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.
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 the Claris. Shimano’s top-end groupset is Dura-Ace.
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…
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.
Browse our Shimano Claris groupset range
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’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.
In May 2019, the component set received a substantial overhaul, with the Tiagra 4700 series update bringing the operation and quality of the parts closer to the higher tier 105 in terms of ergonomics, looks, and actuation feel.
The revamp includes dual control hydraulic brake levers, a smaller 48-34T chainset for steeper climbing, and an improved shifting mechanism promising quicker gear changes.
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.
In April 2018, Shimano released an upgrade for the groupset, the R7000. It features significant mechanical and aesthetic benefits, gleaned from advancements in the Dura-ace and Ultegra sets. It’s available in black and silver finishes, has a wider gearing range, improved lever ergonomics, and is available now.
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.
Dura-Ace Di2 has also enjoyed particular success in major competitions, with the groupset featuring on all three of the podium-placed bikes at the 2017 Tour de France, and continuing to find success in international racing.
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 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.
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!
Updated May 2018