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Swapping out my Shimano 105 5800 rear derailleur - R7000, GRX or Ultegra?

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Swapping out my Shimano 105 5800 rear derailleur - R7000, GRX or Ultegra?

Old 11-09-21, 10:25 AM
  #1  
jonathanf2
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Swapping out my Shimano 105 5800 rear derailleur - R7000 105, GRX or Ultegra?

Hi, I currently run a Shimano 5800 105 RD with an 11-32t 11 speed cassette on my road/light gravel bike. It runs smoothly and there's nothing wrong with it, but I'm thinking of upgrading my derailleur mainly for the slimmer profile while mounted on the bike, newer style hex b-tension screws (not a fan of older 5800 Phillips screw-style) and potentially smoother shifts. My options right now are either to upgrade to an R7000 rear derailleur which I can pick up at the LBS today, order an Ultegra R8000 rd or use a spare brand new GRX 400 rd I was keeping for backup on my other gravel bike (it's for 10 speed, but reportedly works fine with 11 speed shifters and indexing).

Using the GRX 400 rd would be the cheapest and I could install it right now. I'd get access to the clutch mechanism if I do some light off-road. Also my other GRX 400 gravel bike shifts great. Though I kind of want to keep it as backup since I do ride in spicy terrain and it's hard to find this particular rd right now. The 105 R7000 would be the cheaper option if I were to buy and I'm quite happy running 105...I just want to get the added benefits of the newer version. Though I helped tuned my buddy's Ultegra equipped bike and I thought his road shifting was a bit more crisp than my current 105 5800 rd, hence why I'm considering the Ultegra rd as another alternative, even if it's the most expensive.

I don't do any racing, mostly hill climbing and group rides with friends. Given the options, which would you recommend especially if I'm missing any other aspect regarding these three rear derailleurs? Thanks for any advice!

Last edited by jonathanf2; 11-09-21 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 11-09-21, 10:51 AM
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The GRX 400 should work with 11 speed and would be my choice as you already have one and IMO I don't see much gain spending more for the other choices. Here's a chart of many other R Derailleur specs if you want to check compatibility. Bike Cassettes & Drivetrains - Google Sheets
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Old 11-09-21, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Hi, I currently run a Shimano 5800 105 RD with an 11-32t 11 speed cassette on my road/light gravel bike. It runs smoothly and there's nothing wrong with it, but I'm thinking of upgrading my derailleur mainly for the slimmer profile while mounted on the bike, newer style hex b-tension screws (not a fan of older 5800 Phillips screw-style) and potentially smoother shifts. My options right now are either to upgrade to an R7000 rear derailleur which I can pick up at the LBS today, order an Ultegra R8000 rd or use a spare brand new GRX 400 rd I was keeping for backup on my other gravel bike (it's for 10 speed, but reportedly works fine with 11 speed shifters and indexing).

Using the GRX 400 rd would be the cheapest and I could install it right now. I'd get access to the clutch mechanism if I do some light off-road. Also my other GRX 400 gravel bike shifts great. Though I kind of want to keep it as backup since I do ride in spicy terrain and it's hard to find this particular rd right now. The 105 R7000 would be the cheaper option if I were to buy and I'm quite happy running 105...I just want to get the added benefits of the newer version. Though I helped tuned my buddy's Ultegra equipped bike and I thought his road shifting was a bit more crisp than my current 105 5800 rd, hence why I'm considering the Ultegra rd as another alternative, even if it's the most expensive.

I don't do any racing, mostly hill climbing and group rides with friends. Given the options, which would you recommend especially if I'm missing any other aspect regarding these three rear derailleurs? Thanks for any advice!
may not be just derailler but combo of derailler, shifter, chain, cassette
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Old 11-09-21, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
may not be just derailler but combo of derailler, shifter, chain, cassette
Agreed, but it did shift very similar to my GRX 400 equipped gravel bike. Plus I just installed a new chain and cassette on my road bike, so I'm thinking this might be a good time to try a new rear derailleur as well!
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Old 11-11-21, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Hi, I currently run a Shimano 5800 105 RD with an 11-32t 11 speed cassette on my road/light gravel bike. It runs smoothly and there's nothing wrong with it, but I'm thinking of upgrading my derailleur mainly for the slimmer profile while mounted on the bike, newer style hex b-tension screws (not a fan of older 5800 Phillips screw-style) and potentially smoother shifts. My options right now are either to upgrade to an R7000 rear derailleur which I can pick up at the LBS today, order an Ultegra R8000 rd or use a spare brand new GRX 400 rd I was keeping for backup on my other gravel bike ...
I have the same rear derailleur (RD-5800-GS) and also considered "upgrading" to an Ultegra R8000, but decided not to do so solely due to the path of the RD cable on my bike. On my Cannondale Synapse, the RD cable housing extends from the very end of the right chain stay (behind the QR axle) and makes a nice large U turn down to the RD-5800. But compared to an RD-5800, the barrel adjuster of an RD-R8000 (or RD-R7000) sits much higher and points upward, such that the cable housing has to form a tighter loop, which may impact shifting.

RD-6800-SS: Shimano Ultegra 11-Speed Rear Derailleur - Race Pace Bicycles | Baltimore Bike Shop

RD-R8000: Shimano Ultegra RD-R8000 Rear Derailleur | Competitive Cyclist

So a newer Shimano Shadow RD may not be an "upgrade" depending on your RD cable path. But if your RD cable housing extends from the middle of the right chain stay well forward of the axle, then it should be fine.
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Old 11-11-21, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
I have the same rear derailleur (RD-5800-GS) and also considered "upgrading" to an Ultegra R8000, but decided not to do so solely due to the path of the RD cable on my bike. On my Cannondale Synapse, the RD cable housing extends from the very end of the right chain stay (behind the QR axle) and makes a nice large U turn down to the RD-5800. But compared to an RD-5800, the barrel adjuster of an RD-R8000 (or RD-R7000) sits much higher and points upward, such that the cable housing has to form a tighter loop, which may impact shifting.

RD-6800-SS: Shimano Ultegra 11-Speed Rear Derailleur - Race Pace Bicycles | Baltimore Bike Shop

RD-R8000: Shimano Ultegra RD-R8000 Rear Derailleur | Competitive Cyclist

So a newer Shimano Shadow RD may not be an "upgrade" depending on your RD cable path. But if your RD cable housing extends from the middle of the right chain stay well forward of the axle, then it should be fine.
I checked my RD cable path and I think it won't be an issue if I replace my 5800 rd. Also I ended up picking up the 105 R7000 RD. It was a bit cheaper and I figure it wouldn't hurt to have a spare for such an important drivetrain component. Also it seems my LBS was selling out quickly of their stock!

Last edited by jonathanf2; 11-11-21 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 11-11-21, 09:44 PM
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The shifters have more to do with smoothness that the rear derailleur. It doesn’t contribute much. The clutch on a GRX rear might be nice, otherwise you won’t see much tangible benefit.

Of course, if you just want a new rear derailleur, go for it.
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Old 11-11-21, 09:53 PM
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Throw the GRX on, and keep the 105 around as backup. If the backup event occurs, then go about spending the $ for another GRX or Ultegra. In the meantime you can keep your eye out for a bargain; that's a fun hobby anyway.
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Old 11-11-21, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
I figure it wouldn't hurt to have a spare for such an important drivetrain component.
Yeah, I ordered the RD-6800-SS as an upgrade / spare too.
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Old 11-11-21, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bitpuddle View Post
The shifters have more to do with smoothness that the rear derailleur.
Good to know. After I got my RD-6800-SS I saw the ST-R8000 shifters on sale and contemplated going full Ultegra, but I was indecisive and now the sale is over. But I doubt that the ST-R8000 shifters are noticeably smoother than the ST-5800
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