Here’s our guide to Shimano road groupsets. The drivetrain is one of the hardest working areas of your bike; shifting through the gears on long hard climbs, spinning through miles of grit and grime on wet winter days and transferring all your brute power for that last sprint to the line.
Fair to say then that the following component parts of your drivetrain…
…are some of the things you’re likely to replace or upgrade before most others.
If you are thinking of upgrading your current drivetrain or its parts, the range of choice out there can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming – should you replace like-with-like? Would it be worth upgrading to a higher spec part? What’s the difference between part (a) and part (b)?
That’s why we’ve put together this Shimano groupset ranking guide which will serve as an easy-to-use reference as to the choice on offer from Shimano’s road drivetrain line up and give you an insight into the Shimano groupset hierarchy.
Here’s a quick-glance guide, from entry level (left) to high performance (right):
Here are the various levels on offer from Shimano, along with their intended use and features…
Shimano’s Tiagra is an entry level groupset often specced on many sub-£1000 beginner and city bikes for its durable and reliable properties. Aimed at the leisure and fitness rider, Tiagra offers a clean, light shifting action and is the ideal choice for the daily commute, weekend sportive or long distance touring.
Moving up the scale and with a higher price to match, Shimano 105 continues to be a popular choice for enthusiast riders looking for a perfect balance between performance and cost.
It’s lighter, stiffer and shifts more crisply than Tiagra, and comes in two colour options – black and silver. Shimano 105 is very much considered a fit-and-forget, no-nonsense component group that wouldn’t look out of place on the starting line of a club race, sportive or lightweight commuter.
Much loved by those looking for some of the performance benefits of the company’s high-end Dura-Ace groupset, but without the hefty price tag, a compact, lightweight, highly refined system, Ultegra benefits from many trickle-down features of the top of the line Dura-Ace group, which makes shifting and braking as easy as possible so you can focus on the ride.
An electronic version of the mechanical Ultegra group, shifts are effortless, accurate and instant at the push of a button with Ultegra Di2. This is the perfect compromise if the price of Dura-Ace Di2 is too much to justify.
We’re huge fans of this trickle-down tech where cutting-edge advances are developed for the pros, ridden and tweaked – then made available for mere mortals like ourselves!
Used by many Pro Tour teams, and featured as the drivetrain of choice on high end road bikes, Dura-Ace is the pinnacle of the Shimano mechanical gearing and braking arsenal. It’s highly regarded for its light weight, optimum ergonomics for rider comfort and produces some of the fastest, smoothest shifting out of all the mechanical drivetrain components on the market.
Just when you thought Dura-Ace couldn’t get any better, an electronic version of the top end drivetrain is also available. A state of the art shifting system, Di2 allows for accurate shifts every time at the push of a button. A long life battery powers this lightweight unit for miles of shifting with ease. It’s worth noting that everything on the Di2 version is the same as the mechanical version, except for the shifters and derailleurs.
See it in action below:
It’s generally considered that a triple crankset (30-42-53-tooth chainring setup), which will often come as standard on entry-level road bikes, is ideal for leisure riders or if you live in hilly areas – the extra help you’ll get from the ‘granny ring’ (the smallest ring) will provide some relief!
Traditionalists and racers will usually opt for a double crankset, with 39- and 53-tooth chainrings a common standard.
There’s a third option too: a compact double setup offering the best of both worlds with 34- and 50-tooth chainrings, offering a lower spread of gears for hill climbing.
It’s difficult to generalise the compatibility of each of the models, because there’s so much variety on offer. The best thing we’d advise you to do is contact our dedicated Tech Team who’ll be happy to help you!