Shimano reveal R8000 – the new Ultegra group set – Bike Magazine Australia

Shimano have lifted the lid on what we all expected would be coming – a new Ultegra group set. With options for all, the new range dubbed R8000 has newly shaped mechanical and Di2 shifters, TT shifters with Synchronized Shift, and lower profile Shadow Plus rear derailleurs.

Much of what has been added comes from the Dura Ace 9100 group set, with product refinements made from feedback by the professional peloton, and put into a package for real-world riding and buyers. With mechanical or programmable Di2 shifting, rim or hydraulic disc brakes, and broader gear ranges, the new R8000 is an ideal group set for many riders on road, time trial, cyclocross and adventure bikes.

Shimano Europe Product Manager Tim Gerrits pointed out that the aim was to bring top quality and performance to a more achievable price point.

“The goal was to bring high end technology to a wider audience of riders. We wanted to offer high performance riding to the many types of road cyclist with a wide variety of products to serve the ever-growing road bike landscape.”

“Ultegra is designed to cover everything from TT/Triathlon racing, to those who want disc brake and Di2 race or Gran Fondo performance, to the digital intelligence and shifting accuracy of Di2 and rim braking, to the braking performance of discs with the reliability of mechanical shifting, or to the simplicity of rim braking and mechanical shifting.”


“To retain that Ultegra quality level across such a wide variety of products and for such a wide range of uses was a big development challenge, especially when it came to integrating some of the new features from our top-tier Dura Ace R9100 series. Hydraulic disc brakes and Synchronized Shifting for example, were two completely new areas for Ultegra and we needed to nd the right balance between high performance, high quality and high levels of durability and reliability.”

Not riding discs? No problem.

“We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve created. Ultegra has such a loyal and enthusiastic appeal that it is associated with the true spirit of the sport. We’ve pushed that forwards, and hopefully in the process we can attract more people to the sport of road cycling.” 

The R8000 Ultegra drivetrain

The new asymmetric crank set has design elements from the  Dura-Ace R9100 design with a large Hollowtech II 4-arm design for stiffer power transfer, but it manages to drop a couple of grams (674g, 50-34T) from the previous design (676g).

Slick shifting is guaranteed with the outer chain ring featuring Shimano’s Hollowglide technology for a highly rigid yet hollow structure to cut down on weight and maintain strength for more precise front shifting.

Crankset options include a standard 53-39T ratio, mid compact 52-36T, compact 50-34T, and cyclocross-specific 46-36T.

The 11-speed cassette sprocket comes in 6 ‘standard’ sizes (CS-R8000; 11-25T, 11-28T, 11-30T, 11-32T, 12-25T, 14-28T) and a wider 11-34T (CS-HG800) cassette with a hub body designed to fit both road bikes (with spacer) and mountain bikes – this should be very popular with riders using 29er or 27.5″ MTB wheels on adventure bikes.

New Ultegra carbon SPD-SL pedals encourage pro-level performance by reducing the stack height by 0.7mm, extending the crank’s lever effect, and shaving 12g off the previous PD-6800 design (now 248g). Pedal options are also available with 4mm longer axles. 

A matter of shifting 

With mechanical and Di2 shifters for rim brakes or hydraulic discs, the key here is Shimano have nailed the ergonomics so the hood shape and feel is nearly identical across all four types of shifter.

The Di2 shifter can run semi or full Synchro Shift, thanks to the new battery. This means it can work sequentially through gear ratios via one shifter, or use both and it accounts for the gear jupm between chain rings with the appropriate up or down shift on the cassette. Your fingers might be programmed to do this from years of riding. But maybe not.

The top of the hood also has a programmable button for the Di2 shifters, to truly customise your bike, and confuse friends who want to test ride it. Best of all, the programming can be done via the Etube App for phones, making it truly user friendly technology. It’s your bike, make it work how you want it to.

In terms of ergonomics, the hydraulic shifters have better reach and freestroke adjustment than the previous units, and are smaller in size too.

The front derailleur accomodates fast shifting and has clearance for wider tyres, the rear derailleurs can even take an 11-34 cassette, when using the long cage GS model. This is a boon for adventure bikes, 1×11 cyclocross bikes, and big rides in big hills. The Shadow Plus design really sits in and under the cassette, out of harms way. 

For time trial bikes there are new shift buttons, and also TT specific dual control shifters. With a button removed they are more aerodynamic, but committed to Synchro Shifting.

Put a brake on it – options with R8000

As you would guess, R8000 isn’t short on braking options. With the new direct mount units sititng flush with the frame and fork, and the new rotors offering awesome heat dissipation, the packaged doesn’t even weigh a whole lot more than rim brakes.

Finned pads assist with cooling.

Still, the new dual pivot design (with direct mount options) for the rim brake also accepts 28mm tyres, and with tighter tolerances they offer firmer braking, with less weight if you can use the direct mount units.

The direct mount brakes cut weight and add power.

There’s no hub like a Shimano hub in terms of smooth rolling and low maintenance running. And the new hubs dump about 60g plus have faster engagement. There are also two new wheel sets, including one with a carbon laminate rim and a disc brake tubeless wheel with through-axles.

And the big question – when can you get some? Try August, and head to Shimano’s website for full details.