Shimano's Ultegra SL rear derailleur purely enjoys all the trappings of the vaunted Dura-Ace, for a less money, making it an ideal choice for cyclosportive riders buying new or upgrading their drivetrain.
At 200g, the US$110 SL gear mech packs all the wallop found in its pedigreed brother, Dura-Ace, including sealed bearing guide pulley and flouric coated link bushing for smooth shifts and a long life.
Much has been written and reported on the sexier, more visible components like cranks and wheels, but as many have experienced, the drivetrain's the thing, and a reliable, durable and quiet rear derailleur plays an important role. Shimano's Ultegra SL rear mech ranges comfortably between 11 and 27 teeth cogs, and the short cage that I tested worked right our of the box. The set screws were easily accesible and smooth to turn, while the threaded boss attached to the deraiileur hanger as expected, a credit to Shimano's forging mastery and command of aluminium.
I've run three different 10-speed chains through the SL rear mech: the Shimano CN-6600, SRAM PC-1090, and the FSA SL-K. All rolled smoothly (FSA felt like a belt it was so smooth), and performance was flawless. A clean and lubed shifter cable and properly-trimmed cable housing aids considerably, and Shimano's stock stuff always works.
The Ultegra SL rear mech performed as promised in all conditions, and handled three different chains with aplomb. Again, for those Shimano fans looking to upgrade, this rear mech comes highly recommended.
© BikeRadar 2007