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  1. #1
    Junior Member adrian.glover's Avatar
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    Upgrading Brifters - Tiagra to Ultegra

    I have a Cannondale Synapse Carbon that came with a full Tiagra groupo. I rode a bike with Ultegra 6800 on the weekend, and I'm wondering if I upgraded the shifters on my my bike to Ultegra 6700 if I would get that same ease of shifting? Would I need to get the derailleur too? Is the 6800 smoother than the 6700? I tried 105 as well, and it didn't feel the same.

    So many questions, I know! But I'm at the point of starting to wear out some bits, and considering upgrading everything to Ultegra bit by bit. I have already swapped to an Ultegra chain and cassette.

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    The brifters will make more of a difference than the derailleurs. Sure, having both upgraded is ideal, but if I had to pick one, brifters. The front derailleur will likely make no noticeable difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gamby View Post
    The brifters will make more of a difference than the derailleurs. Sure, having both upgraded is ideal, but if I had to pick one, brifters. The front derailleur will likely make no noticeable difference.
    Incorrect. 6800 has a redesigned FD with a longer arm to make front shifting easier (less lever throw).

  4. #4
    Junior Member adrian.glover's Avatar
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    I should clarify.. I was looking mostly at the rear shifting.. but yes, the front was noticeably easier as well.. this is good to know.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrian.glover View Post
    I have a Cannondale Synapse Carbon that came with a full Tiagra groupo. I rode a bike with Ultegra 6800 on the weekend, and I'm wondering if I upgraded the shifters on my my bike to Ultegra 6700 if I would get that same ease of shifting? Would I need to get the derailleur too? Is the 6800 smoother than the 6700? I tried 105 as well, and it didn't feel the same.

    So many questions, I know! But I'm at the point of starting to wear out some bits, and considering upgrading everything to Ultegra bit by bit. I have already swapped to an Ultegra chain and cassette.
    Welcome to the forums.

    A few things...

    Ultegra 6700 series and 6800 series have a few key differences that make them totally different:
    • 6700 is 10s while 6800 is 11s
    • Improved shifting action on the shifters
    • Longer arm on the 6800 FD for lighter front shifting
    • Redesigned RD on the 6800 for a more consistent shift feel
    • A stiffer 4-arm crankset on the 6800 versus the standard 5-arm on 6700

    In order to maximize the improvements, the components should be used as a whole group.

    Current 105 (5700, 10s) has a lot of trickle-down technology from 6700, and is similar to it in feel albeit weighing a little more. The new 11s 105 (5800) is the same with 6800.

    What do you want to achieve with the upgrade? Is the Tiagra group hindering your progress as a cyclist/rider? Or is it just for the warm and fuzzy feeling of having a "better" group than what you currently have? I'm sorry to sound condescending but there is nothing inherently wrong with Tiagra given that it is properly tuned and well maintained. A bit on the heavy side, but if weight is not a very big concern, it does the job pretty well.

    I doubt you'll wear out the components (shifters, FD, RD, crank, brakes) to the point that you'll need to replace them for good. The chain, cassette, and brake pads (IME in that order) are the ones that need periodic replacement.

    I've had an old 3300 Sora (8s) for 4 years, and old 4400 Tiagra (9s) for the next 6 years that have been ridden hard before I upgraded to 5700 105 on my training bike. The Sora is now on a beater/commuter and the Tiagra I sold to a friend who is now using it for his training bike. I upgraded from 8s to 10s gradually as my cycling improved as now I do competitive riding with a group composed of pros, amateurs, and strong riders. I "need" the benefits and advantages that a "better" set of components can give me.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Matt Gaunt's Avatar
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    ^ excellent post.
    Matt
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  7. #7
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    To add my own anecdote....My 9 speed Ultegra shifters, which I have since switched to 10 speed 105 shifters have both worked flawlessly with the Sora (originally spec'd for 8 speed) short- cage derailleur I put on the bike when the 9 speed Ultegra rear derailleur got mangled.

    Looks exactly like this one, but the sticker fell off.

  8. #8
    Junior Member adrian.glover's Avatar
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    The goal with the upgrade is not to somehow magically improve my riding, but to make a small improvement to my enjoyment of my time in the cockpit. I'll walk you through my thinking:

    I wore holes through my bar tape this year, so I am going to replace the tape. While I'm at it, I have never liked the drops on my bar, I find them nearly unusable as they are a bit too shallow for my giant hands. So off I went to the LBS to try some different bars. While I was riding a bike that had a bar that I really like I noticed that the shifting is noticeably smoother and easier.. since I'm pulling things apart, I see it as an opportunistic upgrade. At minimum I was thinking of going to 105 brifters anyway to clean up the cables from my gopro's viewpoint (yes it's silly, but I enjoy tinkering with videos and photos of my long rides). I would love to have the shifting I experienced on the other bike.. based on the information provided, getting the Ultegra 6700 brifters should make the shifting on my bike a bit lighter.

    So I have no unrealistic views here, I don't think I'm somehow limited by Tiagra and that Ultegra will make me faster. I am also aware that my Tiagra brifters have many thousands of miles of life left. The flip side is that I see the upgrade as something that will increase my enjoyment of my time on the bike.

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    A lot of people upgrade parts on their bike for different reasons. It's good that you have a clear idea of what you want from the upgrade.

    If you feel the upgrades would be money well spent then go with it. If it makes your rides more enjoybale and makes you want to ride more then I wish you more good miles.

    Cheers.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrian.glover View Post
    The goal with the upgrade is not to somehow magically improve my riding, but to make a small improvement to my enjoyment of my time in the cockpit.
    Best reason there is to upgrade brifters, in fairness.

    When I got my current bike (5700, upgrading from Tiagra) I wasn't wild about the tucked-in cables, but tried them for a bit and got to really like them. I recently rented a bike with 5600, and just found that the 5700 design feels a lot more comfortable, sticky-out cables or no.

    Shop around for the right price, though. It might be worh your while just going the whole hog and getting the group in one bang.

  11. #11
    L-I-V-I-N dtrain's Avatar
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    Seems reasonable if you want a little better experience. My rec. would depend on your current wheelset, as some can handle 11 speed and others are limited to 10. Seems like 6700 shifters are still going for $150-$200 (a bit less for 5700). If your wheels support it, consider $400 for a 5800 11 speed group.
    Last edited by dtrain; 09-15-14 at 10:51 AM.
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  12. #12
    Speed is Life... UnfilteredDregs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by e_guevara View Post
    Incorrect. 6800 has a redesigned FD with a longer arm to make front shifting easier (less lever throw).
    +1...I went from 6700 to 6800 recently...the FD shifting is night & day in difference. I love it. OP, I have 6700 brifters, with less than 500 miles one them, for sale... RD and top pull CX FD...Cassette...
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  13. #13
    Junior Member adrian.glover's Avatar
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    I don't know if one of my wheel sets can handle 11 speed.. I have the Shimano R501's that came with the bike as my spare / bad weather set. I could just sell those wheels if I go up to 11. Sounds like I need to go try some more stuff.. the 5800 shifts like the 6800 I take it? That might be a good option for me.

  14. #14
    L-I-V-I-N dtrain's Avatar
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    I doubt you'll find a place to check out 5800. Not quite available yet in the US, but on some of those UK sites for about $450-495 the past month. $408 today and tomorrow at Ribble.

    But lightly used 6700 or 5700 shifters gets you there...and I don't think r501's will handle 11sp. So that would end up being quite an investment.
    "The older you do get, the more rules they're gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin', man, L-I-V-I-N." - Wooderson

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  15. #15
    Junior Member adrian.glover's Avatar
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    My main wheel set has Novatec 11 speed compatible hubs with spacers to accommodate the 10 speed cassette. I would just ditch the spare set of wheels for now if I upgraded to 11 speed. Lots of research to do.

  16. #16
    Junior Member adrian.glover's Avatar
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    It seems I'm not allowed to PM yet. UnfilteredDregs, could you send me a PM regarding your 6700 parts?

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    FWIW, if you're buying new, 5700 shifters are just about identical to 6700 shifters. If there is a weight difference you'll never notice it.

    Try Ribble:

    Shimano STI Levers 105 Black 5700/5703 with cables, GEARSHIFT STI / ERGO

  18. #18
    Junior Member adrian.glover's Avatar
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    So we've come full circle. My impressions from riding bikes were that the shifting was lighter *not less weight on the scale, but significantly less effort on the hand* and smoother with Ultegra 6800 than either 105 5700 or Tiagra 4600. What I am trying to discover is whether 6700 levers on my current setup would net me that same feeling, or an improvement. I notice no appreciable difference in how the shift feels between 105 and Tiagra... if Ultegra 6700 is not going to make it better than what I currently feel, then the correct setup for me would be 5700 levers to get that internal cable routing, and I'm good to go. Thoughts?
    Last edited by adrian.glover; 09-15-14 at 12:35 PM.

  19. #19
    Speed is Life... UnfilteredDregs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrian.glover View Post
    It seems I'm not allowed to PM yet. UnfilteredDregs, could you send me a PM regarding your 6700 parts?


    You probably can't receive PM's either so..Email me at unfiltereddregs@yahoo.com
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  20. #20
    Speed is Life... UnfilteredDregs's Avatar
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    Another thing to keep in mind is the cable itself...Ultegra 6800 has a new polymer coating or some such that is quite a significant factor in terms of the amount of friction in the system.

    I don't know of how much of a difference there is between 5700 & 6700 in terms of FD feel, I have no experience with 5700. I do know that between 6700 and 6800 the difference is huge and 6800 is quite the leap in terms of performance/feel, at first after installing 6800, when I shifted the FD I used to look down to actually see if the chain changed rings! It is that light up front...Mahvelous.

    The RD feel with 6700 was quite nice IMO...If anything 6800 RD feel may be a bit more nuanced...

    What I would be interested in experiencing is throwing the new 6800 cables on a 105 equipped bike and checking that difference out...Maybe the new 105 uses the new cable type as well? idk...
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrian.glover View Post
    So we've come full circle. My impressions from riding bikes were that the shifting was lighter *not less weight on the scale, but significantly less effort on the hand* and smoother with Ultegra 6800 than either 105 5700 or Tiagra 4600. What I am trying to discover is whether 6700 levers on my current setup would net me that same feeling, or an improvement. I notice no appreciable difference in how the shift feels between 105 and Tiagra... if Ultegra 6700 is not going to make it better than what I currently feel, then the correct setup for me would be 5700 levers to get that internal cable routing, and I'm good to go. Thoughts?
    I've test ridden around 15 bikes this summer, and I do think the latest 11 speed Ultegra is crisper shifting than older stuff, including my 10 speed Dura-Ace from 2009. I think my 2009 Dura-Ace is actually slightly worse than modern Tiagra (even newly tuned), though I did recently find a job which seems to do a better job of tuning so I'll have to try that out.

    Modern Ultegra when set up well (seemed to be set up on some bikes better than others) seemed pretty much flawless. Modern Tiagra was good, but there was sometimes some "searching" when shifting gears that was slightly annoying.

    The brand new 11 speed 105 might also be better, it's definitely different than the older 10 speed 105.

    I think the latest 11 speed is great, but if you want to "upgrade" it's also the most work - in addition to new shifters, cassette, and chain, you also might need a new rear wheel depending on if your rear wheel is 11 speed compatible.

    Fyi, internal cable routing can be a hassle. I know a lot of people had problems with poor shifting when it first came out. Not sure if it would really be an "upgrade" or not, if you stuck with 10 speed and went with internal cable routing.

    If it was *me* - I'm lucky enough to have a good job and no big expenses, I'd either stick with what I had but try to get it well adjusted, or go with 11 speed 105 or ultegra. (When you said you didn't see a difference with 105, not sure if you meant 105 11 speed or 10 speed). If I was going to invest the time and money, would want to know it would definitely be an improvement.

  22. #22
    L-I-V-I-N dtrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnfilteredDregs View Post
    What I would be interested in experiencing is throwing the new 6800 cables on a 105 equipped bike and checking that difference out...Maybe the new 105 uses the new cable type as well? idk...
    I think 6800 and 5800 cables are the same part. And yes I've also heard that they make a significant difference in the feel of 5700/6700 shifters. 6700 STI's + RD + 6800 cables would certainly improve the rear shifting feel over 4600 with std cables.
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