Sunday, November 21, 2021

Shimano Ultegra R8000 vs 105 R7000 Brake Calipers

Although rim brakes are considered outdated compared to disc brakes, it is still available nowadays for those who want to save weight. A rim brake bike is roughly half a kilogram lighter than an equivalent spec hydraulic disc brake bike, depending on the grade of components.

Here is a quick comparison of the Ultegra R8000 caliper brakes vs the 105 R7000 caliper brakes. The Ultegra brakes are used on the Dahon MuSP, which still uses caliper brakes instead of disc brakes. On the other hand, the newly-acquired 105 brakes were supposed to go onto the United Trifold, unfortunately it did not fit. Not all upgrades are successful.

For other comparisons, check out the older posts.

Ultegra uses a lightweight plastic cable adjust barrel, and black coloured axles.

105, being a more low cost version, uses a traditional cable adjust barrel, with normal silver coloured axles.

Ultegra has the model number printed clearly in white, and the black axles can be seen here.

105 model number is molded together with the cast aluminium brake arm, which means it is not very visible.

Shimano logo printed at the side, as well as a nice anodised surface finishing.

105 version omits the Shimano logo, and uses a cheaper spray paint surface treatment. The area where the pivot nuts sit look a bit different as well.

The stamped steel stiffening plate on the Ultegra improves the rigidity of the brake caliper, making it more powerful.

105 does not have the stiffening plate, which makes it less rigid but also saves a bit of weight.

Cam roller on the Ultegra brake caliper improves the braking power.

105 also has the same cam roller, due to the same dual pivot design. Tiagra brake calipers do not have this roller.

Weight of a pair of Ultegra R8000 brake calipers, with pivot nuts (length unknown) is 362 grams.

105 R7000 brake caliper is 185 grams each, which means about 370 grams for a pair. But this does not include the pivot nuts, which probably add another 10-15 grams.

I think the biggest appearance difference is definitely the surface finishing, I prefer the better looking anodised surface finishing of the Ultegra brake caliper. There is also a performance difference, due to the extra stiffening plate in the Ultegra brake caliper. Lastly, the 105 calipers weigh about 20 grams more than the Ultegra version, which is not a lot.

I believe the brake pads are the same, just that the brake pad holders have a different surface finishing. Nothing exciting about this comparison, as I don't think Shimano is developing caliper brakes any more, with this probably being the last generation of high quality caliper brakes. Still one of the best in the market in terms of absolute braking power, although it comes at the expense of weight. After all, you need material to create stiffness, you just can't have good stiffness if you use thin cross sections.

In fact, the latest Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupsets are Di2 shifting and hydraulic disc brakes only, with no steel inner cable in sight anywhere.

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