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This will probably end in pointless mud slinging, but what the hey, I'm bored.

I bought a nice used steel frame off e-bay a while back and want to build it up. The frame is kind of retro (1994 Merckx Corsa 01), but its in pristine shape and I'm not interested in dressing it up in period specific parts.

All the bikes my wife and I own are 9-speed Dura Ace. I have lots of Shimano wheels lying around I could use. So naturally, the plan was to buy an Ultegra group (I want to do this for around $2000). After a little looking, I've expanded my choice set a little. Anyone have experience with trying two or more of these groups?

1. Ultegra -- $830 at Total Cycling. Pro: its the cheapest of the three, my wheels would work with it, I've always found Shimano to be functional stuff. Con: I find the shifters and especially the cranks really ugly. Are the shifters comfortable -- they seem so long?

2. Force -- $940 at Total Cycling. Pro: Kind of nice looking, especially the cranks. Con: I know nothing about it. Seems like I hear a lot of complaints about it being noisy.

3. Chorus -- $1100 at Total Cycling. Pro: its Campy, king of the snob appeal. Its very nice looking stuff. I've always been curious to try Campy. Con: its Campy, king of the snob appeal. Most expensive of the three especially due to the additional cost of a Campy compatable rear wheel, or converting one of my Shimano wheels, or getting a cassette conversion (none of these options is cheap).

I''m most curious about Force versus one of the other two (esp Ultegra). I just can't get over how Shimano uglified their components.

If anyone knows a website with better prices, that would be appreciated too. Total Cycling is about the best I see with all the options I want (esp 175 mm compact crank).

Thanks.
 

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thoughts...

You should be comparing Athena 11 or even Centaur to the other two. Athena 11 is only about $700. There is also no rule that says you have to use all parts from one group. Athena uses a Chorus cassette and chain as a normal part of the group. Other parts could be upgraded and still stay below the price of the other groups.

There is both the cassette body issue and the chain tool issue with Campy. You can get by with the Park chain peening tool and most wheelsets, other than genuine Shimano, can be converted to a Campy cassette body.

http://www.shinybikes.com/bike/Groupsets/
 

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Also, do you care if you go 10s or 11s? Athena is 11s, while Centaur is 10s (for now at least).

After that it comes down to what feels the best to you (shifter shape/comfort/ergonomics) and what looks better to you. I think that the Campy alloy cranks look way better than the carbon SRAM ones or the Star Wars Shimano ones, especially on a classic steel frame.

If it were me and I was looking for a change from Shimano, I would go for Athena. Spend the money you save on a Campy-compatible rear hub and rebuild one of your Shimano rear wheels.
 

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I use Record 11 on one bike, Force on another, both came stock with Shimano. I do like the campy stuff a bit better in terms of shifting. Seems more positive, and a little quicker, but not substantially so. Force is a no. 1 for performance vs money in my mind, plus most of your fragile and wear items are much cheaper with Force with the exception of the shifters. I do think the quality/fit and finish are not as good as either Campy or Shimano, though in practice I have never had any problems, more just an aesthetic issue.
 

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Its the SRAM cassettes that are noisy... I run a Durace with my RED group....
 

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I'd try Sram before deciding. It boils down to preference and you can't really know without trying it. I prefer Sram and would even use Rival over any Shimano group.
 

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It's the Sram "Powerdome" cassette that's noisy. It's one-piece design acts like a sounding drum. Several of my group-ride mates have switched to the 1070 (less than half the price and all of 60 grams heavier) and a KMC or Shimano chain. Quiet as death.

As much of a Campy guy as I am, the price/weight/performance qualities of Force make it look very attractive. Most of our wholesale suppliers are selling Force for less than Ultegra, so shop around.

And while shifter ergonomics are personal, I like both Campy and Sram better than Shimano and that both don't use the brake lever for a shifting function.

Finally, both DuraAce and Ultegra look completely out of place on a classic steel frame. Force, despite the carbon bits, not so much.
 

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It's the Sram "Powerdome" cassette that's noisy. Its one-piece design acts like a sounding drum. Several of my group-ride mates have switched to the 1070 (less than half the price and all of 60 grams heavier) and a KMC or Shimano chain. Quiet as death.

As much of a Campy guy as I am, the price/weight/performance qualities of Force make it look very attractive. Most of our wholesale suppliers are selling Force for less than Ultegra, so shop around.

And while shifter ergonomics are personal, I like both Campy and Sram better than Shimano and that both don't use the brake lever for a shifting function.

Finally, both DuraAce and Ultegra look completely out of place on a classic steel frame. Force, despite the carbon bits, not so much.
 

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I think the first thing you need to consider is how the lever shape fits your hand, and secondarily how the shifting motion feels to you. If those two don't agree with you, the rest goes out the window.

Now I have limited experience with Campy equipped bikes, so I won't make to many comments on that. I personally don't like the thumb lever. I have used the three most recent iterations of Ultegra, and I currently have a Force equipped bike (except for the gossamer crank that came on my bike). I have found that the Force components require much less tinkering from time to time get it to shift properly. I always felt like I was in a constant battle to get the shifting just right without any rubbing on my ultegra bikes. With the Force group, I rarely have to adjust my shifting, despite riding distances in the rain etc. Although there is more force needed at the lever, Sram's shifting has this immensely positive mechanical feel to it. I have found the same to be true when comparing Shimano & Sram mtb groups. I really do think it is Sram's indexing that makes the shifting better.

With regards to noise, I have found that drive train noise has more to do with tuning and proper lubrication than with component selection, I've also had bad luck with running contra-company cassettes & chains. I used prolink in the past and I found that stuff to be fairly noisy regardless of what drive train I was running. I recently tried chain-l and all of my bikes are absolutely silent.

All in all, if I had to choose my drive train all over again, I would still get Force. Good luck deciding.
 

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force is lighter than ultegra
force looks nicer (subjective)
force has carbon cranks
try out sram shifting to see if you like it. shimano shifting is butter smooth
 

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C-40 said:
You should be comparing Athena 11 or even Centaur to the other two. Athena 11 is only about $700. There is also no rule that says you have to use all parts from one group. Athena uses a Chorus cassette and chain as a normal part of the group. Other parts could be upgraded and still stay below the price of the other groups.

There is both the cassette body issue and the chain tool issue with Campy. You can get by with the Park chain peening tool and most wheelsets, other than genuine Shimano, can be converted to a Campy cassette body.

http://www.shinybikes.com/bike/Groupsets/
Do you have any other link that sells for $700? All of the Athenas I found online are $1300-1400.
 

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force is lighter than ultegra
force looks nicer (subjective)
force has carbon cranks
try out sram shifting to see if you like it. shimano shifting is butter smooth
Agree.

I was a Shimano man for 15 years until this year when I built my S2 with SRAM Force. I use a shimano cassette and chain and wow this thing can shift.

Can't bring myself to swap out my MTBs XT kit yet
 

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skyliner1004 said:
force is lighter than ultegra
force looks nicer (subjective)
force has carbon cranks
try out sram shifting to see if you like it. shimano shifting is butter smooth
I was talking to a guy at the LBS and he said Shimano shifts have a 1:2 cable pull ratio leading to smoother shifting, while SRAM uses 1:1 so it shifts quicker but less smoothly.
 

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nope...

deviousalex said:
I was talking to a guy at the LBS and he said Shimano shifts have a 1:2 cable pull ratio leading to smoother shifting, while SRAM uses 1:1 so it shifts quicker but less smoothly.
The typical LBS person usually knows little about what he's selling. The amount of cable pull used by the shifters has nothing to do with quickness or smoothness. In this case both of the quoted ratios are wrong. Shimano use nonuniform cable pulls that average 2.3mm and SRAM uses uniform 3mm pulls. They RD moves the same 3.95mm per shift.

Campy 10 shifters use nonuniform pulls that average 2.8mm to move the RD by 4.15mm. Campy 11 uses 2.6mm average pulls to move the RD 3.8mm.
 
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