If you look closely, or perhaps quickly glace at the Trek with it’s new(ish) Ultegra 6600 components, you’ll likely notice that the 6600 crankset isn’t the nicest looking one out there, but also the general increase in shiny parts. Yep, the brakes, derailleurs, hubs, crank, stem and headset are all shined to a (relatively) high polish.
This was a problem. The original 1050-series 105 parts are nice, but not shiny. The downtube shifters and levers are a perfectly nice glossy grey, but again, not polished or shiny. This could be solved one of two ways: First, swap the levers for shiny Shimano R600s and the downtube shifters for shiny Dura-Ace 10-speed. This would also require both a 10-speed chain and cassette.
The second option was to replace both the levers and down tube shifters with a pair of those amazing new levers and shifters in one. Now, I suppose Ultegra 6600 levers would make sense, but I really don’t care for the side-exit shifter cables, and they are quite possibly uglier than the Ultegra 6600 crankset. So, Ultegra 6700 levers would seem to be the obvious choice, but they’re not.
Ultegra 6700 levers are not shiny. Nope. In fact, they are mostly black with grey-painted plastic/composite levers. Blah. Not that it would work with my lowly Ultegra 6600, but Dura-Ace 7900 levers suffer a similar dull and boring fate. But, 105 5700 is shiny. The levers are almost always boring black, but polished silver can also be had for the discerning few.
Ok, so the 105 5700 levers are shiny, and Ultegra 6600 is shiny. Being somewhat open to new technology, I went with the scary (but shiny) world of integrated brake/shift levers. I still needed that 10-speed cassette and chain, so I used this same shiny-metric to choose these.
Like the levers, Ultegra 6700 cassettes are not shiny. But, also like the levers, 105 5700 cassettes are shiny. Even though someone may be able to make the argument that the Ultegra cassette weighs one baby carrot less than the 105, and the shift ramps would allow me to shift three more times per minute, I don’t care. One 105 5700 12-25 10-speed cassette coming up. Easy.
Next, unlike other components, the level of shine on a shimano chain is directly related to and improves as you spend more. So, 105 5701 chains are dull and ugly. Ultegra 6701 chains are half shiny and half dull, but mostly ugly. Dura-Ace 7901 chains are all shiny and, as you can see, clearly not ugly. Done.
Is a smile complete without a shiny gold tooth? Nope. That shiny Dura-Ace chain is held together with an even shinier gold KMC 10-speed quick link. Don’t even get me started on the flat black SRAM 10-speed link– Not shiny.
Moving on, both the stem and headset were also replaced. The original Tange Levin CD headset was getting quite indexed. I found a nearly identical Tange Levin CDS headset in Kansas, but it had the added benefit of being polished chrome where the original was non-polished silver/grey. The original stem, also non-polished silver/grey, was working just fine, but it was of the 90° variety and I wanted the bars a little lower. The new 73° stem is both lower and shinier. I also added a subtle detail to better coordinate the stem and bars. Can you spot it?
Non-shiny upgrades include Shimano SLR/SP41 cables and housings as well as some new bar tape. The bar tape is SRAM Super Suede, and it’s very super. I also have a new pair of Open Corsa Evo CX tyres, but the current Open Corsas still have some life in them, so they’ll stick around for a little while longer.
Anyway, just to sum up and help you navigate the current offerings from Shimano, I’ve included this decidedly non-shiny chart ranking selected current-generation Shimano components by shininess: