Review: Shimano Ultegra 6700 Tubeless Wheelset

If we deconstruct the bicycle as a machine down to it’s most basic elements, we are left with two wheels and a frame to connect them. When we examine the physical effort required to move a bicycle forward, air resistance, rolling resistance, weight of the bicycle and the rider, and the incline of the ground are all variables. The force required to spin the wheels is constant. So it comes as little surprise that cycling enthusiasts frequently look to their wheels when trying to extract greater performance out of themselves and their bike.

On the high end, there are near limitless advances made to bicycle wheel technology every year. Over time the stand out technology is refined and finds its way down to lower price points. The new Ultegra 6700 wheelset from Shimano marks the next step in this progression. Borrowing technology from their Dura Ace C-24 wheels, Shimano has created a light, stiff, and attractive wheelset that is tubeless compatible, all at a retail price of $650.

Out of the box the Shimano Ultegra 6700 wheelset makes a good impression. The appearance has an understated, classic vibe with silver hubs and spokes, a simple black rim and white decals. Modern design elements such as low-count bladed spokes help keep the wheels from looking retro. The Ultegra wheelset would make a nice compliment to just about any bike.

The ride quality of the wheelset also strikes a nice balance. The proprietary straight-pull spokes create a stiff wheel that corners with confidence but remains forgiving when riding over rough  roads. The road feels is considerably less harsh then my old standard everyday wheelset, the Mavic Ksyrium SL. And after a few hundred miles, including commuting through Manhattan, they remain perfectly in true.

At a weight of 1,652 grams, the Ultegra wheels are right around the average for their price. Where they really stand out is their right-out-of-the-box tubeless compatibility. This wheelset is by far the most cost effective way to try out tubeless technology. Mounted with a Hutchinson Fusion 3, the wheels really shine. The lack of tube and tire friction helps reduce rolling resistance as well as flat prevention, making the Ultegra/Fusion 3 setup ideal for winter training. The benefits of road tubeless wheels will only continue to grow as more tire choices become available. I imagine that these wheels will be a great and popular choice for tubeless cyclocross as well.

Whether you want to try tubeless road tires, need a pair of winter training wheels, or are simply  look for a solid, attractive wheelset that won’t break the bank, the Shimano Ultegra 6700 wheelset is an easy choice. You may not win the envy of the peloton, but they do everything a bicycle wheel should do well, and they bring new technology down to a more affordable level. Plus, now you can stop worrying about wheels and start thinking about that upgrade to electronic shifting.

10 comments

  1. +1, as they say. I use these wheels tubeless on my cx bike. There is just a quality and precision to Shimano parts that is hard to describe. These wheels spin is awesome. Even the skewers have that precise feel. What a wheel for the price.

    Comment by Gene Colon on February 14, 2012 at 10:47 am

  2. Two very good points Gene. I should have mentioned in my review, Shimano decided to forgo the current trend of cartridge bearings instead opting for traditional loose-ball bearings which are smoother and more serviceable. Shimano skewer are also my all-time favorite quick release skewer. The internal cam grabs the dropout with far more force than the cheaper and lighter external cam design used by nearly all other manufacturers. We often recommend Shimano skewers as after-market additions to high end wheelsets.

    Comment by Jeff Reed on February 14, 2012 at 10:58 am

  3. Hi, Jeff. I’m glad I found your review. I just purchased a Madone 5.9, which comes with the Ultegra wheels. I had planned on putting my Ksyrium SLs on it, but after reading reviews about the Ultegras, I’m not sure. I’d initially thought, given the Mavics come in at a much higher price point, that they would be better…but people are saying a lot of good things about Shimano’s hubs. Have you chosen the U’s over the M’s?

    Comment by Chad on July 7, 2012 at 9:39 am

  4. Hi Chad,

    Thanks for checking out our review. While Mavic makes some fantastic wheels, we generally feel that, in this case, these Ultegra wheels represent much better bang-for-the-buck over the Ksyrium SLs. Shimano’s rim, hub, and assembly quality are at least on-par with that of Mavic’s wheelsets, and both companies are known for producing extremely durable wheels with well-built, smooth-rolling hubs.

    As far as performance, the Ultegra wheels will give up a bit of weight, and in turn, they will not feel quite as responsive as the Ksyrium SLs, largely due to the Mavic’s lighter rim and their use of oversized (and stiffer) aluminum spokes. The trade-off, however, is the more compliant ride you’d enjoy with the Ultegras (and, of course, saving several hundred dollars, if you didn’t already own both wheelsets).

    If you get the chance, since you have them at your disposal, we’d recommend trying both wheelsets back-to-back, with the same set-up (same tires, tire pressure, and tubes), on the same test loop, to really sort through their differences and determine which work best for you. If you do so, let us know how it went!

    – Caffery

    Comment by Caffery on July 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm

  5. Hi Jeff I am looking at purchasing a set of these wheels and would like your thoughts on the durability & strength of these wheels. I weigh 83kg (182lbs) and wonder if the 16 x 20 spoke count will be enough to keep the wheel true as an everyday training wheel and not break spokes. I usually ride 3-4000 kms a year. I am currently riding a set of Bontrager Race wheels

    Comment by Craig on August 2, 2012 at 10:20 am

  6. Thanks for the review. I have Shimano Ultegra 6700 wheels and run Hutchinson tires.

    How do I install new sealant to these wheels? I couldn’t back out the presta inner core – as a result very difficult install sealant.

    Thanks

    Comment by Bob Sheldon on October 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm

  7. Jeff, I just purchased a set of these; first upgrade to a Trek Tourmalet with stock Bontrager select rims and race wheels. I haven’t received them yet but now second guessing as to if I will actually be able to tell a difference i performance. I’m 6ft. 195 and ride 75 miles a week most of the time alone. Reassure me I made the right decision on this purchase.

    Thanks

    Comment by Ronnie on February 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm

  8. Hi
    Will these wheels fit cyclocross tires size 33-35?
    Thanks

    Comment by Jonathan on July 4, 2013 at 6:39 am

  9. Yes, these will work with tires of that size and can even be run tubeless with a set of tubeless cyclocross tires!

    Comment by Darren McNeill on July 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm

  10. I blog often and I genuinely thank you for your content. This article has really peaked my interest.
    I’m going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.

    Comment by shimano dura-ace on July 28, 2013 at 5:07 am

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