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Shimano 105 Di2 vs SRAM Rival eTap - Which is better?

For ages, the entry level electronic groupset was SRAM Rival, but now Shimano has entered the fight with 105 Di2. But which is better? Let’s find out.

The cycling market has been moving towards disc brakes and electronic groupsets for some time now, but Shimano was lacking an ‘entry-level’ option to rival...errr...Rival. With the new Shimano 105 Di2 now appearing on bikes, we thought we’d take a look at which one is better by digging down into the facts and figures. 


It is a little bit tricky to compare these two groupsets on weight as the systems use different chainring and cog sizes, but we've put Sram and Shimano's 'compact' offerings against each other.

SRAM Rival eTap AXS drivetrain - 1 (1)

SRAM Rival eTap AXS weighs in at a claimed 3,109g with a 46/33T chainset and a 10-33T cassette. 

Shimano 105 R7100 di2 Fairlight front mech

Shimano 105 Di2, meanwhile, with a similar setup, weighs a claimed 2,995g. That is using a 50/34T chainset and an 11-34T cassette. While it is close, Shimano takes this round.

Shimano’s system also uses a larger battery, larger chainrings and still has some wires inside the frame, so the 100g weight saving over Rival, while not exactly massive, is quite impressive.


There is no question that SRAM’s Rival eTap AXS is a cheaper groupset to buy outright than Shimano’s 105 Di2. Rival AXS costs £1,268 for the 2X system without a power meter while 105 Di2 costs £1,730. 

But given that most people will be choosing between these groupsets as part of a full bike, the bike prices are the ones that we’re more interested in.

Taking Orro’s Venturi STC as an example, it’s very interesting to find the 105 Di2 bike significantly cheaper at £3,150 than the Rival AXS bike at £3,500. 

The difference here represents a good number of accessories, a new pair of shoes or some clothing upgrades to a prospective buyer.


Shimano 105 R7100 di2 Fairlight shifters

You might prefer one system over the other when it comes to aesthetics, but the good news is that both systems mirror, to a large extent, the more expensive groupsets in their respective ranges.

105 Di2 uses exactly the same lever and hood design as you’ll find on Ultegra and Dura-Ace and this is a shape that we really like.

2021 SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset - shifter.jpg

The Rival AXS levers feature the bigger differences from Force and Red eTap, but again, this boxy design is one that we do like in use.

Down at the chainsets, you’ll find angular designs with both systems, but SRAM’s is the slimmer design, if that is something that you care about.

2021 SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset - rear mech.jpg

Cassettes and chains look largely like they should, but when we get to the derailleurs, we do find some differences. As this is where Sram’s batteries are mounted, their front and rear derailleurs look a little bit chunkier to us. They also go for a light grey design whereas Shimano matches the derailleurs to the rest of the groupset with a dark grey.

Shimano 105 R7100 di2 Fairlight front mech

The front derailleur on the 105 Di2 groupset is, in our eyes, straight out of the previous Ultegra generation parts bin and this larger body is one of the key visual differences from the newest Ultegra and Dura-Ace. But hey, they’ve got to give you some reasons to buy Ultegra.

We'll say it's a draw on the looks front as you'll likely favour one or the other.


2022 Orro  Terra C Shimano 105 Di2 - cassette and rear drop out.jpg

Shimano was very keen to tell us that the shifting had become even faster with the latest 12-speed groupsets and thankfully, some of that has trickled down to 105 Di2 with the rear derailleur being fast and accurate. The front derailleur looks as though it has come from the old 11-speed Ultegra Di2 system and the performance supports this theory as, while it is good, the 105 Di2 shifting isn’t as impressive as with the latest Ultegra or Dura-Ace.

2021 SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset - rear mech and cassette.jpg

Rival AXS works just the same as Force and Red, with the right paddle shifting to a harder gear at the back and the left popping you into an easier one. Press both at the same time and the front derailleur changes. It is a much simpler system to get to grips with, especially for newer riders, but in terms of the quality of the actual shift at the derailleurs, we’d say that Shimano takes a narrow win here.


2021 SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset - rear disc brake detail.jpg

One of the things that SRAM really did well with the Rival AXS groupset was the brakes. They feel good in your hands and it is easy to control the impressive amounts of power. To be honest, these brakes just work, which is nice.

Moda Finale Shimano 105 Di2 - rear disc calliper.jpg

The braking was one of the biggest improvements that Shimano made with the latest Di2 groupsets with wider pad clearance down at the callipers and Servo Wave technology which made the braking more progressive. While the former is present in the new 105 Di2 groupset, you miss out on Servo Wave and, as a result, the brakes don’t feel quite as nice as Ultegra or Dura-Ace. 

Both systems, however, offer brilliant control and a lot of power, so this is a draw.


Moda Finale Shimano 105 Di2 - lever.jpg

Both systems feel nice in the hands, but 105 Di2 has seen a significant change from the outgoing model, canting inwards a little to allow for what Shimano says is a more natural hand position.

Shimano uses a lever shape that is a little more flowing. There are few edges here and the additional length makes getting a secure grip over broken surfaces very easy.

2021 SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset - shifter and bar.jpg

Sram's Rival hood design is more angular and has plenty of fans, but we're giving this round to Shimano.

Gear Range

Both systems are 12-speed, but Shimano keeps things relatively traditional by basing 105 Di2 around an 11T smallest cog. The cassette can go all the way up to 36T and, when paired with the compact 34/50T chainrings, gives you a sub 1:1 ratio of 0.94. In inches, that's 25.09. At the other end, you can get 36/52T chainrings for a largest possible gear ratio of 4.73 or 126.26 inches.

> 33 bikes that feature Shimano’s new 105 Di2 groupset

Rival AXS, meanwhile, offers a 10-36T cassette and 46/33T chainrings. That gives a lower gear ratio of 0.92 or 24.56. The largest chainrings available with Rival AXS is a 48/35T. Sounds small, but stick it in the 48-10 and you’ll have a ratio of 4.8 or 128.13 inches.

> 17 bikes equipped with SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupsets

A lot of numbers, but the takeaway is that Rival AXS offers a larger spread of gears.

So, which one is actually better?

We’d first say that if you’re buying a bike with one of these groupsets installed, you’re going to be a very happy little cyclist. Both work well and both have their strong points. Both are now easy to connect to your phone and cycling computer. Both weigh about the same, but we think what will separate them is how you’re going to buy either groupset.

> SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset

If you’re buying as a standalone groupset, the price gulf makes Rival AXS the easy choice. You can have a power meter included and still have money left over compared to what 105 Di2 would cost.

> Shimano 105 R7100 Di2 Groupset

But if Orro’s pricing is anything to go by, the 105 Di2 bike will be the one to go for. The few hundred pounds that you’ll save can go on clothing, accessories or just stay in your pocket.

Add new comment


froze | 1 year ago

I think these expensive electronic systems is all wrong for todays world.  With the economy all over the world crashing, inflation jumping, the war in Ukraine hasn't ended, Russia has now shut off their fuel entirely to Europe, who's going to have the extra income to buy this stuff when we're going to be worried about how to pay for heating our homes this winter as fuel prices soar?  Food prices are soaring too, people will want to eat and not buy expensive bikes.  I believe that is why the sales of bicycles have dived this year, the bikes have gotten far too expensive, people don't have the extra income to afford them, so they're not buying; and if component manufactures don't start going back to less expensive simplier systems, like the mechanical stuff, a lot of bicycle makers will be going out of business, as will bicycle shops, which have been closing at a record pace the last 3 years, and maybe even a component manufacture could become history.  When you look at sales reports they state the sales are up, but that's misleading, because the price of bicycles took a huge jump, so the per unit sales are down while the dollar per sale is up, but that won't last long as the economy worsens world wide the dollar per sale will also decline.   Of course this could lead to glut of bicycles and parts in warehouses that will have to be dumped at fire sale prices, so for a very short term there's where the deals will be made IF people can even afford those prices, but after that, forgetaboutit.

And all of that doesn't even include the possibility of a China/Taiwan war which would damage the economy of the world even more so.

You read any financial report on the internet, and they're all saying that a collapse is imminent.  Finanical news agencies are so sure of a major collapse that they can't find, or see, anyway to avoid it.

I think we're looking at a near future castrophic collapse of the mid to high level bicycle market.  The only way they're going to be able to shore it up a little will be to do away with the expensive stuff like electronic shifting, disk brakes, and expensive CF bikes.  And if you decide to buy now before the economy collapses then you'll have to worry about replacing expensive batteries in 3 to 5 years for the electronic stuff, either you won't be able to afford it, or you're not going to be able to find a replacement.

Simon E replied to froze | 1 year ago

I'd venture that the people buying expensive bikes with electronic groupsets and deep carbon rims are not struggling to pay their bills. There are lots of households with sizeable amounts of disposable income, although how long that might continue is another thing.

If the high end bike 'boom' collapses then so be it but manufacturers will adapt. If you ignore the hype you can still have plenty of fun / get from A to B just as effectively on a modest aluminium bike with inexpensive tyres and an 8, 9 or 10 speed groupset.

mr-andrew | 1 year ago

So for similar money you could get Campagnolo Chorus EPS - also a 3rd tier electronic groupset. It costs about the same and weights 2300g all in. That's a serious weight difference. At nearly 3kg neither of these groupsets is even remotely attractive. 

Rich_cb replied to mr-andrew | 1 year ago

Does Chorus EPS even exist anymore?

A few ebayers have got 11speed NOS but I don't think it's actually being manufactured.

Miller replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago

No, Chorus and Athena EPS (pretty much the same thing) haven't been offered for quite a few years now. Campag's only current EPS group is SR 12sp. 

bobinski | 1 year ago

Does the price difference reflect the connection between Orro and the importers of Shimano? I don't see these price differences amongst other bike brands.

Prosper0 | 1 year ago

£500 difference is absolutely massive. Just get SRAM Rival. 

mark1a replied to Prosper0 | 1 year ago

Did you actually read this article?

KDee replied to mark1a | 1 year ago

What article? I just come for the comments 😂

jacknorell replied to Prosper0 | 1 year ago
1 like

Replacement parts from SRAM tend to be quite pricey

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