Everything You Need to Know About Shimano Road Groupsets

Everything You Need to Know About Shimano Road Groupsets

Shimano is one of the biggest road bike component manufacturers in the world, offering a vast array of groupsets to suit every type of cyclist. Not only are they some of the most reliable components available, but they’re amongst the most competitively priced whilst ensuring a high standard of engineering. Check out our ultimate Shimano Road Bike Groupset guide below: 

Constantly updating their range of road bike groupsets, the newest features often debut on their top-end groupset, Dura-Ace before filtering down through the range. To help you try and understand the hierarchy of Shimano road components available, we have the ultimate overview of the entire Shimano road lineup… 

At a glance: Shimano Road Bike Groupset Rankings

A groupset hierarchy details the component sets at different levels of quality and price, from entry level to pro-standard. In the outline below, entry level groupsets are at the top, beginning with Tourney. Shimano’s top-end groupset is Dura-Ace Di2. 

  • Tourney: Basic Shimano groupset 
  • Claris: Mainstream budget road groupset 
  • Sora: Budget-conscious 9-speed groupset 
  • Tiagra: Affordable decent quality 10-speed groupset 
  • 105: Brilliant mid-range groupset 
  • 105 Di2: Shimano’s mid-range electronic groupset 
  • Ultegra: Professional mechanical groupset 
  • Ultegra Di2: Professional level performance groupset with electronic shifting 
  • Dura-Ace: Top-end mechanical groupset 
  • Dura-Ace Di2: Flagship electronic groupset 

What are Shimano Road Bike Groupsets? 

A road bike groupset generally refers to any part that operates the bikes gears and brakes. The drivetrain (derailleurs, chain, cassette, chainset, bottom bracket), combined shift and brake levers, and the actual brakes are all typically provided by a single groupset. 

Many groupsets are designed and built to reach a certain price point or level and this is why it’s important to do your research to ensure if you are looking for a new bike or to upgrade you pick the right one for you. 

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 road groupset 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. 

Shimano Groupset Heirarchy

Two of the big component manufacturers in the cycling industry – SRAM and Shimano are seen as the pinnacle of the groupset world. Both offer a wide variety of groupsets to suit a range of factors including price, weight and performance. This handy SRAM and Shimano road groupset hierarchy guide will certainly help decide between the vast array on offer.

SRAM vs Shimano Groupset Heirarchy

Groupsets usually consist of the following elements:

Ultimate Guide: Best Shimano Road Bike Groupset

Two people riding Shimano road bikes - Shimano Road Groupset

Here are the various levels on offer from Shimano, along with their intended use and features…

Shimano Tourney (A070) Groupset – Basic Shimano groupset

Shimano Road Groupset Tourney
Shimano Tourney

Shimano’s cheapest groupset available – Tourney can often be found on most city bikes as it offers light operation, easy maintenance and smooth shifting. 

Shimano Claris (R2000) Groupset – Mainstream budget road groupset 

Shimano Road Groupset Claris
Shimano Claris

A dependable entry-level option from Shimano, the Claris groupset offers a 9- speed groupset with integrated ‘dual control’ levers. A groupset that is often found on general purpose bikes, tourers and entry-level bikes, Shimano Claris is one of the few remaining groupsets that comes with a three-piece chainset if you are looking for a wider selection of gearing. 

  • Cassette: 9-speed 
  • Largest Sprocket: 32t 
  • Brakes: Cable disc or rim brake 

Shimano Sora (R3000) Groupset – Budget-conscious 9-speed groupset 

Shimano Road Groupset Sora
Shimano Sora

One of Shimano’s best value groupsets offering performance that belies its price, Shimano Sora offers crisp shifting, good braking power and is often found on entry level road bikes, touring bikes and commuting machines. 

  • Cassette: 9-speed 
  • Largest Sprocket: 34t 
  • Brakes: Cable disc or rim brake 

Shimano Tiagra (4700) Groupset – Affordable decent quality 10-speed groupset 

Shimano Road Groupset Tiagra
Shimano Tiagra

Shimano’s Tiagra is an entry level, 10-speed groupset often spec’d on many sub-£1000 value 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. 

  • Cassette: 10-speed 
  • Largest Sprocket: 34t 
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc or cable rim brake 

Shimano 105 (R7000/R7020) Groupset – Brilliant mid-range groupset 

Shimano Road Groupset 105
Shimano 105

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. 

  • Cassette: 11-speed 
  • Largest Sprocket: 34t 
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc or cable rim brake 

Shimano 105 Di2 (R7100) Groupset – Shimano’s mid-range electronic groupset 

Shimano Road Groupset 105 Di2
Shimano 105 Di2

The long awaited 105 update that all road cyclists have been waiting for! In 2022, Shimano released the electronic version of their most popular groupset – 105. Shimano have used functions and technologies inherited from the top-level Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupsets to create the new 105 Di2 setup. If you want incredible electronic shifting but can’t justify the huge price of anything above 105, this one’s for you. 

  • Cassette: 12-speed 
  • Largest Sprocket: 36t 
  • Brakes: Hydraulic (no mention of rim brake option planned) 

Shimano Ultegra (R8000/R8020) Groupset – Professional mechanical groupset 

Shimano Road Groupset Ultegra
Shimano Ultegra

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. 

  • Cassette: 11-speed 
  • Largest Sprocket: 34t 
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc or cable rim brake 

Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8150/R8170) Groupset – Professional level performance groupset with electronic shifting 

Shimano Road Groupset Ultegra Di2
Shimano Ultegra Di2

An electronic version of the mechanical Ultegra group, shifts are effortless, accurate and instant at the push of a button with Ultegra Di2. The latest Di2 groupset now comes with 12 gears, updated lever ergonomics, along with improvement to the braking performance. This is the perfect compromise if the price of Dura-Ace Di2 is too much to justify. 

  • Cassette: 12-speed 
  • Largest Sprocket: 34t 
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc or cable rim brake 

Shimano Dura-Ace (R9100) Groupset – Top-end mechanical groupset 

Shimano Road Groupset Dura-Ace
Shimano Dura-Ace

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. 

  • Cassette: 11-speed 
  • Largest Sprocket: 30t
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc or cable rim brake  

Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9250/R9270) Groupset – Flagship electronic groupset 

Shimano Road Groupset Dura-Ace Di2
Shimano Dura-Ace Di2

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. The latest Di2 groupset now comes with 12 gears, updated lever ergonomics, along with improvement to the braking performance. 

  • Cassette: 12-speed 
  • Largest Sprocket: 34t  
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc or cable rim brake 

Shimano GRX groupset

Shimano GRX

Shimano GRX comes with its gravel specific ergonomics, optimized gearing options, rugged reliability, and quiet and stable drivetrain, sets itself apart from the rest of the component world.

In GRX, there are three quality levels: RX810, RX600, and RX400. Shimano’s Ultegra, 105, and Tiagra levels are represented by these numbers. The RX810 and RX600 have 11-speed transmissions, whereas the RX400 has a 10-speed transmission. As with Tiagra, the RX400 has the same cable pull-to-sideways movement ratio as the more costly, 11-speed systems, so you can theoretically mix them all.

Key Shimano Road Bike Groupset Information 

Shimano Road Groupset

What are Chainrings?

The largest component of any groupset, the crankset (or chainset), is made up of the chainrings, the cranks, and, more often than not these days, the spindle that connects the two crank arms. What chainrings are available and what is best for me? 

Single – A single-ring crankset has only one chainring. This is a technology widely adopted from mountain biking. The single chainring uses a wider ranging cassette to compensate for the loss of the smaller, inner ring. Often used on gravel bikes more so than road bikes. 

Double – Historically a setup used by many professional road riders who adopt a 53t big ring and 39t small ring has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. The more popular semi-compact crankset (52/36) giving you a slightly easier climbing gear whilst still giving you a big top gear to push. Compact crankset is a 50/34 setup which again has become a popular option for many thanks to its combination of easy gearing and low weight. 

Triple: An older type of chainset that is often seen on more entry level, retro or touring bikes. It offers an extremely wide range of gears whilst also adding additional weight thanks to the third chainring. It often combines a 50t outer ring, a 39t middle ring and 30t inner ring. The extra help you’ll get from the ‘granny ring’ (the smallest ring) will provide beginners some relief on tough climbs.  

Is Shimano cross-compatible?

Are each of the different models of Shimano’s drivetrain selection cross-compatible? Can I use an Ultegra rear derailleur with a Dura-Ace shifter, for example? 

It’s difficult to generalise the compatibility of each of the models, because there’s so much variety on offer. We’d advise you to contact our dedicated Tech Team who’ll be happy to help you! 

Shimano Road Bike Groupset Jargon Buster 

  • Chainring: a ring with teeth for engaging the chain.
  • Chainset: Collective name for the crank arms and chainrings, sometimes also referred to as the crankset.
  • Crank: Set of crank arms with chainrings. 
  • Di2: Digital Integrated Intelligence – otherwise known as Shimano’s electronic groupsets.
  • Dual Control: refers to the road bicycles brake levers with integrated shift levers. 
  • Front Derailleur: used to move chain from one front chainring to another. 
  • Hollowtech: utilized for cranks with sculpted arms, in order to reduce weight. Technology developed by Shimano, to allow the manufacturing of hollow crank arms, allowing the to optimise stiffness and weight. 
  • Rear derailleur: used to move chain from one sprocket to another on a cassette. 

Check out some of our other relevant articles!

Shimano Road Groupset
Shimano Road Groupset

Related Articles

Back to top button