Shimano's 105 groupset has always been the sweetspot of the Japanese manufacturer's range with regard to performance versus value. Thanks to the usual trickle down of technology 105 has followed Dura-Ace and Ultegra by going 11-speed to create what I think is Shimano's best bang-for-buck groupset yet.
We'll take a look at each of the components below, going through what changes Shimano have made but more importantly what we think they've achieved.
Dual Control Levers (ST-5800) - 9/10
£175.00 - 490g (619g inc. cables)
|You can find a Shimano 105 group — and all the parts — online at Chain Reaction Cycles or if you prefer to support your local bike shop you can find a Shimano dealer here.|
The new shift action is the same as that found on the top two groups and is so light and precise it doesn't feel that far removed from Di2 shifting at times, thanks mostly to the much shorter throw at the lever. Each shift is much quicker than previously and the resulting positive click as the gear is selected makes it feel more like a button touch than a lever. The new polymer coated cables are responsible for part of this to as are the redesigned front and rear mechs.
Shimano have also made the levers more compact which I think makes them fit the hands more naturally and more comfortably than the previous version. A bonus for those with small hands is that you can now adjust the levers within a 10mm range by the turn of a screw, much better than the inserts used previously.
The only issue I found was trying to trim the front mech. This requires the tiniest of touches on the lever to get right and nine times out of ten you're just going to end up shifting to the small ring.
Brake Callipers (BR-5800) / Direct Mount (BR-5810) - 9/10
£70.00 / £80.00 - 390g
Shimano call their latest calliper design SLR-EV Dual Pivot and this is now found on 105, Ultegra and Dura-Ace. The new symmetrical twin pivot design equalizes the braking forces through each arm allowing for better control and power, 10% better than the previous 5700 brakes apparently.
In practice there is a noticeable improvement in both power and modulation over the old callipers '' and to be honest they were no slouches. Slowing rather than stopping can be achieved with just a couple of fingers applying pressure to the lever and it's easy to avoid locking a wheel. A new brake pad compound has been used and while it's a small improvement it does feel a little more grippy in both the wet and the dry.
Due to adoption of larger tyres by a lot of road riders the overall shape of the callipers has been tweaked to accept up to 28mm tyres. A more pronounced arc has allowed this to be possible while keeping a standard 49mm drop.
If you've got a frame with direct mount points fear not as you'll be able to use the BR-5810 versions which use the same SLR-EV design but with two frame mounting points rather than the traditional single. The front brake is designed for front of fork positioning and the rear for under chain stay attachment.
Chainset (FC-5800) - 9/10
£120.00 - 737g
Whatever you think of the four arm design it seems to be here to stay as it trickles down through Shimano's range. Personally I love it. You can chose from two compact options, 34/50 and 36/52, or a standard 39/53. The beauty of the design is that they all use the same bolt circle diameter so if you want to switch between it's only a matter of swapping rings rather than the whole chainset.
The new 105 cranks are available in the usual 165, 170, 172.5 and 175mm lengths, so there's plenty of choice to suit the majority of riders. The arms use the the same cold forged Hollowtech construction that Shimano have used for years to keep weight down and stiffness up.
Shimano chainsets have always been renowned for their stiffness and this version is no different. In fact the chain rings have been reinforced to make it stiffer than the chainset it replaces. Regardless of how much power you put through the cranks there is no detectable flex there whatsoever.
The cranks can be used with Shimano's standard outboard bearing bottom bracket or the various press fit options depending on what frame you have.
Front Derailleur (FD-5800) - 10/10
£26.00 - 88g
The design of the new front mech is probably the most obvious change with the newly shaped link arm. It's longer to create more leverage and therefore less effort to effect the shift. Couple that with a new spring mechanism and the shifting is smooth, fast and precise. I also think the curvy shape is a work of art.
Shimano provide a plastic alignment tool to position the derailleur correctly for the shifter cable angle. That's sensible considering the range of cabling options we get from various frames these days.
There are two mounting options depending on your frame, either a braze on version or a 34.9mm diameter band on. Both have a recommended maximum chainring of 53-teeth, not such good news for time triallists.
Rear Derailleur (RD-5800) - 10/10
£37.00 - 230g
The geometry of the derailleur has been changed quite a bit as has the cable pitch to give more 'robust adjustment' whatever that means. Thanks to that and the new lighter spring balance the shifting is absolutely spot on. With the bike on the workstand we played a game of seeing how fast we could shift before the mech became flustered but it's safe to say your finger will make a mistake first. Up and down the cassette in a blur goes the chain.
There are again two options here with a short cage (SS) that'll work up to a 28-tooth sprocket and a medium cage (GS) for up to 32.
Cassette (CS-5800) - 9/10
£38.00 - 276g
The new 11-speed cassette comes in three ratios, 11-32, 11-28 and 12-25 offering close gearing for a smoother cadence and more efficiency. The shifting is sharp and those computer designed tooth profiles must be doing their job as even under load there were no missed shifts.
Resistance to wear has always been a reason for me to buy 105 sprockets even with an Ultegra or Dura-Ace equipped bike and that remains here as the nickel-plated sprockets are standing up to pretty much anything you can throw at it.
For that all important weight saving the larger sprockets have been machined and drilled to remove excess material along with being mounted on an aluminium carrier.
Chain (CNHG600) - 8/10
£22.00 - 265g
Chain width is now just 5.62mm for the latest 105 version and it's had a proper revamp too. Taking technology from the HG-X 10-speed off road chain it is now asymmetric with outboard plates designed to aid front and rear shifting. It runs very quietly indeed thanks to Sil-Tec (PTFE) coated inner links and seems to be resisting the build-up of dirt and water so far.
I do wish Shimano would do away with their joining pin though and provide some sort of quick link. While the joining pin is easy to fit, having the ability to remove the chain for cleaning would be a great option.
Pedals (PD-5800) - 9/10
£80.00 - 285g
Our groupset came with a set of pedals and although they've gone up a model number they look pretty much the same as the 5700 pedals they are replacing. Saying that though there was no need to change anything anyway as they are brilliant.
The carbon composite body saves a bit of weight over the aluminium 5700 body and the large platform means they feel very secure for putting down the power. They still use the same SPD-SL cleat and you get a degree of tension adjustment for entry and release.
You'll need an Allen key to screw them into the cranks as they don't have spanner flats.
There are quite a few options in the new 105 group as Shimano have launched flat bar 11-speed shifters for hybrid bikes that are fully compatible with the new derailleurs.
There is also a flat bar brake lever that'll work with both calipers and cable discs. If you want to go for hydraulic brakes on a road setup the new 11-speed brake/shifter unit (ST-RS685) is compatible with 105, Ultegra and Dura-Ace mechanical shifting.
RRP inc. pedals - £590.00, 2967g
RRP exc. pedals - £510.00, 2682g
In a word: brilliant. The 11-speed 105 5800 groupset is everything you could want in terms of performance, looks, durability and above all value.
The week before getting my hands on the 5800 group I was riding a 5700-equipped bike.The difference is like night and day. The new 11-speed group provides faster and more precise shifting, more powerful and easier to control braking and an overall more solid feel.
I've also been riding the 5800 alongside a test bike with brand new Ultegra 6800. Ultegra performs even better than 105, but the difference is minimal. Taking into account the fact that even with the cheapest internet prices 105 is £200 cheaper for a mere 370g weight penalty, overall it comes out on top.
Whichever finish you go for the 5800 looks more expensive than it actually is, although I think the black has a slight edge over the silver.
Shimano 105 normally starts to become available on bikes around the £1,000 to £1,200 mark so to get this level of shifting and braking performance in that price bracket is good news for bike buyers.
There we have it then. As a Campagnolo fan it pains me to say it but the new Shimano 105 is the best all round groupset money can buy.
Performance, value, durability - for once you can have all three; quite simply a brilliant groupset
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano 105 Groupset
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Today Shimano launched a brand new version of the most popular road groupset worldwide, the 105. The new 105 (5800 series) adopts key features of the earlier introduced race proven groupsets Dura-Ace and Ultegra and brings it to the cycling enthusiasts for every day riding. The main new features are an 11-speed drivetrain that shifts more precise and lighter than ever, improved brake power and better control of the bike.
Shimano's new 105 gives the widest range of road riders the opportunity to ride a groupset that is inspired by professional riders. Whether it is for everyday riding or longer rides & climbs in the weekend."
I think Shimano last paragraph somes up 105, it brings 95% of the performance of Dura Ace to a much more affordable price point and therefore to more riders.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
We've gone through the main points above but the technical specs for each component of the groupset can be found here.
Really well put together as we've grown to expect from Shimano. A range of materials and components all working together well.
The best performing 105 groupset yet with the only niggle being that tricky front mech trim.
One of the beauties of 105 is the workman like ability to deal with crap weather on the winter slog or work faultlessly on the best summer bike.
Comparable in weight to both Veloce and Apex but more importantly just 370g heavier than Ultegra
The shifter hoods are really the only thing that can marked for comfort and the new compact shape is a big improvement.
At the RRP it's impressive but the fact you can get this for just over three hundred quid online (excluding pedals) is amazing value for money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Absolutely flawless. The new light yet precise shifting is a joy to use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The speed of the shifts and the braking power.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Only that difficult trim really.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
I've always liked Shimano's groupsets but I've never really loved them, being more of a Campagnolo fan but after using the latest 11-speed systems I'm completely smitten. Shimano has nailed the light touch and precise feel that it lacked before and in terms of design I think the new chainset and front mech look great. Bringing the majority of Ultegra's performance down to 105 for such an attractive price means as the complete package 105 is pretty much the best out there.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.