That question, are Ultegra components noisy, showed up in my search topics and I thought it would be a good idea to answer it because there could be some big problems associated with that noise.
First of all, the answer is no – Ultegra components are whisper quiet. Technically they’re quieter than that. When they are tuned properly and lubed (along with the chain) correctly they’re silent. The sound of the tires gripping the road will drown out the whir of the rear derailleur pulleys. They’re that quiet.
Now, if you’ve got a lot of pressure on the pedals when you shift you will get a decent throaty clunk when you shift gears with the rear derailleur, but that’s quite normal. If you follow the normal procedure of pedaling a little lighter when you shift, it will be smooth and quieter – Campy fans say it’s too smooth and quiet (SRAM components have and even stouter shift).
Beyond that, if you’re cross-chained (generally with a triple crankset) you will hear some chain noise. I’ll also develop a little whir about 150 miles after I’ve cleaned and lubed the chain. Then, when it’s time to clean and relube the chain again it will get a little more touchy, usually between 300 & 350 miles.
There are minor problems that can lead to a noisy bike that do relate to the components, such as an improperly adjusted derailleur that can be fixed quite easily:
Don’t worry too much if you mess this up – my first time trying this turned into a mess taking two hours to clean up. If you need directions in front of you (I did), print the linked page off and set it down next to you. This is what got me straightend out… If you mess your drivetrain up and you simply can’t figure out what the hell you did, don’t sweat it – take your ride to the shop to get it adjusted properly. Once you see how it’s done by a proper mechanic, that should help you immeasurably.