The Bike List

Groupsets: Shimano 105 5800, 22 gears

Shimano's 105 groupset, last updated in April 2014, is one step up from the Tiagra groupset and is common on road, cyclocross, commuting, touring and triathlon bikes between £850 and £3000. Shimano 105 cassettes feature on more expensive bikes, but this is usually a cost saving measure on bikes over £2500. The materials used throughout are a combination of aluminium and steel with the exception of the 5800 series pedals, which use a carbon-fibre body.

The dual-control integrated brake and gear levers allow you to operate both brakes and gears from the same position on the handlebars. Shimano 105 is seen by many as the first of the performance groupsets and as such doesn't feature gear indicators as found on Tiagra and lower grouspets. To shift down a gear (to a harder gear on the rear for example) you simply press the paddle located behind the brake lever. To shift up a gear (to an easier gear on the rear) requires the brake lever itself to be pressed inwards, which will also bring the paddle with it. As Shimano 105 is more performance oriented than Tiagra the distance the brake levers must travel to actuate a gear change is less to allow for faster and easier shifting. The 5800 series front derailleur has a significantly longer pull arm which has increased the leverage and reduced the effort required to shift the front mech which is especially noticeable when under load, riding uphill for example. The gear/brake levers also follow an arc as they are pressed in to ensure they do not move further away from your fingers as you press through to change gear, a useful feature for anyone with smaller hands and when changing gears on the drops. The reach is also adjustable by up to 10mm for those with smaller hands and does not require the use of plastic shims as with Tiagra and lower-range groupsets.

Shimano 105 (5800) features Shimano's new four-arm chainset design which was first introduced on Shimano's top end Dura-Ace groupset. This clever new design allows for 22 speed standard road double (53-39, semi-compact (52-36), and compact (50-34) chainrings to be used on the same chainset. Previously this would have required two chainsets with different BCD's (Bolt Circle Diameters). Any bike that features the new Shimano 105 chainset is therefore more versatile, allowing for easy gear ratio changes that can help make a bike more hill friendly or racing specific with just a change of chainrings costing around £50-£55 instead of £120 for a new chainset. The introduction of the four-arm chainset has however meant that Shimano 105 is no longer available as a triple. The rear derailleur is designed to offer a wide gear range, and will accept cassettes with a large cog up to 32 teeth which, when combined with compact (50-34) chainrings, is ideal for anyone new to road cycling or riding in very hilly areas, and offsets the fact that there is no longer a triple.

Previously, Shimano 105 (5700 series) was available with 20 gears or 30 gears in the form of a triple. However, the new Shimano 105 features 22 gears and as such is upwards-compatible with the two mechanical (non-electronic) groupsets above it, Ultegra and Dura-Ace. Shimano 105 22 speed cassettes and chains are compatible with both electronic groupsests (Ultegra Di2 and Dura-Ace Di2) and sometimes appear on more expensive bikes as a cost-saving measure. We wouldn't be at all surprised if Shimano released an electronic 105 groupset at some stage in the next few years, potentially bringing electronic shifting to an additional 20-25% of road bike models.

Shimano 105 is widely regarded as Shimano's road bike groupset that strikes the balance between price and performance better than any other and as such has become a popular choice for enthusiasts as well as racers on a budget. The groupset is available in both silver and black.

Strengths: Strikes a great balance of price and performance making it ideal for new and experienced cyclists, super wide gear range available with 22 gears on offer, four- arm chainset design offers standard road double, semi-compact and compact chairing options, upwards compatible with 22 speed mechanical Ultegra and Dura-Ace, smaller gear lever movement required for gear changes, less effort required for front derailleur gear changes.

Weaknesses: Heavier than Ultegra, requires 11-speed rear hub so could also require a wheel upgrade if retro-fitting.

Price bracket of bikes that feature 105: £850 to £3000

Chainsets available: Compact (50-34), Semi-Compact (52-36) and Standard Road Double (53-39)

Colours: Silver and black

How many road bikes on The Bike List feature 105 components or groupset? 35% of all road/racing bikes.

Cost to buy 105 5800 aftermarket components:

  • Road 11-speed STI brake/gear levers: £180
  • Chainset: double, compact, semi-compact: £120 (HollowTech II)
  • Road brake calipers (rim brake) £35-£40 each
  • Brake caliper (disc brake without rotor): £42
  • Front derailleur: £26
  • Rear derailleur: £37-£40
  • Hubs: front £25, rear £45
  • Pedals (road) SPD-SL: £80 (Carbon body) 285g per pair
  • Cassette (CS-5800): £38-£42
  • Chain: £22 (CN-HG600)
  • Bottom bracket: £18 (HollowTech II)

Total cost of parts listed above excluding disc brake: £661-£678 (rim brake caliper x2). Available online from £300, with rim brakes but excluding pedals.

Click here to see all bikes that feature a Shimano 105 5800 groupset or parts.

What does Ultegra offer that 105 doesn't?

Shimano Ultegra is seen as a performance groupset and as such is lighter as a whole than Shimano 105, improving the overall weight of any bike that features it. The effort required to change up and down the gears on the rear cassette has been reduced making for easier shifting. Overall the feel of Ultegra is subtly more solid and snappy thanks in part to improved parts within most of the components that make up the groupset.

Next groupset up: Shimano Ultegra 6800 (mechanical) 22 gears

To read our Shimano 105 news story from April 2014 click here.