Friday, November 6, 2015

Merida Scultura 5000: Dura-Ace 9000 Crankset and Brake Calipers

After upgrading the rear derailleur and front derailleur on the Merida Scultura 5000 from Ultegra 6800 to Dura-Ace 9000, the next components that I want to upgrade would be the crankset and the brake calipers. Once again, I would like to emphasize that the Ultegra components are working perfectly fine, and the only reason that I changed to Dura-Ace components is to find out if there is a difference in terms of performance. There will definitely be some weight savings, but that is not the key purpose here.

On a full sized road bike with 700C wheels, most riders would be well suited to a compact 50/34T crankset, as it gives a gear range that is suitable for most road bike rides. Only the strongest riders such as the super-enthusiasts or professionals need the higher gearing of a standard 53/39T crankset. Most people will never max out the 50T front/11T rear gear combination on a 700C road bike, except on downslopes.

As such, a suitable gearing for the new Dura-Ace 9000 crankset would be the 50/34T compact crankset, which replaces the Ultegra 6800 50/34T compact crankset. Same gearing, just with a different design, weight and probably similar performance.

Dura-Ace 9000 crankset for 11 speed drivetrains, 50/34T compact chainrings

Silver and black anodised Hollowglide chainrings. Surprisingly few shifting ramps and pins.

Inner chainring is also marked, and it even has a machined groove under the gear teeth for maximum weight savings.

Smart looking silver/black appearance on this 4 arm crankset! This design is such that you will either love it or hate it.

Complete Dura-Ace 9000 crankset weighs only 615 grams, which is really lightweight for an aluminium crankset that is stiff and shifts well.

For comparison, the Ultegra 6800 crankset is about 60 grams heavier, at 677 grams. Still considered pretty lightweight, and has a good weight to price ratio.

Using a torque wrench on the crank arm clamp bolts to ensure a proper tightening torque, so that the crank arms don't drop off while riding.

The PD-A530 pedals don't really match the crankset, but they are so versatile and are in use on many of my other bikes, such as the Wheelsport Fantasy mini velo, Avanti Inc 3 and Dahon MuEX.

Looking good with the Dura-Ace 9000 Front Derailleur as installed previously

Almost a full Dura-Ace 9000 drivetrain, with the exception of the Ultegra 6800 cassette.

After upgrading the crankset from Ultegra to Dura-Ace, the next component to upgrade would be the brake calipers. Let's see if there is any difference compared to Ultegra brake calipers.

Dura-Ace 9000 Brake Calipers. Supposedly the most powerful road brake calipers available.

Nice shiny hardware, polished and anodised. Magnesium brake pad holders.

Torx bolt heads, and I think they are made of titanium. The cable fixing bolt shown at the bottom is also made of titanium.

Spring tension adjustment bolt and centering adjustment bolt

A pair weighs 298 grams. Not the lightest available, but the additional power should be worth the extra weight.

Ultegra 6800 brake calipers, weighing more at 341 grams for the pair

Rear brake calipers installed!

Good clearance between the rear brake calipers and the Schwalbe One 25C tires

Front brake calipers installed

A bit lesser clearance as compared to the rear. Probably cannot use wider tires without causing interference.  

Merida Scultura 5000 upgraded with Dura-Ace/Ultegra components!

Looking good with high end components

Previously, when the RD and FD were upgraded from Ultegra to Dura-Ace, 50 grams were saved. This time, changing the crankset and brake calipers from Ultegra to Dura-Ace saved another 100 grams, giving a total weight saving of 150 grams.

Is it worth paying twice the price of Ultegra to get Dura-Ace components? Common sense says no, as the performance of Ultegra is almost the same as Dura-Ace, but at half the price. The weight savings are not that much for individual components, but they do add up, and you can save about 300 grams when upgrading a full Ultegra groupset to a full Dura-Ace groupset.

That is another reason why Ultegra components are so popular, as they offer great value and performance at a reasonable price. I have used both Ultegra components and now Dura-Ace components on the same bike, and so I can tell whether there is any noticeable difference between the two groupsets. The answer is, the functional and performance differences between Dura-Ace and Ultegra is so small that unless you are a pro rider or deal with road bikes everyday, you will not be able to tell the difference.

Finally, the full bike weight (without accessories such as lights, bottle cages, etc) is now 7.2 kg without pedals, and 7.6 kg inclusive of the PD-A530 pedals. This is a pretty good weight, but not featherlight. Looking back at the stock weight of this road bike, which was 8.2 kg (without pedals), it takes quite a lot of effort to remove 1 kg from the bike!

In my next blog post, I will estimate the frameset weight of the Merida Scultura 5000, using the full bike weight and deducting the weight of every single component on the bike. Since I have upgraded practically all the components on this Merida road bike, I know the weight of each component in detail.

To be continued here!


  1. Hi Steve,

    I setup new Dura Ace 9000 Brake Calipers, do you agree that the brake shoe should toe in to the rim? Because I think the brake shoe will soon become parallel as it wear out.

    1. You only need to set toe in if there is squeaking sound during braking, else parallel is fine. The toe in should be a little bit only. It will wear quite evenly, as the whole brake pad will flex and rest entirely on the rim during braking. It is not just the tip that is touching the rim.

  2. Ok Steve, thanks. I think so.