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  1. #1
    Macro Geek
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    XTR vs. XT and Ultegra vs. 105

    I am in the process of choosing components for a custom-built touring bicycle. The bike will include mountain components (e.g., gears and derailleur), and road components (e.g., handlebars and brakes).

    In terms of durability, mechanical precision, and ease of maintenance, what are the important differences between Ultegra and 105 stuff, and between XT and LX gear? I have already ruled out Durace and XTR components on the basis of price alone. My goal is to ensure that I make best use my bike budget. Will I notice a difference if I opt for the more expensive components? How can I save on components so that I can sink more money into the frame and fork?

    I would especially appreciate hearing about people's experiences with Ultegra vs. 105 1) hubs and 2) STI brakes. However, any opinions about the relative merits (or disadvantages) of the different lines of components will also be appreciated.

    Alan
    acantor@interlog.com

  2. #2
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Scccccrrrrrpppppptttttttt!

    That's the sound of a can of worms getting opened!

    I can notice a difference between 105 and Ultegra, but almost none between Ultegra and Dura Ace.

    Same goes for LX to XT and XT to XTR.

    I'd stick with Ultegra and XT level components for precision, and durability.

    L8R
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  3. #3
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a2psyklnut
    Scccccrrrrrpppppptttttttt!

    That's the sound of a can of worms getting opened!

    I can notice a difference between 105 and Ultegra, but almost none between Ultegra and Dura Ace.

    Same goes for LX to XT and XT to XTR.

    I'd stick with Ultegra and XT level components for precision, and durability.

    L8R
    I'll back that up.

  4. #4
    Crank Crushing Redneck SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
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    A2 and Raiyn has it right. XTR and DURA ACE are good if you just want to get the best and most expensive without getting a proportional increase in performance.

    I have had them all and I'd just as soon have Ultegra and XT as anything.

    Interestingly enough the absolute best longevity I ever got from a set of road wheels came from a set of RX100 road hubs that came on an entry level road bike I bought years ago. those wheels and hubs would not die. I have trashed wheels that cost 5 times as much since and in short order.

    I am convinced that in the process of creating super light components the sacrafice is in its useful lifespan. More maintenance is required to keep the ultra high grade stuff working also. I have had frequent adjustments made to my dura ace derailleurs while my older Ultegra stays dialed in with little or no maintenance.
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  5. #5
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Anything made by Chris King is the exception. If you want to buy a headset you don't ever have to worry about get a Chris King!

    L8R
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
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  6. #6
    newbie newbie georgesnatcher's Avatar
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    I agree about the DA and Ultegra, but. I think when it comes to MTB components XTR is way beyond XT. Don't get me wrong XT is a really good group (had it on my last bike), I just find XTR to be smoother and more "accurate". Maybe you can find some old XTR at a good price and work it in. I really like their old rear der.

  7. #7
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    XTR won't last as long as XT. That wonderful accuracy and lightweight comes at a price (and I'm not talking$$$).

  8. #8
    Crank Crushing Redneck SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
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    Exactly Raiyn. I want more product life for my money than accuracy. Besides the accuracy is so good with even LX or Deore it is not even a significant issue. I have LX shifters on a bike right now that have been working fine for almost 5 years of steady riding.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  9. #9
    Senior Member JasBike's Avatar
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    Just thought I'd say that the accuracy of my XT is 100% perfect. I can't even imagine how to improve this derailer, and I don't see how XTR could be necessary

  10. #10
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    I'm running an all XT driveline right now on My Rockhopper (except for the crankset and BB) and the only reason I upgraded to that was due to the fact i wanted the lower end (but gently used) Deore and LX stuff that the bike came with for my (originally Alivo) commuter bike.

  11. #11
    newbie newbie georgesnatcher's Avatar
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    I guess I'm spoiled then. I had Deore on one bike, XT on the next and XTR on my current one. I thought each move upwards was better than the last.

  12. #12
    Crank Crushing Redneck SamDaBikinMan's Avatar
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    I do not think it is an issue of better it is just an issue of is it good enough. But my personal experience with XTR was not of significant improvement that would compel me to pay the high pricetag again. Especially the new ultra high pricetag. But for me money is an object and acceptable performance does not require the gold plated stuff.

    Good quality wheels will make a much larger difference than almost any upgrade. If weight is an issue then light tires will make the most difference. Tires and wheels/hubsets are the single most cumbersome parts of a bike. Poor choices here will make or break you.
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  13. #13
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    I think the levers have more to do with precision in the rear mech, anyway.

    One one bike I have Ultegra levers and drivetrain but with an XTR RD (2001). It, of course, performs wonderfully.

    On the other bike I recently replaced the rear lever (was a Sora, which wore out) with a 105 lever. This bike has an LX RD.

    To be perfectly honest, to me there is very little (if any) noticeable difference in shifting performance between the Ultegra/XTR combo and the 105/LX combo in normal road riding on a touring-type bike. In critical applications, racing or precision technical off-road riding, maybe it would matter.

    If I were building up a similar bike today I'd probably go with Ultegra and XT.

    RichC
    Training: 2002 Fuji Roubaix Pro (105 triple)
    Commuting/Daytripping: 2001 Airborne Carpe Diem (Ultegra/XTR, touring wheels)
    Commuting/Touring: 2000 Novara Randonee (Sora/Tiagra/LX, fenders, lights)

  14. #14
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    I would go with LX and 105 myself if you want to save money, all you get by upgrading is lighter weight which equals only a few grams. I had XTR on one of my mountain bikes (not the current XTR, it was a 2002) but I had nothing but troubles with the derailer going out of adjustment, the adjustment barrel would move all the time. As far as durability goes, on a derailer what is going to break down? You still have to replace XTR jockey wheels then same time that you have to replace any other, so why pay through the nose for nothing? Can't say how good Ultegra is, but I have all 105 on my road bike and it shifts fine and seems to be trouble free and durable, also simple to adjust.
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  15. #15
    Donating member Richard D's Avatar
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    It depends on your priorities - for example the 03 LX chainset only differed from the XT in that the granny ring was steel against the XT's ali inner - for the sake of a few grams the LX may be the longer lasting option.

    Performance wise the differences in precision is non-existent.

    With other components e.g. rear mech's you get do get slightly better bits, which may be more obvious.

    As far as front mech performance goes, when they're new I think you're in 'Princess and the Pea' territory as to telling the difference in precision.

    I'd look at it on a component by component basis
    Currently riding an MTB with a split personality - commuting, touring, riding for the sake of riding, on or off road :)

  16. #16
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    Bottom line, If it's shimano deore or above or 105 or above, it works well. The feel of a system has a lot to do with tune, properly tuned you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between XT and XTR except for the new 960's, or the Ultegra and DA. The difference you would notice is if you were to ride a bike with a set of STI shifters that have been ridden for tons of miles, with a well maintained and tuned drive trane, the DA would still maintain its accuracy and the ultegra would start to feel sloppy. A lot of the precision riders feel with the DA system comes from the chain, the CN-7701 chain will improve the shifting on any Shimano drive system. The above posts are on the money, To build the most dependable touring bike I would opt for the XT/Ultegra, if you want ultra dependability go with bar end shifters. One other thing to consider for the crankset is the standard XT crankset, 26-36-48, for loaded touring you can't beat it, it's available in octalink and tapered square drive, the octalink is a better system and the cost is the same. The only difference between the compact and standard crankset aside of the ring size is, the compact set has alloy rings for the 44 and 32 and steel for the 22, the standard has alloy for the 48 and steel for the 36 and 26. But on a touring bike the weight would be unimportant and the steel is far more durable. On the wheel end of things the XT or Ultegra hubs are hard to beat, they're tough as they come and last forever at a reasonable price. On a touring bike I don't know if I would use the Chris King hubs, you need to carry the tools to repair them if a problem should occur, You can find parts and repair an XT or Ultegra hub anywhere.
    Last edited by mrfix; 11-05-03 at 06:05 AM.
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  17. #17
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    I think the 105 and LX groups are the best values for your money out there. Most of the performance, technology and longevity of the higher end groups at a lower price. If your looking to build a quality bike on a budget, I think that is where the best choices are.

    I recently built up a cyclocross/commuter out of road and mtb parts on a Surly Cross Check frame. I used XTR rear (new rapid rise), 105 front, XT cassette, FSA cross cranks (38/48), bar con shifters, Chris King hubs and headset. I'm very happy with all my drivetrain choices and wouldn't change a thing.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Avalanche325's Avatar
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    I would say go XT on the rear. You could do LX or XT on the front, that is not exactly precision shifting anyhow. I did wear one out, but it took 4 years.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by slide13
    I think the 105 and LX groups are the best values for your money out there. Most of the performance, technology and longevity of the higher end groups at a lower price. If your looking to build a quality bike on a budget, I think that is where the best choices are.

    I recently built up a cyclocross/commuter out of road and mtb parts on a Surly Cross Check frame. I used XTR rear (new rapid rise), 105 front, XT cassette, FSA cross cranks (38/48), bar con shifters, Chris King hubs and headset. I'm very happy with all my drivetrain choices and wouldn't change a thing.
    You built up a commuter with CK and XTR? Is your work on the other side of the planet?

  20. #20
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Location, location, location
    For your rear der, megarange just makes sense. The Xt is nice, but LX is ok.
    For the cranks, I use Ultegra. if you plan on heavy loads, then LX or XT cranks makes more sense. If you use mtb cranks, you may wind up with bar end shifters. If you have the Ultegra (or 105) cranks, I'd go with the Ultegra shifters. The XT hubs are pretty heavy.

  21. #21
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    Hahaha....no, about 4 miles away. It isn't just a commuter really, more of an all arounder. I use it as my road bike, my off road bike, and my commuter. Basically my only bike. Plus, I work at a bike shop so I get a decent deal on the parts.

    Spending 6+ years working in bike shops you gain a true appreciation for the finer things in the cycling world. I always wanted a bike built this way and I finally decided to do it. It still isn't perfect, I'd like Race Face cranks and some cool brakes, but I'm satisfied for now. Always been a big fan of Chris King parts, they arn't cheap, but they are the best IMO. After you get used to the almost instant ingagement, everything else just feels sloppy....plus you learn to love that sound.

    I'll be the first to admit for the type and amount of riding I do my bike is complete overkill, but I like it. It's the first bike I've done where I've handpicked every component and it was a lot of fun.

    Besides, I'm a shop guy, we're supposed to have cool bikes....I think is a job requirement or something

  22. #22
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slide13

    Besides, I'm a shop guy, we're supposed to have cool bikes....I think is a job requirement or something
    Ain't it the truth?

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