The R7000, the latest iteration of Shimano’s 105 groupset, is set to do for cycling components what the iPhone did to phones.
When Apple launched its ground-breaking device in 2007, there were already phones with cameras. There were already phones with internet access and using them to listen to music or play games was commonplace.
What the iPhone changed was the quality of the user experience. You no longer had to navigate lengthy menus or pour over big instruction manuals. It was simple, it was fast, and it looked great.
It succeeded because it worked exactly how you hoped it should.
Now many believe the equally seismic Shimano 105 R7000 update of the famous mid-range groupset has achieved the same, simple goal, and represents an event horizon for affordable road components.
And maybe it’s no coincidence that just like the original iPhone, the 105 R7000 is available in silver.
Speaking at the updated groupset’s launch, Shimano Europe’s product manager, Tim Gerrits, said: “Increased control and reaction were two points we concentrated developments on, combined with what people have always expected from 105, great versatility and value for riders.
“With 105’s suitability for a large portion of today’s diverse road bike styles we hope to unlock the potential of where and what it’s possible to ride on a road bike.”
Before the designers of the 11-speed Shimano 105 R7000 got anywhere near the drawing board, they knew the size of the shoes they were attempting to fill.
The outgoing R5800 was one of the most successful groupsets ever. Reliable, smooth, and affordable, it found its way onto more road bikes than any other component suite in the world.
Chances are, if you’re a road cyclist, you’ve owned or currently own a bike with Shimano 105.
Borrowing the technologies of the lauded Ultegra and Dura-Ace groupsets while keeping the price low enough for the everyday rider made Shimano 105 impossible to ignore.
Updated styling and engineering feature throughout the new R7000 groupset, which has taken a huge step-up in quality, bringing it uncomfortably close to Ultegra-level quality and features, while maintaining its accessible pricing.
The most significant changes to the groupset are to the braking system.
The R7000 introduces the first official hydraulic brakes for 105, giving riders three braking options for the groupset: the ST-R7000 for classic cable-actuated braking, ST-R7020 for dual-control hydraulic disc-braking, or the hydraulic ST-R7025 providing 4mm less reach for smaller hands.
The ergonomically-shaped hydraulic dual control levers also match the design of Ultegra levers.
R7000 also sees the introduction of the set’s first flat-mount caliper, using the same brake pads as Dura-Ace and Ultegra, so you can enjoy elite-level braking at mid-range pricing.
Hoods and shifters:
Gear shifts are now faster and lighter with a shorter stroke compared to the 105 5800 series.
The hoods also feature closer comparison to the latest Ultegra update, downsized for better comfort and control with a more ergonomic shape.
The front derailleur has a compact toggle design, better tyre clearance and an integrated cable tension adjustment port removing the need for an in-cable barrel adjuster.
The optional long cage rear derailleur can accommodate up to an 11-34T cassette and is designed with a low profile Shimano Shadow RD style to tuck it below the cassette and chainstay.
Cranks and cassettes:
The new drivetrain includes a mid-compact 52-36T crankset, to add to the original 50-34T and 53-39T crankset formats.
The cassette options are extensive (11-25, 11-28, 11-30, 11-32 and 11-34t versions) offering improved choice for gravel, adventure, or CX riders.
The inner crank ring, meanwhile, is repositioned to reduce the effects of cross chaining or chain drop, better suiting bikes with disc brake criterium racing bikes. This makes the 105 one of the most versatile groupsets available, easily adaptable for road racing, adventure riding, CX, and more.
“The Shimano 105 groupset is so good now that the gaps in performance have all but disappeared,” said Road.cc.
“The groupset now falls in line with its more expensive siblings. It looks a lot sleeker, shifting is well actioned and it feels all together like a better product,” said Cycling Weekly.
Cyclist Australia said: “The new 105 is evidence that riders of this range are the greatest beneficiaries of often expensive technological improvements further upstream.”
And they’re just the first three that popped up on Google.
Shimano has ironed out the last of 105’s issues. It has produced a groupset so good the Japanese component maker’s only worry is how badly it’ll hurt sales of their flagship Ultegra and Dura-Ace.
In 2007, Steve Jobs famously told those gathered at the iPhone launch, “Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”
Today, the 105 R7000 is going to reinvent the standard by which we measure all mid-range groupsets.
What that means for the elite hierarchies of the future is anyone’s guess, but we’re sure it’s the start of something big.