Gear News

Shimano introduce Ultegra R8000 groupset with trickle-down tech from Dura-Ace R9100

Everything you need to know about Shimano's new Ultegra R8000 groupset - including prices, weights and availability

Shimano have unveiled the Ultegra R8000 groupset, which gains a host of features first introduced on the flagship Dura-Ace R9100 groupset last year. Ultegra will continue to offer mechanical and electronic shifting, with the option of rim or disc brakes.

Shimano follow a familiar four-year product cycle so, with Dura-Ace updated last year, its no surprise to see Ultegra, which was last updated in 2013, get a makeover this summer. Next year? Well, expect the third-tier 105 groupset to get some attention.

Shimano’s new Ultegra groupset borrows plenty of tech from the top-level Dura-Ace setup. This is the Di2 groupset with hydraulic disc brakes

Let’s concentrate on the here and now, though. Key updates include dedicated Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes, a redesigned asymmetric chainset, a low-profile Shadow rear derailleur and the ability to run an 11-34t cassette. Shimano’s Ultegra-level wheels have also been updated, with rim and disc brakes options based around lighter hubs, while the new Ultegra pedals now offer lower weight and a reduced stack height.

Shimano say in its lightest configuration (Di2 with rim brakes), Ultegra R8000 weighs 4,071g, which is a 84.5g saving over the existing Ultegra 6800 in the same setup. By comparison, the new Ultegra gives away 505g to Dura-Ace R9100, again with Di2 and rim brakes.

And here’s the new mechanical rim brake groupset for the traditionalists

“The goal was to bring high end technology to a wider audience of riders,” said Shimano Europe product manager Tim Gerrits. “We wanted to offer high performance riding to the many types of road cyclist with a wide variety of products to serve the ever-growing road bike landscape.”

Before we get stuck in, let’s quickly cover Shimano’s naming conventions for the latest Ultegra groupset. R8000, as Ultegra is now broadly named, refers specifically to the mechanical rim brake setup. Otherwise R8050 is Di2 with rim brakes, R8020 refers to hydraulic components for mechanical shifting and R8070 covers hydraulic components compatible with Di2 shifting. Got that?

The mechanical rim brake groupset will be available from June, while availability for Di2 and disc brake components is slated for August.

Those are the key details, so now let’s take a closer look at each component, starting with the heart of any groupset – the chainset.

Drivetrain – beefier chainset boosts stiffness, seven cassettes up to 11-34t

Shimano say the redesigned R8000 chainset takes its cues from the Dura-Ace R9100 design, so that means there’s a new asymmetric crank arm, which is visibly beefier to improve stiffness and power transfer. It’s lighter, too, but we’re only talking a couple of grams, down from 676g (50-34t) to 674g.

The Ultegra R8000 chainset takes its cues from Dura-Ace R9100, with the crank arm visibly beefier

Shimano will offer four chainset options (53-39t, 52-36t and 50-34t, alongside a 46-36t cyclo-cross option) and six ‘standard’ CS-R8000 cassettes (11-25t, 11-28t, 11-30t, 11-32t, 12-25t, 14-28t). Shimano have also introduced a wider 11-34t (CS-HG800) cassette with a hub body designed to fit both road bikes (with spacer) and mountain bikes.

Weight: 674g
Price: £249.99

Weight: 232g (11-25t)
Price: £74.99-£84.99

Derailleurs – Shadow rear mech, redesigned front mech

One of the key changes when Shimano introduced Dura-Ace R9100 was the Shadow rear derailleur, itself a technology borrowed from the Japanese firm’s mountain bike groupsets. The low-profile derailleur is designed to sit fully under the cassette to prevent potential crash damage, according to Shimano. Now Ultegra R8000 gets the distinctive Shadow design.

The Shadow rear mech, available in short and medium cage versions, is designed to tuck under the cassette to protect it from potential crash damage

While Shimano stuck to one derailleur option for Dura-Ace R9100, with the rear mech capable of handling up to an 11-30t cassette, the Ultegra R8000 will come in short cage and medium cage designs, covering 11-25t to 11-30t and 11-28t to 11-34t cassette ranges respectively. We expect most bike brands will spec the short cage mech, given its capability to run a 30-tooth sprocket, but Ultegra now offers the option of wider gearing than ever before.

Ultegra riders can now have a cassette as wide as 11-34t, as long as you’re using a medium cage rear derailleur

The front derailleur has also been redesigned to accommodate wider tyres, according to Shimano, and to offer a wider gear pitch without sacrificing shifting performance.

Front derailleur
Weight: 106g (mechanical), 132g (Di2)
Price: £49.99 (mechanical braze-on), £52.99 (band), £209.99 (Di2)

Rear derailleur
Weight: 200g (mechanical short cage), 242g (Di2 short cage)
Price: £84.99 (mechanical short cage), £89.99 (mechanical medium cage), £244.99 (Di2 short cage), £249.99 (Di2 medium cage)

Shifters and brakes – Ultegra-level disc brakes, updated rim brakes

As we mentioned at the top, Shimano will now offer Ultegra-specific components for both hydraulic disc brakes, alongside standard rim brakes. Both mechanical and electronic Di2 shifting are covered.

Let’s focus on disc brakes first. While Shimano have had mechanical and electronic disc brake levers at Ultegra level before, they’ve technically been non-series components, so not officially part of the groupset. You may have noticed the existing levers just have ‘Shimano’ on the front, not ‘Ultegra’ – that’s why.

Shimano will now offer Ultegra-branded disc brake levers

The new ST-R8070 (hydraulic Di2) and ST-R8020 (hydraulic mechanical) levers are said to offer greater reach and free stroke adjustments. They weigh a claimed 360g and 550g respectively, which is 65g and 112g heavier than their rim brake counterparts (Di2 ST-R8050 lever 295g; mechanical ST-R8000 lever 438g).

Ultegra’s SM-RT800 rotors have an enclosed fin design said to offer a greater area for heat dissipation, working in conjunction with the new BR-R8070 calipers, which weigh a claimed 280g.

Shimano will offer Ultegra R8000 rim brakes in dual-pivot and direct-mount designs, along with a caliper designed to be mounted on the chainstays

As for the dual-pivot rim brake calipers, they weigh a claimed 360g for the pair and also come in a direct mount design, which fit directly to compatible frames to reduce weight and improve performance, according to Shimano. Both the dual-pivot and direct-mount calipers are compatible with 28mm tyres and have been slimmed down, with narrower gaps between the arms.

Weight: 438g (mechanical rim brake), 550g (mechanical disc brake), 295g (Di2 rim brake), 360g (Di2 disc brake)
Price: £319.99 (mechanical rim brake pair), £649.99 (mechanical disc brake pair with BR-R8070 flat-mount calipers), £299.99 (Di2 rim brake pair), £649.99 (Di2 disc brake pair with BR-R8070 calipers)

Weight: 360g (rim brake pair), 280g (disc brake pair & 104g for each rotor)
Price: £69.99 (rim brake dual-pivot each), £79.99 (rim brake direct mount each), £64.99 (disc brake caliper each), £49.99 (disc brake rotor each)

Di2 – Synchronized Shifting and additional shift buttons

Shimano introduced Synchronized Shifting to Dura-Ace Di2 last year having initially developed the technology for the M9000 XTR mountain bike groupset. A firmware update to the Ultegra 6870 groupset saw that tech trickle down a level and, of course, it’s a standard feature on the new electronic Ultegra groupsets.

Riders who want to use Synchronized Shifting have two settings to choose from. Full Synchronized Shifting makes automatic shifts at the front derailleur, working to maintain a smooth transition through the gear range according to your preferences as determined in Shimano’s E-Tube app, where you can fully customise your shift settings.

Semi Synchronized Shifting, meanwhile, automatically shifts the rear derailleur either one or two sprockets (again, according to your settings) when you switch between chainrings, helping to maintain a steady cadence, rather than spinning out if you’re shifting into the little ring, or grinding a gear too big if moving up to the big ring.

Of course, you can disable Synchronized Shifting if you want to shift manually.

Otherwise, the Ultegra ST-R8070 hydraulic Di2 and ST-R8050 rim brake Di2 levers also include new buttons on the top of the hoods, so you have an alternative position from which to shift. These can also be programmed to control additional devices such as compatible computers or lights.

Finally, as far as Di2 is concerned, Shimano say the shifters have a more defined ‘click’ feeling when changing gear ‘to offer quick and precise shifting with gloves.’

Updated pedals and wheels

Alongside the groupset itself, Shimano have updated the Ultegra-level pedals and wheels.

Shimano have reduced the stack height of the carbon pedals by 0.7mm – a move which they say extends the crank’s lever effect – while 12g has been shaved off the weight (now 248g). The pedals are also available with 4mm longer axles.

Shimano has also launched new pedals and wheels to accompany the groupset

There are also two new tubeless-ready clincher wheelsets: the carbon-laminate WH-RS700 rim brake wheels and the WH-RS770 disc brake wheels with thru-axles.

Weight: 248g
Price: £149.99

Weight: 1,568g (rim brake), 1,639g (disc brake)
Price: £749.98 (rim brake pair), £799.98 (disc brake pair

The final word

We’ll leave the final word to Shimano’s Gerrits.

“To retain that Ultegra quality level across such a wide variety of products and for such a wide range of uses was a big development challenge, especially when it came to integrating some of the new features from our top-tier Dura Ace R9100 series,” he said.

“Hydraulic disc brakes and Synchronized Shifting for example, were two completely new areas for Ultegra and we needed to find the right balance between high performance, high quality and high levels of durability and reliability.

“We’re incredible proud of what we’ve created. Ultegra has such a loyal and enthusiastic appeal that it is associated with the true spirit of the sport. We’ve pushed that forwards, and hopefully in the process we can attract more people to the sport of road cycling.”

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