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OPINION

Annoyed that Shimano 105 has ditched mechanical and rim brakes? Here's why Shimano (probably) doesn't care

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Yes they said they'd never do it, but times have changed. People will undoubtedly be cheesed off, but those people are probably few and far between in the grand scheme of things

As you'll hopefully have read in our launch story already, Shimano has celebrated its 105 groupset turning 40 by binning off mechanical shifting and rim brakes in one fell swoop. To some of you that won't be something to celebrate... but numbers will have been meticulously crunched before this decision was arrived at, and unfortunately you're probably in the far less lucrative minority.

We discuss this highly-anticipated launch in the podcast segment embedded above, and our conclusions are pretty much along the same lines as what's written below. I think Tony sums it up the best, and although I was a bit on the fence when we first got the news and discussed/squabbled over it a week or so ago, overall I think this is probably correct: if Shimano thought there was a big enough market for the continuation of a mechanical, rim brake 105 groupset, it would make it.

As we speculate in the chat, if there were any top-down decisions being made by Shimano here it could be that electronic groupsets are actually cheaper to make and easier to work with than mechanical; but that alone wouldn't have been nearly enough to take a massive gamble if the numbers didn't stack up. Shimano sells most of its groupsets to bike brands and distributors to be sold on complete bikes, and they are almost certainly reporting that the vast majority of customers want Di2, and disc brakes. 

There's always going to be people who won't be happy, but there clearly just isn't enough of them for Shimano to go through the exhaustive process of developing another whole new groupset to serve a much smaller demographic. 

shimano 105 r7000groupset brakes
Sorry rim brakes, you're not quite profitable or popular enough

Even if this does mark the beginning of the end of phasing out the humble rim brake and mechanical shifting on middling to high-end road bikes, it will likely be many years before parts are no longer available for your rim braked, mechanically-shifting bike if that's what you currently own. Shimano 105 R7000 will continue to be produced and sold for some time, as are other previous-gen Shimano groupsets, and Shimano would have to fully electrify and disc brake-ify Tiagra, Sora and Claris before you're left with no mechanical shifting or rim brakes at all. That's just not going to happen any time soon, and it's very likely we'll see at least an updated Tiagra groupset in the next year or two to plug what is now quite a jump between mechanical 10-speed shifting and the new 12-speed, electronic-only 105.

Perhaps I'm a little sad in a symbolic, stubborn kind of way. Shimano has done a thing that even a couple of years ago it said it would never do, and 105 is supposed to be the groupset that all of us can just about afford. If I'd have walked into the bike shop back in 2012 to buy my first carbon road bike on a 50 quid a month direct debit, only to be told I couldn't even afford one with the third-best components on it off my shop assistant wage, this might have made me think twice about the hobby I was getting myself into.

The truth is most aspiring road cyclists aren't 22-year-old shop assistants, and the feedback Shimano will have had from the shop floor is that most of us are prepared to pay a bit more for a considerably better performing product. We don't need Dura-Ace and now we don't even need Ultegra, because 105 R7100 likely provides pretty much all the bells and whistles for little more than a slight weight penalty. If anything you're saving money by buying at 105 level, so the bike shop salesperson will say, and you're still getting all the technology of the top two tiers. It's an easier sell, and if you can't stretch to it they will point you to a Tiagra-equipped bike, which they can tell you is at least as good as previous-gen 105 when it's next updated. 

Maybe Shimano has got this one wrong and we'll all eat our words, but we seriously doubt it. This is what the masses want, and the world's biggest bicycle component manufacturer (and second-biggest for fishing reels) can probably weather this mini-storm to deliver its best-selling performance groupset of all time. 

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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86 comments

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Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
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DI2 was invented so Shimano can rook you out of  another £250 for a rear mech 18months and 2500 miles after the first one you bought mysteriously fails.-
Not that I'm bitter (much). 

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IanMSpencer replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
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18,000 miles on mine. New jockey wheels ...and the mysterious broken crank syndrome.

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wtjs | 2 years ago
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I don't read the hyper-junk press so I rarely come across this limited intellect 'mamils, lycra-clad, think they're in the TdF etc. etc.' clichéd trolling. However there is one of these Your Neighborhood apps around in N Lancashire and a laughable story appeared from Our Brave Lads about the good work done by Traffic - a division where they appear to shunt off all the officers too dim and idle even for the rest of the Constabulary. In the comments to this LC farrago of lies appeared all the anti-cyclist comments referred to above. They were all there- even down to the traffic jams and 'no road tax'! I am one person fully aware of the complete inaction of LC traffic over known vehicles with years of No MOT, No Insurance and No VED

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emjay49 | 2 years ago
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Amazed at how quickly the blame for the cost of this 105 lays at the door of the Mamil....especially fat ones. Cycling is a particularly broad and inclusive church and sniggering at others because they are fat and have good gear is pretty poor sport.
I agree that not many actually need anything like the level of equipment that we have but when has this ever been about need? If it gets people of their (fat) arses then that's great. Go to any sportive and have a look at the demographic it has to be 2/3rds middle aged guys and the gear about is unbelievable.That helps to drive innovation and demand that ultimately benefits all.

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Guyz2010 replied to emjay49 | 2 years ago
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"Mamils", "fat", "fat" "(fat)".
Seems you're fatist yourself. No where in the article was fat mentioned yet you bring it up several times in a few short sentences.
Mmmm really all inclusive!

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mdavidford replied to Guyz2010 | 2 years ago
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Um, I think you need to read emjay49's comment again. I'm pretty sure they're saying the exact opposite of what you appear to think they are. They're responding to certain other commenters, on this and other related articles, who are rather more deserving of your criticism.

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grOg | 2 years ago
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To a new generation of cyclists, they won't know or care about bikes that didn't have electronic shifting or hydraulic disc brakes; a bit like how people can't imagine living without a mobile phone, which are now so ubiquitous that I can't access my employer website or my bank account without an SMS confirmation.

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marmotte27 replied to grOg | 2 years ago
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Neither of which is a good (as in agreable, convenient, quick, simple, sustainable etc.) thing...

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Hirsute replied to marmotte27 | 2 years ago
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No one needs to be concerned about security then...

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marmotte27 replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
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Yeah security, as in selling SUVs to people because of the dangers of the road, or ferrying children around in them. You're totally up there, mate...

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mark1a replied to marmotte27 | 2 years ago
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What do SUV sales have to do with a multi-factor authentication policy?

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marmotte27 replied to mark1a | 2 years ago
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They illustrate a principle.

P.S.: In case this needs explaining: create a problem, then sell "solutions" to it, which in turn create new problems etc...

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Hirsute replied to marmotte27 | 2 years ago
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Is this that game non sequiter ?

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Hicksi | 2 years ago
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Shimano marketing bosses have correctly concluded that PROFITS are made from pushing bicycle bling to the middle aged with disposable income, most of whom will just 'race' their old mates to the next coffee stop. They don't care a fig that pushing ever more ridiculously expensive and complicated 'stuff' will kill the sport for young people with talent. At my club a 15 year old held the 25 mile TT record for YEARS on a secondhand Boardman, 55mins23secs, cost him around £100. How many people buying fancy bikes with Di2 could even break the hour? That, of course, doesn't concern the bike retail business - or Road CC who are just focused on advertising income and not cycling as an affordable sport for everyone.

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mark1a replied to Hicksi | 2 years ago
5 likes

Cool story bro

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Rendel Harris replied to Hicksi | 2 years ago
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Middleaged people who've worked hard for thirty years shouldn't treat themselves to nice bikes because they can't do a 25 in under an hour, right...you don't even sustain your own argument, you state that a young person with talent can do well on a cheap secondhand bike and at the same time say that older people buying expensive bikes are killing the sport for them. That's contradictory.

In every sport I've been involved in as an active particpant older people with disposable income have always had better kit than most young players even if they didn't have the talent, more expensive cricket bats, tennis racquets, golf clubs, rugby boots, skis...didn't kill the sports for me, in fact their continual desire to buy the latest kit meant that there were great secondhand bargains to be had.

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ktache replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
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And of course supports a competitive industry to supply the demands of everyone, the technological advancement.  With trickle down to the lower ranges. There are no downtube shifters at the bottom of any ranges anymore.

I did borrow a bike for a couple of years that had the classic indexed xt thumbies, wonderful, just required a little more thought, and technique.

Speaking of downtube shifters, I was reminded of them a few months back, broke the retaining bit on my rohloff shifter with my last shift, coming into work. Probably tightened a bit more than I should have done, they had changed the parts since the manual was printed, it had lasted a few years. Being rohloff very replaceable. I did try to bodge it for the ride home, even found a cable tie gun but still couldn't make it work. So on the ride I found if I held the gripshift style shifter in the laft hand, I could change it normally with my right. Which reminded me of the downtube shifters, you had to concentrate a bit more, think about what was coming. Less time in the perfect gear, but none of that unessessary shifting, where you change and then change right back. And more looking ahead, no changing when hauling up the big hill. Or when moving through traffic.

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Guyz2010 replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
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Hear hear.
Love my Carbon framed Hunt wheeled Sram ASX bike. Cost loads. Does it make me faster....not much but I feel good.

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FlyingPenguin | 2 years ago
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Honestly, I was initially annoyed, but now I'm just "meh...".

I've only got one rim/mechanical bike, a Ti framed racer, and I probably wouldn't buy one again.  Much as I love that bike, it inhereted the groupset from the bike it replaced which was bought when I had no preference (frame damage, so everything was moved over) and I probably wouldn't have built it this way if I didn't already have the groupset.

At this point I assume it'll dissappear in stages from 105, Ultegra and eventually Dura-Ace.  Unless something more appealing appears from another manufacturer I'll probably just progressively update it as parts wear out, I'm expecting the bike to outlast me, crashes aside, so it'll get Ultegra, then Dura Ace, Di2 I can take or leave so it'll be a cost & availability decision, as will the moving up levels.

It might mean the component levels change over time, but really.... "meh..."

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wilkij1975 | 2 years ago
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Just another way to fleece us cyclists out of our hard earned cash. £1700 for a groupset level that only a year or three back you could get for £600! Shame the MAMIL set will keep buying this shitte and parting with said cash.

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ejocs replied to wilkij1975 | 2 years ago
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Nope, it's £1700 for a groupset level called 105 that didn't didn't exist at all a year or three back. The groupset level called 105 that you could buy for £600 is being phased out entirely / changing its name to Tiagra. 

The fact that they're both called 105 is arbitrary. The shifters and derailleurs--i.e., the heart of the groupset--are completely different.

wilkij1975 wrote:

Just another way to fleece us cyclists out of our hard earned cash.

No one's making you buy anything.

wilkij1975 wrote:

Shame the MAMIL set will keep buying this shitte and parting with said cash.

Why is it sad, and why do you care?

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Hirsute replied to ejocs | 2 years ago
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I thougth they were aluding to demand pull. So plenty of middle aged folk with disposable income causing price rises or product changes making it more costly for younger, cash stretched folk.

 

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Rendel Harris replied to wilkij1975 | 2 years ago
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wilkij1975 wrote:

Just another way to fleece us cyclists out of our hard earned cash. £1700 for a groupset level that only a year or three back you could get for £600! Shame the MAMIL set will keep buying this shitte and parting with said cash.

People seem a bit confused about the pricing here, the £1700 price includes full carbon disc wheels, which are £1000 a pair if bought separately. Without wheels but with everything else it's £730, or £230 more than mechanical, which actually isn't bad really (provided you believe £500 is reasonable value for the mechanical).

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Guyz2010 replied to wilkij1975 | 2 years ago
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Yup I did..
Yours truly
SRAM ASX Cash loaded mamil

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Daddy Feebs | 2 years ago
5 likes

Here's how I *think* it will pan out. Rim brakes and mechanical shifting are toast, at this level. Over the next few years, demand will continue, and be fulfilled by deadstock retailers, then by a healthy market on eBay. But that demand won't ever stop - and eventually, someone will make a really good new set of rim brakes, or an up-to-date mechanical groupset.  They'll be niche purchases, initially seen as purely for luddites, and nostalgia-freaks, but they'll gain a foothold. At that point, manufacturers like Shimano will sit up and take notice. First, they'll dip their toe back in the water by "reissuing" a "classic" groupset, and once that is snapped up, they'll run the numbers. If there's a market (and I think by then, there will be) they'll be back. As a lifelong skater, I've seen exactly the same thing happen to "old-school" components. they were effectively discontinued in the early 90s, but little by little, they crept back. Now, it's a thriving part of the industry. It's not a majority of manufacturing, but it's easily enough to sustain that demand.

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marmotte27 replied to Daddy Feebs | 2 years ago
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"eventually, someone will make a really good new set of rim brakes"

Rene Herse already do.

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jaymack replied to Daddy Feebs | 2 years ago
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It's already happening. Microshift for example have a newish 11 speed shifter compatible with Shimano called 'Centos'. I suspect I'll be spending my money with them when my present shifters bite the dust.

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lio replied to jaymack | 2 years ago
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Not to put you off what you want to buy but why couldn't someone who wants mechanical for rim brakes and compatible with Shimano just buy Tiagra?

 

Tiagra a decent groupset and will get all the trickledown from previous mechanical rim-brake Dura Ace, just with a different name.

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kil0ran replied to Daddy Feebs | 2 years ago
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Yep - same as vinyl and (audio) cassettes. I've just dismantled an (R2300?) Claris bike and had to admire the simplicity of it - and how light it was. Everything adjustable on the fly, massive chain that would last for ever, small cassette (11-25 I think), external cable routing, adjust shifter cable tension from the hood, etc etc.

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carlosdsanchez | 2 years ago
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Pricing has gone pretty wild, got a R7020 groupset for £499 in Feb 2020. Seem to remember the Di2 version was just under £1k - whish I'd splashed on that now.

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