 crankset was "melt forged" which I believe is basically pressure die cast. Ultegra and Dura Ace were true forged which is supposed to provide a stronger final part. Not sure if this is still true.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatfiend View Post
    It used to be that the 105 crankset was "melt forged" which I believe is basically pressure die cast. Ultegra and Dura Ace were true forged which is supposed to provide a stronger final part. Not sure if this is still true.
    True forging allows a lighter part with the same strength so the old 105 was slightly heavier than Ultegra or Dura Ace but just as strong.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Herbie53's Avatar
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    Maybe this is already assumed, here, but the biggest change in Shimano cranks I've seen is going to integrated spindle and external bearings / cups.

    I replaced an old square taper 105 set on my old Schwinn Tempo with a set of current 105 (from Craigslist for $50) -- the change in bottom bracket stiffness was amazing. I'm 6'4" and 215# and used to be able to induce chain rub on about any climb -- not now.
    "Today me will live in the moment, unless it's unpleasant, then me will eat cookie." -Cookie Monster

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie53 View Post
    Maybe this is already assumed, here, but the biggest change in Shimano cranks I've seen is going to integrated spindle and external bearings / cups.
    Correct but by now, that change has occured throughout the product line.

  8. #8
    Senior Member smurf hunter's Avatar
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    All good info. Thanks.

    If the different grades of BB cups are interchangeable with different cranksets, is it worth a few extra $$$ to get the best (Dura-ace) cups? Being a bigger guy who rides hills, I tend to murder ball bearings, so if durability improves with the better groups it could be a smart investment.
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  9. #9
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    Senior Member meb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    True forging allows a lighter part with the same strength so the old 105 was slightly heavier than Ultegra or Dura Ace but just as strong.
    And the Dura Ace forges the metal while cold which results in a component stronger per lb. than forging while hot like the Ultegra which in turn results in a stronger per lb component that the cast-like approach on the 105s.

  10. #10
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    I've got both an Ultegra (6603) and 105 (5603) triple Hollowtech II (external BB) on different bikes, the only difference being that the Ultegra has 172.5mm cranks whereas the 105 has 170mm cranks. I recently weighed each of them without any chainrings and the weight difference was minimal - 613 grams for the Ultegra and 625 for the 105.

    When including the stock chainrings, there would be a more dignificant difference in weight because the 105 rings are not as light as the Ultegra, but the weight of the cranksets are virtually identical. The Shimano website claims that the Ultegra SL double crankset (6601) is 45 grams less than the standard Ultegra double (6600), which I assume is also true for the Ultegra SL triple (6604) versus the standard Ultegra triple (6603). However, that weight difference includes the crankset, chainrings, and BB cups, so it's not clear where the weight saving is.

    I don't know anything about some being hot-forged versus cast, but they sure look the same except for the finishing colour. Shimano's website lists both the Ultegra and 105 cranksets as being made using "hollow forging technology".

    Since I rarely use the stock chainrings, if I was buying a new crankset then I'd probably go for the 105's. If I planned to use the chainrings then I might go for the Ultegra or Ultegra SL. If you do plan to use the chainrings then notice the other difference between 105 and Ultegra triples - the 105 triple has a 50-tooth big ring, whereas the Ultegra has a 52-tooth big ring. The shape of the front derailleurs in each range differ slightly to be tuned perfectly for the stock chainring sizes (39-50 vs 39-52).

  11. #11
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    As far as I know the 105 chain rings are stamped and the Ultegra/DA ones are machined. I know the 105 ones don't shift quite as well.

  12. #12
    Senior Member smurf hunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    If you do plan to use the chainrings then notice the other difference between 105 and Ultegra triples - the 105 triple has a 50-tooth big ring, whereas the Ultegra has a 52-tooth big ring. The shape of the front derailleurs in each range differ slightly to be tuned perfectly for the stock chainring sizes (39-50 vs 39-52).
    Good point about big ring size differences. On my commuter I put on a smaller geared crankset, since the bike is heavy and I'm always climbing. A side benefit is I use more of the rear cassette and have a straighter chainline.

    Given my strength, size, and weight of my road bike (21lbs) I can't push 52x12 on the flats for long. Maybe losing a couple teeth up front wouldn't be a terrible thing.
    1990 Merida Albontech DX
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