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  1. #1
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    SRAM Force vs Ultegra 6703

    AHA! Finally made my 5 posts, so now I can start my own thread.

    Thinking about building a bike. I will probably get an Ibis Silk SL frame. Now, I'm deciding on Ultegra 6703 triple with an 11/28, or the SRAM Force group with the compact 50/34 and the 11/32. How do you guys feel with regards to Force quality and ease of use? I just tried the double tap for 15 minutes today. Seemed nice, but I'm still not getting the front derailer yet. In any event, I need the low gearing as I live in a very hilly area. I currently have a Shimano 6700 compact with a SRAM 11/32 on my Lemond. It actually works that way, though I had to turn the B screw around to get it to fit. I figure since the SRAM stuff is made to work with the 11/32 it should be a bit smoother. Thoughts here?

  2. #2
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    Shimano versus Sram really comes down to personal preference. I switched to Sram a year ago and can't imagine going back to Shimano, they hoods fit my hands so much better.

    I've founds Sram to be easy to use. IMO, it's easier to setup the derailleurs and the shifting stays good without having to mess with cable tension.

    I can't comment on Sram's 11-32 since I've never tried it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by wetpaint View Post
    Shimano versus Sram really comes down to personal preference. I switched to Sram a year ago and can't imagine going back to Shimano, they hoods fit my hands so much better.

    I've founds Sram to be easy to use. IMO, it's easier to setup the derailleurs and the shifting stays good without having to mess with cable tension.

    I can't comment on Sram's 11-32 since I've never tried it.
    Thanks! Now I'm considering building my own Ibis Silk SL "frankenbike" with a mix of SRAM components. Other forum members rave about the Red shifters, so, to save money I would skimp on some other components. So, I would go Red shifters, Force brakes and cranks, Rival front and rear derailer, and 1070 cassette.

  4. #4
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    I would go with Campy Chorus or Record depending on budget. My Red gruppo is a year old, not sure what is new in 2012 but the shifting, especially front der is not great. Chain suck can be an issue that pops up, which is weird on a road bike but I know other SRAM riders that experience it.

    All the major makes' stuff works. Maybe I just have Campy stuff working better than SRAM for whatever reason but I find it gives crisper shifts, wears well, and is easy to set up.

    That said if you are certain of Shimano or SRAM go SRAM as they perform the same but SRAM will save you a few bucks.
    miles to posts ratio is > 30:1

  5. #5
    PhotonFreak
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    Quote Originally Posted by dndrich View Post
    AHA! Finally made my 5 posts, so now I can start my own thread.

    Thinking about building a bike. I will probably get an Ibis Silk SL frame. Now, I'm deciding on Ultegra 6703 triple with an 11/28, or the SRAM Force group with the compact 50/34 and the 11/32. How do you guys feel with regards to Force quality and ease of use? I just tried the double tap for 15 minutes today. Seemed nice, but I'm still not getting the front derailer yet. In any event, I need the low gearing as I live in a very hilly area. I currently have a Shimano 6700 compact with a SRAM 11/32 on my Lemond. It actually works that way, though I had to turn the B screw around to get it to fit. I figure since the SRAM stuff is made to work with the 11/32 it should be a bit smoother. Thoughts here?
    I personally like SRAM lever ergonomics (hood shape, shifting mechanism) better than Shimano. However, If I wanted a really wide gearing range I'd personally prefer the Ultegra triple with a more narrowly spaced cassette. That means in your situation I'd want to go SRAM for ergonomics, but Shimano setup for gearing. Your preferences for ergonomics or gearing may differ from mine of course.

    My current drivetrain/gearing is SRAM Force with 50-36 and 11-28 cassette. When the cassette wears I'm definitely swapping it for a 12-27 or 12-28. I seldom use the 50/11, and would use the 16t cog frequently if I had it. Keep in mind that compared to most cyclists regarding preferred cadence, I'm way into the "spinning" camp (high cadence) as opposed to the "mashing" camp (low cadence). This means my preference is for lower gear ratios than most other cyclists in nearly all speeds/situations. Specifically, my overall average cadence is between 95 and 100, my preferred cadence for fast steady efforts is around 110.

    I'd recommend looking at a gear-calculator and inputting your preferred cadence (if you know it) and try to get an idea how the gear jumps between two drivetrain setups will vary:

    gear-calculator.com with Ultegra Triple/ 11-28
    gear-calculator.com with SRAM compact / 11-32
    both side-by-side

    If you decide to go for the triple, IMO it would be a better idea to get a 12-tooth starting cog (ie 12-27 or 12-28). You'll still have basically the same overall gearing range due to the larger big ring of the triple (52t vs 50t) but dropping the 11t will buy you 16t intermediate cog.

    Thanks! Now I'm considering building my own Ibis Silk SL "frankenbike" with a mix of SRAM components. Other forum members rave about the Red shifters, so, to save money I would skimp on some other components. So, I would go Red shifters, Force brakes and cranks, Rival front and rear derailer, and 1070 cassette.
    You call that a Frankenbike? In the OP's situation I'd be half tempted to go for ultegra 6703 Front-derailleur and left shifter, with a SRAM Force long-cage RD and right shifter

    52-39-30 and 12-27 would just barely fall within the chain wrap capacity of the SRAM RD, so there's no reason I can think of that wouldn't work

    Of course since shifters are sold in pairs that means I'd then be obligated to build up a second frankenbike with ultegra RD/right shifter and SRAM FD/left shifter. This would conveniently be in compliance with Rule 12
    Last edited by PhotonFreak; 02-27-2012 at 10:16 PM.

  6. #6
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    Great Post!

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotonFreak View Post
    I personally like SRAM lever ergonomics (hood shape, shifting mechanism) better than Shimano. However, If I wanted a really wide gearing range I'd personally prefer the Ultegra triple with a more narrowly spaced cassette. That means in your situation I'd want to go SRAM for ergonomics, but Shimano setup for gearing. Your preferences for ergonomics or gearing may differ from mine of course.

    My current drivetrain/gearing is SRAM Force with 50-36 and 11-28 cassette. When the cassette wears I'm definitely swapping it for a 12-27 or 12-28. I seldom use the 50/11, and would use the 16t cog frequently if I had it. Keep in mind that compared to most cyclists regarding preferred cadence, I'm way into the "spinning" camp (high cadence) as opposed to the "mashing" camp (low cadence). This means my preference is for lower gear ratios than most other cyclists in nearly all speeds/situations. Specifically, my overall average cadence is between 95 and 100, my preferred cadence for fast steady efforts is around 110.

    I'd recommend looking at a gear-calculator and inputting your preferred cadence (if you know it) and try to get an idea how the gear jumps between two drivetrain setups will vary:

    gear-calculator.com with Ultegra Triple/ 11-28
    gear-calculator.com with SRAM compact / 11-32
    both side-by-side

    If you decide to go for the triple, IMO it would be a better idea to get a 12-tooth starting cog (ie 12-27 or 12-28). You'll still have basically the same overall gearing range due to the larger big ring of the triple (52t vs 50t) but dropping the 11t will buy you 16t intermediate cog.


    You call that a Frankenbike? In the OP's situation I'd be half tempted to go for ultegra 6703 Front-derailleur and left shifter, with a SRAM Force long-cage RD and right shifter

    52-39-30 and 12-27 would just barely fall within the chain wrap capacity of the SRAM RD, so there's no reason I can think of that wouldn't work

    Of course since shifters are sold in pairs that means I'd then be obligated to build up a second frankenbike with ultegra RD/right shifter and SRAM FD/left shifter. This would conveniently be in compliance with Rule 12
    What a great post! Thanks! I'm in trouble with rule 12...

    I will go through the calculator.

    Decisions, decisions. The current setup I have is Ultegra 6700 with 50/34 in front and a SRAM 11/32 in the rear. That gives me enough for hill climbing. My usual cadence is around 75 to 80. Now, the only thing I don't like about the setup is that there is a 16 tooth drop on the front. I find myself sort of in the middle of which front chain ring to be on at a speed of 15 mph. So, I often double shift down on the front and up on the back, or visa versa. That is a bit of a pain. I liken it to going "across the break" on a woodwind instrument. I play flute. If I had the triple, I would have enough gearing for hills, and would probably spend most of my time on the 39 in front allowing for using just the right shifter most of the time. But, I find the Shimano 6703 shifter not the smoothest after they went to the hidden cables. And, since I am building a carbon bike, the triple will add about 1 pound over the double SRAM setup. Probably irrelevant, but there you are. Hmm.

  7. #7
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    The difference in weight between a triple crankset and double crankset of the same model is about 100 grams. Not the imagined 1 pound you state. Go over to Starbike Weight Weenies and look at the weights of cranksets. And this is before you change the inner ring from the pointless 30 tooth to a useful 24 tooth. 10 more grams saved. And then figure you need a 11-32 cassette with a 50-34 compact crankset to get the same gearing a triple gives you with a 53-39-24 crankset and 12-23 cassette. Add an additional 40 grams weight savings for the 12-23 cassette over the 11-32 cassette. The actual weight difference between a triple and a compact double is about 50 grams when they have the same gearing range. But the triple gives you more useful gears in the middle.

    You mentioned the Ultegra 6703 shifters. I have the Shimano 105 5703 shifters. They work very well. Shift a 44-33-20 crankset just fine. Shift a 11-32 10 speed cassette just fine. Comfortable to ride on all day.

  8. #8
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    I went from a compact 5603 triple (50/39/30) with 12-27 to a SRAM Force compact double w/ a rival long cage RD and the 11-32. The sram, in addition to dropping a pretty singificant amount of weight, also gave me more low gear (and top end) than the triple + 12/27 did. Though the gaps b/w gears increase, i never considered it a problem.

    I'm happy with SRAM, imo it's easier to tune, and double tap shifting is pretty sweet. Having brake levers that don't pivot axially (like the shimano stuff does) is another plus.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RussellS View Post
    The difference in weight between a triple crankset and double crankset of the same model is about 100 grams. Not the imagined 1 pound you state.
    From my experience there's a noticeable difference in weight b/w the shifters, when comparing SRAM to Shimano.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RussellS View Post
    The difference in weight between a triple crankset and double crankset of the same model is about 100 grams. Not the imagined 1 pound you state. Go over to Starbike Weight Weenies and look at the weights of cranksets. And this is before you change the inner ring from the pointless 30 tooth to a useful 24 tooth. 10 more grams saved. And then figure you need a 11-32 cassette with a 50-34 compact crankset to get the same gearing a triple gives you with a 53-39-24 crankset and 12-23 cassette. Add an additional 40 grams weight savings for the 12-23 cassette over the 11-32 cassette. The actual weight difference between a triple and a compact double is about 50 grams when they have the same gearing range. But the triple gives you more useful gears in the middle.

    You mentioned the Ultegra 6703 shifters. I have the Shimano 105 5703 shifters. They work very well. Shift a 44-33-20 crankset just fine. Shift a 11-32 10 speed cassette just fine. Comfortable to ride on all day.
    Interesting. I will have to add it up again. A week ago I did a spreadsheet with the two configurations, and there was about a 400 gm difference between the two. Now, I did not have the correct weight of the SRAM cassette, but it was close. I will have to check again.

  11. #11
    PhotonFreak
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    Quote Originally Posted by RussellS View Post
    The difference in weight between a triple crankset and double crankset of the same model is about 100 grams. Not the imagined 1 pound you state. Go over to Starbike Weight Weenies and look at the weights of cranksets. And this is before you change the inner ring from the pointless 30 tooth to a useful 24 tooth. 10 more grams saved. And then figure you need a 11-32 cassette with a 50-34 compact crankset to get the same gearing a triple gives you with a 53-39-24 crankset and 12-23 cassette. Add an additional 40 grams weight savings for the 12-23 cassette over the 11-32 cassette. The actual weight difference between a triple and a compact double is about 50 grams when they have the same gearing range. But the triple gives you more useful gears in the middle.

    You mentioned the Ultegra 6703 shifters. I have the Shimano 105 5703 shifters. They work very well. Shift a 44-33-20 crankset just fine. Shift a 11-32 10 speed cassette just fine. Comfortable to ride on all day.
    Well, if the comparison is between SRAM Force and Shimano Ultegra, the complete Ultegra groupset is over 3/4lb heavier. Most of that difference is in the cranks and the levers, which would have to be matched (short of doing something like my tacky Frankenstein build). SRAM doesn't offer a triple crank at all. If you were comparing Ultegra double to triple you're right though the difference can be very small.

    Your idea about dropping to a smaller granny ring is interesting. 12-23 in 10sp is really fine gear steps though. 12-25 with a 26t granny should lead to a smoother jump between granny and middle ring and offer the same range. If the granny is almost never used, it might be worth the 12-23 to get an 18t cog, but a 24->39 jump sounds like it would make for crazy rough front shifts.

    The only triples I've ever used are 52-39-30 (hybrid and road) and 48-36-26 (MTB).
    Last edited by PhotonFreak; 02-28-2012 at 11:24 AM.

  12. #12
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    That is what I was comparing. SRAM compact double with Ultegra triple. That is the difference in weight.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotonFreak View Post
    Your idea about dropping to a smaller granny ring is interesting. 12-23 in 10sp is really fine gear steps though. 12-25 with a 26t granny should lead to a smoother jump between granny and middle ring and offer the same range. If the granny is almost never used, it might be worth the 12-23 to get an 18t cog, but a 24->39 jump sounds like it would make for crazy rough front shifts.
    My triple cranksets are 52-42-24 and 44-33-20. The 52-42-24 is shifted with Campagnolo Veloce. The 44-33-20 is shifted with Shimano 5703. The drop to the small inner ring on both triples is fine. No problems. I do use chain watchers to be sure. And when shifting to the inner ring I do it carefully. I do not just slam the chain down and stand up and throw the bike around. Think about the shift before you do it and ease the chain down and all is well. Shimano 105 triple front derailleur on the 52-42-24. Shimano Tiagra triple front derailleur on the 44-33-20.

    If you are using a triple crankset you want low gears. There is no reason to use the half arse 30 tooth inner chainring that does not really provide very low gears. And using a 26 tooth instead of 24 tooth makes no sense. Why go half arse? Use the smallest chainring you can to get the lowest gears you can.

  14. #14
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    I'm an older rider currently running a standard compact set, 50/34 in front and 11/28 in back. I find I could really use one more gear at the bottom. Rather than going with the Ultegra triple, with its extra weight and fiddliness, I'm considering SRAM Force 50/34 in front paired with a SRAM mountain bike rear derailleur (XO) with a 12/32 cassette. (As I understand it, none of the Force derailleurs will accommodate the 12/32). This takes one gear from the top and adds one on the bottom. The main undesired effect that I can see is that there's more duplication of gears in the overlap. Any other caveats that I should know about?


    Steve

  15. #15
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    it seems like a lot of people start out on shimano but migrate to sram.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dspiel View Post
    it seems like a lot of people start out on shimano but migrate to sram.
    It may be part of the default package when you buy a better frame. This is my case. I frankly wouldn't have thought to consider it otherwise---am pretty happy with the operation of my Shimano 105.


    Steve

  17. #17
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    [QUOTE=stabor;3858347]I'm an older rider currently running a standard compact set, 50/34 in front and 11/28 in back. I find I could really use one more gear at the bottom. Rather than going with the Ultegra triple, with its extra weight and fiddliness, I'm considering SRAM Force 50/34 in front paired with a SRAM mountain bike rear derailleur (XO) with a 12/32 cassette. (As I understand it, none of the Force derailleurs will accommodate the 12/32). This takes one gear from the top and adds one on the bottom. The main undesired effect that I can see is that there's more duplication of gears in the overlap. Any other caveats that I should know about?

    So far as i know Srams road levers and Xo Rd don`t mix! And Force Rd should handle 32 cog. Apex RD will work for sure.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by arctic biker View Post
    So far as i know Srams road levers and Xo Rd don`t mix! And Force Rd should handle 32 cog. Apex RD will work for sure.
    Well, I ordered my bike yesterday. Standard SRAM Force gruppo, but with 11-32 cassette. The two dealers I consulted agreed that the 32 requires a mountain derailleur on the back (long cage), so I ordered X9, which is apparently about the same price-point as Force. And the Force road lever will work with this--both use Exact Actuation. The woman who sold me the bike had already done the same thing with her own.


    Steve

  19. #19
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    The standard configuration on my Roubaix is 50/34 front and 11/32 back using a SRAM Apex RD. Not sure why you couldn't have used that.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by The English Hacker View Post
    The standard configuration on my Roubaix is 50/34 front and 11/32 back using a SRAM Apex RD. Not sure why you couldn't have used that.
    Yes, I can see now that Apex has a longer cage. Maybe they keep Force shorter to save weight. Anyway, my dealer didn't mention the Apex option probably because they assumed I'd want to stay at the same price-point. X9 will be 13 grams heavier than Apex, I see.

    I'll be offline for a week now (Death Valley).


    Steve

  21. #21
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    Rival long cage will also work with the 11-32.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by charlox5 View Post
    Rival long cage will also work with the 11-32.
    Yes, that is my setup exactly. Red shifters, Force cranks and chain rings, force front dérailleur, and Rival rear mid cage with 11-32 SRAM 1070 road cassette.

  23. #23
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    Hey everyone,

    I guess SRAM has been notice of people wanting to use lower gears because now they have both mid-cage rear derailleurs for the Red group and Force Group to use with the 11-32 cassette. I guess the new derailleurs are called WiFli.

    Sorry if this is old news.

  24. #24
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    I have used some version of Ultegra for over 20 years and always loved it. My current bike has 6600 on it and I'm avoiding 6700 because I don't like that you can only do 2 downshifts in one sweep, but that's another story. However, if you go with 6703, you will only have 2 downshifts per lever swipe as opposed to 3 with force.

    Anyway, I just had a Moots demo bike for a couple of days and it had Force on it so I got to try it extensively for a few days. I switched the wheels to my wheels to get a better feel for the frame, which is all I was evaluating. Here is what I found:

    1) I honestly was surprised at how quickly I adapted to the double tap, so I don't think you will have a problem adapting if you choose force.
    2) The hoods are very different with the Ultegra having a more pronounced vertical "hump" in the front. The sram seemed smaller and was a little less comfortable to me.
    3) Both shift very well. The Ultegra is silky smooth and the force if more "precise" (although some refer to it as "clunky"). Force has a definite hard click and strong shift where as the Ultegra is smoother. Personally, I prefer Ultegra, but the force shifting was nice.
    4) The force brakes stop on a dime, but I've been told that the Ultegra 6700 brakes are just as good. But the force brakes were better than my 6600. The 6600 stop fine, but they are a little squishier. Could have been the pads also.
    5) Force is louder - chain noise, shifting noise are all very mechanical sounding. Just an observation.
    6) The force levers are noticeably shorter in overall length. I know you can adjust the reach, but that does not make them longer. On the same Deda Zero 100 bars, I have plenty of Ultegra lever to grab while in the drops, but the force levers were noticeably above my fingers. I'm told Red has corrected this.
    7) But the biggest thing though was the front shifting. Ultegra allows you to trim the front derailleur on both the big and the small ring. Force only allows trimming on the big ring, which I don't like.

    I wanted to like force and considered switching over, but when all is said and done, the lack of front derailleur trim was a deal breaker for me. And I didn't like the shorter front levers. Oh yeah, force as a group is lighter, but I personally do not care about that at all.

    They are both great groups and you cannot go wrong with either, but I just can't personally seem to find any reason to leave Ultegra. It works flawlessly and lasts forever.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveV0983 View Post

    I wanted to like force and considered switching over, but when all is said and done, the lack of front derailleur trim was a deal breaker for me.
    I have 6600 on my Felt and Sram Red on my BMC. Before I got the Sram, I thought lack of trim in the small ring would be a problem, but I have never seen a need for it. It is helpful in the big ring though (which it has). Any problems might be due to a poor chainline.

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