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Decision Time - Ultegra or 105 - Advice Please....(18 posts)

Decision Time - Ultegra or 105 - Advice Please....BrianNYC
Oct 1, 2002 2:17 PM
I ordered a Look 361 frame (55 cm c-c) last Friday. I am now deciding, while it is being shipped to the LBS, whether to get the 105 or Ultegra groupset. The 105 will bring in the total price to less then $2K, which is my goal, the Ultegra will bring it to at least $2300 and take me outside my original budget. I have been biking a lot lately although this is my first road bike in a long time. I just want to be able to go as fast and as far as I can on my own timetable, my own pace, etc., I don't have any immediate or future plans to race, although I like the idea of trying to do centuries in increasingly less time as I get more miles on my legs. Is the difference in perfomance/quality/longevity or whatever between the two worth the $300 given the type of road cycling I plan on doing, which at most, given that I have a day job, will be about 150 to 200 miles a week? My plan is to use the money I save on the 105's to get better shoes, a ride computer and some decent cold weather gear for the NY fall/winter. I greatly benefited from the advice I got on RBR on buying a new bike and am very happy with the choice of the Look frame and the LBS I am purchasing it through based on that advice (Thanks again to everyone), a little more good advice would be great. Thanks
re: Decision Time - Ultegra or 105 - Advice Please....BrianNYC
Oct 1, 2002 2:52 PM
Meant a 55 cm top tube, sorry, I am new to all these measurements
re: Decision Time - Ultegra or 105 - Advice Please....Mike Prince
Oct 1, 2002 2:57 PM
Sounds like it will be a nice bike. IMO there are not that many performance advantages in the 105 vs. Ultegra battle. Ultegra is finished better (looks prettier) but functionally you will not feel a huge difference other than a $300 lighter wallet as you mention.

However, at this point you are thinking Ultegra. Be warned that if you do get 105 you probably will start wondering what the difference is with Ultegra. If you choose to start "upgrading" to Ultegra that will cost much more than $300 in the long run.

If it were me I would go with the Ultegra just to avoid later upgrade fever. Both are nice groups. If your goal is really to come in under $2k for the bike, do the 105 and spend the $300 on some nice accessories. The ideal is if your LBS has a 105-equipped bike and an Ultegra bike for you to test ride. Then you can decide for yourself.

Hope this helps.
Buyer's remorseKerry
Oct 1, 2002 4:37 PM
Since it's your money, it's easy for us to make recommendations, but I will offer one thought. Very few people second guess themselves after buying the "better grade" whether it be bike parts or ground meat. However, any problems with the purchase of the lower line stuff, and there's this twinge of "shoulda, woulda, coulda." You should examine your own personality as to whether this will haunt you. On another line, I think you would find most $2K bikes with at least Ultegra/Centaur (check some bike maker's sites).
Amen to that...filtersweep
Oct 1, 2002 6:22 PM
"On another line, I think you would find most $2K bikes with at least Ultegra/Centaur (check some bike maker's sites)." That says it all... even a sub $1500 Trek 2200 has a Ultegra/105 mix (Ultegra shifters and deraileurs).

I hate to characterize it this way, but I think your frameset "deserves" better than 105... it is almost like you would be off balance. Granted your frame will affect your ride much more than the shifting, but if you take a holistic approach, I'd opt for at least Ultegra on everything but your brakes... and if you want to pinch a few more pennies, get a 105 crank and BB.

But I'd go full Ultegra... maybe even a Dura Ace mix. I built up a Look with Ultegra brakes, BB, crank- DA shifters and deraileurs for about $60 more than full Ultegra. Just a thought. I've had 105- and the trim control never really worked on it, leaving me with drivetrain noise in some gears.

I know people flame when someone suggests exceeding a budget, but my attitude is, I've come this far... might as well go all the way. You wouldn't own a Lexus without power windows, locks, AC (they probably don't even make them, but you get the idea... and if they don't make them THAT itself tells you something).
re: Decision Time - Ultegra or 105 - Advice Please....Iwannapodiumgirl
Oct 1, 2002 4:45 PM
I know you asked 105 cf. Ultegra, but have you consideres Campagnolo Centaur 10speed? Total Cycling has the groupset for for GBP380 VAT free.

Not sure how much your 105 groupset is, nor the Ultegra, but I thought I'd mention it.
re: Decision Time - Ultegra or 105 - Advice Please....BrianNYC
Oct 1, 2002 5:11 PM
Thanks for the input. The complete bikes I test rode in the same price range were a Kestrel Talon with all 105 and a Cannondale CAAD7 R1000 with a mixed ultegra/105 (Ksyrium wheel set) and both came in a little over $1900 (I am in NYC after all, and life is a little more expensive here based on the prices I see for new bikes in the review section), and I could not really tell the difference between the groupsets riding them around the block, and I liked the Look frame a lot better then the Kestrel frame. My idea with the Look is to get the better (IMHO compared to the Talon) carbon frame I wanted and upgrade, if I want, on the componants in the future if I want or my riding needs change. I understand about buyer's remorse and it might arise, that is human nature after all. But I will talk with my LBS about the Centaur groupset (I really had not thought about Campy since I thought they are always more expensive then Shimano for equivalents), but the qouted price also includes putting the bike together, which I am not capable of doing - I ordered it through my LBS and the quote of @$1900 is for the complete, assembled bike (sans pedals, shoes and tax). So, I will ask about the Campy, but go with the 105's most likely, get the computer and clothes, and hope that buyer's remorse does not keep me up at night (LOL). Thank's for all the advice, it is incredibly helpful and I am very happy I found this site before going out and buying any part of the bike - I will feel comfortable with the 105's and the entire set now.
Centaur Groupweiwentg
Oct 1, 2002 5:21 PM
I believe Glory Cycles ( has the Centaur group for $419. should you wish to go Campy (and I would seriously consider it), you could get the group (or should that be gruppo?) shipped to the LBS and have them assemble it. I'm sure it would be cheaper than getting them to order a Centaur group in.
Centaur GroupBrianNYC
Oct 1, 2002 5:52 PM
Checked it out. However, I realized that the 105 set my LBS qouted includes the wheelset, and I did not see that in the Centaur group on the site - so it will be the 105's as spec'ed - unless you have wheel set advice too - which I am sure that you or someone else will :). However, I promise to do research before I ever upgrade and consider Campy as well as higher level Shimano groupsets in the future.
Centaur GroupJuanmoretime
Oct 2, 2002 1:47 AM
Brian, knowing the issues with the lower end Shimano shifters I would say go all 105 and upgrade your shifters to Dura Ace, even Ultegra shifters have issues. As you wear out components, replace them with Dura Ace. I think the Ultegra brakes offer better performance than the Dura Ace, that once of extra metal goes a long way to adding stiffness and better braking power. I'm riding the Dura Ace bottom bracket but it's finicky, it requires frequent disassembly for adjustments and greasing. If you don't like to do maintainance, stay with the Ultegra BB. Good luck and enjoy your new bike!
Go 4 the dream; $300 is 60 hrs at min wage: $30/yr life of biketeamsloppy
Oct 1, 2002 11:26 PM
An important part of cycling is enjoying it. The bike will out live the computer, clothes and shoes (all of which you can buy on the Internet at 1/2 the price from your trusty LBS). The $300 is less than 60 hors work at minimum wage.

I have a 10 year old Klein Performance, that I ride daily to/ from work, with all the original Ultegra (except for the normal wear and tear replacements items: cassettes, derailleur, chain and chain rings). It's still a pretty bike that gets complements from strangers. It makes the ride to work enjoyable in part because I am proud of my bike.

I'd scrimp on the clothes, shoes and computer. You can find Diadora and North Waves shoes on sale for $60 at Performance and Nashbar. Hind tights are on sale for $40 at REI Outlet. Gloves are cheap as $9 (at REI outlet). Computers drop in price every 18 months (Moore's Law). The Clothing, shoes and computer will be stinky and replaced in a couple years.

The Ultegra components will last for a decade and give you motivation and an uplifting feeling every time you look at, touch or ride that bike.
Go 4 the dream; $300 is 60 hrs at min wage: $30/yr life of bikeBrianNYC
Oct 2, 2002 5:29 AM
All good and valid points. Thanks. You have made my decision much more difficult, so I am pissed :). I will have to do some soul searching now, but if I can get ten years out of the Ultegra with regular maintenance and "wear and tear" replacements, I guess it does make sense on many levels, and replacing the 105 with Ultegra as a whole in the future is a lot more expensive then getting it OEM. It is a Lexus, not a Camry. This decision is going to keep me up at nights perhaps!
Go 4 the dream; $300 is 60 hrs at min wage: $30/yr life of bikeKEN2
Oct 2, 2002 6:47 AM
I second the idea of some "smart" upgrades when you purchase. There is no functional difference between Ultegra and 105 cranks, brakes, or front derailleur IMO. OTOH, as someone else mentioned, you will be far happier with DA shifters/levers, they shift much better and they tend to have a much longer life because of use of bearings rather than bushings. So what I'm saying is, split the diff, get 105 for most stuff except DA shifters, Ultegra rear derailleur.
re: Decision Time - Ultegra or 105 - Advice Please....srotten
Oct 2, 2002 6:47 AM
If you're only agonizing over components you're missing out. You should also be agonizing over wheels. I have Ultegra. I have seen threads on RBR that say 105 will outlast Ultegra, but Ultegra is lighter.

If you are just getting started I would advise 105 and getting nicer clothes, especially for centuries. I would advice leaving $300 budgeted to buy decent clothes, shoes, and helmet. You will notice a lot more diference between a good and bad pair of shorts than you will 105 vs Ultegra on a century!

Good luck!

p.s. I like Pearl Izumi Ultrasensors
re: Decision Time - Ultegra or 105 - Advice Please....aliensporebomb
Oct 2, 2002 7:26 AM
After riding about 605 miles since July on my new bike
with full 105 I have to say that it just works, and
works well.

But don't kid yourself, I'd like full Dura-Ace on that
thing if I could afford it.

As it is, it works well and will likely upgrade piece by
piece over time when and if I can.

I'm almost thinking new wheels might be more exciting
first though.
How much is the frame and where did you get it?Sintesi
Oct 3, 2002 5:58 AM
Just curious. You might be better off ordering the wheels and group over the internet (many companies offer kit prices at great discount) then you just pay some shop $70 or so to put it together for you. The eight percent tax sucks in NYC. You could join NYCC or Transportation Alternatives, membership = 8-10% discount at most shops around town (ask). You might be able to get Centaur or Ultegra on your bike at or around $2,000.

BTW, I agree with Kerry, get as much as you can to start off because if you get addicted to this sport (like the rest of us sad sacks) the upgrades are very expensive and the constant pining has been known to wreck marriages.
How much is the frame and where did you get it?BrianNYC
Oct 3, 2002 7:09 AM
The frame was $1099 (w/o tax) at Conrad's. I went and visited 3 of the shops that RBR posters recommended and I felt most comfortable at Conrad's (FYI - I called another NYC LBS and asked if they could kit out a 361 for less then $2k and they said no way - politely though).

I did join NYCC and will get the discount on some of my purchases.

I greatly appreciate your and the other posters advice, and, based on all the input, I have decided to go with the 105's as planned. I realize I could buy the componants myself more cheaply on line (especially from the European sites it seems), but I would be very worried about quality AND compatability since I am new to the "high-end" (as well as "low-end") road bike world. Also, I don't think I could purchase all the componants - groupset, wheels, seat - that I would need under the $2000 benchmark even if I did order all the stuff myself. Also, I will get a certain satisfaction of staying within my pre-set budget.

That being said, I definitely have the "bug," and am glad I caught it since I needed a healthy (other then financially LOL) hobby that I can spend hours doing and hours on line or reading magazines about it and thinking what I want to buy next. There was a post asking how/why you got into cycling -for me it was deciding one day that "bright lights/big City" was just really not that much fun and I needed something very different to occupy my time, and biking, which I used to do a lot of when I was younger, happily somehow came to mind - funny how things like that work. Thus, I have resigned myself to internal whining about wanting to upgrade the componants (although not Ultegra, now I am thinking Dura-Ace - hey, it works for Lance), but, there is always my birthday next year, and that also gives me something to look forward to.

Best to all, and thanks again. This is a great site, glad I found it and joined up.
Fair enough.Sintesi
Oct 3, 2002 7:28 AM
Well you're getting a really nice frame at a good price and the components will work great so no worries. Not a bad plan, leapfrog Ultegra altogether and go right to DA. Good on you to get the NYCC card to save you from the crippling sales tax.

The first two years are expensive but it tapers off sharply as you begin to acquire the things you need (i.e. shoes, pedals, pump, minor tools, shorts, jerseys, socks, helmet, yikes!!). Happy riding.