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105 or Ultegra?(7 posts)

105 or Ultegra?bikahh
Oct 18, 2003 7:04 PM
OK, I've read a bunch of posts on 105 vs. Ultegra. It seems that there's not all that much difference between the two, so what's the bottom line here? Given the same frame, with similar quality wheels, bars, stem, seat and post, where's the break point in price between full 105/Ultegra? $100? $200? $400?

In other words, if you're looking at 2 basically identical bikes, how much more is the Ultegra bike "worth" over the 105 bike? Would you spend $200 more for Ultegra? $400? Or none....?
re: 105 or Ultegra?russw19
Oct 18, 2003 8:09 PM
The thing is that you already eliminated what I would say as the break factor... the wheels. If those are the same, then the next big factor that makes a difference on those two groups is that the Ultegra crank is quite a bit stiffer. But the other side of that coin is that your average rider (and esp. your average recreational rider) would never be able to tell unless you told them (which makes it kind of a placebo effect then, huh?) so it's not really a "real world" factor. The next "real world" factor I can think of is re-sale price of your bike. Are you willing to spend $200 more now so that you can sell it for $80 more 5 years from now?

Here's the breakdown in my eyes.... and I am sure others have their own opinions about this, but here's how I would see this one...

Assuming that wheels, bar, stem, seat, post, and pedals are equal on the same frame and fork... here's the rest of the bike... and I will not argue aestetics... if you like the look of one group over the other, it's impossible for me to argue against that.
Front Derailleur - negligable difference.. not worth thinking about.
Shifters - Very similar in quality and build. If you really want an upgrade, wait a few months and get an older set of 9 speed Dura-Ace shifters. Everyone I know who rides Ultegra all seem to concede that this is the group's Achilles heal. The shifters tend to rattle and come apart prematurely. But I would guess that trickles down to 105 as well, so if you are going to upgrade, don't half-ass it, get the Dura-Ace or don't waste your money.
Rear Derailleur - Negligable upgrade. Ride what you get on your bike until it dies and then replace it. Either one that comes stock on your bike should last at least 5 to 10 thousand miles as its natural life. When it dies, then get the Ultegra as the replacement cost is only like $10 to $15 more than the 105. But the 105 will be just fine until it dies.
Chain - most likely will be the same one anyways. Ride it till it dies, replace with a SRAM PC-89 or better for less than $25. You should get about 5000 miles per chain. For most riders, you may want to replace it once a year if you ride that much.
Cassette - The Ultegra is ligther. But ride what you have until it dies, replace with the better one then. And for 2004 SRAM will expand it's road cassette line. Should have some nice stuff in there.
Brake Calipers - From everything I know about the two, the Ultegra and 105 are essentially the same brake caliper with a different finish. Get the 105's and if the stopping power isn't good enough, upgrade to premium Kool Stop Brake Pads for $20.
Crank - Covered above... the Ultegra is nicer and stiffer and lighter. But the 105 is good, and carbon prices are dropping. Get the 105 for now, when you want to upgrade, you can get the older style FSA's with the alloy spider for about what an Ultegra costs.
Bottom Bracket - The Ultegra is nicer and lighter. Some people argue that the Ultegra is the best BB Shimano makes. For the plug and play models it may be. But I will cover something else about this in a second.
Headset - Negligable. Most bikes won't have a Shimano headset anyways as they aren't making a threadless headset yet. The entry level Cane Creek headsets are super nice and around $40. If you ride yours till it dies, you have a whole range of non-Shimano options to choose here. But your bike most likely won't come with a Shimano headset anyways.

The last factor at this point has to be planned obselecence. Dura-Ace gets completely overhauled for next year to a 10 speed group. That means Ultegra gets the face lift next year. So next year it starts to get harder to get 9 speed Ultegra stuff. It will take a few years before this becomes a factor, but you should know that is two years off for 105. Other than a possible cosmetic change, I can tell you right now that 105 will be the same group in 2003, 2004, and 2005. It will change in 2
Its never that simpleFez
Oct 18, 2003 8:23 PM
Assuming you mean mass produced bikes (Trek, Cannondale, Raleigh, Specialized, etc.) and not custom spec bikes, you can almost never make that comparison.

You almost never have 2 identical bikes to make that comparison. The Ultegra bike will almost always have something different, whether its something minor like tires, stem, post, saddle, or something major like a wheelset, fork, or even a more advanced frame.

But Russ covered it pretty good as far as the actual differences go.

The biggest difference may actually be the cosmetics. Silver 105 is not that common these days. Black 105 seems spec'd more often these days. Ultegra has a more polished silver finish.
re: 105 or Ultegra?geeker
Oct 19, 2003 6:32 AM
A sometimes-used rule of thumb for "weight-saving upgrades" is $1/gram. Assume for the sake of argument that anything 105 or above is perfectly adequate (and has indistinguishable "ride") for recreational cyclists (I more or less agree). Then accurately weigh the entire groups, and $1 per gram of weight savings is a reasonable price difference. I'm not sure of a source for accurate weights, however.

You could include the hubs in the above calculation. But if I was having wheels hand-built, I'd spend the extra money for Ultegra (or even Dura-Ace) hubs. Otherwise I (recreational/fitness riding Fred) think 105 is fine.
105 works fine for meronniedee
Oct 19, 2003 8:26 AM
I cannot give a comparison of 105 to Ultegra, but I can tell you that I have no complaints out of the 105 group. I have the silver-finish 105 and it looks great. I train for fitness and ride for fun. I don't race, but like to do all types of rides. For this type of riding, the 105 is functionally perfect and I am glad I saved $200 by buying the "105" spec'd Klein Quantum.

From what I hear by the local experts, the main differences between the two are: price, weight, and durability.
How thinly can you slice a tomato.Spoke Wrench
Oct 19, 2003 9:00 AM
Shimano makes 5 road groups and they all work pretty darn well. As you move up the food chain they get progressively smoother operating and lighter in weight. I've told a lot of people that I can't subjectively sense any difference if I move up or down one group but I can feel it if I move two.

My advice would be to not over analyze the decision and just buy the bike that you want. A year from now you will have forgotten a $300 or $400 price difference but you'll still have the bike. If it's not the one you wanted, you'll be forever disappointed.
Oct 20, 2003 5:23 AM
What I have learned at roadbike review
Ultegra=Dura Ace
You can get this info by reading all of the reviews.
Therefore 105=Dura Ace. You should be proud to ride a bike with 105.