Shimano Gears Best to Worst: Road Bike Groupsets List in 2023
Nowadays, bicycles have become a popular asset to own. Whether it be for burning some extra calories or going around in the neighborhood, owning a bicycle makes it all very easy. If you’re already familiar with bicycle brands, then you are no stranger to the Japanese groupset manufacturer Shimano.
They are certainly one of the heavyweights when it comes to bike parts, manufacturing everything from the gears to brakes. When you’re investing in a bicycle or even building one from scratch, the individual components might have you puzzled. So, today we are going to look at Shimano gears from best to worst to help you choose or build the right bike for you!
Shimano Gears Best to Worst Review
We have put a considerable amount of time into our research to present to you our top 5 picks. The review of these five groupsets will help you to get the best Shimano gears you can find in the market. So let’s get right to it!
1. Shimano Ultegra R8000 Groupset
If you’re looking to gain some high-speed action on your bike, you can’t go wrong with the Ultegra R8000. With its upgraded aesthetics from its predecessor, the Ultegra 6800, this will definitely get your bike zooming across the streets. This groupset follows a similar design pattern to a lot of the higher-end brands.
There is a great development in brake lever shape if we compare it with its previous versions. It is not only comfortable to hold on to but also takes very less effort while using the brakes with fingers. The upgraded grip on the gear shifters offers a premium feel to the bike. Also, the derailleurs have been improved to give you smoother shifts in gear.
The cranks are made of aluminum and followed the Hollowtech technology. In this tech, arms are made clear of all internal materials to reduce the weight but yet remain stiff. The chainset comes in 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, and 175mm crank lengths and available chainrings are 53/39, 52/36, 50/34, and 46/36 in size.
Also, the front and rear derailleurs are of great quality that makes sure easy but smooth shifting of your gear. Dual pivot rim brakes are there for the front and rear brakes of these Shimano bike gears. Undoubtedly the hydraulic braking system will amaze you with its performance. The plating on the chain has made it smooth and durable at the same time.
Furthermore, we must applaud Shimano on their ability to build such lightweight groupsets that don’t compromise on quality. The Ultegra R8000 is just another example of this. They have spent a good amount of time reducing the weight of their predecessor, the Ultegra 6800. The reduction in weight decreases the overall weight of the bike, enabling it to reach high speeds.
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2. Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 Compact Groupset
It is safe to say, the Dura-Ace R9100 is considered to be one of Shimano’s high-end products. This groupset provides you with a wide variety of options to choose from when building your bike, ranging from hydraulic disc brakes to even a power meter! Let’s talk about aesthetics! This series of groupsets have been designed with sharp edges, adding to your bike’s overall sleek design.
Also, the crank arm features an asymmetric design, which reduces weight and aids the smooth-shifting mechanism. To make sure of shorter chainstays it has been reduced by 5mm down to 410 mm and the inner chainring is now closer to the center line of the bike. The new Dura-Ace R9100 series features a new set of derailleurs that are similar in design to the brand’s mountain bike components.
These new derailleurs have now a cable tension adjuster. So, no in-line barrel adjuster will be needed while the bike assembling process. This adaptation ensures the longevity of the rear mech, in case you crash into anything. There is a reshape featured in the brakes so that they can accept 28mm tires on wide rims.
The brake levers were also improved to maximize the comfort of the riders. A more precise and classic push pad has been added to the rear shift paddles. The STI units have been reworked as it is a vital point and the slim lightweight lever body has now got an improved adjustment facility.
What’s more, the improved derailleur will be compatible with any gear system of your choosing, which includes the 11-30 cassette. While this is a compact variant, you can also get its standard variant, which features a large chainring of 53 teeth and a smaller ring of 39 teeth.
3. Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 Standard Groupset
Next, we present to you the standard variant of the Shimano Dura-Ace R9100. Shimano has spent quite a lot of their time getting the details right with this one, as it is super lightweight and provides smooth shifting of the gear. What’s more, this groupset comes equipped with brakes that are angular in design, making them much slimmer.
This groupset will definitely make you happy as they offer bike components like hydraulic disc brakes, a power meter, a wide range of gears, an increased selection of wheels, and modified designs all together in this set. The derailleurs this Shimano bike gears groupset has are mainly from their mountain bike options. It certainly reduces the chance of damaging the rear mech in a crash.
This groupset has a tidier power meter that hides the electronics very well and makes it look great. Shimano has successfully embraced road bike discs by including hydraulic brakes in the Dura-Ace line. Also, in the case of rim brakes, 9100 Dura-Ace calipers can now accommodate 28mm tires for their updated design.
This is great to add to the minimalistic look of your bike. And, the brake calipers have been reinvented to be compatible with 28mm tires, offering you more flexibility. The weight on this group set will amaze you! Shimano has gone to extreme lengths to reduce the weight as much as possible. While the Ultegra’s shifter pair weighs 295 grams, the Dura-Ace shifters weigh 230 grams.
The derailleurs have an aluminum construction, which reduces the weight further, compared to steel construction groupsets. You must try Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 Standard Groupset as it passes the Shimano gear ranking with honor. Doing races or going long distances will be nothing tough for you with this groupset.
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4. Shimano SLX M7000 Complete Group
If you love the thrill of going on a trail or exploring the mountains, then this groupset is perfect for you. Bringing together some of the best features in the mid-range off-road category, you cannot miss the SLX M7000. This product features Shimano’s innovative Dynamic Chain Engagement system, which brings smoothness to the shifting mechanism.
This feature also significantly reduces the chances of dropping your chain on those rocky terrains. Furthermore, the shift levers featured in this groupset are exceptional as they allow you to shift multiple gears in one stroke. With one stroke on the Rapidfire Plus shifters, you can go three gears down! This simplistic functionality yields a more stable and seamless shift in gears.
There are four mounting options available in the front derailleurs. They are High Direct Mount (tested), Low Direct Mount, High Clamp, and Low Clamp. And, the rear derailleur comes in two cage lengths, one is 2×10 specific SG medium (tested), and the other one is 3×10 specific SGS long. The cranks in the set are there in a 2×10 version with 38-24, 38-26, and 40-28 gearing options.
You will love the brakes as there is a reservoir along with a reach adjust lever. Also, there are two machine calipers with 22mm ceramic pistons. The hubs on the SLX M7000 have been built with longevity in mind. And the angular contact bearings and super strong sealing allow it to withstand all sorts of weather conditions.
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5. Shimano SLX M7000 175mm Complete Group
If you’re searching for a sturdy mechanical groupset, then look no further. The SLX M7000 175mm features a strong transmission along with a well-performing mechanical crankset. Surprisingly enough, this is an 11-speed transmission groupset at a very affordable price. When it comes to the braking mechanism, the SLX M7000 puts up a tough fight against most higher-priced groupsets.
The resin pads on the calipers provide for smooth and easy deceleration. This product features an improved chainring design, and narrow and rounded teeth prevent the chain from dropping. With this rider will feel more comfortable and relaxed even while riding for a long time. If we rank Shimano derailleurs best to worst group set, it will be a moderate choice.
You will get fluorine-coated pivot pins along with direct-mount options, and an adjustable-tension clutch with this set. There will also be double-sealed jockey wheels on the rear mech part. An additional 26g will be added to the weight of your bike for the crankset. There are two arm lengths available which are 170mm and 175mm.
The Hollowtech arms use a DCE steel ring in a composite carrier. It gives a lot more chain retention safety. That is a great update from the previous versions. And this new design is the perfect match for the rear mech that comes with it, giving you a smooth and stable ride all throughout.
We must talk about the most attention-grabbing element of the groupset, the cranks. The 11-speed transmission is well-managed efficiently with the newer crank designs. Furthermore, using the same crank arm, the SLX M7000 will give you both 1×11 and 2×11 settings.
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How Can You Choose the Best One
Choosing the right groupset depending on your preferences might be a bit tricky, given all the eye-catching features they provide. Let’s look at some pointers laid down below to aid your purchase decision.
Whether you are building a bike or purchasing one, you need to be clear about its purpose. If the bike is a casual traveling bike, then you wouldn’t have to focus much on the weight of the groupset. However, if you want a racing bike, you will want to get your hands on groupsets that offer super-lightweight components. The lighter the weight, the more acceleration you will be able to get out of it.
The two most popular braking systems are the disc brakes and the rim brakes. And the disc brake will offer you more precision and almost an instant braking experience. The rim brakes, on the other hand, have brake pads that press up against the rim of your tires in order to stop the bike, providing a softer braking experience.
The shifters on your bike are like switches that enable you to change your gears. High-quality shifters offer smooth and fluid shifting, some may not even make the clicking noise! It is important to pay attention to the shifters as you will be using them quite a bit. Some people do prefer clicky and stiff shifters for a more mechanical feeling, but that’s up to personal preference.
There can be three types of chainsets, they are Single-ring chainsets, Double chainsets, and Triple chainsets. The single chain has a one-by system having single chainring, double chainring has two and triple chainring has three chainrings. There are cranks in the chainset and they are attached to the pedals. As crank arm lengths vary, you must check which one fits your purpose.
They can go from 160 to 180mm. Longer cranks enhance more effective gear and shorter cranks offer wider ground clearance.
When you see all the components together, the main connecting point of them is the cassette. Your rear wheel will only turn quickly if the cassette spins fast. All the other components are made in such a way that enables the cassette to spin fast. The number of gear sprockets on your cassette and the number along with the size of the front chainring determines the gear ratio of a bike.
So, while choosing the best group set, you must look for sturdy and well-built cassettes to enjoy a smoother ride and great speed.
You must also look for a good quality chain as it will affect your riding experience in many ways. The chain must be sturdy and long-lasting. Performance bikes offer assistance in shifting gears with small ramps. There are strong roller pins inside the chain links of quality chains. They help initiate the power transfer in a soother way. Some chains may offer wear-resistant coating, some may not.
Derailleurs play a vital role if we see the gears and their work procedure. They help to move the chain from one sprocket to the next. Small motors or cables help the derailleurs to process this shifting. There are front and rear derailleurs but the rear one handles the cassettes of different sizes. They must comply with the cassettes in speed and range.
Some derailleurs have ceramic bearings in their jockey wheels. You must also look at the front derailleur options if they are band-on or braze-on. They mean there can be a circular clamp to attach the frame or derailleurs can be bolted to the frame.
This is very important when it comes to settling on a groupset. The various speed settings enable you to go up slopes or gain high speeds with ease. For example, if you are into trailing and riding across mountains, the 11-speed transmission groupset would be perfect for you. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a bike to ride on flat roads, you can just get a groupset with a lower speed setting. It all comes down to preference!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I buy separate parts instead of a complete groupset?
Buying separate parts rather than a complete groupset is a more economical option. However, you need to be careful whether all your components will be compatible with the separate parts you’re looking to add. Purchasing a complete groupset is always the best way to go, as the individual components are tested to work best with their original group.
2. How can I choose the best groupset?
Depending on your preferences, you should be able to make a sound decision. Focus on your budget, this will allow you to narrow down your options. You will also need to know the exact dimensions of your wheels, and cassette fittings in order to buy a compatible groupset.
3. Can I upgrade my gear from 9-speed to 10-speed settings?
Yes, you can. To upgrade, you simply need to change the shifters, chain, and cassette with the newer transmission parts. Check the compatibility of the gears but mostly they can be upgraded as the newer versions do allow these changes.
4. What are the levels of Shimano gears?
Shimano gears can be divided into three levels; Entry-level, Performance-level, and Pro-level. Claris R2000, Sora R3000, and Tiagra 4700 are Shimano’s entry-level gears. Performance-level gears of Shimano have got 105 R7000, 105 Di2, and Ultegra R8100. If you want more and like to go for the Pro-level gears of Shimano, you will see the Dura-Ace line up there such as Shimano Dura-Ace R9200.
5. Which Shimano gear is the best?
If we survey the reviews and take rider opinions, it can be said that Shimano 105 can be considered one of the best options for a performance groupset of Shimano. This groupset ensures value for the price and long-lasting performance. Dura-Ace and Ultegra are also great options after Shimano 105 and they both deliver outstanding performance.
Among all the Shimano best to worst gears in our list of reviews, the Dura-Ace 9100 is undoubtedly one of the toppers. With its lightweight construction and flexibility, you will be cutting through the air at great speeds! But if you are looking for something more affordable, we’d suggest the Ultegra R8000.
It is important to understand your preferences and what you are looking for. Your budget and preference will guide you to the best Shimano gears you can pick. Our buying guide along with the reviews will help you understand the groupset for road bikes better and lead you to your desired product.