At that time, I was merely experimenting with the new front brake mounting, thus I was just using a basic Shimano Tiagra caliper brake. After it was proven that this upgrade is feasible and works well, I decided to get a better caliper brake.
The new series of road components by Shimano are the Dura-Ace 9000 and Ultegra 6800 series. Amongst the new components are newly designed caliper brakes, designed to be even more powerful than the previous Dura-Ace 7900 and Ultegra 6700 versions. Without question, the brakes that I decided to get was the Ultegra 6800 brakes, as the colour matches the rest of the components on my bike (Ultegra 6700/6770).
A quick comparison of the Ultegra 6700 vs Ultegra 6800 caliper brakes:
Ultegra 6700 brakes
Ultegra 6800 brakes
From the pictures above, you can see that the new Ultegra 6800 brakes has an additional section on the top brake arch. This is due to the new cam mechanism in the brakes, designed to improve braking power.
Both the brakes are of dual pivot design, but the pivot locations are different. The 6700 brakes has one of the pivots on the centre mounting bolt itself, while the 6800 is a symmetrical dual pivot design, with the 2 pivots at both sides of the brake caliper. Again, this is designed to improve braking power.
Let us now take a closer look at the brake new Ultegra 6800 brakes which I bought! I only bought the front brake (with the longer mounting bolt) as I can only change the front brake. The rear brake will remain as the Tektro R559 Extra Long Reach caliper brakes.
Beautiful packaging for the Ultegra 6800 brakes
Possible to buy just a single brake (instead of a pair) online
Same colour scheme as the Ultegra 6700 series!
Matches the rest of my Ultegra 6700/6770 components.
Long mounting bolt for secure mounting to the Elosix front brake adaptor
Comes with an additional 4 recessed brake nuts of different lengths, to suit different frames.
Centering adjustment bolt on top, for adjusting the pad clearance for one side.Spring tension adjustment bolt in the middle, to increase or decrease the spring tension.
The roller cam mechanism as seen hidden between the 2 brake arms.
Also, the roller cam mechanism uses the motion of one brake arm to push the other brake arm, increasing the force and therefore also increasing the braking power.
Tight clearance between the brakes and the 20x1.35" Kojak tires. Even smaller clearance compared to the Tiagra caliper brakes. Note the locations of the dual pivots.
Tire clearance on the previous Tiagra brakes.Slightly more than the Ultegra 6800 brakes. Note that there is no independent pivot on the left side of the picture.
Used the default Ultegra 6800 brake pad holder, but changed to the SwissStop brake pads. Could not get proper pad alignment with the gold coloured brake pad holders.
Just for comparison. Similar reach for the Tiagra and Ultegra brakes.
The Tiagra brake's cable adjust bolt is at a much higher position than the Ultegra cable adjust bolt. The centering alignment bolt is also located at different positions.
Installed and aligned properly on the front fork of the Dahon Boardwalk
Overall view of the new Ultegra 6800 front caliper brakes!
After a couple of test rides today (20+ km in total), the new front brake is performing flawlessly. Not only is the braking action light (due to lighter brake return spring and roller bearings in the brakes), the brakes feel super smooth too. There is noticeably less flex in the brake arms (compared to Tektro R559) when the brake lever is fully depressed. This gives a very solid and firm feeling when the brake pads contact the rim.
As for the braking power, it feels slightly better than the Tiagra caliper brakes, but without any measurable data, I cannot confirm it. However, it is a great improvement over the previous Tektro R559 brakes.
I am really satisfied with this front brake upgrade. Although I was not able to upgrade the rear brakes, it is better to upgrade one than none at all. After all, it is definitely advantageous to have one good brake and one average brake, rather than just 2 average brakes.
If you are thinking of buying new road caliper brakes, you may want to consider getting the newer Dura-Ace 9000 or Ultegra 6800 brakes for the improved performance.
Info: Ultegra 6800 brakes are available at Hup Leong for $205 a pair (dated 4 Sep 2013).