The trickle down of Dura-Ace 9100 technology to Ultegra R8000 11-speed drivetrains continues with the FD-R8000 front derailleur. Shimano redesigned it to have a lighter shift action, increased frame and tire clearance, and to work better with chain lines seen on road bikes with disc brakes and shorter chainstays. Everything we love about the Dura-Ace mechanical front derailleur has carried over to the new Ultegra version.
The derailleurs longer arms, which house the cable anchor bolt and debuted on the Ultegra 6800 and Dura Ace 9000 front derailleurs, allow for a lighter shift as the anchor point gives the cable increased leverage. Word is this design was born when Shimano challenged its engineers to make a mechanical version of Ultegra and Dura-Ace that performed well enough and was still able to hold its own against its electronic siblings, particularly the front derailleurs.
The design worked well, but the industry trend towards wider tires and disc brakes pushed the rear end spacing out to 135 or 142mm. Cable routing was more particular with the longer arm derailleurs. Shimano even sent a guide with each derailleur to gauge which way to run the cable to the anchor bolt, but the evolving rear hub spacing made this an untenable solution. To address this, Shimano engineered a new design that increases the clearance between the front derailleur and rear tire and increases shifting responsiveness with more flexible cable routing. The FD-R8000 also includes a cable tension setting adjustment at the derailleur for a more precise and ease setup.
The more compact design doesn't come at a sacrifice of shift feel. Shimano claims that the new link construction matches the force curve of the hand more naturally to reduce effort at the end of shifting. The shift throw is reduced and the effort required to throw the chain to the big ring, even (or especially) while you're exhausted and trying to bridge up, is reduced.
The FD-R8000 Front Derailleur is constructed from a chrome-plated steel cage, stainless steel hardware and bolts, aluminum inner links and graphene fiber-reinforced outer link. The braze-on bracket is forged and painted aluminum as is the clamp on the band clamp versions.