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Find out how two of the most popular groupsets out there compare

If you’re choosing between Shimano 105 R7000 and SRAM Rival 22 groupsets, here’s everything you need to know in order to make the right decision.

Starting right at the beginning, a groupset is a component manufacturer’s collection of mechanical parts, usually covering the derailleurs, shifters, brakes, chainset, bottom bracket, cassette and chain. Brands group these parts into various different levels. 105 and Rival 22 are the third tier road groupsets from their respective manufacturers.

Shimano 105 is much more commonly fitted as original equipment on complete bikes than SRAM Rival 22. It rules the roost on bikes priced from about £1,000. You might easily find yourself having to decide between a bike fitted with 105 and one in a Rival 22 build, though, or you could be looking to upgrade from Shimano Tiagra or SRAM Apex and want to check out the options open to you. Either way, the aim of this article is to explain the differences so you can make an informed choice.

A complete Shimano 105 R7000 groupset, available in both silver and black finishes, costs about £600 at RRP while a SRAM Rival 22 groupset is priced from £524.

SRAM Rival is also available as a 1x system with a single chainring matched up to a wide-range cassette. We’re not covering that here because it has no direct rival from Shimano. Just bear in mind that SRAM Rival 22 and SRAM Rival 1 are not the same thing.

We’ll go through each component in turn.

Shifters

105 RRP: £194.99 | Typical price: £175.49
Rival 22 RRP: £221 | Typical price: £150

105 R7000 brifters

105 R7000 brifters

In use, the biggest difference you’ll notice between 105 and Rival 22 – and between any other Shimano and SRAM groupsets, come to that – is in the way the shifters work.

With Shimano’s design (above), you change to a larger sprocket by sweeping the brake lever inward, and you change to a smaller sprocket by pushing a lever that sits behind the brake lever. Shifting the chain between chainrings follows the same principle. It’s a very light action thanks to polymer coated cables.

sram_rival_22_doubletapr_mechanical_shifters.jpg

sram_rival_22_doubletapr_mechanical_shifters.jpg

SRAM uses what it calls a DoubleTap mechanism. A shift paddle located behind the brake lever handles both upshifts and downshifts. You tap it to move to a smaller sprocket, and you push it further to shift the other direction. Shifting at the front operates in a similar way.

We wouldn’t say that one system is inherently better than the other, but they are different. We’d suggest you try out both systems before making a buying decision, perhaps at a local bike shop, to see which you prefer. This will also tell you whether you find the hoods of one brand more comfortable than those of the other. You’re likely to spend a lot of your riding time with your hands resting on them.

105 provides 10mm of reach adjustment for smaller hands while Rival 22 offers individual reach adjustment of both the brake lever and the shift paddle.

Rival shifters are lighter than their 105 equivalents. A pair of 105 R7000 brake/shift levers weighs 500g. Rival 22 shifters are about 150g lighter.

If you go for a hydraulic brake system, the shifters will be a different shape because they have to incorporate a master cylinder. The levers of the SRAM Rival 22 Hydro system (above, £284 per wheel) are chunky, though not as large as SRAM’s original hydraulic levers, and some people just don’t like the look of the tall front end. On the other hand, the high hood can be easy to grab, especially if you're riding with your forearms parallel to the road.

105 R7000 hydro brifters

105 R7000 hydro brifters

We liked the old Shimano 105 5800 hydraulic disc brakes (RRP £500; typical price £360.89). First impressions of the new 105 R7000 disc brakes are very favourable, and the brake/shift lever shape has been trimmed and tidied up substantially.

Chainset

105 RRP: £129 | Typical price: £116.10
Rival 22 RRP: £220 | Typical price: from £199.49 - £223.69

Both the Shimano 105 and the SRAM Rival 22 chainsets are made from aluminium with hollow arms to save weight (go up to SRAM Force and the cranks are carbon fibre; Shimano sticks with aluminium right up the range).

Shimano 105 R7000 chainset

Shimano 105 R7000 chainset

Shimano (above) now uses a four arm rather than a five arm spider to secure the chainrings, with uneven spacing between those arms. The idea is to provide the strength where it’s most needed while dropping the weight of the fifth arm. SRAM uses a five bolt system.

The Shimano 105 chainset has a reputation for being super-stiff. When we reviewed it we said, “Regardless of how much power you put through the cranks, there’s no detectable flex there whatsoever.”

Shimano lead the field here but we’ve been impressed by the SRAM Rival 22 chainset too. Our man Dave Atkinson reported, “I had no issues with derailleur rub under power which suggests [the chainset] is nice and stiff.”

You can get the 105 chainset in a standard 53/39-tooth option, semi-compact 52/36, and compact 50/34. There’s no cyclocross-specific option, though.

SRAM Rival 22 crank

SRAM Rival 22 crank

SRAM’s Rival 22 chainset (above) is available in 52/36, 50/34 and 46/36-tooth options. With both Shimano and SRAM, you can swap to other chainring sizes quite easily.

Shimano offers 105 cranks in 165, 170, 172.5 and 175mm lengths – which will cover the vast majority of people –while SRAM provides all of those plus 167.5mm and 177.5mm options.

The Rival 22 chainset is available in both 24mm and 30mm axle options whereas Shimano offers 24mm only. Whichever you choose, you obviously need to get the correct bottom bracket for your bike (105 £21.99, Rival 22 £29).

The 105 chainset we reviewed here on road.cc hit the scales at 737g while you’re looking at over 100g more for Rival.

Front derailleur

105 RRP: £32 | Typical price: £28.80
Rival 22 RRP: £41 | Typical price: £35.65

SRAM boasts that you don’t need to adjust the position of your front derailleur (below) to avoid your chain rubbing on the side plates, no matter which sprocket you’re using. This results from what it calls ‘Yaw’ technology that has trickled down from its higher end groupsets.

Essentially, the front derailleur cage rotates slightly when you shift from the small chainring to the large one, so its angle relative to the chain remains the same.

SRAM Rival 22 Hydro groupset - front mech on bike.jpg

SRAM Rival 22 Hydro groupset - front mech on bike.jpg

When he reviewed SRAM Rival 22, Dave Atkinson said, “It's a bit of a fiddle to set up, but once you have it dialled in it works perfectly, and I didn't have any derailleur rub at the front even when I was crossing the chain on purpose.”

With 105 you’ll sometimes find that you need to trim the position of the front derailleur as you move the chain across the cassette.

shimano_105_r7000_groupset_-_front_mech.jpg

shimano_105_r7000_groupset_-_front_mech.jpg

When we reviewed 105 here on road.cc, we found that the new cam design of the front derailleur combined with the other tweaks to the group made for a slightly improved shift. Dave Atkinson wrote: " It's not a seismic change, but the front shifts are a bit lighter and more predictable than with the previous version."

There’s not much to choose between them in terms of weight, the 105 front derailleur weighs 95g and the Rival 22 one a claimed 89g with a chainspotter included (to stop the chain coming off the inside of the inner chainring; you don’t get one of these with 105).

Rear derailleur

105 RRP: £47.99 | Typical price: £40.84 - £42.56
Rival 22 RRP: £46 | Typical price: £41.79

We’ve been massively impressed by the Shimano 105 R7000 rear derailleur (below).

gravel gearing 5.JPG

gravel gearing 5.JPG

“Shifting is everything you'd expect: precise and repeatable across the whole cassette. We've used both the SS derailleur on an 11-28 cassette and the GS derailleur on an 11-34, and there's no meaningful difference in performance between the two: shifts are crisp and light,” we said in our review.

We’ve not had any issues with SRAM Rival 22 shifting either.

With both SRAM and Shimano, you need to choose the correct sized rear derailleur for the gears you are running. Shimano’s 105 R7000 GS rear derailleur will handle up to a 34-tooth maximum sprocket, while the mid-cage version of SRAM’s Rival rear derailleur (above) allows you to use a maximum sprocket size of 32-teeth.

A short cage Shimano 105 rear derailleur weighs 225g while the SRAM Rival 22 equivalent is 45g lighter.

Brakes

105 RRP: £83.98 pr | Typical price: £75.98 pr
Rival 22 RRP: £74 pr | Typical price: £56.90 pr

Shimano’s 105 twin pivot brake callipers (below) are exceptionally good, offering loads of power and plenty of control.

Shimano 105 R7000 brake calipers

Shimano 105 R7000 brake calipers

They have a very solid feel and modulation is excellent. In our review Big Dave wrote: "I've been using the brakes on my race bike, which has Swiss Side Hadron 485 wheels that have an alloy brake track, and the brake performance is about as good as you're going to find for a rim brake. The 105 callipers are not noticeably inferior to the Ultegra brakes in anything other than weight, and even then we're only talking about 20g here and there."

If you have a frame with direct mount points, you can use the BR-7010 versions (£44.99) built to the same SLR-EV design but with two frame mounting points rather than the traditional single.

sram_rival_22_mechanical_brakeset.jpg

sram_rival_22_mechanical_brakeset.jpg

There’s no direct mount option in the Rival 22 lineup but the dual pivot callipers come with very good SwissStop pads. Both 105 and Rival 22 are compatible with tyres up to 28mm.

The Shimano 105 brake callipers weigh 379g the pair while SRAM claims 300g for its Rival 22 brakes.

shimano_105_r7000_-_37.jpg

shimano_105_r7000_-_37.jpg

Both the Shimano 105 (above) and the SRAM Rival 22 groupsets include hydraulic disc brakes (see under 'Shifters', above) that are more powerful than mechanical rim brakes, and less affected by wet conditions. Obviously, you need the correct frame and fork to take these.

In terms of overall performance, they’re very similar.

“Shimano's units feel a bit more powerful overall but the SRAM brakes (above) are a bit more progressive through their range of power, so it's swings and roundabouts,” said Dave Atkinson.

“If I had to choose one or the other, the SRAM brakes would probably edge it. They're a bit more keen to squeak when they get wet, but in my experience there's less rotor rub after heating the discs up on a long descent.”

We’ve found that bleeding the SRAM brakes is a bit more of an involved process than it is with Shimano.

SRAM Rival HydroR brake.jpeg

SRAM Rival HydroR brake.jpeg

SRAM also offers hydraulic rim brakes (above, £254 per wheel with brake/shift levers, though you can now pick them up for £179.99) that will fit to a standard (non-disc) bike, although we can’t say we’ve seen these fitted as original equipment on any bikes.

Cassette

105 RRP £42.99 | Typical price: £34.99 - £38.99
Rival 22 RRP £80 | Typical price: £64.96

Both 105 and Rival 22 are 11-speed systems, and each offers cassettes in various tooth ranges.

SRAM pg 1170 11-36 cassette

SRAM pg 1170 11-36 cassette

One SRAM cassette covers 11-36 teeth, although you’d have to use that as part of a 1x system with a specially designed rear derailleur. For the R7000 version of 105, Shimano has introduced an 11-34 cassette to provide an even wider gear range, and we've found that the GS rear derailleur will even work with the 11-40 cassette Shimano makes for its mountain bike systems.

You’re looking at weights from around 260g for both brands, depending on the size option you choose.

Chain

105 RRP £29.99 | Typical price: £17.50
Rival 22 RRP £19 | Typical price: £16.10

We’ve found the chains of both systems to be smooth and reliable, although the SRAM chain is easier to set up thanks to the inclusion of a PowerLock connecting link that doesn’t require the use of any tools. With Shimano (below), you have to use a connecting pin and a chain tool, or buy a connecting link separately.

Shimano 105 - chain (1).jpg

Shimano 105 - chain (1).jpg

A SRAM Rival 22 chain weighs a claimed 259g for 114 links while our Shimano 105 chain weighed 265g for 116 links, so they’re about the same.

Overall

Properly setup, both Shimano 105 and SRAM Rival 22 offer similar levels of performance to the top-level components from their respective manufacturers, it’s just that they’re a little heavier.

Each system has its strengths. We highly rate Shimano’s braking, for example, and we really like the Yaw technology that SRAM uses in its front derailleur.

By far the biggest difference that you’re likely to notice between 105 and Rival 22 is in the shifting, not in their level of performance but in the way that they’re designed to operate. You’ll probably adjust quickly to either shift system – most people do – but just make sure you’ve had a test ride before you lay down your cash.

We'd be interested to hear about the experiences of readers who have used both systems.

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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.

16 comments

Avatar
Peowpeowpeowlasers [605 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I hope SRAM have changed the hydro lever design, because mine (2014 vintage) rattle like hell and there's no way to adjust for it.  It's because there's no cable pulling the lever taut, they rattle at the hinge.

Avatar
Gomrides [1 post] 1 year ago
0 likes

Since the new Tiagra 4700 are close to the 105s how do they compare to the Rival22s?

It's difficult to find good bikes here in Indonesia and most sold are outdated(2013,14 models) or even if I find the latest models somehow, they are extremely expensive because of import tax.
Anyway I found a private retailer that had Cannondale synapse frames with Tiagra 4700s(Carbon frame) or Sram Rival22(Alloy)s. The Tiagra option is a bit more expensive probably due to the frame but not too much so.

Avatar
sunnyape [43 posts] 1 year ago
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Gomrides wrote:

Since the new Tiagra 4700 are close to the 105s how do they compare to the Rival22s?

I can't comment on that comparison with Rival, but I just upgraded my commuting bike to Tiagra 4700 with hydraulic brakes and it's amazing value for money. The overall feel and precision is on par with current 105, just with a small weight and quality penalty. Tiagra might still be 10 speed, but the new rear derailleur can accomodate an 11-34 cassette! Combine that with a 34-50 compact crank and it becomes a touring groupset too.

My other bike has the current 105 hydraulic groupset and I feel it's not quite up to the same level of bullet proof quality that 105 was in the 90s.

Avatar
Cozz [14 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Shimano cranksets - soooo fugly.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2304 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

i got my 105 STis from a dealer in spain 2 years ago for £90, unboxed but with all the cabless and blagged a high end triple chainset for a song too so got free postage.

I've not used SRAM as a groupset but have used cassettes & chains and even hollowed out some knackered carbon Rival shifters I got for a tenner to use as brake levers which were a thing of beauty and light as buggery.

I don't need to use the mechanical but IF i were going to delve into electronic gearing i think SRAM would be my port of call.

I think Rival just tops 105 in my eyes functionality/aesthetics wise but maybe 105 is more robust as well as being cheaper.

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Yemble [58 posts] 1 year ago
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I've used a variety of 105 (9, 10 and 11spd) and SRAM (Rival-Red) groups for years, currently having Apex (hydro) and 105 5800 (cable). In hindsight, wish I'd gone for a Rival group instead of 105 at similar price. The shape of the SRAM hoods is particularly good for smaller hands; it feels like at least 1" shorter reach. And I prefer the crisp, short throw action on the levers to the big sweeps required on 105. Half tempted to throw the 105 set on ebay and get a full Apex group instead - probably almost break even.

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madcarew [798 posts] 1 year ago
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I've used most levels of shimano, and Sram Red. I think that shimano just shifts smoother and easier in every condition. I've been in pave races (part gravel road races) in sh*t conditions and numerous people on Sram had gear issues, where as only 1 guy on shimano did (a bunch of 60+).  Honestly, I think Sram red shifts about as well as Tiagra. I much prefer the feel of Shimano Dura-ace brakes to Sram, but having said that they both seem to stop about as well. I dont' really love shimano and wish I could afford campag, but I can't. Having said all that, I've got some Sram red BB30 carbon cranks, and they saved me about 200g over the DA standards with insert, and I love them. They do overshift occasionally which neither I nor the LBS have ben able to dial out with the DA derailleur.

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RW [19 posts] 1 year ago
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Does anyone know whether a Rival/Force 1 rear derailleur can be used with the rest of a Rival/Force 22 group? ie are the cable pull ratios the same? I'm curious about the possibility of a 22 speed setup that also has a clutch for better chain retention.

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Jamminatrix [200 posts] 1 year ago
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The biggest benefits for Shimano are rim brakes are a lot more powerful than SRAM rim brakes, Shimano shifts smoother, and the overall groupset will last longer - particularly chain/cassette and shifter slop.

The biggest benefits for SRAM are weight, personal preference of hoods/shifter style, and no dicking around with front derailleur trim while cross-chaining.

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Disfunctional_T... [325 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
RW wrote:

Does anyone know whether a Rival/Force 1 rear derailleur can be used with the rest of a Rival/Force 22 group? ie are the cable pull ratios the same? I'm curious about the possibility of a 22 speed setup that also has a clutch for better chain retention.

The "1" rear derailleurs are Exact Actuation, so they are compatible with SRAM 10-speed road/mountain and 11-speed road.

If you wanted, you could also use a SRAM 10-speed mountain rear derailleur plus an inline cable adjuster (Mountain bike rear derailleurs don't have the built-in barrel adjusters that road rear derailleurs have).

Note that SRAM's Exact Actuation is different than its X-ACTUATION.

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RW [19 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Great, thanks for the clarification!

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kitkat [494 posts] 1 year ago
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Dave Atkinson wrote:

...the SRAM brakes would probably edge it. They're a bit more keen to squeak when they get wet, but in my experience there's less rotor rub after heating the discs up on a long descent

Oh to live in a country of long descents and no rain, obviously not a dweller in the British Isles, dare i even say, Dave 'Tax Exile' Atkinson  3

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iane [8 posts] 5 months ago
4 likes

I'm working on a SRAM Rival disc braked bike at the moment. The customer wants me to swap the hoses so that the rear brake is on the right hand lever.  Here's the work involved for Shimano and SRAM for that job:

Shimano

8mm spanner to undo each brake hose collar

Swap Hoses

Tighten hose collar

Go ride (99% of the time the brake doesn't need bleeding)

 

SRAM

Remove side plate (3 phillips screws)

Remove bleed port screws (Torx)

Attach syringes and drain system of fluid

Remove reservoir cover (4 torx screws)

Remove banjo bolts (4mm allen)

Pull hose and banjo through hood then shove banjo under hood on other lever (taking care not to dislodge O-rings) to swap hoses

Reinsert banjo bolts

Replace reservoir cover

Replace side plate

Bleed system (most mechanics hate doing this because it's DOT5.1 and they're notoriously hard to bleed)

Go ride

 

Also, the lovely thing about DOT fluid is that it expands over time, so your SRAM braked Winter bike will have its brakes stuck on if it's been standing for a while.

I've come to the conclusion that SRAM have a "Bloody Stupid Department" where good ideas go to be turned into unusable messes. Every week, they lend one of the staff of this department to Trek to design paint jobs.

Avatar
Canyon48 [1063 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
iane wrote:

I'm working on a SRAM Rival disc braked bike at the moment. The customer wants me to swap the hoses so that the rear brake is on the right hand lever.  Here's the work involved for Shimano and SRAM for that job:

Shimano

8mm spanner to undo each brake hose collar

Swap Hoses

Tighten hose collar

Go ride (99% of the time the brake doesn't need bleeding)

 

SRAM

Remove side plate (3 phillips screws)

Remove bleed port screws (Torx)

Attach syringes and drain system of fluid

Remove reservoir cover (4 torx screws)

Remove banjo bolts (4mm allen)

Pull hose and banjo through hood then shove banjo under hood on other lever (taking care not to dislodge O-rings) to swap hoses

Reinsert banjo bolts

Replace reservoir cover

Replace side plate

Bleed system (most mechanics hate doing this because it's DOT5.1 and they're notoriously hard to bleed)

Go ride

 

Also, the lovely thing about DOT fluid is that it expands over time, so your SRAM braked Winter bike will have its brakes stuck on if it's been standing for a while.

I've come to the conclusion that SRAM have a "Bloody Stupid Department" where good ideas go to be turned into unusable messes. Every week, they lend one of the staff of this department to Trek to design paint jobs.

Such a brilliantly true comment!

I bled my Shimano disc brakes for the first time and it took me less than half an hour. No time spent setting up alignment or anything either, very simple!

Avatar
surly_by_name [570 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
iane wrote:

I'm working on a SRAM Rival disc braked bike at the moment. The customer wants me to swap the hoses so that the rear brake is on the right hand lever.  Here's the work involved for Shimano and SRAM for that job:

Shimano

[3 steps before "go ride"]

SRAM

[lots more steps before go ride]

I've come to the conclusion that SRAM have a "Bloody Stupid Department" where good ideas go to be turned into unusable messes...

Not disputing that this swap is a pain in the ar$e - which I assume is why customer wants you to do it rather than having a go themselves (and that you'll be appropriately remunerated for extra effort) - but rather begs the question why customer wants this done/didn't get the Euro edition version in first place. Also, not something you want to swap backwards and forwards with any regularity (or even more than once), so probably not a massive buying consideration for the vast majority of cyclists.

I've bled Shimano brakes (although only mountain bike) and SRAM brakes (road and mountain bike). In MTB world there's a general perception that Shimano brakes are easier to bleed (sample post "easiest bleed EVAH"). I've not actually noticed much of a difference in terms of degree of difficulty - both are a bit of a faff the first few times and then you get used to it - and I would argue that the the new-ish SRAM bleeding edge port system has reduced any marginal difference to nil. As an occasional bleeder (vs a shop mechanic who might do it every day), I quite like the SRAM system of a mechnical attachment to the bleed port (via a threaded connector or bleeding edge socket) vs the Shimano press fit cup/hose as I've gotten mineral oil everywhere in the past by pushing syringe too hard and having hose come off nipple.

 

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TheSmallRing [14 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Got Rival 1 on one bike, and Tiagra on another. 

Always end up pushing the wrong parts for the first gear change of a ride.