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I can’t remember not riding a bike.

My first meaningful bike purchase was when I was 12. I bought a $200 Schwinn Le Tour III from Homewood Cycle and Hobby Shop in Homewood, Alabama. My dad offered to split the purchase with me.

Until I got my driver’s license, I rode that bike from one end of the county to the other. Without a helmet. Day and night. I survived to tell the story.

I mounted a tennis racket clip on the front fork. It came in handy to clamp my fishing rod in.

I bought a Schwinn Tempo when I started college. I rode that for another 10 years.

In 1998 I decided I wanted a fancier bike. Back in time when bulletin boards on the Internet were a thing I found a dude selling a Trek 5500. At the time this was the bike the Postal Service pro team was riding. The price was right and I thought it would be cool to have a real carbon frame racing bike. I met the dude half way in Knoxville, TN and picked it up.

$1200. Full Dura-Ace. STI shifters. Oh man. A steal.

I rode that bike another decade until an accident bent the dropout. I took it to the local bike shop and they sent it back to Trek as the dropout was not replaceable. Assumed that Trek would repair it and send it back.

I got a call from the LBS that Trek would be replacing the frame. They gave me the latest model 5500 they had. The 5500 had been phased out a couple years prior but it was brand new!

Sweet looking carbon black. No charge. Man I was in heaven.

I told the boys at the LBS that I didn’t want the old components reinstalled. I wanted a new groupo installed.

I couldn’t afford Dura-Ace but for $800 I could have Ultegra installed. Ultegra 6600.

So over 10 years I was all in about $2,000 and came out the other end with a brand new bike. Insane.

Almost 15 years has since passed and the Ultegra components are at the end of their lifespan. The shifters will not shift in cold weather. I’ve tried all manners of lube and such but the action is just shot.

I have been threatening to buy a new groupo for almost 5 years but just haven’t been able to loosen the grip on my wallet…until last Friday.

I did purchase new wheels last summer and the sensation is like a new bike. I can only imagine how exciting the new groupo will be.

I always priced Ultegra when replacing the groupo. Recently though I kept reading and seeing video that the latest Shimano 105 set is very comparable to Ultegra,

But really, I’m a bike snob. Ultegra means you know what you are doing. 105 is for the beginner herd. Ultegra is glamour. 105 is blue collar. Or so I thought.

Apparently the difference in Ultegra and 105 is minimal. Like hundreds of grams of difference in weight.

I don’t race. A few hundred grams of difference means nothing to me..

Shimano 105 R7000 is a couple hundred dollars less than the latest Ultegra 8000. Is the glamour of Ultegra worth that over the less styled 105? At the end of the day, no.

So I bought the latest 105 R7000 groupo to replace Ultegra 6600.

Nothing I read or watched indicated that the difference in these two groupos would be worth the extra dough. Nor would the performance be anything that I could differentiate in any meaningful way.

Ultegra is supposedly more robust. My own experience shows that would be correct.

However, If I can get 5 years out of the 105 and be pleased with the performance, maybe that will be good enough. I mean, maybe then I’ll be able to finally get a new bike.

It’s fairly obvious my bike does not conform to modern day standards. It doesn’t have sloping tubes. Disc brakes are a non-starter (though what a pita they are on my mountain bike compared to my road bike caliper brakes).

But it still performs just as good as other bikes I pass on Saturday morning rides.