• Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

Hands-on With The New Shimano Ultegra R8100

Warminsterwobble –  We’ve subsequently were given our palms on Shimano’s new Ultegra R8100 groupset. Announced lower back in August 2021 along the flagship Dura-Ace R9200, the brand new Ultegra brings 12-speed, semi-wi-fi and electronic-best moving to Shimano’s second-tier street groupset.

More than six months have surpassed for the reason that groupsets had been introduced in tandem however even BikeRadar isn’t immune from the thing delays and shortages we’ve visible throughout the industry, as that is the primary time we’ve acquired a whole groupset. But now that we’ve it, we’re going to get each component at the scales and solid a forensic eye over the groupset, to carry you all the key details.

You also can watch the video on the pinnacle to peer extra of the groupset – and pay attention extra of our first impressions. Otherwise, let’s get caught into the details.

Simon von Bromley of BikeRadar inspecting the new Shimano Ultegra R8100 groupset

Shimano Ultegra R8100 highlights

First, a re-cap on the new Ultegra groupset. Ultegra is Shimano’s second-tier groupset, sitting below Dura-Ace, which is the lightest, shiniest, money-no-object groupset, seen on the latest WorldTour bikes.

For many riders, Ultegra is the logical choice as it has essentially identical functionality to the pro-level Dura-Ace at a lower price, with only a small weight penalty and a little less bling. On the subject of weight, Shimano claims that the R8100-series groupset weighs 2,716g, which is just 278g heavier than an equivalent Dura-Ace R9200 groupset.


The headline feature of Ultegra R8100 is that it offers 12-speed, electronic-only gearing, with semi-wireless shifting, which is claimed to be even faster and smoother than before. That means, like SRAM, Shimano has also departed from mechanical shifting for its top-tier road groupsets.

The release of the new Ultegra and Dura-Ace groupsets also means Shimano has joined both Campagnolo and SRAM in offering 12 speeds for its high-end road groupsets.


While SRAM has lengthy provided absolutely wi-fi transferring for its eTap AXS digital groupsets throughout avenue cycling, gravel driving and mountain biking, Shimano has formerly caught to a stressed out configuration with its Di2 groupsets.

That’s modified with Dura-Ace R9200 and Ultegra R8100. But what’s semi-wi-fi, you ask? Well, there aren’t anyt any wires among the shifters and the derailleurs, which leads to a cleanser setup and must make operating at the present day incorporated cockpits a whole lot much less of a headache.

Instead, the the front and rear derailleurs are stressed out to a brand new battery, housed within the frame. The shifters, which can be powered through man or woman coin-mobileular batteries, then speak wirelessly with the derailleurs to extrade gear.

Battery life

In phrases of battery lifestyles, Shimano says the imperative battery powering the derailleurs must have sufficient juice for at the least 1000 kilometres of driving for maximum riders. The new rear derailleur additionally carries the brains of the machine, which has removed the want for a separate junction field housed some other place at the bike.

If you’re a bikepacker, long-distance rider or honestly pick now no longer to should rate your groupset as regularly, Shimano says that you could definitely double the battery lifestyles in case you run the machine completely wired.
Now, let’s get into coping with and weighing those components individually.

Shimano Ultegra R8170 shifters

Shimano has increased the size of the new Ultegra R8100 shifters. Starting at the shifters, they’re arguably the most visually striking component of the new groupset. The outgoing R8070 shifters were impressively small, considering they had to house both the hydraulic reservoir for disc brakes and the Di2 internals.

Shimano says they received feedback that they were actually too small, hence the noticeable increase in size here, and the fact they’re slightly more angled in design.

I think this is going to be a good change, as I was one of those people who felt the R8070 and R9170 shifters were a little too small, even though I have relatively dainty hands.

The new levers have shrouds on them, hiding the lever blade above the pivot point, and they are powered by CR1632 coin-cell batteries, which Shimano claims should last around one-and-a-half to two years, depending on how much you shift.

The shifters cost £349.99 and Shimano claims the new shifters weigh 391g for the pair. On our scales of truth, they weigh 385g.

  • Claimed weight: 391g (pair)
  • Actual weight: 385g (pair)

Shimano Ulegra R8150 rear derailleur

The rear derailleur is the brains of the operation. Moving on to the rear derailleur, it’s also seen heavy refinement and is now the brains of the system, as mentioned earlier. The rear derailleur also contains the new charging port (previous Di2 systems have been charged via a separate junction box).

The derailleur features a new chipset and upgraded motors to increase the speed of shifts. Though the materials used to construct the derailleurs differ, Shimano says Ultegra and Dura-Ace now share the same internals, meaning performance should be – for all intents and purposes – identical.

And, speaking of performance, Shimano claims rear shifting on Ultegra R8100 is 58 per cent faster than the previous generation of Dura-Ace.

We’re looking forward to seeing how that claim stacks up in real-world use but, based on our experience with the new Dura-Ace, both front and rear shift speeds should be very impressive here.

Shimano Ultegra R8100 12-speed road bike groupset – Di2 internal battery real weight
The derailleurs are wired to a central battery.
Shimano Ultegra R8100 12-speed road bike groupset – charging cable real weight
Charging is via a port on the rear derailleur.

You won’t need Shimano’s separate, in-line Bluetooth transmitter to connect to Shimano’s E-Tube app anymore, as Bluetooth functionality is now built into the rear mech.

Also gone are the short and medium-length cage options – there’s now just one medium-cage option with capacity for up to a thirty-four tooth cassette sprocket.

The claimed weight for the new rear derailleur is 262g and it costs £379.99. On our scales, you’ll save yourself a couple of grams as it comes in at 260g. (Yes, we know the image above reads 261g but it was 26og when originally filming our video so that’s what we’re going with, okay?)

  • Claimed weight: 262g
  • Actual weight: 260g

Shimano Ultegra R8150 front derailleur

Shimano says it has improved front derailleur shifting speed by 45 per cent. The front derailleur has also had an update and is now smaller and sleeker than its predecessor. Shimano says it can shift 45 per cent faster compared to the outgoing Dura-Ace.

Now, Di2 shifts have always been impressive so that percentage is relative but, as alluded to above in relation to the rear derailleur, we’ve been extremely impressed with front shifts on the latest Dura-Ace R9200 groupset.

If Ultegra R8100 can match that, we can expect similarly impressively performance here.

The claimed weight for the new front derailleur is 116g, and it costs £249.99. On our scales, it’s 111g.

  • Claimed weight: 116g
  • Actual weight: 111g

Shimano Ultegra R8100 crankset

The 52/36t crankset weighs 749g on the BikeRadar scales of truth. The R8100 crankset isn’t dramatically different to the outgoing Ultegra R8000 version, using the same Hollowtech II technology as before.

However, it does have revised aesthetics with a more symmetrical appearance, in-line with the new Dura-Ace groupset.

Otherwise, it continues to use the same four-arm construction, is still aluminium, and still uses a 24mm steel axle, which fits the same bottom bracket as before.

What is different, though – and this is very exciting for data nerds like me – is that Shimano now offers a dedicated dual-sided power meter option at Ultegra level; something previously reserved only for Dura-Ace.

Shimano offers the new Ultegra crankset with 52/36t semi-compact or 50/34t compact chainrings.

If you’re the kind of rider who likes to use big gears, you’ll have to pony up for a Dura-Ace R9200 crankset, as there’s no 54/40t or 53/39t option for Ultegra anymore.

The new crankset costs ​​£299.99, or £999.99 if you want the power meter version. We have the non-power meter option here with 52/36t chainrings and its claimed weight is 711g.

On the BikeRadar scales of truth, it weighs 749g.

  • Claimed weight: 711g (52/36t)
  • Actual weight: 749g (52/36t)

Shimano Ultegra R8100 cassette

The cassette is to be had in 11-30t and 11-34t (pictured) ratios. The new cassette has a comparable look to the antique model however, crucially, now capabilities 12 sprockets. This facilitates make the jumps among every tools a bit smaller, so that you can fine-song your preferred tools in case you’re a rider with a penchant for a selected cadence. There are cassette ratios on offer: 11-30t and 11-34t.

If you need a tighter 11-28t cassette, then you’ll should discover the extra money for a Dura-Ace cassette, as it’s simplest an choice at that level. However, one of the blessings of 12-pace is that you could have an less difficult mountaineering tools with out impacting an excessive amount of at the relaxation of the cassette.

On that note, and in a totally welcome change, the flow to 12-pace gearing has allowed Shimano to revise the jumps among sprockets. There are actually single-enamel jumps for the primary seven sprockets at the 11-30t cassette and the primary 5 at the 11-34t cassette. Before the brand new groupsets had been announced, we had speculated Shimano would possibly convey over the Micro-Spline freehub preferred from its 12-pace mountain motormotorcycle wheels, however that isn’t the case.

Instead, Shimano’s new 12-pace avenue groupsets use a brand new preferred with greater splines.
However, worry not, as the brand new Ultegra cassettes are nonetheless backward-well suited with older 11-pace HG freehubs, so that you won’t want to update your cutting-edge wheels in case you need to improve to this new groupset.

Compared to Dura-Ace cassettes, the 5 biggest sprockets on Ultegra cassettes are fabricated from metal instead of titanium, which will increase weight and facilitates reduce costs. Shimano claims a weight of 291g for the 11-30t cassette and 345g for the 11-34t choice, each of which cost £119.99.

  • Claimed weight: 345g (11-34t)
  • Actual weight: 342g (11-34t, with a zip-tie…)

Shimano Ultegra R8100 chain

The new 12-speed chain is shared with Shimano’s XT mountain bike groupset. The new chain is shared with the Shimano XT mountain bike groupset and is, of course, designed for use with a 12-speed drivetrain.

The only other notable change versus the old 11-speed chain is that the edges of the outer plates have been chamfered to reduce drivetrain noise, according to Shimano. Shimano claims a weight of 252g and it costs £44.99. Our chain weighs 240g.

  • Claimed weight: 252g
  • Actual weight: 240g

Shimano Ultegra R8170 hydraulic brake calipers

Shimano Ultegra R8100 12-speed road bike groupset – disc brake caliper real weight
The new disc brake calipers are said to increase pad clearance by ten per cent.
Shimano Ultegra R8100 12-speed road bike groupset – disc brake caliper real weight
Shimano Ultegra R8100 12-speed road bike groupset – disc brake caliper real weight

The new Ultegra’s hydraulic disc brakes have passed through heavy refinement. When Shimano released the antique R8000 system, it turned into the primary time the brand’s avenue disc brakes had been tiered – i.e. that they’d the Ultegra moniker on them and had been mainly a part of the groupset.

Cast your thoughts again generations of Ultegra and, at the 6800-collection groupset, the hydraulic disc brakes had been untiered, with the mechanical levers named RS685 and the digital R785. The braking on the ones structures turned into as a substitute binary, with a type of ‘on-off’ feel.

Here, with the brand new R8100 brakes, Shimano says it has targeting growing pad clearance, that’s up via way of means of ten in line with cent. This is aimed toward assuaging the traumatic disc brake pad rub on occasion suffered via way of means of the previous-generations groupsets, particularly in moist or muddy conditions.

They additionally inherit the ServoWave function from Shimano’s GRX gravel and mountain motormotorcycle brakes. This creates a non-linear courting among lever and pad travel, which is said to present you progressed braking strength and modulation. So, quieter, extra effective braking with extra control – all of it sounds quite desirable on paper, however we’ll see how that interprets to real-global performance.

Anyway, the bleed port has additionally been revised. There’s now a separate port for the syringe hose and a separate valve operated via way of means of a hex bolt, offering, we hope, simpler in-situ bleeding.
The flat-mount hydraulic disc brake calipers cost £74.ninety nine every and weigh a claimed 282g for the pair. Put them at the BikeRadar scales and that they weigh 240g.

  • Claimed weight: 252g
  • Actual weight: 240g

Shimano Deore XT disc brake rotors

Shimano Ultegra R8100 12-speed road bike groupset – disc brake rotor real weight
The rotors come in 140mm.
Shimano Ultegra R8100 12-speed road bike groupset – disc brake rotor real weight
And 160mm sizes.

The MT800 rotors are shared with the brand’s second-tier mountain bike groupset, XT, and feature ‘Freeza’ technology, which is said to help cool the rotors down and help prevent any parts in the system from overheating.

Shimano claims a weight of 108g for a 160mm rotor and 88g for a 140mm rotor, and they cost £49.99 each. Our sample rotors match Shimano’s claimed weights on the nose.

  • Claimed weight: 88g (140mm) / 108g (160mm)
  • Actual weight: 88g (140mm) / 108g (160mm)

Shimano Ultegra R8100 rim brakes

If you’re a die-tough rim brake enthusiast and also you need to improve to this groupset, then no want to fear as Shimano nevertheless has you covered.

The rim brakes themselves appearance truely equal to the outgoing R8000 ones, though. As do the shifters, which lack the brand new shrouded design. It’s additionally essential to be aware that the machine can’t be run semi-wirelessly in its rim brake form, however that does as a minimum imply you’ll get the progressed battery existence cited earlier. The rim brakes cost £79.

Shimano Ultegra R8170 C36 tubeless wheelset

The new Ultegra C36 the front wheel weighs 681g on our scales. Shimano has upped its sport substantially with regards to wheels, for this era of Ultegra. While preceding designs had been pretty conserative in phrases of spec, the brand new Ultegra wheels are greater modern, with all-new rim profiles. That said, it’s nonetheless now no longer the maximum revolutionary avenue wheelset out there. The rim form is similar to on the brand new Dura-Ace wheels and combines a 21mm inner width with a 28mm outside width.

As for rim depths, you’ve got got the choice of 36mm, 50mm and 60mm – all with the equal internal and outer widths. All wheelsets are prepared to simply accept tubeless tyres and function hooked rims, which means you could use quite plenty whichever rubber you want and the rear wheel is available in at 846g.

One key distinction among the brand new Ultegra and Dura-Ace wheelsets, is that the freehub at the Ultegra wheelsets is well matched with each 11-velocity and 12-velocity cassettes. On the alternative hand, the brand new Dura-Ace wheels are simplest well matched with 12-velocity cassettes.
Keep that during thoughts if you’re thinking about upgrading your wheels however nonetheless need to apply an 11-velocity groupset for the time being. The general price for this Ultegra C36-TL wheelset is ​​£1,259.98 – and that’s the equal for every version withinside the range.
The claimed weight is 1,488g, despite the fact that on our scales they weigh 1,527g (with rim tape, which Shimano won’t be accounting for).

  • Claimed weight: 1,488g
  • Actual weight: 1,527g (with rim tape)

Early impressions

Well, there you’ve got got it – the brand new Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8100 groupset. We’ll make certain to convey you a complete overview of the groupset as soon as we’ve got very well examined it, so appearance out for that in addition down the line.

In phrases of value, if you got the additives for a disc brake groupset one by one on the advocated retail rate, it’d value a grand overall of £1,694.90, along with the standard, non-strength meter crankset however aside from the brand new wheelset.

If you need to consist of each the strength meter and modern-day Ultegra wheels, the overall rate rises to a cool £3,654.88. Let us recognise your early mind of the brand new Ultegra groupset withinside the remarks below.

Is Shimano creating a mistake through forsaking mechanical avenue groupsets at Dura-Ace and Ultegra level? Would a real wi-fi groupset had been even better, even supposing it intended decrease battery life? We’d like to recognise what you think.

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