Best Shimano Road Bike Groupset Buying Guide

Best Shimano Road Bike Groupset Buying Guide

Shimano’s road groupsets are incredibly popular among cyclists at all levels. Not only are they some of the most reliable components available, but they’re among the most competitively pricing while ensuring a high standard of engineering. 

Read on to find out more about the Best Shimano Road Bike Groupset Buying Guide….

Shimano Road Groupsets – at a glance: 

  1. Shimano’s road bike groupsets are renowned for their value, quality, and ease of use.
  2. Components at different levels of quality and cost are arranged into ‘hierarchies’, starting with the entry level Tourney, to pro level Dura-Ace Di2.
  3. Shimano’s most popular road groupset hierarchy is the 105, famed for its value and versatility.

Groupsets are a collection of component parts making up your drivetrain, and usually consist of the following elements:


These are the bike parts 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 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.

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

Our Guide to Best Shimano Road Bike Groupset

Here’s the quick-reference guide, from entry level to high performance:

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

Shimano Tourney groupset

A Shimano Tourney crankset

Shimano’s Tourney range of components are often found on city bikes and offer light operation and smooth shifting.

Shimano Claris groupset

Shimano Claris groupset

With a broad range of uses and with Shimano’s durability and quality built in, Claris is commonly found on general purpose bikes, tourers and entry-level road bikes.

Shimano Sora groupset

Shimano Sora groupset

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.

Shimano Tiagra groupset

Shimano Tiagra groupset

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.

Shimano 105 groupset

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.

Shimano Ultegra groupset

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.

Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset

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. 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!

Shimano Dura-Ace groupset

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.

Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset

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.

It’s worth noting that everything on the Di2 version is the same as the mechanical version, except for the shifters and derailleurs.

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.

Triple, double, compact – what’s the difference?

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 beginners some relief on tough climbs. 

 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.

Are each of the different models of Shimano’s drivetrain selection cross-compatible? Can I use an Ultegra rear mech 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 MTB Groupset Guide

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Not found what you are looking for in the Best Shimano Road Bike Groupset; then maybe check out our Best Shimano Mountain Bike Groupset via the link below!

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