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  1. #1
    Senior Member eric1508's Avatar
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    Dura-Ace vs Ultegra vs 105 vs Tiagra, Is there REALLY that much difference?

    I just posted a similar thread in the mountain bike forum (but this XTR, XT, etc...). I recently traded in a bike with some extra money and got a new mountain bike and a new road bike. Now to do this I had to settle for some lower end components. On the road bike, this meant 105's on the back but everything else being Tiagra. I was expecting some rough shifting or maybe reliability issues but was pleasantly surprised that everything works VERY smoothly. I haven't had a single issue over the last coulple hundred miles. So I asked the guy at the bike shop about this and he said that components have gotten to the point where most decent stuff works great. And that, say, a new Tiagra component works about as good as an older Ultegra or 105. And that the main difference between them is a few grams in weight. And that the reliabilty and function is generally about the same. I have seen this first hand and it makes me wonder why so many people are SO big on spending all that extra money on something like Ultegra when 105's and even Tiagra's would do it pretty much just as well. Now I understand that if you get a nice bike it will have the higher end components but other than that you would think it would'nt be so saught after.
    What do you guys think? What have been your personal experiences?

  2. #2
    Prefers Aluminum Sprocket Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eric1508
    I have seen this first hand and it makes me wonder why so many people are SO big on spending all that extra money on something like Ultegra when 105's and even Tiagra's would do it pretty much just as well.
    Because we have more money than common sense?

  3. #3
    By-Tor...or the Snow Dog? hi565's Avatar
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    The New Ultegra double vs. The Dura Ace double. Weight. The new ultegra shifter feels almost identical to the dura ace shifter. 105, the difference is weight, and how the shifter feels in your hand. I personally can tel the different. But hey I would be fine with tiagra though. But I think my next is gonna be Ultegra 10 speed.
    ----------------------------------------------------------

  4. #4
    Theodore Roosevelt's idol TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    i have a 105/ultegra 9spd mix, and the only real time I wish I had something that shifts faster and smoother is when going up a super steep grade when lots of pressure is constantly on the cranks. Otherwise, 105 is smooth enough.

    btw, I have the same complaints about the shimano altus group I have on my mtn. bike. Doesn't shift quick enough on steep climbs but it's still good enough. This could just be due to abuse though, since it was left outside rain or shine for a few years.
    Last edited by TheKillerPenguin; 09-13-05 at 08:23 PM.
    Masochism is a training adaptation.

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    I have owned three Ultegra 9 speed equipped bikes in the past. I currently own a
    Dura-Ace 9 equipped Cervelo Soloist and a 105/Tiagra mix Klein Quantam. I bought
    the Klein as a temporary replacement after I broke my Seven Axiom in a low speed
    crash.

    I put the Dura-Ace parts off of the Seven on the Cervelo after riding the Klein
    about 5,000 miles. To make a long story short I now have about 10,000 miles on
    each group and the Dura-Ace is slightly crisper but not what I would call night and
    day.

    Based on my experience I will never go higher than 105 on any bike a I buy in the
    future. For me it is not worth it based on performance. If you buy anything better
    than 105 do it because it is prettier and you can be proud of it. Not because you
    will get any performance advantage other than a neglible weight difference that
    would never be the difference in any race I have been in.

    Just my opinion for what it is worth.

  6. #6
    Senior Member 55/Rad's Avatar
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    One word - EGO.

    55/Rad

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 55/Rad
    One word - EGO.

    55/Rad
    Maybe, but when I am doing something a little dangerous, I feel more comfortable with the higher priced stuff. At least I gave myself a best shot with good equipment. Sometimes, small improvements make a huge difference in actual practice, even if you have to pay a lot for small improvements.

  8. #8
    Senior Member 55/Rad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trayer350
    Maybe, but when I am doing something a little dangerous, I feel more comfortable with the higher priced stuff. At least I gave myself a best shot with good equipment. Sometimes, small improvements make a huge difference in actual practice, even if you have to pay a lot for small improvements.
    Oh, I wasn't referring to you. I was referring to me. I've got 1 bike with DA 9, 1 with Ultegra 9, 1 with Ultegra 10 and 1 with Campy Record. Believe me, it all because of the ego.

    Yet my kids' Sora bike works quite well and I'd have no problem with it other than what I feel other riders would think.

    I'm shallow that way.

    55/Rad

  9. #9
    Faith-Vigilance-Service Patriot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 55/Rad
    Oh, I wasn't referring to you. I was referring to me. I've got 1 bike with DA 9, 1 with Ultegra 9, 1 with Ultegra 10 and 1 with Campy Record. Believe me, it all because of the ego.

    55/Rad

    As you can see, it went from Ultegra, to DA, to Record. As suspected, the ego has grown slowly over the last couple of years.

    I for one, went straight to Record. I figured, why not? Just let it all out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 55/Rad
    Oh, I wasn't referring to you. I was referring to me. I've got 1 bike with DA 9, 1 with Ultegra 9, 1 with Ultegra 10 and 1 with Campy Record. Believe me, it all because of the ego.

    Yet my kids' Sora bike works quite well and I'd have no problem with it other than what I feel other riders would think.

    I'm shallow that way.

    55/Rad
    Rad, at least you're honest about this! I dig my Centaur 10 just fine. of course, ask the right campy nut and they'll claim that centaur 10 is on par with ultegra 10. not that i disagree, of course ...

    to the original post: i cannot wait for 105 10 speed. I think it will be a very good group that is not only more than enough for beginners but very good for enthusiasts (not pros) too.

  11. #11
    Clipless in Seattle cutters's Avatar
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    I ride Ultegra 9, and I've tested a few bikes with Dura-Ace 9 & 10. I do feel there is a deference in stiffness when climbing or sprinting. When you stomp on the pedals, the bike leaps forward. No wasted energy. Stopping also feels much smoother and solid, which is a real confidence booster when you're bombing a big hill. As far as the shifting, I've never had a problem with my Ultegra, but my next ride will have Dura-Ace. Even if I have to sell my car to get it.

  12. #12
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PenguinDeD
    i have a 105/ultegra 9spd mix, and the only real time I wish I had something that shifts faster and smoother is when going up a super steep grade when lots of pressure is constantly on the cranks. Otherwise, 105 is smooth enough.

    btw, I have the same complaints about the shimano altus group I have on my mtn. bike. Doesn't shift quick enough on steep climbs but it's still good enough. This could just be due to abuse though, since it was left outside rain or shine for a few years.
    Shoot I have the altus stuff (7 speed) on my MTB (turning into road commuter) and for commutting it is just fine. If I was going all the time though I would like at least LX (105 equivalent in MTB).

    Does anyone need anything more than tiagra... nah, (unless you NEED 180mm cranks) but they have their advantages, kind of like record to chorus to centaur to veloce. You get the point.
    Just your average club rider... :)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by PenguinDeD
    i have a 105/ultegra 9spd mix, and the only real time I wish I had something that shifts faster and smoother is when going up a super steep grade when lots of pressure is constantly on the cranks. Otherwise, 105 is smooth enough.

    btw, I have the same complaints about the shimano altus group I have on my mtn. bike. Doesn't shift quick enough on steep climbs but it's still good enough. This could just be due to abuse though, since it was left outside rain or shine for a few years.
    Check your gear change cable going to your derailleur. Pehaps a new one is a good idea including cable housing. Changed mine and now works perfectly

  14. #14
    TREK 2300 owner rickkko's Avatar
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    FWIW, I was taking to a Shimano rep today and asked what's the difference between Ultegra and DA. He said, DA has slightly better metal (accounts for price difference), the finish and the minute weight differences; otherwise the engineering design is the same.

    I have a 27 year old bike that has DA. It still works flawlessy today. I have an 2004 bike also (all Ultegra).

    Personally, I'm very pleased w/Ultegra. I can afford it but don't see the need to buy DA. I don't group ride or race so I really don't have anyone to impress w/DA, haha.

    ..rickko..

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    This is a great thread. Gave me a lot of perspective on components and what to look for in a first bike.

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    Senior Member Hill Climber's Avatar
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    I'm getting a 105 RD put on my bike first of the week... not because I've had any issues with what's on my bike as much as because I'm getting it brand new and installed for $20. It is supposed to be better than what I have, and I figure for that price I can't go wrong.

    FWIW, I had my guy at the LBS tell me in the future he probably won't go higher than 105 on his own stuff, and he races. He currently has DA/Ultegra mix. He said yes, there is a difference, but the difference in price exceeds the difference in performance.

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    Well I'm coming from a full 105 bike to a full Ultegra. Shifting crispness is far superior to the 105. Now is the difference because the bike is new? Or the fact that the ultegra is a better component? I don't know but I do know I like the way this new bike shifts compared to my old one.

    Note that the old bike was a 2001 modeled 105 group, so even the technologies have probably changed quite a bit. I don't know, I would like to have a 2 new bikes with 105 and Ultegra side by side to compare.
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  18. #18
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    i use an ultegra and d/a mix. d/a cranks, rear derailler and ultegra shifters, cassette and brakes. all 10sp. it is the best of all worlds for me. patience, and eBay helps to defray any cost, which turns out to be pennies per mile.
    I paid $900 for all component mix, and after 4k miles this year, and assuming 3-5k for the next 5 years on it, that can be 20-24k. you can do the math, but it is small amts per mile of enjoyment.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  19. #19
    106 kg of Pure Power zakk's Avatar
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    i had a road bike when I stated that was all Sora componets and did well even under my (at the time) 260+ pounds.

    I started racing and the parts couldn't hold up.

    Right now, I run at least Ultegra under all my machines, and can feel the difference.
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  20. #20
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    for my 2 cents, 105 is the best placed group on the bang for the buck curve. Above 105 and you're into rapidly diminshing returns. Below 105, and I think there is a drop off in performance and durability. For serious long term use, I think 105 is as low as I'd go. That being said I ride D/A 10 speed because I'm williing to spend more to have top end, even though I recognize it's not the most cost effective answer.

  21. #21
    fmw
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    Hoosier Pedaler fmw's Avatar
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    I've got a real mish mash on my new project bike. I decided to go Campy 10 speed and looked for bargains. The result is Centaur crankset, brakes and front DR, Record BB and chain, Chorus carbon shifters and rear DR, Veloce cassette. How's that for a mish mash? The decisions were purely economic. They had nothing to do with performance since all the Campy components perform very well indeed and I can't really tell them apart in actual use. All these components cost less than $600 combined and all are new except for the Record BB which has about 200 miles on it - I tend to put high value on bottom brackets. Add a free lightweight aluminum racing frameset with carbon fork that I had laying around, $55 worth of Italian alloy handlebar and stem, a $21 Italian alloy seat post, $65 Italian saddle and you have a very affordable, high performance almost Italian road bike. I have bar tape, bottle cages and pedals in my parts box so I'm not spending anything additional for them at the moment. Campy on a Tiagra budget. This will be my "beater bike" and I expect it to weigh in at well less than 19 lbs. when completed. I think it will be a great beater. The frame will be finished at the auto body shop tomorrow. I'm getting a golden yellow paint job that fades to black at the head tube. I'm looking forward to the project.

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    No mention really of Sora here, and I actually think I prefer the feel of my Sora shifters over my friends Ultegra. I thought about upgrading the flight deck, and I am still pondering it simply because I hate the way the thumb shifter is positioned and useless on the drops. I think Sora is much more precise than the Ultegra and 105 that I have tried. Never tried DA though. I am starting to wonder about taking apart the Sora shifter, and somehow converting the thumb shifters to operate like the shifters on 105 and up. I have been perfectly happy with my Tiagra/Sora mix, but that may be because I am still fairly new.

  23. #23
    Senior Member KyTrekrider's Avatar
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    1500 miles on my Sora groupset this season. Works perfect. I've riden other bikes with 105 and DA, I couldn't tell a huge difference. I am a recreational rider though, no racing.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member 7rider's Avatar
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    I tested a Madone SL 5.2 (Ultegra) and a Madone SL 5.9 (Dura-Ace) on the same day, and although the rear derailleur shifter for the Dura-Ace had a more defined shift or click, the Ultegra worked fine. There was a $1500 difference between the two bikes, and I couldn't really justify purchasing the 5.9 when the 5.2 gave just as nice a ride. Downshifts under load on uphills with the SL 5.2 have worked very well.

    I'm usually looking at Ultegra equipped bikes since they have the requisite bling bling I'm looking for, but I've also been pretty happy with the mix of 105 and XT on my Bianchi Axis.

    Like computer components, you're going to be paying a lot more for that extra 5% to 10% of performance. But hey, they have a Dura-Ace triple, so the market must want that little extra - and is willing to pay for it.

    Cyclingnews had a good review on Ultegra - most notably, its comparison with Dura-Ace.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member eric1508's Avatar
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    No mention really of Sora here
    I am still pondering it simply because I hate the way the thumb shifter is positioned
    That's the reason I didn't mention it. Even if it works as well it has that different shifting mechanism that makes it less desirablt than the rest.
    converting the thumb shifters to operate like the shifters on 105 and up
    It's actually the Tiagra and up that have the conventional shifting mechanism. So might even consider just upgrading your flight deck to Tiagra. Then you'd also be full Tiagra. My Tiagra flight deck works flawlessly and very smoothly. Just a thought.

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