105 is often considered to be the working cyclist’s groupset thanks to a reputation of being reliable and more attainable than its big brothers Dura-Ace and Ultegra. Well, this year it’s 40 years old and to celebrate there’s a new generation R7100... but unfortunately for some, mechanical shifting and rim brakes aren’t invited to the party.
The highly anticipated Shimano 105 R7100 groupset brings Di2 (Digital Integrated Intelligence) performance to the 105 line for the first time. There’s also 12-speed, wireless shifting and a price tag of £1,730.
Here are the main changes in bullet-point format:
Just as expected 105 has joined the 12-speed club, but retains the smallest size cassette cog of 11T which means that it is backwards compatible with current 11-speed freehub equipped wheels.
By moving to a 12-speed cassette, Shimano says it has managed to provide both the high and low gearing that riders want, along with an intelligent progression of gear steps in between.
The new crankset is available in 50-34 and 52-36 varieties, features Hollowtech ii technology and is available in 165, 170, 172.5 and 175mm crank lengths. It is worth noting that Shimano says the 52-36 chainset will not be available immediately, but doesn’t specify what sort of time scale we’re looking at.
Those chainsets are paired to just two cassette options, one of which is available now, that being an 11-34T. There will also be an 11-36T option coming at a later date to provide a sub-1:1 gear combination for really steep slopes.
The rear derailleur has a longer cage than on the more expensive models to cope with the larger range cassettes, and just like on those models this is where the brains of the system are housed. It’s also here that you will find the battery charging point as well as the wireless connection to Shimano’s STI shifters and other third-party devices (replacing the EW-WU111 wireless unit on previous-generation Di2).
A reminder that both the front and the rear derailleur has a wired connection to the battery which we expect to last about 1,000km (625 miles) between charges.
The front derailleur has a larger body than on the current generation Dura-Ace or Ultegra groupsets, and instead looks more like the previous generation R8000/R9100 design. This is likely to reduce costs, but we don't know for sure.
The main news here is that the shifters can be set up wireless just like we’ve seen on other Shimano groupsets. This is a hybrid system, featuring a wireless cockpit paired with a wired connection between the single seat-tube-stored battery and the front and rear derailleurs. As expected, the R7100 system can be customised via Shimano’s E-TUBE PROJECT App on your smartphone, where you can alter the number of shifts per button actuation and utilise the Synchronised and Semi-Synchro shifting functionality.
The new shifters look to be a similar shape to the current generation Dura-Ace and Ultegra varieties, with Shimano stating the new Shimano 105 dual control levers “feature unparalleled ergonomics and refinements following pro rider feedback, where a raised hood peak and new lever shape enhance comfort and control in every riding position.”
Braking is also claimed to be improved thanks to a lighter, smoother lever action and expanded braking control area.
The levers utilise Shimano’s proprietary wireless integrated circuit that features high–security, fast processing speed and low power consumption. Shimano says that compared to other wireless platforms this gives users a significant decrease in interference probability, faster shift speeds and longer battery life. There are no published figures on battery life as of yet, but we do know that the shifters are powered by coin-style CR1632 batteries. We imagine the stats will be similar to Ultegra, which are expected to last 18 months to two years with typical use.
This section can be a lot shorter than usual as there’s just one option, and that’s hydraulic disc brakes. I’m sure the number of comments on this will make up for it…
Once again there are some clear similarities between these and the more expensive Dura-Ace and Ultegra options, and Shimano says that it has a “revamped braking system that’s quieter, easier to maintain, and feels more controlled and powerful.” These also feature the 10% wider pad-to-rotor clearance to reduce the chances of rubbing and unwanted noise. Shimano says that home mechanics will also appreciate an improved and user-friendly bleed process that can be performed without removing the calliper from the frame.
The theme of cheaper trickle-down technology continues with the new RS710 wheels, which bring carbon down to 105 level for the first time. There are two new wheelsets, those being the C32 designed for climbing and the C46 for all-around use. Both non-series wheels share some clear similarities with the C36 and C50 Dura-Ace and Ultegra wheel options, and are both 11 and 12-speed compatible and tubeless-ready.
The C32 features a 32mm rim height, 21mm internal rim width and a claimed weight of 1,502g.
The C46 is 46mm deep, has a 21mm internal rim width and a claimed weight of 1,610g.
Here’s a breakdown of individual component weights compared to the more expensive Ultegra R8100 groupset, and Sram’s (quite literally) Rival groupset. (Groupsets are disc brake and electronic shifting versions)
|Groupset Component||Shimano R7100 (105)||Shimano R8100 (Ultegra)||Sram Rival AXS HRD|
|Bottom bracket||Not specified||66||Not specified|
|Brake calliper||282||282||Inc w/ shifter|
|Brake hose||110||60||Inc w/ shifter|
Here are the prices for Shimano 105 R7100 individual components:
|Groupset Component||Price (GBP)|
|R7100 double chainset||£169.99|
|RS520 double chainset||£119.99|
|Cassette (11-36T) *Available later||£84.99|
|STI shifters & brake set||£349.99|
|SM-RT64 Deore rotors (per unit)||£26.99|
|Front wheel (C32 or C46)||£479.99|
|Rear wheel (C32 or C46)||£519.99|
|E-Tube individual wires||From £24.99|
|E-Tube BB junction||From £20.99|
The groupset price including RT64 brake rotors, CNM7100 chain with E-tube battery and wires will set you back £1,730, which is a £669 or ~28% saving compared to the 12-speed Ultegra R8100 groupset. That has an RRP of £2,399 and doesn’t include brake rotors.
Shimano says the groupset is available to purchase right now, however, we do expect this to be in limited numbers.
Are you sad to see the demise of rim brakes or mechanical groupsets? Let us know in the comments as well as your feelings on the new groupset…
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...