Shimano’s 105 5800 groupset is one of the most popular component sets in the world today, but with so many new and exotic drivetrains available, what is it about this series that continues to lure riders everywhere?
From sportives to cyclocross, club riders to gravel bike endurance adventures, the 105 has clocked up millions of miles on bikes across the globe.
First introduced in the mid-1980s in a six-speed set-up, Shimano has continued to develop and tweak the 105, introducing what would eventually become the all-conquering 5800 11-speed update in 2014.
Today, it’s a modern design classic, dominating drivetrains across the world and finding its way onto countless podiums with competitive road and cyclocross bikes.
But what has made this now legendary groupset such a sustaining success over the years?
Here’s our top ten reasons why Shimano 105 5800 overtook the cycling world…
1. It’s tough
There’s a good reason why cyclocross riders took the 105 5800 gruppo under their wing – it’s as tough as old boots with ropes for laces. Muddy, wet, and packed with derailleur-smashing danger, cyclocross is one of the toughest tests of any groupset, yet the 105 5800 has, for many, remained the go-to gruppo for the discipline.
2. It’s amazing value
When it was first introduced, the 105 5800 series was the cheapest way to access 11-speed technology. Cyclists everywhere clamoured to enjoy the same gearing advantages as the pros, and put 11-speed down on their local roads.
3. It’s the gateway to greatness
The 105 series is the first rung on Shimano’s ‘performance’ tier groupsets, giving you the best combination of racing performance at an affordable price.
4. It’s packed with trickledown tech
Because it’s within the performance tier, the groupset has benefited from many of the advances made by the engineers working on Shimano’s top guns, Dura-Ace and Ultegra, such as the four-arm crank, a 10% better braking system, a longer pull arm on the front mech, a friction-reducing coating on the shifters, cables, and inner plates… we could go on.
5. It’s elegant
The 5800 saw a redesigned derailleur and shift lever that included polymer-coated cables to replicate the swish, light shifting of its upper crust brethren, giving riders pro-standard response and actuation for a much more accessible cost.
6. It’s available in silver
If you’re an admirer of the old school gruppos, then the prevalence of black components might have started to grind your gears. However, Shimano’s master stroke to make the 105 5800 available in silver was music to the ears of those hoping to recreate the classic componentry of the past… but with 11-speed.
7. It’s attractive
Those sleek, black or silver lines of the 5800 have been irresistible to riders since they were introduced, borrowing from the futuristic styling of Ultegra. Clean, tidy, and understated, the 105 5800 is a design classic that masks its humble price.
8. It’s versatile
A big advantage of the R5800’s four-arm chainset was the ability to replace the rings without changing out the whole chainset, meaning you can choose either compact or traditional double chainsets. Meanwhile, the wider cassette ranging from 11-28t to 12-25t was another welcome addition. Shimano also released compatible 11-speed flat bar shifters just for this series.
9. It’s compatible with disc brakes
This was a big breakthrough, especially for the cyclocross community, with the 105 5800 compatible with Shimano’s second generation hydraulic disc brake for road bikes, previously only available to Di2 users. Having said that, the 5800 calliper brakes are pretty solid too.
10. It’s consistent
Probably the greatest strength of the 105 5800 system is how consistent it has been over the years. There are no weak links, no blindspots in performance, and no circumstance or condition where riders have found a chink in its armour. When most cyclists are looking for something dependable, that works fluidly, is fun to use, and doesn’t require a second mortgage, it’s no surprise why most riders turn to Shimano 105 5800.
Do you ride Shimano 105 5800? Let us know what you think of this amazing groupset in the comments below.