Shimano 105 road bike groupset long term review

When our Shimano 105 group weighed in quite some time ago, it breathed new life into an aging (but still darn fine!) Trek 5200 carbon road bike. Now, after years of use for training, charity rides, cyclocross and just spinning on country roads, we’re pleased to say it’s still functioning just fine and looks as good as ever.

The Lodestar Black colorway introduced with the 2011 group update goes a long way in keeping the 105 group visually relevant against the recent updates to Dura-Ace and Ultegra. That goes a long way in keeping us cyclists happy with a purchase when there’s so much shiny and new hitting the airwaves every hour, so we can’t say enough good things about the group’s aesthetics.

Performance wise, it’s still shifting smooth, though it highlights the improvements Shimano’s made with it’s top end cables and housing since. If you recall the smooth shifting of older groups with the external shift routing popping out the sides of the hoods, the new stuff is pretty darn close to that. These run out the back of the shifter/lever and under the bar tape, which adds noticeable and unfortunate drag to the system. It’s not hard to push them, but it’s not as smooth as their latest and greatest either. The actual shifting performance, though, is still crisp and accurate.

Read on for the full review…

Shimano 105 road bike groupset long term review

Shimano’s Hollowtech II cranksets have proven plenty stiff while remaining within spitting distance in weight to mainstream carbon cranks. The functional change with this group was a bit wider spacing between the chainrings to improve clearance when cross chaining. For a group that’s likely to get spec’d on more entry level and “enthusiast” bikes, that’s a good thing. For more performance oriented cyclists that shift the front chainring more frequently, the good news is it shifts up and down the rings quickly and easily, even under hard effort.

Shimano 105 road bike groupset long term review

Sure, the new Dura-Ace’s extended arm adds a good bit of leverage, but this one works just fine, too. In fact, our hunch is a good set of premium cables (Shimano’s are good, but we’re pretty excited about Jaguar’s new sealed system) would make these feel better than new.

Shimano 105 road bike groupset long term review

The combination of matte and gloss black across the cranks and rear derailleur give it the appearance of a more premium group.

Shimano 105 road bike groupset long term review

Ergonomics are good, the hoods haven’t worn excessively and everything’s still tight and tidy.

Shimano 105 road bike groupset long term review

Despite being our only consistent complaint about Shimano’s levers, the exposed internals haven’t suffered from any debilitating contamination. We’ve also had a Raleigh cyclocross bike in for long term review with a 105 group that’s seen two seasons of training abuse, a few races and quite a few days (months, really) being put away dirty. Even so, things are still shifting just fine.

Shimano 105 road bike groupset long term review

The dual-pivot brake design provides plenty of power and modulation. They haven’t developed any play in the pivots – they feel as good now as the day they were installed.

Shimano 105 road bike groupset long term review

The pedals look a little worse for the wear, but still function flawlessly. We have swapped in other pedals periodically, but these end up back on the bike between testing other products.

Shimano 105 road bike groupset long term review

With a group reaching this age and all of it’s premium siblings having just received complete revamps, it’s hard to imagine 105 isn’t next in line. And it’s hard to imagine it won’t also add a cog to become the next 11-speed group. Shimano’s groups just continue to get more refined, with smoother shifting and better braking at almost every update. There’s no rumor or official word about a new 105 group that we’ve heard, though, so if you’re in the market for a mid-tier group with upper tier performance that stands the test of time (or a bike spec’d as such), Shimano 105 comes highly recommended.


  1. 105 is the benchmark for the entire bike industry. Best bang for the buck. I rate everything in comparison to 105’s value / quality.

  2. Guess this review still serves well to when people may consider the eventual discounted 5700. It’s only right you shoved that workhorse group onto what is seemingly been rendered a workhorse frame. I have the pedals. Purely robust, I just have a hard time even indulging in the carbon counterpart because there is not an instance these pedals have let me down.

  3. I am all for making cycling less expensive. The technology is soooooo much better today than in years past. Shimano 105 is way beyond the level of even the venerable old Dura-Ace and Campy Record components of 20 years ago.

  4. @bin judgin – couldn’t agree move. I have the last gen 105 build on a bike and it’s been fantastic for years. While I also have Ultegra 6700, Sram Red, and Campy Super Record 11, the 105 build always impresses me when I go back and ride it compared to the others.

  5. 105 is a workhorse. The version you review is brand-new compared to the 105 group (replacing the original down tube friction levers) I installed on my 91 Cannondale RSomenumber frame. That group is still getting hammered regulary by my son who stole that bike from me when he went grad school. FYI, I run a 20 year old Ultegra group on an ancient Merlin. Never an issue. Now, let’s consider Shimano reels….

  6. Jaguar cables? you mean Jagwire, I guess.

    anyway, I run 5700 brifters mated to 1055 front and rear derailer (yes, those bits from the nineties) to shift across Tiagra 11-28T 10-speed cassette and 1055 crankset (52/42T). works like a charm. in spite of Shimano’s claims that 5700 brifters have different brake cable pull than its predecessors, I haven’t found any problem mating them to 5500 calipers.

  7. Regarding the Trek 5200.

    I still ride my Trek 5200 (2003) and it has more than 50 000 miles.
    I still have the original bontrager race-lite wheelset (Changed bearings and freehub).
    I still have the original Ultegra 6500 Groupset (mainy chains, cassettes, cables and chainrings later).
    Changed saddle 2 times (I’m due for another one).

    By todays standards it’s far from being the lightest, stiffest, or vertically compliant frameset.
    But it still brings a smile when I ride it.

    I tend to think that we put too much emphasis on the latest and greatest equipment.

  8. I love me some 105.

    It shifts/pedals/brakes just fine and shifting doesn’t win the local hill climb or sprint.

    Even tho I love the bad ass black, it doesn’t win the parking lot poseur competition. lol. (actually a +)


  9. @Sly that Trek you ride is what i like to call “Dope” Loved that particular bicycle and it should referred to as “The Fifty Two Hundo”

  10. I don’t know how Campagnolo Veloce is priced in the USA, but it’s even better price-performance ratio than 105 here in Europe. I have a 1996 BH w/ 9 Speed Veloce that works now as a winter trainer and I will never get rid of it.

  11. @Dave

    Veloce is cheaper than 105 – but there’s a reason. The levers, cranks and calipers just don’t have that finish and secure feeling that 105 has (IMHO).

  12. Veloce is ~300 g lighter and €100 cheaper. If it weren’t for Campy’s inscrutable offering of cassette ranges, I’d have taken it over 105 in a flash.

  13. I actually kind of think that 5700, like 6700 and 7900, basically sucks. I cannot wait for Shimano to roll out 5800, which presuming it gets all the trickle down from 9000 and 6800, and should mark a return to the ease of lever throw and precise shifting of 5600, which is the current benchmark for affordable, quality Shimano shifting. While still vastly better than SRAM, the last generation of Shimano components were lackluster, to put it politely.

  14. I love me some 105 black. Maintain it and it will last for all eternity. Gonna have to start stockpiling 10 speed cassettes and chains I guess as it slowly drops out of production.

  15. I couldn’t agree more that most “high end” products are closer to high-end marketing than actual noticeable and beneficial performance for all but top pros, and honestly, do you think a 105 drivetrain would have cost Froome the yellow jersey? But with that, just out of curiosity, what does the 5200 with 105 weigh and what is the full build kit?

  16. Gravity: I agree mostly… I actually think that SRAM stuff was better than the 7900, 6700, 5700 generation though, at least in terms of shifting action. Shimano wins out in durability. New 6800 and 9000 is sweet though, hope the next 105 is similar.

  17. I have full 5700 on my giant tcr and couldn’t begin to fathom what you mean by lack of shifting ease, smoothest and eastiest shifting ive ever experienced but thats only compared to 6500, 5500, and 4600 so maybe i am missing something from the ultegra dura ace groups of the last ten years that i never used.

  18. I don’t know which are thest shimano groupset but the only thing is the more up to date the more money expense.the luxury groupset companion with the carbon frame to reduce weigth but the toughness reduce mind that the more expense follow the loss of mightyness!And short life time

  19. 105 rocks! What ever version/age of the group. I’ve an old Bianchi Limited that’s gone through many visions. Basic 7 by 2 with drop bars to a fixed gear and back, including a single 46 upfront 7-speed with straight bars along the way. Except for the fixie they’ve all had 105 drive trains. Fixing to build an EPX 203SL (2003) carbon frame with the new 105 from the ePay parts bin. Just havin’ some winter fun.

    Ride strong, live long!

    PS. It’s not its wording that matters. I read jibberish quite well thank you.

  20. I have this gruppo on my rain bike and have a question – while the paddle shift is nice and easy, when pushing the entire lever (to send the chain in) the movement is very stiff.

    Is this just me? Is there a way to make it easier? I don’t have too many KMs on mine, but the force needed to push the lever in is pretty considerable. Easier would be nicer.

  21. Agree on the added drag to the system. I made the upgrade from Tiagra. It’s great but shifting from little to big ring on the front is a chore that requires a lot of effort despite well oiled and smoothly running cables it’s let down by the extra bends running along the handlebars.

  22. I enjoy reading the reviews about the 105 series. I am still running a 105 series from 1985. The shifters are on the down tube and shift just fine. This is on my 1985 Pinerello Treviso. I have Campy Chorus on my De Bernadi and would say the shimano is still my favorites after all the years. Some people believe changing the components to an updated series will make the bike go faster. I say, if its not broke, leave it alone. Obviously they built them to last back in the 80s.

    • Downtube shifters are the best I have 1055 which is the best series they ever made, it has sis 7 speed downtube shifters, which have amazing feature of shifting as many gears as you want and trim as much as you want and also one hand front/rear shifting capability lol Must say new 105 looks very cheap comapared to the 1055 and I doubt it will last 30 years (the sti shifters won’t for sure). I’m always faster than guys on new bikes because it’s all about the legs.

  23. Isn’t 105 last years ultegra,and is there a way to compensate for the added drag of a shifter cable routed out of the back. Come on….this 2001or ?????

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