Back Discover more Shimano

If we were to compare groupsets to great journeys—naturally—ULTEGRA would remind us of interstellar travel. Its iconic components have the power to flip a switch in your experience, launching your ride into a wind-in-your-hair-and-leave-time-behind type of happiness.

It is the Millennium Falcon to your Han Solo, the Voyager to your Captain Kirk. ULTEGRA exemplifies your finest potential, inspiring a unique blend of persevering confidence and strength. It is smart riding with Di2 technology and trickle-down technology from DURA-ACE. Get to know the ULTEGRA system through the eyes of our Shimano Road Ambassador, Sophie Moser.

Leave time behind

Cyclist, mountaineer, and women’s cycling advocate Sophie Moser, with her extensive experience and expertise, has been riding an ULTEGRA R8100-equipped Koba Protool Le Grimpeur for close to a year. This makes her the ideal person to explain the ease of riding, servicing, and living with the ULTEGRA groupset on your bike.

The Ultimate ULTEGRA Explainer

Living in Switzerland, Sophie naturally enjoys the meditative quality of climbing and searches for stability in the descent. “You realize you can actually do more than you’re capable of doing, like climbing Mont Ventoux three times in a day,” she says. “I’ll tell you this, I’d rather go up than on the flat because it’s just so much fun. Although ULTEGRA is a little heavier than DURA-ACE, I like that it gives my bike some more weight in the bottom bracket, resulting in a very solid and steady feeling, especially when descending. I just love how the bike sits on the road.”

Situated firmly at the high end of our road component line-up, ULTEGRA is the groupset of choice for committed cyclists. It’s for enthusiasts who love to go fast, who want superb functionality, a complete ULTEGRA environment—everything from Di2 shifting to wheels and communication with compatible GPS head units—and refined braking.

ULTEGRA strikes an ideal balance between weight and cost. It can help you go fast without worrying about your next gear shift or preempting your braking. This is because HYPERGLIDE+ allows for shifting under load, and SERVO WAVE provides modulated braking power, which helps prevent you from locking up your wheels.

The Ultimate ULTEGRA Explainer

The technology of ULTEGRA

To Sophie, ascending a mountain is a mind game. "It’s about regulating yourself, talking to yourself, motivating yourself. And sometimes, I’m going rather slowly. But other times, when I’m having a good day, I go all in and push myself hard. In those moments, I love the solid performance of the ULTEGRA groupset,” Moser says. “It just delivers, and it does what you want. While the frame and geometry of a bike are obviously important, I think the groupset is what helps you transition the energy from your body into the bike, both in terms of shifting and braking. And this is where ULTEGRA really does a great job! I love the performance and also the long-lasting battery life.”

To Sophie’s point, ULTEGRA was built on countless hours of research with professional teams to make the groupset your ideal companion for any journey. Be it your daily route with friends around your hometown or a far-off sportive.

Our path in road cycling engineering has taken us from grand tours to cyclocross races, from muddy tracks to the Champs-Elysees. Millions of kilometers of intensive product testing feedback to the design team and cross-pollination between road, cyclocross, gravel, and mountain biking all contribute to a real-world understanding of the conditions you face on your bike. ULTEGRA R8100 represents a refinement of ULTEGRA-level materials and an implementation of our latest DURA-ACE technology.

This empowers you to find your fast. Thanks to a centralized internal battery, the trickle-down of smooth shifting, the innovation of HYPERGLIDE+ technology, and phenomenal battery life. All this—as well as ULTEGRA wheels and the ULTEGRA SPD-SL Pedals—combine to work as a unified system.

The Ultimate ULTEGRA Explainer

At the heart of the system is the centralized internal battery. ULTEGRA Di2 dual control levers act as the command center and facilitate communication through the rear derailleur with the front and rear derailleur and other Shimano Connected Partners, like Garmin and other head units.

HYPERGLIDE+ allows you to get more out of your 12-speed drivetrain. The 2x12 option provides excellent range with smooth transitions between gears, which allows you to maintain a consistent cadence.

ULTEGRA’s chainring and cassette options allow for easy gearing. You can choose between 46-36, 52-36 or 50-34 chainrings on the FC-R8150 crankset, which can be paired with an 11-34T or 11-30T on a cassette. HYPERGLIDE+ is a technology pioneered in our mountain bike drivetrains, allowing for fast and precise shifting in both directions, even under extreme pedaling load. This will enable you to maintain momentum and cadence while shifting.

The Ultimate ULTEGRA Explainer

Brake with confidence

“What I like about riding steep climbs is when the pedaling connects with my breathing, it's a rhythm I get into. And then when it gets deeper, I don't really think about anything. It's just me, the cycling, the bike and then the climb I want to take,” Sophie continues. “It’s great to be able to rely on the crisp shifting of ULTEGRA. It’s accurate and precise, plus the performance of the brakes is a confidence boost when descending. Knowing you’re at your most efficient when you’re out riding feels like a win in itself.”

Finding your fast with increased pedaling efficiency and the proper gearing for your unique needs necessitates good braking. ULTEGRA’s hydraulic disc brakes are packed with off-road technology. Utilizing SERVO WAVE to provide better braking modulation, ULTEGRA disc brakes have a quick initial bite and slow down lever force generation for smoother stopping power.

SERVO WAVE helps modulate your braking, which limits skidding. To stop quickly, you need traction, and ULTEGRA’s hydraulic disc brakes help you maintain traction by keeping your wheels rotating. Combined with CENTER LOCK CL800 disc rotors with ICE TECHNOLOGIES FREEZA, including a special paint that dissipates heat buildup during braking more effectively, allowing for increased stopping power.

The Ultimate ULTEGRA Explainer

ULTEGRA’s calipers boast increased pad-to-rotor clearance to ensure your rotors do not rub and have an improved oil flow inside the caliper to facilitate bleeding. In contrast, the calipers are attached to the frame. This philosophy of ease of use and mechanic-friendly design is visible throughout the groupset.

ULTEGRA: Wheels, infinity, and beyond

ULTEGRA is a complete system, not only a drivetrain and braking solution. The R8100 edition includes press-fit and threaded bottom bracket options, the new dual-sided power meter—which is fitted to the ULTEGRA HOLLOWTECH II Crankset—the SPD-SL PD-R8000 pedals, and the ULTEGRA C-series wheelsets.

Available in three rim depths – the C36 for climbers, the C50 for allrounders, and the C60 for the most significant aerodynamic advantage – the new ULTEGRA rims feature complete carbon construction, an internal width of 21 millimeters and utilize a hooked bead. They are, therefore, not only tubeless compatible but are also suitable for use with clincher tires and tubes if needed.

The Ultimate ULTEGRA Explainer

ULTEGRA wheels feature a steel freehub and are backward compatible with 11-speed cassettes, whereas the DURA-ACE wheels have a lighter alloy freehub and are only compatible with 12-speed cassettes. Again, this makes ULTEGRA more user-friendly and affordable than our top-tier alternative because you can upgrade component by component rather than being locked into a bike-wide change.


In Sophie’s words: “ULTEGRA delivers.” Whether you’re heading for the Alps in summer, or riding your regular backyard lap, ULTEGRA balances the lightweight, race-focused, trickle-down technology from DURA-ACE with a singular durability. It offers race-proven performance at an affordable price point. In short, be like Sophie in the Swiss mountains, ride like a rocket at your next sportive and cycle with the confidence of an astronaut with ULTEGRA.  

Visit a Shimano Road dealer near you and go for a test ride today!  

To find out more and to browse the full range of ULTEGRA components, visit

Share this article

Related stories