With everyone having finally got their heads around Shimano’s 12-speed 105 groupset now being Di2 (electronic) only, the KHS Bicycles website suggests the Japanese component giant will be offering a new version of 105 with mechanical (cable-operated) shifting. We owe Bicycling the credit for this story.
What we have here is a 2024 KHS Bicycles Flite 700 road bike fitted with a mechanical Shimano 105 groupset. The components pictured look like they’re from the previous-generation Shimano 105 R7000 groupset. R7000 was released in the 2018 model year.
However, the KHS website specifically lists a Shimano 105 FD R7100 front derailleur, a Shimano 105 RD R7100 rear derailleur, and Shimano 105 ST-R7120 shifters.
None of these components exists in the current Shimano range. The latest 105 series is R7100 but the electronic components are RD-R7150 (rear derailleur), FD-R7150 (front derailleur), and ST-R7170 shifters (you’re taking notes, right?).
Second, KHS lists the bike as featuring a 12-speed 11/36-tooth cassette. Shimano 105 R7000 was 11-speed and the medium cage could handle a maximum sprocket size of 34-tooth.
Third – we are up to three now, aren’t we? – KHS lists a 12-speed chain.
On top of that, the spec sheet shows a Shimano FC-RS520 Compact chainset. This is a non-series (meaning that it doesn’t belong to a groupset) option designed for 12-speed drivetrains. Although this already exists, it further suggests that the other drivetrain components are specifically 12-speed and that the spec sheet isn’t just the result of an admin error.
…and that rests the case for the prosecution. We’d say it’s a strong case, Shimano is banged to rights here, and there’s going to be a new mechanical-shifting version of its R7100 groupset sometime this year.
We’re big fans of Shimano 105 R7100 Di2 – the shift quality and speed are excellent and the braking is both powerful and reliable – but the issue is that it’s not cheap. With 105 having jumped massively in price with the move to electronic shifting, there’s a big price gap down to fourth-tier Tiagra.
Shimano Tiagra R4700 is currently 10-speed and mechanical only. Shimano 105 R7000 is currently 12-speed and Di2 only. Although we’re expecting a new version of Tiagra this year, it would make sense for Shimano to plug the gap with a mechanical version of 105, giving bike brands and end consumers the option of saving money by foregoing Di2. Shimano always used to boast that 105 was the most popular groupset in the world; adding an updated mechanical version would make for an easier defence of that position.
Spoiler alert: Jamie is preparing a video on rising prices in the bike industry that will show you exactly how much Shimano 105 has increased (taking inflation into account) over recent years. It’s a lot!
Okay, so there’s all the evidence as well as a rationale explaining why Shimano might want to introduce Shimano 105 R7100 with mechanical shifting. What do you think?
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.