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Mid-level groupset benefits from trickledown technology with lighter shifting action and more powerful braking

Shimano has launched a brand new version of its 105 groupset – the most popular road groupset worldwide – that features an 11-speed drivetrain and, says Shimano, improved braking power.

The new 5800 series 105 features technology that has trickled down from Shimano’s high-level Dura-Ace and Ultegra groups.

“The main thing about 105 is that it’s now 11-speed,” said Shimano’s UK brand manager Mark Greshon at the UK launch. “With it being 11-speed it brings many of the functions and features that you get with both Ultegra and Dura-Ace to a much wider range of riders.”

So, 105 follows in the footsteps of Dura-Ace and Ultegra (and groupsets from Campagnolo and SRAM) in going 11-speed. Shimano has redesigned the derailleurs and shift levers and included polymer coated cables to replicate the light shifting of its higher level groupsets – and, judging by the demo components available at the launch, it really is noticeably lighter than previously but still with a very definite click engagement.

Shimano says, “The shift levers have a compact grip which provides more comfort and control during a ride. The lever can be customised for different hand sizes with a 10mm screw-type reach adjust.

“The front derailleur has a longer link arm combined with a new spring mechanism. Also, the rear derailleur has a new spring mechanism and cable pitch, which provides robust adjustability.”

That’s the official line. The four-arm crank has trickled down from Dura-Ace too, with the uneven spacing between those arms that some people like and some people can’t stomach. Visuals aside, Shimano says that this gives the best transfer of power and balance between lightweight and stiffness.

This design also means there’s just one bolt circle diameter (BCD) for compact and traditional double chainsets. In other words, one crankarm fits all chainring sizes.

The standard chainset combos will be 53/39T, 52/36T and 50/34T. If you want to swap from 53/39T to 50/34T, for example, you can do that using the same crankarm – you can just change the chainrings rather than the whole chainset.

There will also be a non-series regular five-arm chainset.

The 11-speed cassette is available with 12-25 tooth and 11-28-tooth sprockets, as before, but there’s also a new wide-ranging 11-32-tooth option.

A short cage derailleur will handle sprockets up to 28T, but if you want to go to 32-tooth you’ll need the long cage derailleur.

Shimano treat the chain with a Sil-Tec surface-plating technology that they say makes it run smoother and wear longer in all conditions.

Shimano also say that they have improved the braking power by 10% over that of the previous 5700 series 105 groupset… and we love a statistic around these parts!

Shimano attribute most of that increased power to the new symmetrical dual-pivot brake caliper. Those calipers have a higher arch so they are compatible with tyres up to 28c – and there’s a general trend towards increased tyre size on the road these days.

The brakes are also available in a direct mount version (BR-5810), direct mount being an increasingly popular choice on road bikes as well as time trial bikes.

The 5800 Series 105 groupset will be available in black and silver from June. We don’t have prices on any of the components yet.

Shimano have an 11-speed flat-bar shifter that you can use with the new 105 components if you like, or with Ultegra or Dura-Ace for that matter.

Shimano has also introduced road hydraulic disc brakes that you can use with an 11-speed mechanical groupset like new 105. Check out our other story for all the details on that.

If you were hoping that Shimano would roll their Di2 technology down from Dura-Ace and Ultegra to 105, sorry, but that's not happening – not for the time being, at least. Electronic shifting will doubtless filter further down the road groupset hierarchy at some stage, but not yet.

Shimano say that 5800 Series 105 will be available from June.

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.