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I hate Ultegra...(45 posts)

I hate Ultegra...dave woof
Feb 12, 2002 8:07 AM
I have a prob. I can't use my 12 and 13 tooth cog on my Ultegra cassette 'cause when I do the chain rubs on the inside of the 53 front chainring, because it's clearance is too tight. This pi$$es me off. I'm losing 2 speeds out of 18. I hate having to jump into the big ring and then hunt for a similiar gear inch combo in back (like the 18 or 19).

What I need is some ideas to fix this so I can use these gears. Someone once mentioned using shims to widen the gap between the 53 and 39 chainring on the spider. I tried this, but no shims will work for me. Can anyone tell me what they used and where they got the parts? I tried washers from a hardware store, but they're too thick to be able to use.

Any ideas on this?


Dave Woof
re: I hate Ultegra...Rusty Coggs
Feb 12, 2002 8:25 AM
Another option is a 2mm spcer on the BB drive side.If the 12 is your small cog,typical wisdom is not to use it when in the small ring.
re: I hate Ultegra...JimP
Feb 12, 2002 8:35 AM
The distance between the small and large chainring has been lessened to make the shift easier with the 9 speed Shimano setup. The issue seems to be the chain line. Have you changed the bottom bracket? If the chainrings are moved out only 1-2 mm the problem will be solved. Also, most riders don't use the smallest cogs with the small ring or the largest cog with the large ring. If you calculate the actual gear ratios, you will find that there is an overlap between the small and large rings. I find that I very seldom use the next to the smallest cog with the small ring except when I know that I will be shifting back to a larger cog right away.
nothing to do with ultegra...g-money
Feb 12, 2002 9:36 AM
generally you should not run these gears anyway. The conventional wisdom is the chain line gets too screwy. It has nothing to do with your Ultegra set up. Dura ace would do the same thing. Frankly, I don't get my chain lower than about a fifteen in my small ring. Churn up into the big ring. It will make you stronger and you'll get faster in time. Big-big, small-small are gear no-no's (usually). Save your chain and rings....
It probably hates you too ...pmf1
Feb 12, 2002 10:08 AM
First, like someone else said, you're crossing your chain. Its not a good idea to ride in big ring / big cog, or little ring / little cog.

Second, putting spacers between the two rings will probably mess up shifting.

Do you have the right size bottom bracket on there? Is the bike some funky geometry? Is your chain too long?
That's a fairly common problem.Spoke Wrench
Feb 12, 2002 10:26 AM
Unfortunately, Shimano splined bottom brackets only come in two spindle lengths. The 109 is too narrow for some bikes, and the 118 is way too wide. I wish I could get one about 111 or 112. I put a 2mm spacer behind the right side of the bottom bracket on my Klein. If your LBS doesn't have one, they can get it from QBP.
now that's funnyweiwentg
Feb 12, 2002 11:35 AM
I'm running Daytona cranks - 111mm BB - with my ultegra/dura ace group. the chain rattles slightly in 39/13t, and rattles quite a bit against the big ring when I'm in 39/12t. 53 is fine all the way, except that I can't shift into 53/25t ... not that I need to.
My solution for what it's worth...Mike Prince
Feb 12, 2002 11:56 AM
I had the same problem with my Dura Ace chainset/Ultegra bb setup on a new frame that was spot-on for alignment and every other measure. The solution I came up with (with the help of a very good LBS) was an XTR cartridge bb. I think that the spindle on that bb is 116mm, but includes spacers and instructions on how to get an "effective" spindle length of 112mm by using the spacers.

Did the trick for me. I have spacers on both sides of the bb to get the crankarms the same distance from the chainstays and now I get a little (almost undetectable) rub in 39x13. I think the net effect of the spacers is probably 5mm (3 driveside, 2 non-drive) which coincidentally is the width of a MTB bb (68mm road + 5 = 73mm MTB).

Another (cheaper) solution is to use a larger small chainring. A 39 creates some pretty acute chain angles, especially on a bike with shortish chainstays. When I run a 42 on the DA/XTR setup there is no rub at all except in the dreaded 42/12 combo. This served me well in the UK last year where 42/23 was a good low gear, but since I'ver returned to NC I need a 39/27 for the mountains, so I've learned to only use the 39/13 sparingly if at all.

Good luck.

My solution for what it's worth...grzy
Feb 12, 2002 5:08 PM
Hmmm, you sure it was an XTR BB? It has a unique spline pattern so that it is supposed to only work with XTR stuff. It definitely doesn't work with XT/LX. The 105/DA/Ultegra BB all has the same spline pattern and I don't think it's the XTR design. A wild card is the track stuff. The guy may have charged you for the XTR BB, but only used the shims. I'd really like to know which stuff works with an XTR BB.
My solution for what it's worth...Mike Prince
Feb 12, 2002 6:00 PM
Yep, it's a M952 cartridge BB. I took it out a few weeks ago while doing winter clean-up and that's what the label said. I had the same concern when the guy at the shop came up with the idea, but it works well. Maybe they changed the spline pattern with the cartridge BB. Not sure as my MTB stuff is non-splined, but the XTR and DA combo works. A bonus is that the XTR BB is lighter than the Ultegra.

Forgot to mention before that we also tried an Ultegra triple BB as suggested by someone above. Fixes (actually overdoes) the chainline issue, but the DA double front derailleur lacks the "swing" to get the chain to the big ring, at least in my case.
Hmmm...never thought of thatSpoke Wrench
Feb 13, 2002 6:11 AM
Looking at my QBP catalogue, the XTR and Ultegra BB's use the same spline pattern. The XTR, however, comes in a 112.5 length (uses the same part number for 68 and 73 shell widths). I assume the spacers Mike is talking about are used to make a 73BB work in a 68 shell. It's going to cost more than my 2mm shim however.
Hmmm...never thought of thatgrzy
Feb 13, 2002 9:55 AM
Naw the shim is to move the right cup which moves the crank and chainline. You'd need a 5 mm shim on the LHS to make a 68 mm BB work in a 73 mm shell - that's huge.
I don't think so, Grzy.Spoke Wrench
Feb 13, 2002 12:16 PM
Stick a 2.5mm spacer under the right cup. Use another 2.5mm shim under the left side thingy (might not even be necessary). Now a BB designed for a 73 shell is centered on a 68. I would like to take a glance at his bike though.
I don't think so, Grzy.Mike Prince
Feb 13, 2002 1:24 PM
I can send you a picture of my bb setup if you like. It has a 3mm spacer on the LHS and 3.5mm of spacers on the drive side. With the original setup my front chainline was 40mm. This gets it to the Shimano-recommended 43.5mm for 9 speed double setups. Email me at and I'll take a digital picture for you.

I don't think so, Grzy.grzy
Feb 13, 2002 2:33 PM
Not so sure. This assumes that the 73 shell has an even 2.5 on each side, but I'm not sure if the amount of spindle protruding on the RHS of the 68 and 73 BB is the same. Everytime I assume something that Shimano does is simple and straight forward I come up short. Like you mention - you need to look at things (and measure.)

If you turn the problem around in your head and say that you wanted a given chainline and had a choice between a 68 and 73 mm shell width, you'd want to know how much the LHS spindle protruded out of the BB to determine where the shell should be located. It stands to reason then if the standard offerings don't work then there has to be a reason and something is wrong.

The amazing thing is that if you stick to a modern well designed frame all of this has been solved for you. Shimming the BB is not something normally done on current road bikes. A bunch of aftermarket stuff (mostly MTB) does allow you to move the chainline around.

Sometimes it's human nature to start thinking of complicated solutions to what turn out to be simple problems. If his chain is too wide (8 speed), the it will rub on the 53 when he's in the 39 and using "crossed" (9 speed) gears. Moving the chainline is a solution, but not the best.
This much I know for sure.Spoke Wrench
Feb 13, 2002 3:34 PM
1. The chain on my 2,000 Klein quantum Race used to rub the big chainring in the 39X12, 39X13, and 39X14.
2. I know how to adjust a front derailleur and it wasn't rubbing that.
3. I know the difference between an 8 speed and a 9 speed chain.
4. Putting a 2mm spacer behind the drive side BB cup fixed it so now it only rubs in the 39X12.

This has been a fun topic because so many responders have these real strong opinions that are totally opposite of someone else's real strong opinion. I think that it just depends on your personal experience. Guys who havn't personally seen this problem aren't convinced that it truly exists in spite of the fact that the topic keeps coming up on the board.
This much I know for sure.grzy
Feb 14, 2002 12:43 PM
Sounds like you solved the right problem. Kinda suprised that Klein couldn't get the chainline right using stock Shimano components. Maybe it was designed for Campy? Klein is kind of a small out fit and has definite ideas about how a bike should be built and they're not about to change. Gonna remember the Klein info - I don't get to work on them often enough.

I had tried to make the point that there are other things to verify before one assumes that the chainline isn't right on a current production bike. Not that it doesn't happen b/c it sure does. Had you said that your bike was a Trek or a custom then it shifts the type of response.

In the final analysis theory always has to yield to practice.

Gotta get me the Park chainline gauge.
you are correctlaffeaux
Feb 15, 2002 10:37 PM
The XTR BB works on 68 or 73 mm shells by using a 2.5mm spacer on either side. It's interchangable with Dura Ace and Ultegra BBs too.
Ah Grasshopper.....grzy
Feb 12, 2002 10:34 AM
It all comes down to skills in setting the drive train up. It's totally possible to make it run silent in all gears on virtualy any bike. I have yet to find a bike where it couldn't be dialed in using the stock parts. Japanese manufacturing is very precise and repeatable, but the devil is in the details. Getting this stuff right is fairly subtle and you either need a guru to show the tricks or you have to be very very persistent. The real test is to make the triple work flawlessly.

First you have to have the front der. in the right position at around 1 mm above the large CR _and_ the outer cage plate must be perfectly parallel with the crank. Tightening the clmap causes a small but significant twist. Next you have to have the shifters in phase such that both half shifts are available in both CR's. A typical mistake is to have only one half shift availible since the same shifters are used for the triple and the large CR doesn't have a half shift. Getting these two right is 90% of the problem - see the Shimano instruction sheet for more details. Next can be that the front der. pivots are worn or one of the pivot screws is backing out so that there is play in the four bar linkage. I once had to install 4 front der.s to get a bike working correctly (2 were well used and the third was new, but defective in the box). A tweaked or bent front der. will never work right. It's extremely rare, but still possible, for the chainline to be off, but if you're running a well designed and current mainstream bike this shouldn't be a factor. Mostly this happens when someone tries to use a triple BB when they really need a double. Sometimes a BB shim will be required, but this is very rare. Finally the fine tuning of getting the cable length right often comes down to just one or two clicks on the barrel adjusters.

A good LBS with a wily and well trained mechanic can show you the light. All it usually takes is some quality brew.
Ah Grasshopper.....Woof the dog
Feb 12, 2002 11:46 AM
this has nothing to do with the front derailure adjustment, buddy boy. The chain when in 39 rubs against 53 when in 13th and 12th cogs, silly guy.

Woof the spacedog.
Ah Grasshopper.....rfsurfer
Feb 12, 2002 1:25 PM
WHO shouldnt even know if it rubs or not....if your in need of your 12 or 11 shift up...those fancy and quite expensive shifters arent just there to look good. Anyway, with that kind of chainline (39x12/11) your wearing out your chain prematurely...and i dont know about you, but i dont know of anything good to come about premature ANYTHING. Once you stretch the chain, there goes your cassette and chainrings...can you say cha-CHING? The point is...yes, it should be perfect and not rub, it can be perfect and not rub, but most importantly, who cares, you shouldnt be in that gear anyway.
Feb 12, 2002 5:04 PM
So what does your chainline measure and what kind of bike is this on? There is nothing wrong with the spacing between the two front CR's. Assuming you have the correct width chain (8 speed is 7.1 mm whlie 9 speed is 6.8 mm) and your chainstay is not abnormally short then the only other possibility is the chain line and a shim on the RHS of the BB cup will be the call. Have you measured your chain width - you wouldn't be the first person to have the wrong chain on your bike.

Methinks you may have a silly bike and look silly riding crossed.
clueless... no small-small or big-big combosnm-
Feb 12, 2002 5:09 PM
where do these people come from???
clueless yourself, i am just saying...Woof the dog
Feb 12, 2002 8:19 PM
Clueless about what? I am not the one who posted a dumbass question about crosschaining. I am just saying that chainline in the original question has nothing to do with the front derailer. Take the friggin thing off and the chain will still rub the damn 53 CR when riding a 12 unless you put a spacer on the right side. And no, i don't do the small-small, big big combos and I always use the correct shimano chain on my ultegra d-train.

The chain line is messed up though, since my right crank is closer to the downtube (say 3mm), but for some reason, the guy in a bikeshop doesn't think it is a big deal. Whatever, i don't use those kinds of gears anyway.

Woof, the beat-you-in-your-face-with-an-ugly-stick dog.
Time for a new hobbyDWridesGT
Feb 13, 2002 12:04 AM
Maybe darts or ping-pong would be more pleasing, and less stressfull.

Just ride the damn bike.

(I have a GT that sounds like nails-on-a-chalkboard when in the 39/12, yes, my chain rubs the 53 ring and p!iss me off to no end. I simply don't ride in that combo.)
Chain Ring RubChen2
Feb 12, 2002 3:42 PM
Check to be sure that one of your chain rings is not on backwards. The tooth count stampings should face outward. The 39 should face to the left, non-drive side of the bike. The 53 should face right. It can happen, I've done it.
39x12 = 53x16 and 39x13 = 53x18 nmgtx
Feb 12, 2002 8:39 PM
Feb 13, 2002 2:41 AM
The levels of ignorance displayed here are revealing. From posters to LBS's with solutions on how to avoid an actual design feature.
Suppose no-one bothered to tell a lot of these people why you shouldn't ride crossed up. And then they go post product reviews on how bad Shimano is. Wow!
Makes me believe even more in the 'just riding along' syndrome.
Fools???Mike Prince
Feb 13, 2002 5:09 AM
I don't think that anyone who posted is complaining about their 39/12 rubbing, in fact most have said they avoid the small/small combo anyway and I would agree that this is a good design feature if in fact it is intentional. The issue is when the 39/13, 39/14 or 39/15 is rubbing the big ring. There may be an argument for not using the 39/13, but if the others are rubbing I would not consider this normal.

The Shimano slams are unfounded as I have seen the same issue on the occasional Campy drivetrain too. In the long run the majority of the issues probably have to do with frame issues rather than components.

They say ignorance is bliss so I guess I'm happy now...
Feb 13, 2002 5:21 AM
This is a very common problem with Ultegra. I think nearly everyone knows you shouldn't run the small/small, big/big gear combos. What is annoying with Ultegra is that in many cases (mine, for example) the chain rubs the big chainring when using 39-13, 39-14 and even a little in 39-15 (w/ 12-27 cassette). My LBS mechanic says this is normal and Ultegra just works that way. I think it's bad design. I have another bike with Chorus 10 (13-29 cassette) and I can shift all the way down to 39-14 with no rub, and 39-13 barely rubs. So, I have 9 usable gears with the Chorus 10 cassette in the small ring, but only 6 usable gears with Ultegra 9.
With Chorusyou can feather the front der.Alex-in-Evanston
Feb 13, 2002 5:38 AM
You can run the 39/12 (or 11) without rub if you click the front der. over a few notches. Careful tho - many's the time that I feathered myself right into the 53.

I get the impression that many people don't know you can do this. Is that true?

Feb 13, 2002 7:15 AM
It's not normal for the chain to rub against the big ring when riding on the small ring regardless of what cog you're on and regardless of the group.
Feb 13, 2002 11:43 AM
Tarwheel Silly! This is not "common with ultegra" at all.
Your LBS is full of sh$%. I can take out the rub on my ultegra and DA by turning the fd inside adjusting screw. I actually dial in a bit of rub so when I am at full effort and I hear the rub when I shift, I know I am starting to cross-chain.
Alex-in-Evanston You would have to feather the other way to get rid of the chain rub.
huh?Mike Prince
Feb 13, 2002 11:59 AM
You can prevent the chain rubbing the large chainring by adjusting the front derailleur limit screws? Interesting. Sounds like you are too occupied with namecalling and pseudo-profanity to actually read the messages and understand (and god forbid offer some constructive advice for) the original poster's issue.
Feb 13, 2002 12:21 PM
If this isn't common, then why does this question keep coming up in forums? I have seen this same complaint from posters on RBR as well as a number of times. BTW, the chain isn't rubbing the front derailleur, but the inside of the big chainring when in the small chainring. Feathering doesn't do a bit of good because it's not the derailleur causing the rub but the chainring. On the other hand, I have no doubt that I could find a mechanic who could "get the rub out," but my regular mechanic is generally pretty competent.
Yes, Fools!!!cyclequip
Feb 14, 2002 12:52 AM
I have yet to come across a properly specced 9/10 speed that doesn't rub in the smallest cog, and often (depending on frame alignment) a bit in the 2nd-from-bottom cog, while crossed up. Any LBS/poster who says this is abnormal or should be fixed, is full of it. I used to get smacked upside the head by our ride captain - an old pro - for riding crossed up. For him it was a sign of disrespect - to proper gear use, to the drivetrain, to the sport in general.
And that was in the days of 10-speed when this wasn't an issue.

But it has been a fun topic.
Feb 14, 2002 12:34 PM
I have a 2001 Ultegra, 39/53 and 12-27. Mine will rub the large chainring in the 39/12 and 39/13, but not at all in the 39/14. Your LBS mechanic needs a bit of education. And no, I don't ride with a crosschain gear. 39/12, 39/13, 53/27 and 53/24 are never used, and never missed.
Try a 42 in the front.DoubleK
Feb 13, 2002 8:10 AM
Try a 42 chainring in the front. This sould allow you to keep the same speed on the inner chainring and stay off the 12 and 13 rear cog. If the higher gearing is a concern for climbing. Get a cassette with lower gearing. While your at it, you might also consider a new chain at this time ;0

Ride safe.
What a fun topic!Spoke Wrench
Feb 13, 2002 1:57 PM
We have all these different people responding with real strongly held opinions that are totally opposite from one another.
What a fun topic!ngl
Feb 13, 2002 6:37 PM
Tarwheel, I must apologize to you. I was thinking of the fd and not the big ring. Also, it was inconsiderate of me to call you silly. After reading my post I must admit I sounded just like some posters (elsewhere) that I promised myself I wouldn't do. Sorry.

As a side note, I have not come across this problem at all with ultegra.
re: I hate Ultegra...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Feb 15, 2002 12:40 PM
I know this problem exists but my 2000 Ultegra is stock and
doent do this.
Yup - it's a personal problem (nm)grzy
Feb 15, 2002 3:23 PM
and the real answer is...lonefrontranger
Feb 16, 2002 12:21 PM
#1, like everyone else said - don't crosschain. When you hear rub, shift 2 cogs easier, then shift to the big ring. Hey Presto - you're in the same ratio. Who'd have thunk it.

Unless you've been riding bikes for over a decade, the magic of the "dual shift" is a lost art... (sigh)

#2, if you INSIST on cross-chaining, get Campy. You can trim the front mech with the left-hand shifter. Oh, yeah - you get an extra cog, too.

For what it's worth, I agree - Ultegra sucks. My specific beef with it was the wimpy rear mech return spring (only 1500 miles out of each one) and my corollary beef was that %&*$@ Ultegra rattle and the planned obsolescence of all of Shimano's shifting systems.
the fixn-F-m
Feb 16, 2002 3:45 PM
get a bike with looong chainstays
X over happensjim hubbard
Feb 19, 2002 12:25 AM
I am not going to add my opinion to the debate on how to fix the problem. What I will add though is that cross over happens. More so in racing I fine that quite often I end up in 54x23 going up short(less than 800m) hills. The reason? It takes a lot of effort to drop down to a 39x15, thats 5 right clicks. This is not so much the issue as droping from the big ring to the little ring. It is usually in this situation that a chain gets dropped and thats how you lose races. However there is no excuse for it in training you have all the time in the world to complete the shifts. I also think that the worst of the two sins is small- small rather than big- big. JMTCW :)