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I'm buying my first road bike. Do I get full Ultegra or 105? What is the difference in performance? Does the price justify the added performace? Any manufacturer suggestions?
 

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Choices

BHB2006 said:
I'm buying my first road bike. Do I get full Ultegra or 105? What is the difference in performance? Does the price justify the added performace? Any manufacturer suggestions?
My general advice on this is to start with your budget, and then go up one group :) This approach prevents the frequent buyer's remorse that you see on bike forums all the time. It also serves to forestall the dreaded upgrade-itis that overtakes so many people. You can argue till the cows come home about whether one group or the other has higher value, but there is really no way to win that argument because there are so many variables in how much, where, and how people ride. And we haven't even touched on the "personal preference" issue.
 

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If this is your first bike in general then the 105 group will be just fine for your needs. The quality of 105 is great so you can't go wrong.
If you are a MTB'r that's getting into road biking, and you have XT or XTR then you might as well get Ultegra to keep your gruppo satisfaction high.
If your budget is really pushed then the 105 group will definitely do the job.
 

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BHB2006 said:
I'm buying my first road bike. Do I get full Ultegra or 105? What is the difference in performance? Does the price justify the added performace? Any manufacturer suggestions?
9 or 10 speed. it makes a huge difference. ultegra 10 vs 105 9 - ultegra 10 wins by a mile. However, I'd rather have 105 10 than ultegra 9. The new 10 speed stuff is, in my opinion, so much nicer than the old 9 speed stuff.

if both groups are 9 or 10... Well, then I guess it depends on how much you want to spend. I would say the only part that is superior in ultegra are the shifters, all the other 105 parts are fine.
 

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Respectfully disagree on 10 speed vs. 9

For some uses, I opted for 8 speeds-

for example, my cyclocross bike (haven't raced cyclocross yet- next fall I want to) is also my commuter and bad weather road bike. It's got tiagra shifters and 105 rear deraileur, and it does not ride like crap at all. If I had to settle for it, I would.

Being lucky enough to have a large budget, Ultegra10 is very very very nice, and I appreciate it. If I was younger and could only afford 105... well, guys on 105 routinely pass me like i'm a roadsign.

105 is decent stuff, esp. if you get are going to abuse the stuff a little and it's going to wear out in 2 years in either case. IMO

'meat
 

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Probably not a huge difference in durability. Small difference in weight. Ultegra has a nicer finish and will probably keep you from wanting to upgrade later. If you're gonna stick with cycling it usually makes sense to get the best stuff you can afford.
 

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Manufacturers

BHB2006 said:
...Any manufacturer suggestions?
You might also look at Campagnolo Centaur group which is comparable to Shimano Ultegra. The considerations between Campy and shimano are covered in other threads.
 

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Centaur is more expensive than Ultegra-10

Keeping up with Junior said:
You might also look at Campagnolo Centaur group which is comparable to Shimano Ultegra. The considerations between Campy and shimano are covered in other threads.
if the OP is on a budget then Campagnolo only player here is Veloce-10. I test rode Veloce-10 about 12 months ago and was not too impressed besides it is quite a bit heavier that new 105-10. I recently tried to price a Centaur-10 for my Madone 5.9 and it turned out quite a bit more expensive than Ultegra-10 so I went Shimano. Why Campagnolo is not price competitive with Shimano beats me. And now in 2006 they are in danger from new SRAM 10-speed road group-set as well.

BTW new 10-speed 105 is not dramatically cheaper than Ultegra-10. About ~20% cheaper I recall (~AUS$300 cheaper down under, i.e. USD$200 cheaper or even less).

Either one of those two Shimano 10-speed groups will be great, IMO.
 

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ultegra shifters are better

BHB2006 said:
I'm buying my first road bike. Do I get full Ultegra or 105? What is the difference in performance? Does the price justify the added performace? Any manufacturer suggestions?
If you get just the Ultegra shifters and the rest 105, that would be the best. The Ultegra shifters have a shorter throw, esp. the front. I have the 105 10sp and have just upgraded 3 months later after using the 105's. Hated the slower shifting.
 

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Partial downgrades...

Getting the cheaper of the two gruppos and upgrading individual components later on is the most expensive approach - better to pony up now and accept the pinch. You can ease the pain by "downgrading" individual components - doing so in the following order will maximize the benefits of the higher gruppo:

1. Chain, cassette (wear items)
2. Front derailleur, then rear ("dumb" components - just do what other components tell them to do)
3. Rear brake, then front (front brake is more important)
4. Crankset (but fight it if you can!)
5. Do anything you can to keep the Ultegra brifters!
 

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Current Pricing Update

acid_rider said:
...I recently tried to price a Centaur-10 for my Madone 5.9 and it turned out quite a bit more expensive than Ultegra-10 so I went Shimano. Why Campagnolo is not price competitive with Shimano beats me...
Well not quite. Having just shopped for two component groups in the last year (wife & son) I think your numbers may be off a bit. Just a quick check for shifters, front & rear derailer, cranks, bottom bracket, cassette, brakes showed the following:

Centaur which is comparable performance wise to Ultegra:
Centaur $617 Ultegra $829

Chorus which is comparabel performance wise to Dura-Ace(edit):
Chorus $826

http://comparisonpricing.com/

As far as the OP he is looking at a complete bike and compenent groups come at screaming deals on complete builds. My recommendation still stands that the OP should include Centaur in his shopping list as he compares a total package to bikes built with Ultegra or 105. After getting prices he needs to consider the other differences between the groups.
 

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Keeping up with Junior said:
Centaur which is comparable performance wise to Ultegra:
Centaur $617 Ultegra $829

Chorus which is comparabel performance wise to Record:
Chorus $826http://comparisonpricing.com/
Many people would reasonably argue that Centaur is not quite up to Ultegra snuff, though better than 105. I think many more would argue that Record is better than Chorus.
 

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Duhh

BugMan said:
Many people would reasonably argue that Centaur is not quite up to Ultegra snuff, though better than 105. I think many more would argue that Record is better than Chorus.
Duhh, my mistake. Meant to say Chorus is comparable performance wise to Dura Ace. Edited post to correct.

With Ultegra's move to 10 speed it might have an edge on Centaur in some areas but bang for the buck for someone on a budget it should be thrown in the mix to consider.

A nice Centaur review here:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?id=tech/2004/reviews/centaur-first-impression
 

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Edit noted, but I think equating Chorus to DuraAce, along with Centaur to Ultegra, is still being overly generous to Campy. I think more people would consider Record = DuraAce, Chorus = Ultegra, and Centaur = 105, with maybe a slight edge (and generally a price premium) to the Campy groups.
 

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mix

Perhaps go for an Ultegra/105 mix. A lot of bikes now come with Ultegra really where it counts (Shifters and Rear Derailleur).
 

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Ultegra 10 sp

I have purchased 2 new bikes in the last year...first one with 105 9 sp which was ok, but no comparison to the second bike with Ultegra 10 sp. Should have got the good stuff to start with.
 

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I rode for a long time on 9-speed 105. I eventually upgraded shifters and derailers to Ultegra and noticed absolutely no performance difference. Now, I don't know about the 10 speed vs. 9 speed, but if I was buying in now I'd probably go for the Ultegra 10 speed just because of the ease of replacement parts in the future.
 

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Chart

BugMan said:
Edit noted, but I think equating Chorus to DuraAce, along with Centaur to Ultegra, is still being overly generous to Campy. I think more people would consider Record = DuraAce, Chorus = Ultegra, and Centaur = 105, with maybe a slight edge (and generally a price premium) to the Campy groups.
I have to disagree with you, you cannot simply take the two companies component lines and start ranking them from the top to the bottom. Record is in a different class, not necessarily better, just different because of the mystique some attach to it. A nice comparison chart by another that includes the MTB range too.

lonefrontranger said:
...In a nutshell, here's the breakdown. Simple list, top to bottom, road and mtn, and how I (personally) feel the lines compare:

Campagnolo-----Shimano Road-------Shimano MTB
Record------------------------------------------------------XTR
Chorus--------------------Dura Ace------------------Deore XT
Centaur--------------------Ultegra--------------------Deore LX
Veloce-----------------------105-------------------------Alivio
Mirage---------------------Tiagra-----------------------Acera
Xenon-----------------------Sora------------------------Altus

...Hope this helps!
Her opinions are supported in articles by people in the industry. If you have not ridden several miles on the various components and are judging based on price, marketing or touching it in the shop you may reach a different conclusion. With three riders our basement has (had) Chorus, Centaur, Mirage, DuraAce, Ultegra, 105, LX, Superbe Pro and LFR's ranking list is in line with our family's experience. I often times will ride Chorus on Saturday and Ultegra on Sunday, they are not in the same class.

As for the original poster, throw Centaur into your selection criteria. If you find a built bike with it at your price point and like the feel of Ergo vs. STI then spend some time researching. Be careful as you scroll through the threads here as the Campy v Shimano debates are often fueled by emotion and not necessarily supported by experience. Both groups have pluses and minuses but neither one will hold you back riding.
 

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Hmmm....I would say Ultegra 9spd is what XT is on the

MTB side. XTR is super sweet and I would say on par with DA9ps from what I have used. 105 = LX I would also say SRAM X.0 is equal to XTR if not starting to pass XTR on shifters and RDs.

I have no opinon on RECORD as I I just really starting trying some Campy items. From what I read and have looked at RECORD, is that it's just a cut above DA because of the carbon levers. Just a thought...

I wonder if DA10 came out with Carbon levers, would the view change comapring it to RECORD. Does the "Italian" factor trump Japanese?

Ferrari vs Lexus? Maserati vs Lexus?

I wonder if RECORD was not made in Italy and Shimano was not made in Japan and both had carbon levers or alloy, would they compare?

If Campagnolo's heritage makes it that much better tahn Shimano?

Just some thoughts from a Campy newbie....
 
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