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"I’m on Shimano Ultegra now," sang Half Man Half Biscuit, and you can be too with one of these bikes from £1,199 to £3,500

What are the key factors when choosing a new road bike? It might be price, purpose, style, weight, but for some, it might very well come down to what groupset the bike is equipped with. And one of the most popular groupsets is Shimano's Ultegra, a groupset that combines a competitive price with top-level performance.

Here, then, is a roundup of road bikes fitted with Shimano’s Ultegra groupset, and we’re going to focus on the mechanical version because it covers a wider range of prices. Shimano launched the latest R8000 version of Ultegra last summer and now all new Ultegra-specced bikes have swapped over to the new components; although if you shop around you can still find the odd deal on past season bikes with the old 6800 group (this 60cm Ribble Gran Fondo at 21% off for example). The new version is functionally very similar to 6800 but styled to look like its Dura-Ace big sister.

>> Review: Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset
>> Read more: Shimano launches new Ultegra R8000 groupset

Ultegra chainset.jpg

Ultegra chainset.jpg

If you read Mat’s head to head feature, pitting Shimano Ultegra against its rival SRAM Force, you’ll know that Ultegra-equipped bikes can range in price from just over £1,000 right up to £3,000 or more. That means there’s a wide selection of bikes to choose from, with different frame materials and riding purpose, and a choice of disc brakes or aero frames.

Some bikes will feature a full Shimano Ultegra groupset, but at both extremes of the price spectrum, you’re going to find some manufacturers mixing in some other components to help them meet key price points. The most common changes are brake calipers, especially on cheaper models, and sometimes chainsets get swapped for another make.

>> Head to head: Shimano Ultegra v SRAM Force

Let's dive in then...

B’Twin Ultra 920 AF — £1,199

2018 B'Twin Ultra 920 AF.jpg

2018 B'Twin Ultra 920 AF.jpg

Going with an aluminium frame is one way to get maximum value for money. And with modern aluminium frames offering the great performance they do, it’s a choice we can wholeheartedly recommend. B’Twin’s Ultra 920 combines a triple butted aluminium frame with a direct mount front brake and internal cable routing, with a carbon fibre fork and a smart paint job. Best of all, it gets a full Shimano Ultegra 11-speed groupset, including the brakes and a compact chainset. The wheels are Mavic’s Cosmic Elite with matching 25mm tyres.

Planet X Pro Carbon Ultegra 2018 – £1,199.99

2018 Planet X Pro Carbon Ultegra R8000.jpg

2018 Planet X Pro Carbon Ultegra R8000.jpg

British company Planet X has a reputation for affordable and well-specced road bikes, and so it’s the case with the Pro Carbon, which as the name suggest, offers a full carbon fibre frame and fork. It's the cheapest carbon fibre road bike with Ultegra that we're aware of. The frame has a compact geometry and it’s been designed to provide long distance riding comfort, so ideal for sportives and leisure cycling. It’s equipped with a full Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset, and the build is finished off with Vision 30 aluminium wheels with 25mm Hutchinson Nitro 2 wire bead tyres.

Canyon Endurace CF 8.0 2018 — £1,749

2018 Canyon Endurace CF 8.0.jpg

2018 Canyon Endurace CF 8.0.jpg

German direct-sales brand Canyon has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity and sales in the UK, and it can always be counted on for providing very good value for money. The Endurace’s carbon fibre frameset is designed to offer a more upright and comfortable riding position than it’s racier Ultimate. You get a full Shimano Ultegra groupset with a compact chainset, along with DT Swiss P1800 wheels and a claimed bike weight of 7.2kg.

If you prefer a speedier ride, then the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 8.0 (£3,199) swaps the sportive frame for one designed in a wind tunnel and switches to deep-section wheels. It retains the identical groupset. It’s a good demonstration of how widely Ultegra is used in a bike manufacturer's range.

Bianchi Oltre XR3 Ultegra — £3,400

2018 Bianchi Oltre XR3 Ultegra.jpeg

2018 Bianchi Oltre XR3 Ultegra.jpeg

Some people say you should never put a Shimano groupset on an Italian frame. We say you should make up your own mind. The Bianchi Oltre XR3 draws inspiration from the company’s top-end race-ready Oltre XR4, but uses less expensive carbon fibre to hit lower price points. It’s a full Shimano Ultegra groupset too, including brakes. Wheels are Fulcrum’s Racing 7 LG shod with Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks in 25mm width.

Trek Emonda ALR 6 2018 — £2,000

2018 trek emonda alr 6.jpg

2018 trek emonda alr 6.jpg

Here’s the 2018 Trek Emonda ALR, which features one of the lightest mass-production aluminium frames we’ve yet come across. It claims 1,050g for a size 56cm, which means it’s lighter than many carbon fibre frames. With the full Shimano Ultegra that this model is equipped with, you’re looking at 7.81kg for the size 58cm we reviewed last year. A nice detail on this bike is the tubeless-ready Bontrager Aeolus Comp wheels; going tubeless is just a case of buying some suitable tyres, and you get the speed boost of aero wheels.

Read our review of the Trek Emonda ALR 6

Giant Defy Advanced 1 — £1,849

2018 Giant Defy Advanced 1 CDB Carbon.jpg

2018 Giant Defy Advanced 1 CDB Carbon.jpg

Maybe you’ve got your heart set on a road bike with disc brakes? Well, Giant has completely overhauled its Defy endurance/sportive model with disc brakes, and for £1,849, the Defy Advanced 1 offers you a carbon fibre frameset, designed to provide a comfortable ride, with a Shimano Ultegra groupset. For 2017, Giant upgraded the brakes to Shimano hydraulics, a significant improvement over the previous mechanical discs, and that spec carries over for 2018. Giant supplies its own-brand finishing kit and wheels, along with 25mm tubeless tyres.

Liv Avail Advanced 1 – £1,948.49

2018 Liv Avail Advanced 1.jpg

2018 Liv Avail Advanced 1.jpg

Giant launched the Liv sub-brand to cater for women cyclists, and the Avail Advanced 1 shares many design features with the Defy, but the company says the carbon layup has been tuned specifically for women. As well as that, the geometry has also been adapted, and Giant has optimised the stem lengths, handlebar width and drop, crank arm lengths and brake lever reach across the size range. It’s similarly equipped, with a Shimano Ultegra 11-speed groupset and hydraulic disc brakes.

Specialized Tarmac SL6 Expert Women's – £3,500

2018-women-s-tarmac-sl6-expert_11515.jpg

2018-women-s-tarmac-sl6-expert_11515.jpg

The women's version of the Specialized Tarmac received a rave road.cc review this year (read it below) and the latest version is as good to ride as it is to look at if you've the money to spare. Weighing in at 7.32kg for a 54cm frame, the Tarmac SL6 has all the gubbins you'd expect for the money, including neat internally routed cables, a high grade full carbon frameset, tidy wheels and a super plush Oura Pro saddle. The brakes are direct mount, and you also get a set of the Specialized S-Works Turbo tyres in 26mm. The men's SL6 has an iridescent paint job and this is the only colour option for the women's version; but if you like it, then there are few finer Ultegra-equipped carbon race bikes than a Tarmac SL6. We also recently reviewed the men's Tarmac Pro which has some Ultegra parts in there, and it's fair to say we were impressed. 

Read our review of the Specialized Tarmac SL6 Expert Women's

Look 765 — £2,850

2018 Look 765 Optimum.jpg

2018 Look 765 Optimum.jpg

When we tested the Look 765, a sleek and stylish carbon fibre endurance bike, we were very impressed with its performance. Not all carbon frames are made equal: the Look designers have infused this frame with some linen fibres, which in key places (the fork legs and chainstays) is claimed to help dissipate nasty vibrations from ruining the ride quality. It appears to work, there’s very little road buzz through the saddle or handlebar when riding. This bike is finished with a full Shimano Ultegra groupset and the build is completed by way of some Mavic Aksium wheels and matching tyres, in a comfortable 25mm width.

Read our review of the Look 765

Cervelo S3 Ultegra — £2,999

2018 Cervelo S3 Ultegra.jpg

2018 Cervelo S3 Ultegra.jpg

Cervelo's S3 might have been around since 2009, but it’s still regularly the choice of racers and professionals, and in 2013 it received an update so it's still a decent choice. It's a frame, reckoned by some to still be one of the most aero choices, that combines comfort with skinny rear stays, so you can have your aero cake and eat it. The Shimano Ultegra groupset is complemented by a Rotor 3D30 BBright chainset with 52/36t chainrings, and with Mavic’s Cosmic Elite S wheels, it’s ideal for the privateer racer.

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Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

15 comments

Avatar
Nathan79 [35 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Planet X Pr carbon Ultegra now currently £999.99 ! You can't complain about that for value...

Avatar
gunswick [131 posts] 1 year ago
15 likes

You can when all the PX staff are redundant or on zero hours contracts....

Avatar
Len [2 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

What no Cannondale CAAD12 Ultegra? Best of lot I would of thought..?

Avatar
StraelGuy [1401 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Planet X are doing the Ultegra Rivet Rider for under a grand at the moment but you need to buy a few extra cables and build it yourself.

Avatar
Paul Stuzz [1 post] 1 year ago
1 like

PMSL
The Planet X has Sram fittedlaugh

Avatar
jterrier [188 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

As usual, that btwin is a proper steal.

Avatar
shishman [103 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

What about this beauty of which the model below this spec has already been reviewed on road.cc and given 4.5 out of 5?

 

http://www.wiggle.co.uk/vitus-zenium-sl-pro-disc-ultegra-2017-road-bike/

 

 

Avatar
SteppenHerring [376 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes

Shocked by the Excavating Rita quote. Can we have a review of a Pashley with a basket next? 

Avatar
Ungulate [23 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Agree on the Cannondale CAAD12, just built one up with Campag Chorus, Hunt alloy wheels, weighs 7.1kg for a 56cm, great bike.

Avatar
RobD [612 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

I'd have thought the Fairlight Strael would have made this list, it's pretty good value for monet for what's an excellent steel choice.

Avatar
misterbee [17 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
SteppenHerring wrote:

Shocked by the Excavating Rita quote. Can we have a review of a Pashley with a basket next? 

blimey at least threeHMHB fans read road cc!!!

Avatar
TheHungryGhost [38 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Make that four (skinny indie kids)

Avatar
gmac101 [204 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
TheHungryGhost wrote:

Make that four (skinny indie kids)

 

new HMHB album out in May - “No-one Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut”

Avatar
Sniffer [494 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
misterbee wrote:
SteppenHerring wrote:

Shocked by the Excavating Rita quote. Can we have a review of a Pashley with a basket next? 

blimey at least threeHMHB fans read road cc!!!

I always watched Trumpton while wearing a Dukla Prague away kit before I found Road CC.

Avatar
A440 [30 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

1. Nobody cared about Half Man Half Biscuit even in their "heyday". even fewer care now, so maybe road.cc could get over their infatuation with these clods.

2. No Argon 18 on this list, so this list is crap.