The Bike List

Groupsets: Shimano Tiagra 4600, 20 or 30 gears

Shimano's Tiagra groupset, last updated in 2011, is one step up from the Sora groupset and is common on road, cyclocross, flat-handlebar commuting and touring bikes between £600 and £2000. Shimano Tiagra cassettes feature on more expensive bikes, but this is usually a cost saving measure on bikes over £2000. The materials used throughout are a combination of aluminium and steel.

The road bike, dual-control integrated brake and gear levers allow you to operate both brakes and gears from the same position on the handlebars. Tiagra is the last of Shimano's groupsets to feature gear indicators, telling you which gear you are in and how many you have left in either direction. 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. The integrated cable adjusters are a useful addition that allows adjustments to be made on the fly. Although useful, the cable adjusters and gear cables which protrude from the side of the hoods, don't look as elegant as the Shimano 105 units (the next groupset up) which feature integrated cables within the brake/gear lever itself that run along the handlebar, under the grip tape instead. The shifters are reach-adjustable for those with smaller hands which can be done using 7.5 or 14mm shims.

The groupset is available with compact (50-34) and double (52-39) chainsets that provide 20 gears, or 30 gears in the form of a triple (50-39-30). The rear derailleur is limited to a maximum of 30 teeth on the cassette, which is two less than on Shimano's 2300, Claris and Sora groupsets and means Tiagra doesn't offer the same beginner- friendly wide gear ratios of the lower groupsets. Tiagra features Shimano's Hollowtech II bottom bracket standard that places the bearings on either end of the bottom bracket shell (the frame itself) allowing the use of a larger, stiffer spindle.

Shimano Tiagra is the only current Shimano groupset that offers 20 or 30 gears and because of this is not upward compatible with Shimano's next groupset Shimano 105 (5800 series) which offers 22 gears, making upgrading more expensive. Shimano's older 105 groupset (5700 series) is 10-speed, however, and compatible with Shimano Tiagra components. At the time of writing it's still available to buy as a complete groupset for around £300 with shifters, chainset, cassette, bottom bracket, brake callipers, front and rear derailleur, plus chain.

Strengths: Good value, wide gear range available (although not quite as wide as 2300, Sora and Claris), gear indicator, ideal for those new to cycling, integrated cable adjusted on hoods.

Weaknesses: Weight, limited compatibility, gear cables protrude from side of levers.

Price bracket of bikes that feature Tiagra: £600 to £2000

Chainsets available: Compact (50-34), Double (52-39) and Triple (50-39-30

Colour: Silver

How many road bikes on The Bike List feature 2300 components or groupset? 29% of all road/racing bikes.

Cost to buy Tiagra 4600 aftermarket components:

  • Road 10-speed STI brake/gear levers: £175
  • Chainset: double/compact £80, triple £85 (HollowTech II)
  • Road brake calipers (dual-pivot rim brake) £25 each
  • Front derailleur: £25-£27
  • Rear derailleur: £33-£35
  • Hubs: front £17, rear £25
  • Cassette (HG50): £23
  • Chain: £16 (CN-4601)
  • Bottom Bracket: £15 (HollowTech II)

Total cost of parts listed above: £459 - £468 (brake caliper x2). Available online from £250.

Click here to see all bikes that feature a Shimano Tiagra 4600 groupset or parts.

What does 105 offer that Tiagra doesn't?

Aside from being 11-speed instead of 10-speed, Shimano 105 as a whole groupset is lighter than Tiagra, improving the overall weight of any bike it features on. Shimano 105 offers smoother gear changes that require less movement of the gear levers to engage. Shimano 105 is often considered to be the first Shimano groupset for more serious cyclists that is suitable for racing as well as leisure use. Finally, 105 offers a wider gear as it'll accept cassettes with a 32-tooth large cog.

Next one up: Shimano 105 5800 22 gears