Shimano has today announced not one but two brand new groupsets: the cost-conscious performance road groupset, 105 mechanical; and the similarly-positioned gravel groupset, GRX.
We’ll cover the new GRX launch in a separate story – follow that link – but here we’re going to make like a good set of tyres and stick to the road, focussing on 105.
The big change with the new 105 groupset is a switch from 11 speed to 12, and like the electronic Di2 version of the groupset that launched last year, it’s disc brakes only, in yet another nail in the coffin for rim brakes.
Before we get into the details though, let’s go back in time a few years to look at 105’s position in the range. It sits on the third rung of the Shimano road groupset hierarchy, nestled neatly beneath flagship Dura-Ace and second-tier Ultegra. It has long represented excellent value for money as a groupset that closely matched the shifting and braking performance of its shinier stablemates, just with a weight penalty and perhaps a concession of ‘cool’.
But in recent years, both of those stablemates have evolved into electronic-only groupsets. In 2021, both Ultegra and Dura-Ace were upgraded to 12-speed, semi-wireless ‘Di2’ electronic groupsets, and the mechanical versions were removed from the range.
Last year, the same happened with 105. We reported that ‘cables are dead,’ as it looked like mechanical groupsets, at least those towards the premium end of the road market, were going the same way as the rim brake and tubular tyres. The new groupset also came with a significant price hike, meaning budget-conscious cyclists were being forced down the hierarchy, something Will Jones discussed in this feature at the time.
Returning back to the present day, we’re happy to report that Shimano hasn’t switched off the mechanical production line, and going one better than Spinal Tap, this 105 groupset has also been turned up to twelve.
Much of the new groupset will mirror the Di2 version launched last year, so there’s a bit of ‘old ground’ to go over with the basics, so we’ll do that first: It will form part of the R7100 series, and will use the same chainset and cassette options as you’ll find in the Di2 groupset. That means chainring configurations of 50/34T and 52/36T with five crank length choices ranging from 160mm to 175mm, and two cassette options of 11-34T or 11-36T. Full spec options are outlined in the table below.
It also means the same BR-7170 brake calipers,…