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Shimano Dura-Ace Vs Shimano Ultegra | What’s The Difference?


– It is the age-old question,
what, apart from price, is the difference between
Dura-Ace, Shimano’s flagship groupset, and Ultegra? Well, thanks to our partners
at Shimano, we’re about to go through that, in some detail. (upbeat, bass-filled music) Both Ultegra and Dura-Ace
are available as either mechanical groupsets or
electronic, i.e. the Di2. And, within those, there’s also
the choice between rim brake or disc brake. So, a total of four options on each side. And we’ve got two examples of
those here in this set today. Over here, is a Trek Emonda,
with full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9170 groupset. Whilst over here, we
have a BMC Teammachine. That’s got a full Ultegra
8000 mechanical groupset on. Both of them, as you can
see, are disc brake models. This is my bike, which you
would have seen me using on GCN before, whilst this
is the BMC of Mark Fulford, he, of the Global Triathlon Network. So, obviously, I’ve removed
the top tube bag and the under-the-saddle bottle cages
before we started filming. Anyway, the other day, I took
this one out for a quick spin. And, if I’m perfectly
honest, I’m not sure if I was blindfolded, whether I would
have been able to tell you if I was on Ultegra or Dura-Ace. Obviously, I would have crashed as well. Never the less, it did get
me thinking, is there really a difference at all? I think we should go and
ask someone in the know. (chill music, drums) – From a technology perspective,
they’re made in one package so, they’re the same,
the same functionality. But, Ultegra is for a broader
audience, so, more different riding styles. So, they were developed as a
pair, but in mind that you ride in different places,
different riding styles, different speeds. And, so the consumer does
get the same benefits, – Yeah. – But, at a better price point. – Okay, so, the functionality
of the two, as you’re saying, is the same, so there’s
no difference, maybe, in the placement of the shifting
ramps on the chain rings or whatever else. That is the same. – That is exactly the same,
because that is the heritage of Shimano, is shifting performance. What is different, is the type
of production methods we use, the materials we use to
reach a lower price point. Cheaper production methods can,
sometimes, achieve the same products, the same shape,
but, a bit heavier. And, technology-wise, the
closest possible Ultegra generation to Dura-Ace
that we have seen so far. – Really? – Yes. – And, so, does Dura-Ace have
a price point that you work towards, or are the engineers
given, you know, like a blank sheet of paper and
said, right, off you go? – The engineers are given
a blank sheet of paper, it must be top-notch, it
must be according what the racers want, what is needed, it’s the Formula One of cycling. – Blimey. Well, if even Shimano
product managers are claiming that there’s little difference
between the functionality of the two, we are really
going to have to go into a lot more detail, here. However, we should start with
those most obvious thing, and that is the price. A Dura-Ace groupset compared
like-for-like with Ultegra, is about twice the price. That, putting it mildly, is significant. What about the weight, then? Well, if we take this bike as
an example, Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9170 Di2 groupset, which is a
disc brake model, will come in at about 500 grammes less
than the Ultegra equivalent. That’s half a kilo, so
a reasonable amount. That includes everything,
as well as the wheels. But, as we’ve heard, and to
reiterate, Shimano claims there’s little difference in
functionality between the two, or even durability. And, actually, the Ultegra
has never been close in match to its more expensive relative. So, why then, is Ultegra so much cheaper? Well, it comes down to the
material that they use. You see, with Ultegra, they really need to hit a price point. So, the difference between
the two can really be just as simple as what
they’re using to make it. (drum music) For the purposes of this
video, and in order not to make it an hour long, we are going
to be comparing Di2 disc brake groupsets across Ultegra and Dura-Ace. And we’re gonna start up
here, with the shifters, the STIs, which incorporate
the brakes and the shifters. Now, obviously, you can see a
difference between mechanical and Di2, but, comparing like-for-like, the STIs look and feel almost identical. And they’ve both got carbon
fibre levers here, too. So, how then, is Ultegra
25% heavier than Dura-Ace? Well, it comes down to what
you can’t see, the internals. To give you an example, Shimano
Dura-Ace use carbon fibre resin for their brackets, where as Ultegra is a glass fibre resin. On the flip side to that,
though, with Ultegra, you’ve actually got a great
degree of adjustability. So, if you’ve got particularly
large or small hands, you might well find that
you’re more comfortable on the Ultegra model. (guitar music) So, if the mechanics of the
shifting are exactly the same, what’s the difference? Well, you’ve probably guessed
it, it’s in the construction. For example, the Dura-Ace cassette, here, has a carbon fibre spider,
it has six alloy sprockets, and five titanium. Where as over here, on the
Ultegra, it is an alloy spider. That, in itself, takes it up
from 175 grammes to 232 grammes. That is a difference of 57, or 30%, and this, on a single component, is the biggest difference between the two. Whilst we’re on the subject
of cassettes, this gives us another glimpse into
something Ultegra can do that Dura-Ace can’t. You see, Ultegra is far more versatile for different riding styles. You can, if you so wish, get
an Ultegra cassette that has 11 up through to 34 teeth with
the corresponding medium cage rear derailleur to go with it. On the other hand, if
you opt for Dura-Ace, you can have a maximum of 30 teeth. That is down to Shimano’s firm belief that Dura-Ace is the racer’s groupset and that they don’t need anything bigger. (chill music) Okay, let’s move on to derailleurs. The key difference is, once again here, are in the materials used. For example, the Dura-Ace rear derailleur, now this cage is made out of carbon fibre, where as on the Ultegra
version, it will be aluminium. Likewise, at the front there’s
a difference, the Dura-Ace front derailleur cage
is made out of aluminium and Ultegra, it’s on steel. The differences, though,
are perhaps quite small. This, for example, weighs 204 grammes where as the Ultegra
equivalent weighs 242. Whilst the front derailleurs are 104 and 132 grammes, respectively. So, in total, across the two derailleurs, that is a difference of just 66 grammes. (music) And then up here, at the chain sets, again, they look quite similar, but there is a weight
difference between the two. That depends on how big the
chain rings are on them, but, roughly, it is 65
grammes, or about 10%. (music) There’s also a difference,
here, at the disc rotors. There is coating, here,
on the Dura-Ace rotor which aids in heat dissipation, which is absent from the Ultegra version. And, it just so happens, that
that coating is in a rather stealth black, which
does look rather neat. However, they do both have the same three-layer construction. Is there a weight difference,
well yes, but it’s negligible, 10 grammes between the two. Reassuringly, though, the
braking performance across the two groupsets is exactly the same. (music) Going into the finer details
of the electronic Di2 functionality, that,
too, is the same across the two groupsets. Shimano’s latest Ultegra groupset
is Synchro Shift enabled. And that means that you can
set your front derailleur to shift semi-automatically, if you so wish. You can also customise a whole
array of shifting settings by linking your groupset up
with the E-Tube Project app. Which, with the right accessory,
will link your Di2 directly with your smartphone. There, you’ll be able to change
settings, such as how quick the shifting occurs, as well
as what button does what. (chill guitar music) So, we’ve already seen that
Dura-Ace saves a reasonable amount of weight over Ultegra,
but, the biggest difference comes at the wheels. Around about 300 grammes. Quite difficult to compare
like-for-like here, and that’s because Dura-Ace,
being the racer’s groupset, comes with tubular models available and that saves a
significant chunk of weight. And there’s also the option to find deeper and more aero rims. On the other hand, Ultegra, continuing on with its
versatility reamers, well that has aluminium rims with a carbon laminate over the top. They’re only available in
clinch or tubeless versions. In summary then, the key
difference between Dura-Ace and Ultegra is in the weight. And then, the secondary
difference, is in the finish. That, for many of you, is
going to make the purchase of Dura-Ace feel fairly extravagant. Because, you see, you don’t
get a lot more for your money. However, across bike
equipment, in general, there is that law of diminishing returns as you spend more money. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a complete waste. It is, however, very good
to know that, functionally, Ultegra is now, pretty
much, as good as Dura-Ace. And you can only imagine, then, what the new 105 groupset might be like. That is quite the prospect. Right, if you’ve enjoyed this video, give it a thumbs up just down below. If you haven’t subscribed to the channel, you can do so now by
clicking on the globe, and, if you missed Cy’s first look
at both of these groupsets, you can find them just down here.

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