We compare the groupsets so you know what top dollar gets you and where you can make compromises
A bike’s groupset comprises of the components involved in changing gear, braking, and keeping the wheels turning via the drivetrain: the shifters, brake levers, brake calipers, derailleurs, chain and cassette.
The high majority of built road bikes come with a primarily Shimano groupset, though you’ll sometimes find they include some components from other brands to keep costs down – such as TRP brakes or FSA chainsets.
The Japanese brand offers a wide range of groupsets – starting with Claris and Sora, which you’ll find on entry level road bikes. Tiagra is the next step up, followed by Shimano 105 which is typically specced on bikes costing upwards of £1000.
Shimano 105 is considered Shimano’s first performance groupset, and for many people it is the best option in combining, performance, value and longevity. Ultegra is next and is very similar to Dura-Ace in terms of performance, though Dura-Ace is lighter – you’ll find Ultegra on bikes from around £1500.
Shimano currently produces Ultegra and Dura-Ace in electronic versions, denoted by Di2, and newer Dura-Ace, Ultegra and 105 models now come with disc brakes.
Below you’ll find the estimated weights, RRPs and links to reviews of each groupset.
Shimano groupset hierarchy
Click on the groupset titles for reviews of the systems that we’ve tested.
Links in the ‘buy now’ column will take you to retailer’s sites. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer if you purchase the item, this doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
|Name||What is it?||Weight*||RRP**||Buy now (from)|
|Shimano Dura Ace R9170||Di2, disc, 11 speed||2389g||£3214.82||£2,149.99|
|Shimano Dura Ace R9150||Di2, rim, 11 speed||2051g||£2944.84||£1,999.99|
|Shimano Dura Ace R9120||Mechanical, disc, 11 speed||2355g (/2445g w cables)||£2104.91||£1384.99|
|Shimano Dura Ace R9100||Mechanical, rim, 11 speed||2007g (/2097g w cables)||£1834.92||£999.99|
|Shimamo Ultegra R8070||Di2, disc, 11 speed||2627g||£1979.83||£1169.89|
|Shimano Ultegra R8050||Di2, rim, 11 speed||2353g||£1669.83||£995.49|
|Shimano Ultegra R8020||Mechanical, disc, 11 speed||2512g||£1244.92||£729.99|
|Shimano Ultegra R8000||Mechanical, rim, 11 speed||2266g||£954.92||£562.99|
|Shimano 105 R5800||Mechanical, rim (outgoing), 11 speed||2810g||Outgoing||£349.99|
|Shimano 105 R7025||Mechanical, disc, 11 speed||TBC||£816.91||Not yet available|
|Shimano 105 R7000||Mechanical, rim, 11 speed||TBC||£566.92||Not yet available|
|Shimano Tiagra 4700||Mechanical, rim, 10 speed||2585g||£511.92||£229.99|
|Shimano Sora R3000||Mechanical, rim, 9 speed||Unconfirmed||£456.92||Components|
|Shimano Claris R2000||Mechanical, rim, 8 speed||Unconfirmed||£396.92||Components|
* Weights will always be estimates, as they’ll vary depending upon chainring size, crank length, cassettes used and some official weights do not include components such as cables and mineral oil/hoses for disc brakes.
** RRPs are based upon Shimano’s official retail price of components added together. Retailers create their own RRPs, based upon the cost of individual components, so listed prices will vary.
Shimano Dura Ace – R9100 series
Shimano works on four year product cycles, and the R9100 series comes with a reinvented aesthetic which features sharper edges and an asymmetic crank arm that is designed to lower the weight and offer better shifting.
>>> Read more: Shimano Dura Ace R9100 vs Ultegra R8000
The rear mech can now cater for cassettes up to 30T, and we even went to 32T (though this isn’t covered under warranty as it’s not officially recommended).
The mech in question now takes notes from the MTB specific XTR version, with a lower profile that is better protected. The front dérailleur has been reinvented, with a more compact offering that can allow for better tyre clearance.
It’s worth noting that the spacing on the R9100 chainrings has been adjusted – so combining new components with old Dura-Ace mechs is not advised.
The Di2 version (R9150) offers ‘synchronised shifting’ which puts an end to cross-chaining as it controls both levers, though you can turn it off in the settings if you don’t want the groupset to take over.
Disc brake models (R9120, mechanical disc and R9170, di2 disc) have Dura-Ace hydraulics, which use ‘Freeza brake calipers’ to cut down on heat build up.
Upgrades from Shimano Ultegra include lighter shifters, greater heat dissipation on disc brake rotors, and a carbon rear dérailleur cage.
Shimano now offers its own Dura Ace power meter, too.
Shimano Ultegra – R8000 series
Shimano Ultegra is consistently considered to be the thrifty racer’s choice, carrying much of the performance of Dura Ace, with a reduced price tag.
However, a few of the changes made with the newest creation also make Ultegra a better choice for those looking to tackle gravel and mixed terrain.
>>> Read more: Shimano Ultegra R8000 vs 6800
The newest Shimano Ultegra family – R8000 – mimics the updated aesthetic seen across it’s more expensive sibling, but aside from looks, other changes include the capacity to suit an 11-34 cassette and brake calipers comfortable with 28c tyres.
The hoods have been slimmed down, and now have a grippy pattern (like Dura Ace), and the dérailleurs have received a similar treatment to new Dura Ace, promising smoother gear changes.
The overall weight has actually increased slightly on the outgoing Ultegra 6800, but Shimano promises better shifting and stiffness.
Disc brake iterations – R8020 (mechanical) and R8070 (di2) – use Ice technologies Freeza properties to reduce heat build up and the shifters are slimmer than former models.
Shimano 105 – R7000 series
The entry level performance groupset was the last to get an update, but as you’d expect with trickle down technology, Shimano 105 R7000 has received a couple of the luxuries afforded to newer Ultegra.
>>> Read more: Shimano R7000 vs R5800 in detail
You get the stubby cranks seen in new Dura Ace and Ultegra, and there’s three different crankset options (54-39, 52-36 or 50-34 ) to be paired with 11-30 or 11-34 cassettes.
The inner ring has been repositioned, so cross-chaining becomes less noticeable, and the shifter hood has gone on a diet. There’s now dedicated 105 R7000 hydraulic disc brakes, which are identical to Ultegra’s R8020 versions.
Shimano Tiagra – 4700
Shimano Tiagra groupsets and below have yet to receive the more recent update, with updated aesthetic and update mechs.
The 2016 update – Shimano Tiagra 4700 – however, did incorporate gear and brake cables that could be fed beneath bar tape, reducing the “anti aero loop” on previous additions. It’s compatible with flat bar bikes, too.
Unlike the others above, which are 11-speed, Tiagra is still 10- speed, and the chainsets available are 52/36t, 50/34t and 50/39/30t – the largest, most race focused 53/39 option available elsewhere won’t be found here.
Shimano Sora – R3000
Shimano showed its Sora groupset (R3000) a bit of love in 2017, with new shifters, brakes and rear derailleurs which carry a more sophisticated aesthetic.
The chainset, like Tiagra, is now four arm which allows it to be lighter – and it comes as a 50-34 compact or 50-29-30 triple and the whole set up can be introduced to flat bar bikes (on a five arm crankset with chainguards). Casssettes can be as large as 11-34, which will allow plenty of gear options.
The groupset continues to be 9-speed, but it does have new shifters which allow for neater internal cable routing. The rum brakes are said to be improved with 20 per cent greater stopping performance on the outgoing version thanks to the addition dual pivot calipers.
Shimano Claris – R2000
Shimano’s entry level gorupset hasn’t had an overhaul since 2013, but the 8-speed R2000 set up still provides excellent value.
There is a cheaper option – Shimano Tourney – but you won’t find it on many built bikes and Claris has one up on it because it uses the same Dual Control shifting action as the other key groupsets. Tourney, on the other hand, still features a thumb lever on the inside of the hood to shift up. Claris also has its own matching brake system.
Though Claris is perfectly effective, the let down is its 8-speed shifting, which doesn’t provide the rider with a particuarly large selection of gears and means that jumps between cogs can be noticeable.