Unless you’ve not been paying attention for the last day or so, you’ll have no doubt heard the announcement of the new generation of Shimano’s 105 groupset that will launch in the second half of 2014.
I think it’s fantastic news for those of us who don’t have as much money as we’d ideally like to be able to spend on cycling. Why? Well it brings 11 speed technology to a new and lower price point than Ultegra 6800 did (or Dura Ace 9000 before it). You may not be bothered about 11 speeds but frankly I’ll take all the gears I can get. In fairness, I don’t think the 11 speeds are the biggest news here.
One of the big improvements is going to be the front shifting, which should be a lot lighter than the current 105 gruppo. It’s the end of the legacy of what began with Dura Ace 7900 and Shimano concealing the shifting cables under the bar tape. Whilst it tidied up the front of the bike, shifting quality decreased in my opinion and I still think that when I ride 5700 105 – the front shifting takes too much effort. Well that’s going to be fixed with 5800. The new design for the cranks with the 4 arms is a big step forward too as it standardises the BCD size and means you just change the chainrings if you want to move from double (53/39) to semi-compact (52/36) or compact (50/34) – no more having to buy a new chainset for a trip to the Alps.
Braking is improved too and the new standard calipers will now fit wider rims and tyres – which is important as that’s where the wheel and tyre market is shifting.
More big news is mechanical hydraulic disc brakes. I spent a bit of time on disc braked bikes last year and good disc brakes are really, really good but I don’t think they’re a solution for the high-end of the road bike market. For me they make most sense at the mid-range of the market – bikes you ride a good chunk of the year and in all weathers – not your lightest best summer bike. So I’m excited about these brakes. Right now, if you want hydraulic road brakes you’ve got to stump up for an Ultegra Di2 groupset to fit R785 calipers – nice if you can, but most of us can’t.
These new brakes will work with mechanical gruppos including, 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace – now you’ve just got to find your frame to go with them. Expect to see them on quite a few 2015 road and cyclocross bikes. A bike like the Rose Xeon DX (http://girodilento.com/rose-xeon-dx-review/) that I tested last year would be perfect for these. As would a bike like the Kinesis 4S, which is something I’ve been saying to Kinesis for a while now (and I’m won’t have been the only one). That’s just a couple of examples but I reckon they’ll be loads of interesting bikes with discs at Eurobike in September – now at a price point more of us can afford as this should also make good disc brakes a more economic option for bike manufacturers too. These brakes could be the tipping point for the disc brake market. Personally I think they’ll be best with road frames with clearance for wide tyres along with mudguard and rack mounts – all rounders, let me know if you agree?
So – I’m excited about Shimanos new 5800 105 groupset – it’s going to bring a higher level of engineering and performance to a lower price point, making it applicable to more people and more bikes. Sure there’s going to be a weight penalty over Ultegra, but you’re unlikely to be talking about more than 1lb on a complete bike. We’re going to get a wider range of gearing (thanks to 11 speed), better braking and shifting and more choices in how we run it. To me, it’s looking like a home run for Shimano as no doubt it’ll also be reliable and cheap to run/service.
Thanks for reading and as always I’d welcome any comments