I'm currently running Ultegra 9 (39/53 in front, 12-25 in back) on my 2004 Litespeed Firenze. I'm replacing the cassette with an Ultegra 12-27, but I'd also like to go compact up front. After much research, it seems the best "bang for the buck" options are:
1) Shimano's Hollowtech II compact cranks: R600 (http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...s.php?id=15754, Ultegra (http://www.probikekit.com/display.php?code=D1050), or R700 (http://www.probikekit.com/display.php?code=M1236),
2) Ritchey's WCS 110 V (http://www.performancebike.com/shop/....cfm?sku=20106).
In scanning the forums, it seems that most people using all of these cranks are quite satisfied, but I'm still trying to choose. The Ritchey costs less (<$100 with discounts/coupons) and doesn't require a new Hollowtech II bottom bracket like the Shimanos (~$175-200). So, I'm inclined to go that route, but I'm wondering if anyone has used both and can speak to a comparison. In particular:
How does the Ritchey compare to the Ultegra 9 Octalink in terms of stiffness/quality?
Is there any merit to the Shimano claims about its compacts having better shifting with standard derailleurs due to the "compact specific chainrings"?
Is Hollowtech II worth the upgrade over Octalink?
In short, is the additional cost to shift to one of the Hollowtech II Shimano cranks worth it?
Thoughts on these questions, as well as on your experience(s) with any of these cranks, are most welcome,
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