The 12-speed Shimano Ultegra (R8100) and Dura-Ace (R9200) Di2 groupsets were launched in August 2021. On the surface, both groupsets look very similar except for their total weight and pricing. But there is a lot more than meets the eye.
- Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset is a high-performance groupset for mid to top-end road bikes. The Ultegra groupset is more affordable than the Dura-Ace, making it a good option for riders who want high-performance components without breaking the bank.
- Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset is Shimano’s flagship offering and is designed for professional-level road racing. It is more expensive and designed for riders who demand the best in terms of performance and technology.
I’ll break down each of the groupset’s components and discuss their differences. This will help you decide if the Ultegra or Dura-Ace groupset suits your riding needs.
The 12-speed Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace Di2 groupset share the same design and all functionalities.
The Ultegra is ideal for serious amateur cyclists, and Dura-Ace for those who are racing. Many professional cyclists use the Ultegra components, such as chains and cassettes, for their training rides due to their lower costs.
Both groupsets feature new features such as semi-wireless shifting, a redesigned brake hood, an extra 10% brake pad clearance, a power meter crankset, and a 160mm crankarm length. But unknown to many, there are many differences between the Ultegra and Dura-Ace groupsets beyond just the weight and price.
|Launched||August 2021||August 2021|
|Power meter crankset||Yes||Yes|
|Price range (USD)||$2,400 to $2,500||$4,200 to $4,500|
Brake levers and shifters
There isn’t any difference between the Dura-Ace and Ultegra disc brake levers except for the weight.
The Dura-Ace disc brake levers are 50g/pair lighter than Ultegra. Both have the same shape, design, and features;
- 2x Di2 cable ports per lever
- Servo Wave technology
- Third (hood) button
- 16.4mm brake lever reach adjustment
- Single CR1632 battery per lever
There are three Di2 cable ports for rim brake levers and two for disc brakes.
The Ultegra and Dura-Ace rear derailleurs are the same except for the heavier materials used in the Ultegra derailleur parts, hence the additional 47g weight.
Both features use the Shimano Shadow Technology, first introduced in the 11-speed groupsets. With the Shadow Technology, the rear derailleur has a low profile design at the top gear position (smallest cog) for a quieter drivetrain.
The maximum cassette size for the rear derailleur is 34T.
More reading : Bicycle Drivetrain and Gearing Basics
The Ultegra and Dura-Ace front derailleurs have the same functionalities but differ in shape and weight.
Shimano has redesigned the 12-speed front derailleurs to be slimmer with a smaller frontal area (33% less than its predecessor), and hence lower weight.
The Dura-Ace front derailleur is 17g lighter with the difference in the screws and plate materials.
Shimano introduced the 160mm crankarm length with the 12-speed groupsets. Both Ultegra and Dura-Ace cranksets are available in five crankarm lengths;
For chainrings, Shimano no longer offers the standard chainring size of 53/39T. There are two options for Ultegra and three for Dura-Ace.
More reading : How to Decide Between Compact vs Standard Crankset
The 12-speed Dura-Ace and Ultegra chains are the same Shimano 12-speed mountain bike chains. The XTR is renamed as Dura-Ace and XT as Ultegra.
The difference between Dura-Ace and Ultegra chains is the Sil-Tec coating and hollow pin design. Sil-Tec coating is where fluorine particles are embedded onto the surface to increase strength and durability.
More reading : When to Replace A Bike Chain?
- Sil-Tec coating is applied on the Dura-Ace chain on the inner plates, outer plates, and rollers. There is no Sil-Tec coating on the Ultegra chain.
- Hollow pin design is used on the Dura-Ace chain to lower weight (5g) vs a solid pin design for the Ultegra chain.
|Links||116, 126||116, 126|
|Outer plates coating||Gray||Sil-Tec|
|Inner plates coating||Chrome||Sil-Tec|
Shimano has streamlined the 12-speed Ultegra and Dura-Ace cassette sizes. Unlike previous generations, there are only two cassette sizes available;
The difference between Ultegra and Dura-Ace cassettes is the titanium materials on the Dura-Ace cogs;
- 11-30T : 19, 21, 24, 27, 30T
- 11-34T : 19, 21, 24, 27, 30, 34T
This helps to lower the weight of the Dura-Ace cassette, 68g (11-30T) and 92g (11-34T). The other cogs are made from steel.
|Price – front (USD)||$88||$185|
|Price – rear (USD)||$83||$180|
The difference between the Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra disc brake calipers is the weight.
The Dura-Ace calipers are 40g/pair lighter due to their Mono-Body design, where the Dura-Ace caliper is machined from a single cold forged block to maximize stiffness and lower weight.
Both have the same design with a 10% wider brake pad clearance and easier access to the bleed port.
More reading : How to Fix Sticky A Disc Brake Caliper
|Price – 140mm (USD)||$61||$86|
|Price – 160mm (USD)||$61||$86|
|ICE Freeza Technologies||Yes||Yes|
Shimano used the same brake rotors from their mountain bikes (RT-MT900, RT-MT800) when launching the Dura-Ace and Ultegra 12-speed groupsets in September 2021.
In June 2022, Shimano finally launched the new, redesigned brake rotors for Dura-Ace (RT-CL900) and Ultegra (RT-CL800).
Both rotors are available in 140mm and 160mm sizes. They’re made from the same material with a 3-layer design (stainless steel, aluminum, stainless steel), except the Dura-Ace rotors have black cooling fins vs grey for Ultegra.
Note : Both rotors are the same, but the Dura-Ace model costs ~30% more.
More reading : Shimano Dura-Ace vs XTR Rotors Comparison
The Ultegra and Dura-Ace disc brake calipers come with the new L05A-RF resin brake pads with cooling fins. The fifth-generation resin brake pad has 50% better wear resistance than its predecessor, L03A.
The L05A and L03A are cross-compatible as they have the same shape and design. The difference lies in the resin materials.
More reading : Resin vs Metal Disc Brake Pads Comparison
The Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace disc brakes use the same brake hoses (SM-BH90-JK-SSR).
The brake hoses are available in two lengths, 1000mm (for front) and 1700mm (for rear).
Shimano introduced a new battery (BT-DN300) for the 12-speed wireless groupsets.
There are three ports on the battery, with only two needed for a wireless setup. The third port will be used for a wired setup to connect the shifters via a junction box.
More reading : How to Check Shimano Di2 Battery Levels
Only two cables are needed for a semi-wireless setup of 12-speed Shimano groupsets,
- Battery to front derailleur
- Battery to rear derailleur
The cables are available from 150mm to 1000mm in 50mm increments and 200mm from 1000mm to 1600mm.