Knowing and comparing components, Shimano, Sram, Campagnolo

by bikeboy76   May 7, 2013  

Last year I rebuilt my drive train, I just bought what I needed and what I could afford until it was all put right. It was all Shimano except for an FSA crankset. Now I know I will need to do it again eventually and would like to buy some pieces as I go, but I am always reading here people asking if X Shimano component is compatable with Y Campag set up. I am quite happy with the notion that you should pick one maker and try to get all your components to fit together.

I also often see bike reviews saying the frame is such and such but it ONLY comes with Shimano Sora, or it comes with top of the range Sram Red. So my question is how do you know what level of components/set is worth while? How do the different names from each manufacturer match up? At the moment the only think I have got to go on is the price, persuming that more expensive 'should' be better and new components are better then old worn ones.

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OK, I will list from top components to bottom for the three main brands.

I won't even factor in that Ultegra brakes are the best Shimano brakes, but they are not the highest model....


Dura Ace (Di2)
Dura Ace
Ultegra (Di2)


SRAM Force
SRAM Rival


Super Record (EPS)
Super Record
Record (EPS)
Athena (EPS)

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9369 posts]
7th May 2013 - 14:16


One of the factors is the number of sprockets - top of the range will have 11 down to 8 for the lower end of the Shimano range. And while the high number of gears is tempting they are more costly to maintain as the chains/cassettes wear out quicker.

I'd generally advise that 105/Centaur/Rival are about the same and provide the best value as anything above gives you diminisihing returns in terms of performance vs £'s.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
7th May 2013 - 17:41

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My rear deraileuerer (start a whole new thread on your preferred spelling?) is a Ultegra, my cranks are FSA Gossimer, and my chain and cassette were 'shimano compatible' from ebay, I don't remember the brand or if they had one, but they work. Well this gives me at least an idea of were to start. I can see then why people sniff at Sora if it is near the bottom of the range on an expensive frame. Seems like I can only go up to Dura Ace unless I want to swap make or go hydroelectric (maybe for a new bike!)

I am not too bothered by the new 11 speed kit, I would be more interested if the extra gear was at the top end, not just filler. Believe it or not on the long gentle downhills of the Cheshire plain it is possible to max out on the 11 tooth.

I have just had a look at the PBK website for cassettes, the mid range goes up to about £55, anything top end quickly goes up to about £160-£230 (for a cassette!) So it looks like money and performance goes exponential, so I may have to lodge very much where I am.

As usual Gkam you are fountain of knowledge, this must come from being so close to the ground.

I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1823 posts]
7th May 2013 - 20:34


Just from what you are saying.

I will make some suggestion's

SRAM Cassette, give me the number of gears you have and the spread you would like, i'll find you one. Because for instance, I KNOW there is a 10 speed that goes 11/12 - 36 I saw it yesterday.

Chains, KMC every time, they make SRAM and Shimano chains for them.

Chainset, Depending on if its compact, double or triple and the number of teeth, I can make a suggestion on that.

Then its a case of getting derailleurs to match, they should be the last thing on your list to find.

Unless you buy a full groupset (Which is easier, but more expensive)

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9369 posts]
7th May 2013 - 23:28


I've always been told sram and shimano are fully compatible assuming you are comparing like with like (i.e. Both 10 speed)
I'm not sure if anyone can confirm this?

Also, not sure if you are a weight weenie, but if you are you might find the below link interesting to see how many grams you can shave off by up grading.

posted by Tinternet_tim [130 posts]
7th May 2013 - 23:31


Tim that is false. SRAM and Shimano operate on slightly.different draw lengths. They'll work together, but not well. Best go full drivetrain on one or the other imo.

Decide which shift style you like best, I despise Shimano shifting and love SRAM.

[custom] '12 Cannondale CAAD10 - Rival

badkneestom's picture

posted by badkneestom [134 posts]
8th May 2013 - 2:25

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Tim, the cassettes/chains and hubs are compatible, but as Tom notes, the length of cable pull for each shift is different between Shimano and SRAM, so you wouldn't want to mix shifters and mechs.

Not sure about chainsets.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3723 posts]
8th May 2013 - 9:50


Thanks for the clarity guys. It was something I was told several years ago and never knew if it was true or not.

If I ever get enough strength in the legs to be able to tackle the peak district on a double rather than a compact I now know best to strick with my current brand of drivechain rather than swap to a different brand...just to be safe.

posted by Tinternet_tim [130 posts]
8th May 2013 - 12:35

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In an ideal world then. With you FSA chainset, I'd have a SRAM Cassette, KMC chain and Ultegra shifters, brakes and derailleurs Big Grin

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9369 posts]
8th May 2013 - 13:00

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badkneestom wrote:
Decide which shift style you like best, I despise Shimano shifting and love SRAM.

As I suspected there is lots of subtle differences that only experience or expensive experimentation can provide. Having only ever ridden Shimano I have no idea how the 'shift style' is. (If) when I buy a new bike I will consider Sram if it happens to come on a bike I am looking at. Meanwhile excellent point about the draw length on the cable so No. 1 rule, don't mix your shifters and rear mech.
Think I will save Dura Ace as a favourite on ebay and wait for someone to strip their wife's bike down, 'Thank you zealous bike husbands!'

I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1823 posts]
8th May 2013 - 18:53