With the introduction of the new Ultegra 6700 groupo, Shimano has trickled down technology used in the Dura Ace 7900 series, making it available for a wider range of consumers. The new groupo shares the same duo-tone finish as Dura Ace series. Factors such as performance and weight have been improved with the current version. The numbers are impressive. Shimano shaved 44 grams off the Ultegra SL and a whopping 151 grams off Ultegra 6600 with the current version. But how does it ride?
Perhaps the biggest difference one would observe is with the shifters. The Ultegra Dual Control Levers adopt most of the characteristics of their 7900 counterparts. The carbon lever blades are now wider and flare outwards more which makes them easier to reach while on the drops. Cables are now routed under the handle bar tape for a sleeker, cleaner look. Shifting performance remains crisp and precise as expected from Shimano, despite the new cable routing. While riding both in and out of the saddle, the improved comfort on the hoods was appreciated. Modifications to ergonomics include a flatter, broader shifter body mid-section and a lower profile at the front of the shifters. However, riders who are used to hooking their thumbs on or holding on to the cables will have to fore go the extra hand positions. The adjustable reach feature will definitely be a welcome feature for riders with smaller hands.
Changes have also been made to both front and rear derailleurs in the series. The rear derailleur features a wide outer link design for extra rigidity and an aluminum pulley cage, unlike the carbon pulley cage found on the Dura Ace 7900 rear derailleur. Rigidity of the front derailleur is also increased with a wide inner link and two pivots.
The Hollowtech II crankset shares the same HOLLOWGLIDE technology with the Dura Ace 7900 crankset. A hollow outer chainring construction saves weight and adds rigidity for optimal power transfer and further improved shifting characteristics. One point to note during installation is that the chain now has a unidirectional design to reduce chain suck and improve shifting performance. The cassette remains relatively unchanged except for a new 11-28T combination. All these changes made for a quiet drive-train with effortless shifting. During the ride, shifting never skipped with shifting on the front derailleur noticeably faster and smoother.
Braking is enhanced with changes made to both the levers and calipers. The brake lever pivot is relocated closer to the rider for increased modulation. Coupled with a redesigned brake arch proportion on the calipers, these changes result in greater mechanical response and a snappier feel. Braking performance is further accentuated with the new compound brake shoes just like the Dura Ace 7900. Shimano claims to double braking performance in the dry and increase it by 20% in wet conditions. As incredulous as these claims seem, the increase in braking performance was definitely noticeable on the bike. The better power and modulation inspires confidence while cornering and descending.
The Ultegra 6700 groupo impresses with its increased performance and reduced weight. It carries the same quiet, precise shifting movements that one has come to expect from Shimano components. Superb braking performance and stellar ergonomics provide both confidence and comfort for riders. Carbon bits have also made their way into the aluminum groupo as it gets updated for the current age. Its look has also been refined with hidden cables, however the duo-tone finish has its share of supporters and detractors. For users seeking the impeccable performance of Dura Ace 7900 without spending as much, the Ultegra 6700 comes highly recommended.