Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mission Accomplished: Shimano Ultegra 6700 Upgrade Complete, Plus The Hidden Beauty Of Fizik Microtex Bartape

Continuing with Frankenbike’s mission in life as a product test bed, it was high-time to eliminate the cable spaghetti of the stock Shimano 105, 5600 Series shifters in front of the bars.  This also led to an upgrade of both the front and rear derailleurs, thus finally making the gruppo homogenous, overall.  Not that it was a moral imperative; it was just high-time to replace all of the cables, so I figured, hey; why not upgrade components, too.

In regards to the controls, up to this point, I had been running an Ultegra 6700 crankset and bottom bracket, 105 shifters, 105 front derailleur, 105 long-cage rear derailleur, and SRAM Red brakes.  Well, the Red brakes stayed, but the gruppo had to finally be unified (there is a new SRAM Red Wi-Fli rear derailleur sitting in my bike toolbox, but that is for a future project).  Having a complete Ultegra 6700 group would not only make me happy, but it would look good, and perform even better.

The more ergonomic, carbon Ultegra lever shown above, and the new PRO Vibe 7S alloy bar shown below.

The difference between Ultegra 6700 shown above and my old 105-5600 gruppo shown below. A much cleaner setup with the 6700 shifters!

New GS "Long-Cage" derailleur above (with red cable housing this time), and 6700 front derailleur shown below.

I now have a few hundred miles on the new equipment, and I must admit I am very pleased with the results.  Those whom have been using under the bar cable shifters for awhile will not be impressed, nor will those using Di2.  But, for those still using legacy groups (and there is nothing wrong with that, as they are solid, reliable systems), cleaning up the cables out in front of the bars is a big deal to us.  So, in addition to the new, clean look, the 6700’s are very smooth shifters (though they do require a firmer swing of the lever than my previous 105’s), and the hoods are significantly smaller, so the feel to my larger-sized hands is much more comfortable.

Shimano PRO Vibe 7S alloy bar, and Fizik (hooray, it's reusable!) Microtex tape.

As for the bartape, well, in a previous review of the Fizik line of Microtex products (Cycling Dynamics, 09-21-2012), I was very pleased with the look, and durability, of the product.  The only downside was the difficulty of installation, due to the tape’s unique stiffness.  Well, it turns out that its inherent stiffness is also a blessing.  Allow me elaborate.

With the addition of the new shifters, and both front and rear derailleurs, I decided to try a Shimano PRO Vibe 7S alloy bar in place of my trusty alloy Ritchey WCS, anatomical.  And, being the Microtex tape has performed so well day-in, and day-out, I decided to see if it was reusable.  Well, turns out it was, thus my spare box of gloss red Fizik tape will remain in the bike toolbox for another time.  

As for the bars, I like them a lot, save for the drops which are not as deep (and comfortable) as the Ritchey’s.  Fortunately, they flex just enough while in said drops to give some relief from the road, and I like the fact the top of the bar is a constant 31.8mm, before tapering down at the hood area.  This is much less fatiguing on the hands than the smaller diameter tubing of the Ritchey WCS.

I anticipate years and years of trouble-free use with this new gruppo.     

Pedal safe, my friends.

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