Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

OPINION

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

Avatar
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.  

Add new comment

86 comments

Avatar
vthejk | 2 years ago
3 likes

I'm not sure that any of the arguments against 105 Di2 are coming from the right place. For everyone saying that 105 Rim brake is being phased out - it isn't still - but we have Tiagra rim brake. Tiagra is perfectly good and I don't think much seperates 105 and Tiagra, having used both groupsets concurrently on two different bikes. I strongly suspect, as do some other posters, that Tiagra is going to move up to 11s and maybe a price point, bringing it up to speed (literally) with current 105.

A bunch of follks and I agree that the only real long-term outcome of this is likely to be that Claris and Sora are made one price point more expensive and gain more drip-down tech from the higher groupsets. However, this might just mean cheaper bikes get better quality shifting and manufacturers don't have to resort to cheaper parts from third parties (Microshift, Suntour etc.) to make a complete quality groupset.

Avatar
peted76 | 2 years ago
0 likes

It just seems a little too soon to be damning 105 mechanical to the parts bin.. it seems to herald that rim brakes full stop are now on notice...

 

Avatar
nniff | 2 years ago
3 likes

On the plus side, if you go into one of the very shiny bike shops looking for a bike with a first-rate frame, cable-operated gears and rim brakes, you'll find what you're looking for under a fine coating of dust and with a magnificent discount.   I only went in to buy a new sat nav thingy. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the shop, people are in awe to disc brakes, hydaulics, batteries, little electric motors and firmware.  As any motorist will tell you, these components never give any trouble in the long run.

Still, if you manage to break your Dura-ace rear mech it will cost you either £150 or £500 to replace.  I must be missing something.....

Avatar
TheFatAndTheFurious | 2 years ago
2 likes

Quote:

most aspiring road cyclists aren't 22-year-old shop assistants

Indeed, they're kids and teenagers dependent on parental disposable income to get their first even vaguely "race ready" machine. Here we have a £1730 _groupset_ (with existing R7000 105 going for £595 at Wiggle right now), before you've even bought a frame and wheels.

This is simply pricing talent out of the sport.

Avatar
Surreyrider replied to TheFatAndTheFurious | 2 years ago
0 likes

Interestingly, media reported yesterday  that Shimano would continue producing 11 speed mechanical 105, although someone mentioned in a forum that it has been removed from their website today. 

Avatar
ejocs replied to TheFatAndTheFurious | 2 years ago
3 likes

TheLonelyOne wrote:

Indeed, they're kids and teenagers dependent on parental disposable income to get their first even vaguely "race ready" machine. Here we have a £1730 _groupset_ (with existing R7000 105 going for £595 at Wiggle right now), before you've even bought a frame and wheels.

This is simply pricing talent out of the sport.

I'm not sure why people seem to believe that just because a higher tier item exists means that everything below it has suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.

It's not like the entire bicycle industry has conspired to never again produce anything below 105 Di2. Plenty of companies, including Shimano, will absolutely continue to offer components below that level--you think Shimano doesn't want to build brand recognition and loyalty with beginners or casual riders, or that the entire industry just wants to forego that part of the market?

If you don't like the cost of Shimano's 3rd tier group, buy its excellent 4th tier group. Or buy from another company. Or buy used. Or stop hoarding and just keep using your old stuff. No one's making anyone do anything.

Avatar
TheFatAndTheFurious replied to ejocs | 2 years ago
0 likes

ejocs wrote:

I'm not sure why people seem to believe that just because a higher tier item exists means that everything below it has suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.

Pretty sure that's not what I said...., but anyways, coincidentally no doubt, and in something of a self-own, I've just noticed that the £595 R7000 groupset availability at wiggle is: zero, like it's just.... vanished.

(yes yes, i know, pandemic/brexit/war/supply chain etc)

 

Avatar
ejocs replied to TheFatAndTheFurious | 2 years ago
0 likes

TheLonelyOne wrote:

ejocs wrote:

I'm not sure why people seem to believe that just because a higher tier item exists means that everything below it has suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.

Pretty sure that's not what I said....

In part I was replying to a general attitude rather than to you specifically. But also, you said that the cost of 105 Di2 priced people out of the sport, which implies that they can't buy something cheaper.

TheLonelyOne wrote:

but anyways, coincidentally no doubt, and in something of a self-own, I've just noticed that the £595 R7000 groupset availability at wiggle is: zero, like it's just.... vanished.

(yes yes, i know, pandemic/brexit/war/supply chain etc)

There's plenty left--https://www.wiggle.co.uk/cube-axial-ws-race-road-bike-2022--just have to buy the whole bike with it.😀

Avatar
TheFatAndTheFurious replied to ejocs | 2 years ago
1 like

ejocs wrote:

There's plenty left--https://www.wiggle.co.uk/cube-axial-ws-race-road-bike-2022--just have to buy the whole bike with it.😀

That's cheaper than the new groupset on its own, which is what I'm so disappointed about 🙂. In a couple of years, what will the be the cost of a "105" bike with a similar frame and wheels?

Bottom line is that all I see is a £1000 price hike, one extra sprocket and a shifting system that makes the human-powered bicycle into something range-limited by batteries.

I'm just a luddite 🤷‍♂️

Avatar
mctrials23 replied to ejocs | 2 years ago
2 likes

Exactly. People are so hung up on the name and lord knows what else. Ignoring the fact that even Tiagra from today is better than the very best stuff from 10-15 years ago for a 10th of the price. Yes this 105 is expensive. Yes its called 105. No that doesn't matter. Tiagra will probably be 11 speed soon and will get a shadow rear derailleur along with the updated front mech from 105. 

People are acting like Shimano won't update the rest of their lineup to accomodate the new 105 (which they have done repeatedly). They are also acting like you won't be able to get parts for your existing setups for donkeys years. 

I just foolishly upgraded from Tiagra 4700 to a mix of secondhand/new 105, tiagra and dura-ace and the difference in performance isn't that big. Tiagra is great. The update to Tiagra will make it even better. 

Buy what you want and stop whinging. These are the same people who bemoan the high price of bikes and completely ignore the fact you can get very usable bikes for as little money as ever. The cycling media doesn't cover cheap and cheerful. Its boring. That doesn't mean its not there and available .

Avatar
wtjs replied to mctrials23 | 2 years ago
1 like

cycling media doesn't cover cheap and cheerful. Its boring
This is also boring, because I have droned on about it before. Sora 9 speed is really good, especially when linked to TRP Spyre mechanical discs on a gravel bike.

Avatar
check12 | 2 years ago
2 likes

ignore your customers at your peril 

Avatar
nickyburnell | 2 years ago
3 likes

Lightweight. Brilliant casette ratios, even a 12-32 with the 16, mechanical and rim brakes. Can be had for 500 odd pounds

Campagnolo Centaur. It works flawlessly and is very, very sturdy.

Tiagra will go 11, it already all works 11 with 105/Ulti levers, done it loads.

Avatar
kil0ran replied to nickyburnell | 2 years ago
0 likes

Agree re Tiagra going 11. Its all the same pull ratio now. Aesthetically Claris/Sora/Tiagra all look the same and work the same, it's just speed and weight that differentiates them. With wide-range cassettes and clutched mechs getting cheaper I can see everything shifting up a speed and triples disappearing from road.

Avatar
Aspeers replied to nickyburnell | 2 years ago
0 likes

Great point, I see this upwards shift in the price of 105 (Di2) as opening the door to Campagnolo to spec more groupsets with OEM's. Hitting that sweet spot in the 1k to 2k price category for first proper road bike. Think Specialized Allez, Trek Domane AL, Cannondale Synapse etc.

Avatar
kil0ran replied to Aspeers | 2 years ago
0 likes

Agree, it really creates space in the market, likely to be filled by the likes of Decathlon. Hopefully it doesn't create a barrier to entry as someone mentioned yesterday. Equally hopefully, if it makes buyers less snobby about groupset levels that's also a good thing. Tiagra is really all you need unless you're racing.

Avatar
HiFi replied to nickyburnell | 2 years ago
0 likes

Campagnolo Centaur (2,484 g) is 500g lighter. Yes, half a kilo !!!

Shimano seem to be happy piling on the pounds (lbs & £); lose-lose for shimano buyers.

Avatar
marmotte27 | 2 years ago
0 likes

1000km battery autonomy? Wtf? There are bike rides that last longer than that...

So with this, are we definitely in the sunday/cafe racer territory now (where you go for a ride with the bike on your car roof)?

Avatar
Surreyrider replied to marmotte27 | 2 years ago
1 like

I can't imagine many of their customers go out for a 1,000km bike ride on even a semi regular basis. 

Avatar
vthejk replied to marmotte27 | 2 years ago
1 like

That's about an average commuting month for me. I can't see needing to top up a battery on a monthly basis as being a massive chore tbh.

Avatar
marmotte27 replied to vthejk | 2 years ago
0 likes

As I said, there are single rides longer than that... But you're right, that's not the kind of clientele.
Mostly I don't like the way that the big makers are killing standards and interchangeability.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to marmotte27 | 2 years ago
0 likes

marmotte27 wrote:

As I said, there are single rides longer than that... But you're right, that's not the kind of clientele.

People who ride 1000 km without stopping or coming across somewhere they could charge the battery is a pretty niche market, isn't it?

Avatar
FlyingPenguin replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
1 like

Rendel Harris wrote:

marmotte27 wrote:

As I said, there are single rides longer than that... But you're right, that's not the kind of clientele.

People who ride 1000 km without stopping or coming across somewhere they could charge the battery is a pretty niche market, isn't it?

Perhaps, but there's a bigger segment doing multi-day rides where power is inconvenient or unreliably available and going Di2 increases the potential complexity of support.

Power can be (partially) mitigated with a power bank, heavy and annoying, but do-able.  But if (for example) my right hand brifter packs up half way across South America in the Argentine Pampas, I'm reliant on finding a bike shop with either the tech to unbrick the brifter or a compatible Di2 brifter of some level.  Now if I'm lucky that'll happen next to a shop selling high end bikes, but it's the EV problem, until the tech (Di2 or EV charging) is ubiquitous, it's higher risk of being stranded without the approrpriate support.  I know I used Argentina as the example, it's a trip I've got planned, but it could just as easily be here in Surrey, there are some shops that I'd trust to deal with Di2, there are others that just couldn't.  If I was touring by bike and had no option of car or "wait for delivery", it would be really awkward.

Yeah, multi day events in far off places might be smaller than the cafe ride market, but it's not quite "1000km Strava trace" territory.  Until I can assume that every bike shop has Di2 tools, mechnanical 105 will always be easier to get working.

Avatar
lio replied to marmotte27 | 2 years ago
1 like

marmotte27 wrote:

1000km battery autonomy? Wtf? There are bike rides that last longer than that... So with this, are we definitely in the sunday/cafe racer territory now (where you go for a ride with the bike on your car roof)?

To answer your question, no.  No we are not in "sunday/cafe" racer territory.

Not sure where you got your 1000Km figure from but Di2 isn't limited by range, it's limited by the number of shifts you use.

Loads of people have sucessfully used Di2 for PBP and LEL already, both those rides are over 1000Km.  Hydraulic Di2 is much easier on the hands over that sort of distance.

As for what to do if a "brifter" breaks, I think you'd be better off with Di2 because you can just reprogram it with your phone to run both derailleurs from a single shifter.  You could use either semi-automatic shifting or reassign spare buttons.

Also worth noting, Di2 parts are pretty interchangable.  I have a GRX Di2 rear mech mixed in with an Ultegra groupset and it all works fine.

Avatar
Woldsman replied to lio | 1 year ago
0 likes

lio wrote:

marmotte27 wrote:

1000km battery autonomy? Wtf? There are bike rides that last longer than that... So with this, are we definitely in the sunday/cafe racer territory now (where you go for a ride with the bike on your car roof)?

To answer your question, no.  No we are not in "sunday/cafe" racer territory.

Not sure where you got your 1000Km figure from but Di2 isn't limited by range, it's limited by the number of shifts you use.

Loads of people have sucessfully used Di2 for PBP and LEL already, both those rides are over 1000Km.  Hydraulic Di2 is much easier on the hands over that sort of distance.

As for what to do if a "brifter" breaks, I think you'd be better off with Di2 because you can just reprogram it with your phone to run both derailleurs from a single shifter.  You could use either semi-automatic shifting or reassign spare buttons.

Also worth noting, Di2 parts are pretty interchangable.  I have a GRX Di2 rear mech mixed in with an Ultegra groupset and it all works fine.

I'm afraid I remain unconvinced of these sunlit uplands...

 

Avatar
Calc | 2 years ago
7 likes

Only the gear cable is 'more mechanical' in a mechanical groupset.  Electronic or wireless just get rid of the gear cable and replaces it with a battery powered mechanical to electronic system, sends a signal and then converts the electronic signal BACK to mechanical after the signal has travelled a little over 1m, whilst the whole rest of the groupset remains mechanical.

Really, what's the point?  A gear cable takes 5 minutes to install, won't go flat, won't go obsolete and costs a few dollars and you can pack a spare if you're travelling.

Avatar
marmotte27 replied to Calc | 2 years ago
0 likes

"won't go obsolete"
They'll manage that ere long...

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Calc | 2 years ago
7 likes

Calc wrote:

Only the gear cable is 'more mechanical' in a mechanical groupset.  Electronic or wireless just get rid of the gear cable and replaces it with a battery powered mechanical to electronic system, sends a signal and then converts the electronic signal BACK to mechanical after the signal has travelled a little over 1m, whilst the whole rest of the groupset remains mechanical.

Really, what's the point?  A gear cable takes 5 minutes to install, won't go flat, won't go obsolete and costs a few dollars and you can pack a spare if you're travelling.

That's not "all" an electronic groupset does, the crucial components are the electric motors that drive the front and rear mechs. I don't race so the speed of shifting doesn't matter to me, but the smoothness of electronic shifting is incredible and the self-adjusting nature of the system is invaluable, literally never had to adjust my gears (apart from the automatic spin-through when installing new chains/cassettes) since I got the bike about 40,000 kms ago. If you think a gear cable takes five minutes to install you've probably never tried doing one on a fully-internally-routed frame, definitely something I wouldn't care to try at the roadside. A slightly niche advantage is that if, like me, you have arthritis in your hands it saves a lot of pain on long rides being able to change gear at the tap of a button rather than the push of a lever, you might not think it would make that much difference but it really does.

None of these are deal breakers and I could live without Di2 (and do on my other three bikes), but it does have a point.

Avatar
IanMSpencer replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
3 likes

Have to agree it is the complaint of someone who has not ridden electronic shifting. Aside from your points, to me, being able to shift the front chain ring reliably under load is a big plus - mistimed changes going into steep hills can be coped with where mechanical will refuse, leaving you with a changed shifter, no change down and wondering whether you can unclip and dismount elegantly without taking the rest of the ride down.

Agree on the difficulty of roadside repairs to gear cables. I'm certainly not a fan of internal routing, but typically Shimano breaks in the hood (Campag will do the same I've recently found), and unless you are very lucky it can be a half hour job just to extract the old cable regardless of routing.

Similarly, having ridden disc brakes on the road since 2017, I wouldn't dream of returning to them, and the running costs are much lower, (and do disc pads cost more if you need SwissStop to get reliable braking?). Currently I am riding Ultegra with some dodgy brand off Amazon at £6 a pair and they are great. Did a gravel ride yesterday on what is essentially a road bike - most likely that single ride would have eaten a set of rim brake pads and consumed a significant amount of rim.

Whether the premium is acceptable is another matter, but the Shimano system is well thought through. To me, it's a similar comparison to having a modern automatic car - a modern auto gearbox has many subtle and not so subtle advantages over a manual car to the point that anyone arguing otherwise is descending into kiddology or has never driven an automatic over an extended period of time.

Avatar
kil0ran replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
1 like

Agree regarding ease of shifting, also benefits people with small hands/short fingers as the lever throw for a front shift is pretty long.

Having run Di2 (6870) for a while and then swapped that bike back to mechanical (mostly Tiagra 4700) it is undoubtedly faster and less fatiguing on longer rides. Not much difference but definitely there for me. 

As to ease of maintenance, the whole reason I upgraded that bike to Di2 was because I wasn't confident about routing cables and setting up shifting manually back then. I swapped it back over concerns about parts availability and price, after damaging the rear mech and having to wait for a couple of weeks for a replacement. When you think a used mechanical mech is typically less than £50 (£25 for a front) there's a big difference in running costs.

Not sure there's much of an issue routing inners on an internallly-cable bike, as long as the outer isn't damaged. I've not needed to do it (in fact I've never snapped a cable in almost 10 years of riding) but do carry a spare and pretty confident I could do it at the roadside on my bike with internal routing. As others have said the main issue is fishing the end out of the shifter - I carry the magnet from my internal routing kit for that eventuality.

Pages

Latest Comments