Shimano road bike groupsets: know your Tiagra from your Dura-Ace Di2

Enve Builders Roundup 2022 - Retrotec Road
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Having recently celebrated its 100th birthday, Shimano has a deep-rooted history in the sport of cycling. It is one of the biggest names in the business for producing high-quality components across all cycling disciplines, from road to mountain bikes, commuters and electric bikes and more, Shimano is a market leader in cycling. 

The brand is best known for its groupsets, of which there are dozens to choose from, and the abundance of options can be quite confusing, so in this guide, we'll outline all of the Shimano road bike groupsets, so you can make informed decisions when choosing how to set up your bikes in future. 

Separately, we have a full round-up of the best road bike groupsets, a detailed rundown of Shimano gravel groupsets, as well as deep dives into Shimano's main competitors: SRAM and Campagnolo

Shimano's range-topping Dura-Ace series provides the ultimate in road bike performance, fit for the biggest races in the world, while its Ultegra and 105 groupsets cater for more budget-conscious racers and endurance riders.

At the end of 2021, the Japanese company introduced a long-awaited upgrade to 12-speed, electronic-only shifting for Dura-Ace and Ultegra, and this trickled down to 105 in 2022. For those who want to stick with 11-speed or mechanical options, the previous versions of each groupset still exist, although there are some availability issues as a result of the pandemic.    

Closer to the entry-level end of the road bike market, Shimano's Tiagra groupset provides reliable performance and durability at an even lower cost, benefiting from technology and performance that trickles down from Dura-Ace.

Continue reading for Cyclingnews' roundup on all of Shimano's currently available road groupsets. 

Shimano road groupsets

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Shimano Dura-Ace R9200

(Image credit: Daniel Gould)
Shimano's top-of-the-range groupset is electronic-only and 12-speed

Specifications

Shifting: Electronic
Braking: Rim or disc
Speeds: 2x12
Weight: 2,438g
Cranks: 160mm, 165mm, 167.5mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm, 177.5mm
Chainrings: 50/34, 52/36, 54/40
Cassette: 11-30T, 11-34T
RRP Rim: Starting from £3,200 / $3,876.88
RRP Disc: Starting from £3,631.87 / $4,398.86

Reasons to buy

+
12-speed
+
Build around electronic-shifting
+
Semi-wireless
+
Improved Hyperglide+ sprockets
+
More comfortable and better-looking cockpit
+
Disc-brake lever improvements

Reasons to avoid

-
Price
-
No mechanical shifting option
-
Fewer chainring and cassette options

Shimano's eagerly anticipated Dura-Ace R9200 upgrade delivered 12-speed, electronic-only shifting and a semi-wireless setup. After a nearly five-year wait, none of this was unexpected but, when it did finally arrive, it reaffirmed Shimano's place at the top of the groupsets hierarchy.

The move from 11-speed to 12 was something Shimano had to follow after rivals SRAM and Campagnolo had already added an extra cog. Shimano overhauled its sprocket technology on the cassette with Hyperglide+, an evolution of Hyperglide providing faster, 'shockless' shifts in any gear thanks to a new ramped tooth profile and revised 'sweet spot' gearing between the sixth, seventh and eighth sprockets. 

There are two cassette options: 11-30T and 11-34T which can be mated with three chainring configurations (50/34T, 52/36T and 54/40T). The Japanese company made the decision to bin the 53/39T chainring option citing it was no longer commercially viable, choosing to replace it with the 54/40T option as requested by professional teams. Crankarm lengths span 160 to 177.5mm and, as with the previous iteration of Dura-Ace, there is the option for an integrated power meter in the crankarms.

The introduction of a wireless interface communication system is considered 'semi-wireless' because, while there is no longer a wired connection between the controls and drivetrain, there's still a need for a central battery to connect the front and rear derailleurs. To address the shifting delay challenges often associated with wireless systems, Shimano made the signal response and motor actuation faster than before – shift response times are now 58 per cent faster at the rear and 45 per cent faster at the front. 

The front derailleur (FD-R9250) has taken on a sleeker appearance complete with a smoke-look cage. Not only does it weigh just 96g, but Shimano has also reduced the frontal area over the outgoing version by 33 per cent. 

The rear derailleur (RD-R9250) is more refined, boasting a one-cage-fits-all philosophy designed to work with cassettes ranging from 11-28 to 11-34T. To simplify the fitting process across multiple bike platforms, the charging port has been relocated to the rear derailleur and the cable is now cross-compatible with the optional power meter.

The cockpit has a cleaner and more-ergonomic layout. There is an inward-tilting aero profile and an increased offset between the two Di2 buttons on the lever, adding an extra layer of comfort over the outgoing Dura-Ace.

While mechanical shifting is gone, rim brakes remain an option. For those using discs, there are a host of improvements, starting with an updated lever action. Taken from Shimano’s MTB and Gravel braking systems, Servowave applies greater braking power with improved control. In addition, a 10 per cent wider brake pad and rotor clearance and a switch towards Shimano’s RT-MT900 rotors results in a quieter system.

Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7

(Image credit: Specialized)

Dura-Ace R9150/R9170

Huge levels of customisation in the former flagship 11-speed option

Specifications

Shifting: Electronic
Braking: Rim (R9150) or disc (R9170)
Speeds: 2x11
Weight: 2,403g
Cranks: 165mm, 167.5mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm, 177.5mm, 180mm
Chainrings: 50/34, 52/36, 53/39, 54/42, 55/42
Cassette: 11-25T, 11-28T, 11-30T, 12-25T, 12-28T
RRP Rim: Starting from £2,920 / $3,486 / AU$5,100
RRP Disc: Starting from £3,163 / $3,776 / AU$5,520

Reasons to buy

+
Lack of required maintenance
+
Lowest weight Shimano groupset
+
Premium materials
+
Crank length options
+
Optional integrated power meter

Reasons to avoid

-
Besides a weight reduction, it doesn't offer much that the cheaper Ultegra can't do

Until the R9200 came along towards the end of 2021, Dura-Ace Di2 R9150/R9170 represented the pinnacle of Shimano's road groupset range, delivering Tour de France-winning performance. It differs from the newer version mainly in that it is 11-speed.

The RD-R9150 rear derailleur takes cues from Shimano's mountain bike technologies, with a low profile and more aerodynamic Shadow design, and the ability to handle cassettes up to 30T. The front derailleur had mainly cosmetic updates from the Dura-Ace R9070 series and the ST-R9150 Dual Control lever (what Shimano calls its integrated shifter and brake levers) ergonomics were also refined, with a subtly improved hood shape and texture, increased lever reach adjustability and greater tactile feedback from the shifter buttons.

Dura-Ace R9150/R9170 also gained a number of Synchro Shift options which enables the system to automatically choose the optimal front and rear gearing combination, based on the rider's selection of either an easier or harder gear (programmable to any combination of shift buttons the user wishes to choose). For those wishing to retain more control, there is also a Semi-Synchro Shift mode that will simultaneously shift the rear derailleur whenever the rider shifts the front derailleur, in order to help the rider maintain a similar gear ratio and cadence after shifting. Alternatively, the system can still be used in the standard manual mode, where the rider retains complete control over gearing selection.

Via an EW-WU111 E-TubeE wireless unit, the system can communicate via ANT+/Bluetooth LE with compatible accessories such as cycle computers and smartphones/tablets. Shimano's E-Tube Project app can then be used to easily customise the system or update its firmware.

Continuing the theme of increased options for customisation and connectivity, Dura-Ace R9150/R9170  has a total of three different types of its Di2 Junction A box; one traditional option that sits under the stem, another that resembles a bar end plug, that can be used with compatible handlebars, and a final option that can be placed inside compatible frames, such as the Cannondale Supersix Evo.

The chainset features an asymmetric crank arm design, and it also gets a chainline and teeth profiles that have been optimised for use on bikes with disc-brake systems.

For the first time, a version of the crankset with an integrated, dual-sided power meter was made available directly from Shimano. The ANT+ and Bluetooth LE compatible FC-R9100-P claims over 300 hours of ride time from its internal rechargeable battery, +/-2% accuracy (with active temperature compensation), and to be waterproof in all conditions.

The Dura-Ace R9100 rim brakes saw a 43 per cent increase in stiffness (compared to Dura-Ace R9000 series rim brakes), improved feel and stopping power, clearance for up to 28c tyres and a quick release lever that tucks into the main body of the brake for improved aerodynamics. The R9100 brakes are available in centre mount or direct mount, with an additional option for direct mount under bottom brackets.

Dura-Ace R9170 also saw the official introduction of hydraulic-disc brakes at the Dura-Ace level (until then, hydraulic disc brakes were considered non-series by Shimano).

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Dura-Ace R9100/R9120

The pinnacle of mechanical bicycle gearing and cheaper than Di2

Specifications

Shifting: Mechanical
Braking: Rim (R9100) or disc (R9120)
Speeds: 2x11
Weight: 2,438g
Cranks: 165mm, 167.5mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm, 177.5mm, 180mm
Chainrings: 50/34, 52/36, 53/39, 54/42, 55/42
Cassette: 11-25T, 11-28T, 11-30T, 12-25T, 12-28T
RRP Rim: Starting from £1,649 / $1,970 / AU$3,000
RRP Disc: Starting from £1,830 / $2,184 / AU$3,199

Reasons to buy

+
Premium materials
+
Crank length options
+
Optional integrated power meter

Reasons to avoid

-
Price
-
Slightly heavier than Dura-Ace Di2
-
Mechanical groupsets require more maintenance than Di2

Despite its focus on Di2, Shimano didn't rest on its laurels with the 9100 generation of mechanical Dura-Ace, with similar improvements across the board.

The Dual Control lever ergonomics were refined in line with their Di2 counterparts, across both the rim and hydraulic disc brake models. Both gained a shorter lever stroke (meaning quicker shifts than before), a lighter front-shifting action, improved hood shape and texture, and a larger range of reach adjustment for a more customisable fit.

As with Di2, it's the levers for hydraulic disc brakes that benefited the most from the updated and refined hood shape – though they gained about 170g in weight compared to the rim-brake versions, they are only slightly larger in profile and share a similar reach and grip diameter.

The updated rear derailleur shares the Shadow design of the R9150 Di2 version, and the ability to mount via direct-mount hangers, to offer increased wheel clearance and easier wheel changes compared to a standard hanger.

In contrast to the Di2 version, the mechanical front derailleur design sees a complete overhaul. The FD-R9100 is much smaller in profile than the previous generation (increasing tyre clearance and improving aerodynamics), offers more cable routing options and, notably, it also comes with an integrated cable tensioner that removes the requirement for an inline cable tension adjuster.

Though perhaps not quite as technically advanced as Dura-Ace R9150/R9170 Di2, the mechanical Dura-Ace groupsets, R9100/R9120, nevertheless share many of the same components (such as rim brakes, disc brake callipers and rotors, cranksets, cassettes and chain) and therefore very similar performance characteristics. It's also a little cheaper, so if you want Dura-Ace but can't stretch to Di2, this is the groupset for you.

Shimano Ultegra R8100 groupset detail of drive side crank arm

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
Second-tier groupset also gets 12-speed and wireless Di2 shifting at lower price point with minimal weight penalty

Specifications

Shifting: Electronic
Braking: Rim or disc
Speeds: 2x12
Weight: 2,716g
Cranks: 160mm, 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm
Chainrings: 50/34, 52/36
Cassette: 11-30T, 11-34T
RRP Rim: Starting from £1,925 / $2,300 / AU$3,365
RRP Disc: Starting from £2,300 / $2,750 / AU$4,025

Reasons to buy

+
12-speed gearing without freehub change
+
Wireless front controls make for more aero setup
+
Almost all the performance of Dura-Ace at fraction of cost
+
Simplified wiring and built-in wireless connection
+
Excellent braking performance 
+
Mobile app for customisation and maintenance

Reasons to avoid

-
Small shift buttons

The second-tier Ultegra range was given the 12-speed, wireless Di2 treatment at the same time as the new Dura-Ace – and Shimano delivered another well-thought-out, high-performing groupset.

Like the new Dura-Ace, Ultegra R8100 is electronic-only, has the option of integrated power meters, upgraded braking and utilises the same Hyperglide+ sprocket technology to improve efficiency as well as speed of shifting. The trade-off pretty much comes down to cost over weight. Opting for Ultegra R8100 adds 278g but at a hefty saving on the price.  

The aesthetic differences in the components on the new Ultegra from its predecessor Ultegra R8050/R8070 are subtle, and it is the changes in routing of the wiring that most affects the look of the groupset. It is vastly simplified with no more junction boxes and the whole system now revolves around the rear derailleur. There's still a central battery, good for approximately 1,000km of riding per charge, but now this battery has only two wires. One runs to the front derailleur and one runs to the rear derailleur. The interface button, and charge port, sits on the rear derailleur and the front controls use their own coin cell batteries with a life expectancy of two years. 

The same Servowave technology taken from Shimano’s MTB and Gravel braking systems that are used on the new flagship Dura-Ace trickles straight down to the Ultegra to improve braking power and control.

A nice feature is the ability to adjust the derailleurs electronically using the app, as well as the ability to customise the multishift and synchronisation shifting – choosing how many gear changes you can make with a single button press or if the rear derailleur will adjust to match a front shift, or vice-versa.

The biggest thing that stood out for us when testing Ultegra R8100 was the brakes and the hoods. The hoods are narrow and extremely comfortable, even on long rides. Buttons on top of the hoods can be linked up with a cycle computer to switch screens – and felt like magic to use. When it was time to brake, it felt natural to wrap one or two fingers around the upper part of the brake lever while keeping the lower fingers wrapped around the bars. 

Adopting that hand position means very little leverage against the brake lever. That, in turn, plays into the strengths of Servowave technology. There's plenty of power for strong braking performance even without moving to the drops for the best leverage on the brake levers.

(Image credit: Josh Croxton)

Ultegra R8050/R8070

Professional-level 11-speed performance at a substantially lower price, while only adding a few grams of weight

Specifications

Shifting: Electronic
Braking: Rim (R8050) or disc (R8070)
Speeds: 2x11
Weight: 2,209g/2,200g
Cranks: 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm
Chainrings: 46/36, 50/34, 52/36, 53/39
Cassette: 11-25T, 11-28T, 11-30T, 11-32T, 11-34T, 12-25T, 14-28T
RRP Rim: Starting from £1,700 / $1,870 / AU$2,650
RRP Disc: Starting from £2,000 / $2,229 / AU$2,999

Reasons to buy

+
As good performance as Dura-Ace
+
Reliability and ease of maintenance 
+
Gearing options

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly heavier than Dura-Ace
-
Less premium aesthetics
-
No optional integrated power meter

Ultegra R8050/R8070 was Shimano's second-tier Di2 groupset before the shift to 12-speed with R8100, offering almost identical performance to the Tour de France-winning Dura-Ace Di2, but at a much-reduced price.

Throughout the groupset, Ultegra components use cheaper and slightly heavier materials and manufacturing methods than Dura-Ace, which account for the drop in price. The Ultegra front derailleur uses a heavier steel outer cage, for example, rather than the aluminium one found on Dura-Ace. Furthermore, the rear derailleur cage uses aluminium rather than carbon fibre, and the cassettes lose the titanium sprockets in favour of heavier, all-steel sprockets.

All of these minor changes add up to the headline difference between Ultegra R8050/R8070 and Dura-Ace R9150/R9170, which is the slightly increased system weight. Ultegra gains about 200-300g over the equivalent Dura-Ace groupset. How important that is, is really up to you, but bearing in mind that a filled bidon weighs somewhere in the region of 500g, it's unlikely to hinder anyone's performance too much.

Ultegra R8050/R8070 brought compatibility with the new integrated Junction A boxes, and the EW-WU111 E-Tube wireless unit, which enables ANT+ and Bluetooth LE connectivity, and the ability to customise the groupset via the E-Tube Project app on smartphones and tablets.

It also benefited greatly from Shimano's redesigned Dual Control levers, across both rim and hydraulic disc brake models. They are almost identical to the equivalent Dura-Ace versions, but gain a few grams from their use of slightly heavier internal materials. The disc-brake rotors also lose the special heat dissipating coating from the fins.

Rim brakes were redesigned inline with the Dura-Ace R9100 series, with increased clearance for up to 28C tyres, and a quick-release lever that integrates more cleanly in to the brake arm.

Considered by Shimano to be a more versatile groupset than the purely race-focused Dura-Ace series, Ultegra gained the ability to utilise wider ranges of gears, through the choice of either a short cage (SS) or medium cage (GS) rear derailleurs. The SS version can handle up to an 11-30 cassette as stock, but the GS version can accommodate an 11-34T cassette, giving a huge range of gears that should enable riders to climb even the steepest hills.

Throughout the rest of the groupset, Ultegra R8050/8070 maintains a remarkably similar aesthetic and performance to Dura-Ace R9150/R9170, but its general appearance is admittedly less polished.

Again, this is unlikely to hinder performance on the bike, and the question of whether it's worth the extra expense to make the step up to Dura-Ace comes down to personal preference.

Ultegra R8000/R8020

Professional-level mechanical performance and significantly cheaper than Di2, while only a few grams heavier

Specifications

Shifting: Mechanical
Braking: Rim (R8000) or disc (R8020)
Speeds: 2x11
Weight: 2,272g/2,314g
Cranks: 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm
Chainrings: 46/36, 50/34, 52/36, 53/39
Cassette: 11-25T, 11-28T, 11-30T, 11-32T, 11-34T, 12-25T, 14-28T
RRP Rim: Starting from £1,099 / $1,084 / AU$1,550
RRP Disc: Starting from £1,124 / $1,344 / AU$1,725

Reasons to buy

+
Performance
+
Reliability
+
Gearing options
+
Low weight
+
Price

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly heavier than Dura-Ace and Di2
-
Less premium aesthetics
-
Mechanical groupsets require more maintenance than Di2
-
No optional integrated power meter

Like Dura-Ace R9100/9120, the mechanical Ultegra R8000/R8020 groupset sees improvements and refinements across the board, relative to the previous generation.

The shift and brake levers have the same redesigned hood shapes and textures, and the same smaller profile for the disc-brake-compatible models.

Furthermore, the rear derailleur gains the same Shadow design and is available with either a short cage (SS) or medium cage (GS), increasing the gearing range above and beyond that of Dura-Ace.

The overhauled front derailleur design also trickles down from Dura-Ace R9100, with a smaller profile, and the addition of a cable tensioning screw that eliminates the need for an inline cable adjuster.

Again, mechanical Ultegra shares many of the same components as Ultegra Di2 (such as the crankset, cassettes, chain, rim brakes, disc-brake calipers and rotors), so if you can live without electronic shifting, you can save a significant amount of money and still get the majority of the same performance.

The new Shimano 105 groupset on a black background

(Image credit: Shimano)

105 R7100

Third-tier groupset gets 12-speed and electronic shifting but gains a few more grams

Specifications

Shifting: Electronic
Braking: Disc-only
Speeds: 2x12
Weight: 2,992g
Cranks: 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm
Chainrings: 50/34, 52/36
Cassette: 11-34T, 11-36T
RRP: Starting from £1,730 / $2,072 / AU$3,030

Reasons to buy

+
12-speed at lower price
+
More gear range
+
Big improvements to disc-brake tech 
+
Backwards compatible with 11-speed freehubs

Reasons to avoid

-
Huge jump in price from mechanical 105
-
Heavier than Ultegra or Dura-Ace
-
Disc brakes only

It was only a matter of time before 12-speed trickled down to Shimano's third-tier groupset but perhaps more surprising is that it was accompanied with a shift to an electronic-only and disc brake-only system. 

This represents a big sea change for the 105 groupset, which is almost 40 years old but now eschews its mechanical roots, leaving Tiagra as the only non-electronic groupset.

It also results in a huge price hike, with a 105 R7100 groupset costing around £1,000 more than its predecessor 105 R7000/R7020.

The good news is that the new 105 groupset will feature 12-speed cassettes that are backwards compatible with existing Shimano 11-speed freehubs, meaning you don’t need to buy new wheels. The cassettes come in 11-34 and 11-36 guises, on-trend with Shimano’s push to simplify the gearing options, and are complemented by 50/34 and 52/36 chainsets, as per Ultegra, leaving Dura-Ace the only crankset to offer the larger 54/40 and 53/39 options.

The new 105 groupset also utilises the same semi-wireless setup as the new Ultegra and Dura-Ace options. The connection between the shifters and the rear derailleur is wireless, and the rear derailleur communicates with the front by means of a direct-cabled connection. 

Shimano has taken the opportunity to refine the exterior ergonomics of the shifters. Gone is the textured upper, replaced by smooth rubber for the most part as per hoods of previous generations. The hood shape has a higher peak to provide more grip when in a forearms-horizontal position (and likely to make room for the added components inside, namely the battery and wireless transmitter).

While some may be disappointed with the lack of a rim-brake option, disc-brake fans will be heartened by the improvements in that area. Two new centrelock rotors, featuring Ice Technology Freeza - a triple-layer construction and cooling fins - improve pad life and keep rotor temperatures down on long descents (and by extension reduce rotor deformation and pad rub). Pad rub has been addressed at the calliper, too, with a 10% wider pad gap to allow a little more room for rotors that are slightly warped, or mounting points that haven’t been faced totally accurately. 

In a departure from Ultegra and Dura-Ace, the 105 levers don’t feature the Servowave system adopted from the Shimano's mountain bike groupsets. 

105 R7000/R7020

Trickle-down technology from mechanical Dura-Ace at a fraction of the price, but naturally it gains some grams

Specifications

Shifting: Mechanical
Braking: Rim (R7000) or disc (R7020)
Speeds: 2x11
Weight: 2,453g/2,469g
Cranks: 160mm, 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm
Chainrings: 50/34, 52/36, 53/39
Cassette: 11-28T, 11-30T, 11-32T, 11-34T, 12-25T, 14-28T
RRP Rim: Starting from £596 / $691 / AU$1,100
RRP Disc: Starting from £800 / $985 / AU$1,300

Reasons to buy

+
Price
+
Performance
+
Reliability, 
+
160mm crank length available, 
+
'Small hands' hydraulic disc brake Dual Control levers available

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavier than Ultegra or Dura-Ace, 
-
No Di2 option
-
Less premium materials used
-
Less premium finish

Released around a year after the Ultegra R8000 series, Shimano's 105 R7000/R7020 groupsets offer almost identical day-to-day performance as its more expensive stablemates, but at a fraction of the price.

Thankfully, the non-series RS505 Dual Control levers, that previously brought hydraulic disc brakes to 105 level groupsets, have been consigned to history. The Dual Control levers for both rim and hydraulic disc brakes, receive an aesthetic and ergonomic update in line with Ultegra and Dura-Ace. There is also a new 'small hands' option, for the hydraulic disc brake Dual Control levers, which have smaller levers and ergonomics specifically tuned for riders with, as you may have guessed, smaller hands.

One minor compromise is that 105 R7000/R7020 have painted aluminium brake levers (as opposed to the marginally lighter composite levers found on Ultegra and Dura-Ace), and across the rest of the groupset, the story is similar - aesthetically and functionally, every part of 105 R7000/R7020 is incredibly close to Ultegra and Dura-Ace. The only downside is it gains a few extra grams here and there, due to the use of cheaper, heavier materials and manufacturing processes.

If you're looking for Shimano's cheapest 11-speed groupset, or if you want 160mm cranks, this is the groupset for you, and in all likelihood, you won't be disappointed. 105 may not have the same prestige or cool factor as Ultegra or Dura-Ace, but it's hard to argue with the incredible value it offers.

Tiagra 4700/4720

Functional groupset offering a budget friendly entry point to Shimano's performance road groupset range

Specifications

Shifting: Mechanical
Braking: Rim (4700) or disc (4720)
Speeds: 3x10 or 2x10
Weight: 2,767g/2,826g
Cranks: 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm
Chainrings: 48/34, 50/34, 52/36, 50/39/30
Cassette: 11-25T, 12-28T, 11-32T, 11-34T
RRP Rim: Starting from £513 / $570 / AU$TBC
RRP Disc: Starting from £650 / $TBC / AU$TBC

Reasons to buy

+
Price
+
Durability
+
Triple-crankset available
+
Improved ergonomics vs previous generation Tiagra
+
'Small hands' hydraulic disc brake Dual Control levers available

Reasons to avoid

-
10-speed
-
Not compatible with higher-tier groupsets

The Tiagra 4700 Dual Control levers have been redesigned in line with Dura-Ace R9000, bringing improved ergonomics and, finally, internal-cable routing - which also massively improves its appearance. Shimano have released improved hydraulic disc brake dual control levers (and Tiagra-level disc brake calipers) that offer the improved ergonomics and design of Dura-Ace R9120 and, like the 105 R7000, there is also a 'small hands' option.

Rim-braking performance has also been improved by 30 per cent over the previous generation of Tiagra, offering similar performance to 105 R5700.

The crankset gains the four-arm design of higher-end Shimano groupsets that aims to balance weight without compromising on stiffness and, unlike Shimano's higher end groupsets, Tiagra 4700/4720 has the option of a triple crankset, for those who need even more gearing range than a standard compact crankset can offer.

The front derailleur design inherits the extended lever arm design, first seen on Dura-Ace R9000, which delivers a lighter shifting action, and the rear derailleur is available in either short cage (SS) or medium cage (GS). The SS version can accommodate up to an 11-28T cassette, and GS versions rated for up to an 11-34T cassette (when paired with a double crankset).

The only major drawback is the 10-speed groupset configuration. Tiagra 4700/4720 components are not compatible with those from Shimano's 11-speed groupsets, so the upgrade path isn't as easy - if you wanted to upgrade to 11-speed, you would need to replace the whole groupset in one go.

If your budget doesn't quite stretch to 105 R7000, though, or you simply want a good value 10-speed groupset, Tiagra 4700/4720 series provides performance and looks similar to what was previously top of the range for Shimano, at an entry level price.

Who is Shimano?

Established in Sakai, Japan, by Shozaburo Shimano in 1921, Shimano has made bicycle components since its inception and released its first full groupset, Dura-Ace 7100, in 1973.

In 1984, Shimano revolutionised bicycle gearing by introducing the Shimano Index System - the world's first indexed gearing system - and in 1988 Andy Hampsten (riding for the 7-Eleven team) took Shimano's first grand tour victory at the Giro d'Italia (having taken the race lead with his famous attack in the snow over the Gavia Pass).

Since then, Shimano has gone on to become the world's largest manufacturer of cycling components, with an estimated global market share of 70-80 per cent, and a market leader in performance cycling components.

Aside from dedicated groupsets for road bikes, gravel bikes, mountain bikes, e-bikes, urban bikes and BMX bikes, Shimano also manufactures performance wheels, components (such as handlebars, stems, seat posts and saddles, under its Pro brand), cycling clothing, eyewear, footwear, accessories and even electric bike motors for commuter bikes and mountain bikes alike.

Though not the first company to bring an electronic groupset to the market - credit Mavic for that with the 'Zap' - Shimano definitely kickstarted its wider adoption, with the release of its first Di2 groupset in 2009. Electronic gearing quickly became a new standard in the professional peloton, and competitors soon followed suit.

Ben has been a sports journalist for 16 years, covering everything from park football to the Olympic Games. As well as cycling, his passions include podcasts, tennis and speaking enough Italian to get by on his snowboarding trips to the Dolomites. A DIY rider who is almost as happy in the toolbox as he is in the saddle, he is still trying to emulate the feelings he experienced as a nine-year-old on his first Peugeot racer – he couldn’t fathom the down-tube friction shifters then and he’s still wrestling with groupsets now. When he isn’t making a beeline for the nearest Chiltern hill, he is probably tinkering or teaching his kids how to clean a bike properly. He rides a heavily modified 1980 Peugeot PVN10 Super Competition (steel is real) when the road is smooth and dry, and a BMC Alpenchallenge when it’s not.