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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How long should an Ultegra drivetrain last? Or better question - how long before I have to start replacing parts?

I'm pondering a new bike. The old one (less than 2 years old) is the bike I commute on. I keep the drivetrain clean, but I'm already starting to notice some wear. It's time for cables and wrap. I've noticed my large ring and 16 tooth cog (among others) are starting to get some sharp teeth. I'm only approaching 5K miles, but I ride in all conditions. Certainly these aren't that expensive relatively speaking, but am I going to be nickled and dimed for the next couple of years? Should I go ahead and trade in?

Thanks
 

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Trade in? Why in the world do that?
Cables, bar wrap, cassettes, chains, and eventually chain rings are all wear items. Just like tires & brake pads, they will wear whether your bike is new or old. Replacing wear items is predictable, not getting nickled & dimed.
If you want a new commuter, it's within your budget, and it will bring a smile to your face then go for it! But don't think you need a new ride just because you've predictably worn out some parts. IMHO- I would tune up the bike with new cables, wrap, cassette, & chain. Seems like an Ultegra big ring ought to last more than 5k miles.

To answer your first question on longevity of Ultegra, I think it depends a lot on riding conditions (dirt, rain, road hazards, etc.), riding style (racing or not), & how it's installed & cared for (cleaned, lubed, etc.). Anything poorly installed &/or neglected will likely fail prematurely, and racing is stressful on parts.
I read somewhere that typical lifespan on prev gen Shimano road groupos (not the newest releases) was something like-
Sora 8s ~3k miles
Tiagra 9s ~5k miles
105- 10s~ 6-8k miles
Ultegra- 10s~7-10k miles
Dura Ace 10s- 10+k miles

My feeling is that those are reasonable ballpark estimates- and many last longer.
FWIW- My experience includes wife's Sora (getting worn @ 2800mi), Tiagra (OK @ 3k before I upgraded), Ultegra (2 groupos-both fine @ 3k and 7k mi). My only DA bike has under 3k miles so to soon to tell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Your absolutely right - If this were my main ride (that I love and baby), I'd just keep replacing parts as needed. However, I have no attachment to this bike and was just wondering about economics. It's not a question of if I keep this bike, it's a question of when do I sell/trade it.
 

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Lets see.

Ultegra 10 speed cassette - $100
Shimano 10 speed chainrings - $130
Ultegra 10 speed chain - $40
Bar tape - $10
Cables and housing - $20

Parts alone - $300 - just an estimate and there are cheaper prices out there.

If you pay a shop to do it, expect around $60 at the most. If you do your own work, no labor, maybe plus the cost of tools.


SOOOOOO $300-$400 for replacement stuff expenses vs. lets say at least $1400 for a new 105/Ultegra equipped bike.

Kind of a no brainer for me.
 

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It sounds to me like you want to get rid of this bike. To me, trading it in wouldn't be a viable option. You'd probably realize more money for it if you could sell it.

That being said, I'm shocked that the Ultegra drive train would wear so quickly. IMO/IME at 5K you shouldn't be seeing any significant wear at all. Five grand is just "break in" mileage. Ultegra is an excellent gruppo, one of the highest quality sets available. I have Campy Chorus speed that was new in '94, and it's still fine. The Chorus has about 100,000 miles on it. I've replaced the cassette a few times, but still have the original chain rings, derailleurs. I replaced one of the brifters. I can't understand why yours is in such poor shape, especially when you say you maintain it well. Cables, chains, bar tape and things like that are just routine maint. parts that everybody has to change no matter what they're riding.
 

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sounds to me like you aren't replacing chains fast enough. I work at a shop and a couple months ago I just replaced everything on a customer's bike that had ultegra. He had just over 15,000 miles on his components but he really took care of his bike. He replaces his chain "before" it NEEDS to be replaced.
 

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+1 on you have MANY more miles to go. I have an Ultegra SL groupo on my Madone, and it's still working fine after 8k miles (including 2 "ground touching" experiences that scuffed the RD). I do replace the chain often (every rear tire) and also replaced/upgraded the cassette to gain better climbing gears - but otherwise, I just lube and ride. Oh yea, I seem to be hard on cables - I replace them every 3k +/- miles.

This groupo has been reliable enough for me to seriously consider using it on a new Ti build I'm working on - and I have no pre-planned budget for this one.
 

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It's impossible to predict drivetrain life because there are too many variables, inc. riding style, whether you spread wear over various cogs or do 90% of your riding on one, terrain, weather, chain lube, your maintainance habits, etc.

Regardless of what you're riding, I can tell you that if you use decent chain lube properly, your chain, cassette and chainrings will all last longer.
 

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justsomeotherdude said:
sounds to me like you aren't replacing chains fast enough. I work at a shop and a couple months ago I just replaced everything on a customer's bike that had ultegra. He had just over 15,000 miles on his components but he really took care of his bike. He replaces his chain "before" it NEEDS to be replaced.
+1.

i've got a full ti campy cassette with nearly 10k miles on it. the secret? lots of chains. they wear and the roller to roller distance increases, then the ring/cog teeth wear to match the chain. keep the chain in spec and everything else will last exponentially longer.
 
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