Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dura-Ace 9000 vs Ultegra 6800: Crankset

Looking to get a brand new crankset for your road bike? Can't decide if you should go for the top of the range Dura-Ace, or the second grade Ultegra? In this post, I will compare these two cranksets in detail, and you can decide for yourself whether the differences are worth saving up for.

I recently upgraded the crankset on the Merida Scultura 5000 road bike from Ultegra 6800 to Dura-Ace 9000, and I took the chance to compare these two cranksets. Here are the details!

Ultegra 6800 50/34T Compact Crankset, 170mm length

Dura-Ace 9000 50/34T Compact Crankset, 170mm length

11 speed chainring on the Ultegra crankset, 50/34T

Same chainring size on the Dura-Ace crankset, with a unique two-tone anodising surface treatment

Chain pick up pins and ramps can be found on the composite shell bonded to the back of the Ultegra Hollowglide chainring

Cleaner looking pick up ramps and pins on the Dura-Ace chainring. The design looks deceptively simple but it shifts really well. There is a lot of know-how regarding the placement, shape, angle and height of the pins, and also the individual teeth shape.

Ultegra 34T inner chainring, with the specs stamped onto the aluminium chainring

Laser marked 34T indication on the Dura-Ace inner chainring, with a grooved cutout to save weight

The Ultegra crank arm is 170mm in length

Same 170mm length for the Dura-Ace crank arm


Slightly different crank arm shape, with rounded edges on the Ultegra crank arm, while the Dura-Ace crank arm looks slightly wider and edgier. The glossy finish on the Dura-Ace crank arm is also more prone to fingerprint or grease marks.


Rounded edges on the Ultegra crank arm, while the Dura-Ace crank arm has sharper edges.

Here is where the difference is more obvious. The rear of the Ultegra crank arm is an open hollow shell, with the 4-arm rear layer glued to the front piece with epoxy, as can be seen here.

The Dura-Ace crank arm looks more well refined, with a closed hollow crankarm, cleanly bonded without any excess epoxy visible.

After comparing the appearance of the crankset, we can move on to compare the weight of the cranksets. With the same chainring sizes and also the same crank arm lengths, it will give an accurate weight comparison.

Left Ultegra 6800 170mm crank arm with crank arm fixing bolt, 197 grams.

Left Dura-Ace 9000 170mm crank arm with crank arm fixing bolt, 176 grams. About 20 grams lighter.

Right Ultegra 6800 170mm crank arm with 50/34T chainrings, 480 grams

Right Dura-Ace 9000 170mm crank arm with 50/34T chainrings, 440 grams. 40 grams lighter.

Weight of Ultegra 6800 50/34T crankset is 677 grams. A very good weight for an aluminum 2x11 speed crankset.

Dura-Ace 9000 50/34T crankset is only 615 grams, pushing the limits on aluminium cold forging technology!

View of the rear of the cranksets, showing the differences in the crank arms and the chainrings

Overall view of the Ultegra 6800 and Dura-Ace 9000 cranksets side by side

After using both of these cranksets for a few months each, my conclusion is that there is no difference in performance. Both of them shift very well, and are also very stiff for optimal power transfer. The only factor affecting your choice should be the price (Ultegra is half the price of Dura-Ace), the weight (Dura-Ace is 60 grams lighter), or the appearance (personal preference).

The value choice would be Ultegra, as it is more affordable, and the dark grey appearance matches most bike frames. The extra 60 grams of weight is probably not significant at all. If I were to choose, the Ultegra crankset is my choice. Of course, if your budget allows, go ahead and get the Dura-Ace crankset if that is your preference!

19 comments:

  1. Hi Steve,
    I'm 172Cm tall with 78Cm inseam and using the same Dura Ace Crankset with 170mm arm length on my road bike. I read and got various information about crank arm length theories and opinions. My XC MTB has been on 175Cm crank length for a year. Now I want to upgrade to XTR M9000 crankset. Do you think I'd better buy the XTR crankset with 170mm or 175mm arm length? I know it's a kind of subjective, but I want to know your opinion. By the way what is your MTB crank arm length?

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    1. I use 170mm crank arm lengths on all my bikes. I'm 168cm tall. I cannot advise you whether 170mm or 175mm crankarm is more suitable. I don't think you will feel much difference, since you are able to use either 170mm or 175mm without much discomfort.

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  2. My Ultegra crank arm just came unglued, and your article just shed the ultimate light on the reason: epoxy fail.Search the whole ( let´s settle for a "good chunk" of it )internet for a similar case, and couldn´t find any. The bike store just informed me they were replacing it, but no feed back on the reason why it failed. Thank you. :)

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  3. Can you mix the components (install a 9000 left arm on a 6800 crankset?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, no problem with function, just that it will look different.

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  4. how much does a ultegra 6800 crankset with BB cost and any other compatible bb to recommend for P20 Tern verge

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    Replies
    1. You can check the pricing online easily. The Tern Verge P20 can accommodate English threaded 68mm wide bb, which is very common.

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  5. Hi, is the crank arm fixing bolt any different between 6800 and 9000. i.e. is the durace item the same part as the ultra. thanks for the great work.

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  6. Hi, I was wondering if Ultegra 6800 chain rings will fit dura ace 9000 crank set?

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    Replies
    1. Yes they will fit, but will not look nice as the joint between the 4 arm and the chainring will not match due to different shape.

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  7. Thanks for the reply, I guess I will Have to buy some Dura Ace chainrings

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  8. I just my Dura-ace 9000 left crank arm snap in two due to the 2 pieces becoming un-bonded. Almost lost control with the sudden failure. Not good, should never happen!

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  9. Have had two Ultrega 6800 crank arms crack on the drive side, in the same place -- Faulty??? both replaced under warranty. Now using 9000 group. hoping for a better outcome.

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    Replies
    1. No idea. Where did the crack appear?

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  10. Can you use Dura Ace 9000 chainrings on Ultrega 6800 crank? Looking to go from a 50t to a 53/39

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    Replies
    1. Yes can use, but the arms will not match in terms of appearance.

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