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Shimano has been one of the biggest names in the cycling industry when it comes to groupsets, components, wheels, and shoes, both in road cycling, mountain biking, and even on city bikes alike. The Japanese manufacturer produces groupsets and components for cyclists of all levels and in all disciplines. Road cyclists will know the great names like Shimano Ultegra, Shimano 105, or Shimano Dura Ace. Mountain bikers use groupsets like Shimano XT and Shimano Deore, amongst many others.
Most enthusiastic cyclists can’t imagine a world without Shimano groupsets. Mountain bikers and roadies alike have plenty to choose from when it comes to groupsets. There’s a fitting option for every rider, regardless of his or her level. We’ve created a short list of Shimano groupsets for road bikes and mountain bikes.
Shimano Road Bike Groupsets
The Shimano road bike groupsets have been categorised into a number of fixed formats for a few years now, which we’ll list below. It starts at Shimano Claris and Shimano Sora, and you end up with the top-tier Shimano Ultegra and Dura Ace groupsets. In between, you’ll find something which suits every kind of rider, be it for a Sunday-afternoon cruiser or a cat. A crit racer who spends his/her days riding his/her bike. Below is a short list of the various different groupsets.
Claris is a 2x8 groupset, meaning there are 2 chainrings in the front and 8 gears at the back. The groupset might be the simplest in the Shimano range, it still offers reliable performance at a low price. As there are just 8 gears on the cassette, the jumps between gears are a little bigger. The long cage rear derailleur does allow you to fit lighter gears, so you’ll manage to get up just about any mountain!
Shimano Sora combines the looks of the higher groupsets with sturdy build quality. The components are a little on the heavy side, but it does make them highly reliable under a wide range of conditions. The groupset has an extra cog over Claris, with a 2x9 drivetrain.
Shimano Tiagra used to be a fairly basic groupset, but it has undergone an impressive transformation over the last few years! The groupset borrows many properties of the high-end Dura Ace and Ultegra groupsets, such as the 4 arm crank design and the cable routing under the handlebar tape. Tiagra is the only 10-speed groupset in the Shimano line-up and offers reliable performance at a modest price.
Shimano 105 is the least expensive 11-speed groupset by Shimano. The build quality is as you’d expect from Shimano and the shift performance isn’t far off from the more expensive Ultegra and Dura Ace groupsets. A bike fitted with Shimano 105 will always get you where you want to go: from the highest mountains to the longest flats, you’ll always have the right gear for the job with 105 11-speed.
Shimano Ultegra offers shift performance which comes frighteningly close to Dura Ace, be it with a slight penalty to weight. The components are beautifully put together and offer race-ready performance. The parts may weigh heavier onto your wallet than the lower-tier 105 components, but they’re lighter on the bike. Ultegra parts perform beautifully under all conditions.
Shimano Dura Ace
The best of the best by Shimano: Dura Ace. This top-tier groupset is the weapon of choice for many pro riders and fans of beautiful componentry. Dura Ace is made using the lightest components and the highest possible quality offered by Shimano. If you’re looking for nothing but the best, then you really can’t ignore Dura Ace. Shimano Road Bike Disc Brakes Disc brakes for road bikes are becoming increasingly commonplace. Hydraulic disc brakes offer stopping power with improved modulation under challenging conditions like in the rain or on long descends. You currently find the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes on Dura Ace, Ultegra, 105, and Tiagra-tier groupsets. There’s even a Shimano Sora mechanical disc brake available. Shimano Di2: Electronic Shifting Shimano Dura Ace Di2 and Ultegra Di2 are two electronic road bike groupsets. Rather than mechanical cables, these groupsets use electrical impulses to shift the front- and rear derailleurs. This means shifts are more reliable, faster, and smoother. Dura Ace Di2 and Ultegra Di2 share a number of components with their mechanical counterparts, but they use their own shifters, front derailleur, and rear derailleur.
Shimano Mountain Bike Groupsets
Shimano mountain bike groupsets offer reliable shift performance under all conditions. No matter how much you challenge yourself or your gear, Shimano groupsets will help you push through, ranging from Shimano Deore or SLX to Shimano XTR, and everything inbetween.
The first true mountain bike groupset by Shimano. Double or even triple chainrings, hydraulic disc brakes, a nice finish; this groupset is the workhorse of the Shimano mountain bike groupsets. The components might not be the lightest or smoothest, but they do offer the renowned Shimano quality.
Shimano SLX is a relatively new groupset in the Shimano collection, but offers a lot of performance at a fair price. The Shadow+ rear derailleur and Ice Technology hydraulic disc brakes borrow part of their design from the higher groupsets, and offer great performance at an equally great price.
Shimano Deore XT
Shimano XT is the second-best mountain bike groupset by Shimano. Much of the technology and design matches that of the top-end XTR groupset, be it at a slightly higher weight and made from marginally less exotic materials. The shift performance and stopping power are phenomenal. The group offers something for everyone, ranging from cross-country and enduro to trail riders.
Shimano XTR is the best of the best when it comes to Shimano mountain bike groupsets. The latest technology, the lightest materials, the highest performance. This is what many pros have used to rack up numerous victories. Wherever you ride, however much you demand from your drivetrain, Shimano XTR is there for you with reliable and consistent performance. Shimano Deore XT Di2 and XTR Di2 For when the best simply isn’t good enough! The Shimano XT Di2 and XTR Di2 groupsets take the performance of their mechanical siblings, and raise it to a whole new level. Improved reliability, faster gear shifts; this is where electronic shifting excels over mechanically operated derailleurs. Fly around your local training course or shock your opponents with your performance at your next race with the Shimano XT Di2 and XTR Di2 groupsets.
The Shimano Steps system offers a comprehensive e-bike platform. The complete system is tuned to work together seamlessly in order to give you a comfortable and reliable e-bike. The battery, Steps centrally placed motor, and bar-mounted computer all work together to provide you with that little extra push. Headwind? Steep hill? Heavy shopping? Not a problem on an e-bike with Shimano Steps. It’s not without reason that more and more manufacturers choose to fit their top-range electrical bicycles with a Shimano Steps e-bike system!
Shimano has been providing new city bikes with dependable shift performance for years now through the Nexus hubs. The gear system doesn’t use a derailleur like road bikes or mountain bikes, instead relying on an internal mechanism to change up or down gears. The hubs are available as Shimano Nexus 3, Nexus 7, and Nexus 8. The number denotes how many gears are available to choose from. Front hubs also fall under the Shimano Nexus system, and are fitted with an internal hub dynamo, roller brake, or even both. The Nexus shifter and brake lever complete the set and ensure you experience optimal control and comfort on your city bike or e-bike.
Besides groupsets, Shimano has also been known to produce high-quality and reliable components for years now. From the immensely popular Shimano SPD and SPD-SL pedals to the Shimano wheelsets and related items. These days, Shimano even produce power meters which are integrated into the cranks! Shimano brake pads and brakes have also been a benchmark for years in the cycling industry, and the complimentary cable sets are equally impressive in their performance.
Shimano Power Meter
With the release of Shimano Dura Ace R9100, Shimano also announced her first own power meter. Integrated into the crankset of the R9100 groupset, the power meter is a small and discrete unit. A power meter can tell you exactly how much power you’re putting out at any given time, and communicates this data to your head unit or GPS navigation of choice through ANT+ or Bluetooth.
Shimano Cable Sets
Shimano brakes and derailleurs demand Shimano cables. The brake cables and derailleur cables are of the same impressive quality as the rest of Shimano’s components, and ensure you can get the most from your brakes and derailleurs. Pick an outer cable to match your road bike or mountain bike, or opt for the classic black cables; the choice is yours!
Shimano brakes have been considered a benchmark when it comes to stopping power to other manufacturers. The stopping power has been further enhanced when Shimano released the Dual-Pivot brakes and Direct Mount brakes. The former use a double hinge to apply an even amount of brake force to both sides of the rim. The Direct Mount brakes are bolted directly to your road bike frame through 2 bolts rather than 1, and form a stiffer, more aerodynamic whole with the bike. Naturally the matching Shimano brake pads are of an equally impressive high quality.
Shimano SPD and SPD-SL
Shimano Pedaling Dynamics, or SPD, is a well-known clipless pedal system used by beginners and pros alike. The Shimano SPD system uses small, recessed cleats which are fixed to your mountain bike shoes using 2 bolts. The locking mechanism prevents your feet from slipping off the pedals when you’re taking on technical trails or challenging cross-country rides. The matching SPD pedals lock onto the cleat and provide you with a stable platform from which you can maintain maximum control over your mountain bike. Naturally such a system would work well on the road too. For that, Shimano created the Shimano SPD-SL system. A larger cleat with a 3-point mount under the shoe, creating a more efficient power transfer system and a wider pressure load area. The cleat locks into the Shimano SPD-SL pedal which is available in a number of guises, ranging from the basic SPD-SL R540 aluminium pedals to the lightweight carbon SPD-SL R9100 Dura Ace pedals. Pedals and cleats alone aren’t enough, so Shimano also came up with a full range of cycling shoes for both road bike and mountain bike.
Shimano Cycling Shoes
Shimano cycling shoes fall under 2 different categories: road bike shoes and mountain bike shoes. The Shimano road bike shoes have a 3-point cleat mount under the smooth soles. The shoes have an aerodynamic design and often use BOA wires, Velcro straps, buckles, or a combination of multiple systems. Shimano mountain bike cycling shoes have a coarser tread for added grip on muddy or soggy surfaces. The cleats are attached using 2 bolts under the sole and have a different shape to the SPD-SL cleats. The soles of Shimano cycling shoes are made from nylon, glass fibre, carbon, or a mix of these materials. The cycling shoes with nylon soles are a little less expensive and more flexible. The carbon cycling shoes are stiffer and offer a more efficient power transfer to the pedals, but come at a higher cost.
Shimano wheels complete the drivetrain. Shimano produces cables, brakes, pedals, chains, cassettes, cranks, shifters, front- and rear derailleurs, and shoes; wheels constitute the logical final link in the proverbial chain. Shimano Wheels are available for both road bikes and mountain bikes. The known Shimano RS81 C50 and RS81 C35 wheels are a familiar choice for many who want to upgrade their road bike wheels, but lightweight climbing wheels are also available such as the Shimano Dura Ace R9100 C24 wheels. Mountain bikers can enjoy a good trail thrashing with the insanely strong yet lightweight Shimano XT M8000 mtb wheels or the XTR M9000 mountain bike wheelset. The Shimano MTB wheels are fantastic for enthusiastic XC mountain bikers or fans of beautiful gear looking to steal a few KOM’s or QOM’s on their local trails.