Ultegra vs Dura-Ace shifter durability
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  1. #1
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    Ultegra vs Dura-Ace shifter durability

    About how many miles are you getting out of an Ultegra STI brake lever/shifter? My Shimano Ultegra shifters seem to consistently fail to start engaging to shift to smaller chainrings or smaller cogs around 5000-7000 miles.

    Are Dura-Ace shifters any more durable than Ultegra shifters? Especially in light of their price, shifters seem to wear out really quickly.
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  2. #2
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    You need to clean them out with WD40 or something like that really soak them. There are other posts around here that actually get into what to do, look around.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre68 View Post
    About how many miles are you getting out of an Ultegra STI brake lever/shifter? My Shimano Ultegra shifters seem to consistently fail to start engaging to shift to smaller chainrings or smaller cogs around 5000-7000 miles.

    Are Dura-Ace shifters any more durable than Ultegra shifters? Especially in light of their price, shifters seem to wear out really quickly.
    What kind of environment are you riding in? Are you sure it's not the shift cable? The shifters should probably last at least 10 times that long.
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    You need to clean them out with WD40 or something like that really soak them. There are other posts around here that actually get into what to do, look around.
    This. Iíve got Ultegra shifters on my 1993 Bridgestone RB-1 that work just fine after WD40 flushing & relube.
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    Miles are pretty much irrelevant and I doubt anyone is keeping track of how many times they shift.........but mine consistently fail around 10k and no Dura Ace is not better in my experience. However, my experience of about 60K miles and 6 blown right shifters is all with 10 speed.

    I do have an 11 speed bike now and that is still going fine at about 7k.

    I would say that I shift a lot more than the average rider. Weird you're only getting about half of what I do but I suppose it's theoretically possible you shift twice as much.


    .....and I'm 100 sure my shifters have just died not that they just need cleaning.

  6. #6
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    After 25 years in the business I can probably say with certainty that I've only seen a few Shimano shifters actually 'wear out'. For sure less than a dozen. It just doesn't happen.
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  7. #7
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    The two times I've had matching generation Ultegra vs Dura-Ace to compare have been Ultegra 6600 / Dura-Ace 7800 and Ultegra 6800 / Dura-Ace 9000. I don't think there is a durability difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Miles are pretty much irrelevant and I doubt anyone is keeping track of how many times they shift.........but mine consistently fail around 10k and no Dura Ace is not better in my experience. However, my experience of about 60K miles and 6 blown right shifters is all with 10 speed.
    Man, that's just crazy - I don't know anybody who has that kind of problems. My rear DR cables lasted longer than that before I moved to Di2 on everything.
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  9. #9
    jkc
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    My Ultegra 6800 is getting "sloppy" at year six, ~40,000 miles. It's still shifting fine but getting a bit more play on the up shift compared to my DA 9000 that only had 1,500 miles and since replaced by Ultegra 8000 with less than 500 miles (it got killed after being rear ended a minivan and "pushed" for a few feet with me & bike pined underneath as the driver decided if she can flee the accident).

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    Thanks to everyone for the feedback! Running out to get the economy sized spray can of WD-40 now!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Miles are pretty much irrelevant and I doubt anyone is keeping track of how many times they shift.........but mine consistently fail around 10k and no Dura Ace is not better in my experience. However, my experience of about 60K miles and 6 blown right shifters is all with 10 speed.

    I do have an 11 speed bike now and that is still going fine at about 7k.

    I would say that I shift a lot more than the average rider. Weird you're only getting about half of what I do but I suppose it's theoretically possible you shift twice as much.


    .....and I'm 100 sure my shifters have just died not that they just need cleaning.
    I just can't imagine this kind of failure rate. My current Chorus shifters have over 60K miles without a glitch.

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    I've never had a Shimano shifter break. They do enjoy eating cables and need a rear shifter cable every 1500 miles or so, but other than that, never a problem.

    Note that if there are cable fragments in the shifter, it can jam. Picking out cable bits out of a shifter is loads of fun - NOT!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    I've never had a Shimano shifter break. They do enjoy eating cables and need a rear shifter cable every 1500 miles or so, but other than that, never a problem.

    Note that if there are cable fragments in the shifter, it can jam. Picking out cable bits out of a shifter is loads of fun - NOT!
    Another advantage to Campy shifters: they don't eat cables. I get about 25K miles per cable set, and typically it is fraying at the very end rather than in the shifter that triggers replacement. I have had them fail at the shifter as well. It is all about having a fundamentally better design.

  14. #14
    jkc
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    Must be shifting a lot. I get a whole season or more before needing a cable replacement. The front can go for much longer but I normally change them out at the same time. That's been averaging around ~320 hours or 5.2k miles per year over the last three years (been on the low side since my last accident).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Another advantage to Campy shifters: they don't eat cables. I get about 25K miles per cable set, and typically it is fraying at the very end rather than in the shifter that triggers replacement. I have had them fail at the shifter as well. It is all about having a fundamentally better design.
    Believe me, I am contemplating a switch if I can't get better life out of these cables. SRAM would be the easier switch as I could get away with just replacing shifters and derailleurs. Campy would require a full groupo and a new cassette carrier.

    One thing for sure. The bike I'm contemplating building up will have Campy Chorus 12-speed. I like the idea that I can get a 48/32 crankset. A rumor has it they aren't quite as durable as Campy of yesteryear, but it's still probably not too shabby.

    Not sure I understand what you mean by fraying at the very end. Wouldn't a cap prevent that?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    The bike I'm contemplating building up will have Campy Chorus 12-speed. I like the idea that I can get a 48/32 crankset.
    You would be a good candidate for GRX Di2 then, not 12 speed but zero issues with cables
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    put 23K on Ultegra 6600 shifters before selling the groupset, no issues.

    currently have 39K on a set of DA 7800, no issues.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    I just can't imagine this kind of failure rate. My current Chorus shifters have over 60K miles without a glitch.
    Yeah, but these guys are talking about Shimano, not Campagnolo.

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    Agree 5-7k miles is an unusually short lifespan for Ultegra shifters (assuming no abuse). Shifting issues at that point on most often due to gummed up works.
    I have some 'classic' DA 7800's (last exposed cable 10spd) with 13k miles that still shift as nice as ever.
    OTOH- I'm just now retiring some Ultegra 6600 shifters at about 20k miles due to wear. Still shifts but has gotten pretty sloppy (missed shifts, mushy feel) even with new cables/housings. Good WD-40 flush and re-lube brought it back twice but not this time. To be fair, the last 5k miles or so have been on my beater bike---so borderline abuse;)

    FWIW- 20k miles seems to be a pretty typical lifespan for Ultegra STIs among area cycling clubs. Of course, some riders are more tolerant of sloppy shifting than others, and some are harder on their gear than others. Consistent wet/dirty riding conditions can drive any mechanical device into an early grave. So can bad habits like routinely shifting without pedaling. And one guy I used to ride with had a nervous habit of shifting up/down while waiting at stoplights. The incessant clicking noises drove me nuts.
    Last edited by Oldteen; 2 Weeks Ago at 07:09 PM.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oxtox View Post
    put 23K on Ultegra 6600 shifters before selling the groupset, no issues.

    currently have 39K on a set of DA 7800, no issues.
    Both of those group sets were the generation before Shimano went with under the handlebar tape cable runs. 5700/6700/7900 is when the cable eating train wreck started.

    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    You would be a good candidate for GRX Di2 then, not 12 speed but zero issues with cables
    Nope, not interested in e-shifting. Next groupo will be Campy Chorus 12 or SRAM Force 22.


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