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Groupsets: How big a difference do they make?

jonny_trousersjonny_trousers Posts: 3,588
edited December 2010 in Road beginners
Beyond a certain level I mean.

I'll be looking to buy my first decent road bike in the new year (having ridden single speeds up until now) and whatever I decide upon will almost certainly be available with a choice of groupsets. For someone who will want to enjoy riding fast, who will want decent quality equipment that functions well, yet has no plans to start serious racing, how much difference will getting kitted out with something above 105, for example, make? I love the bling factor of flashy gear, but will ride quality really be noticably improved by a keen hobby cyclist such as me.

Cheers in advance.
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  • Yes, there is a notable difference ....if you are the type of person to feel and know what you want :wink:

    I probably think if you got a non cyclist and told them to ride a Sora equipped bike and then a Ultegra, they mightn't know the difference. But an experienced cyclist will feel the slicker changes and the easier smoother action.

    Strangely, both my CAAD and Jake bikes have 20 sp 105 but feel different. The CAAD much slicker.
    CAAD9
    Kona Jake the Snake
    Merlin Malt 4
  • thel33terthel33ter Posts: 2,684
    From 105 onwards, weight is the only major (minor?) difference IMO. I don't notice much of a difference between highish end kit (105 VS Dura Ace) It is a tiny bit slicker and smoother, but I don't get hung up about spending 2x as much on DA etcetera.
    And now you know, and knowing is half the battle
    05 Spesh Enduro Expert
    05 Trek 1000 Custom build
    Speedily Singular Thingy
  • Thanks guys. I definitely want quality equipment, but I think it would be easy to get carried away.
  • Thanks guys. I definitely want quality equipment, but I think it would be easy to get carried away.

    To put the cat amongst the pidgeon, I think Campagnolo Athena was a lovely groupset I recently tried and much better then my 105's. Looks the same price as the Ultegra. However, like many things I would always need to use the product a few weeks to really give a definite opinion on it.
    CAAD9
    Kona Jake the Snake
    Merlin Malt 4
  • I must admit, I am a sucker for the sheer style of Campagnolo. And if it works well then what more excuse do I need? I'd better get saving...
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,676
    I love the bling factor of flashy gear, but will ride quality really be noticably improved by a keen hobby cyclist such as me.
    Doubtful but if you like your bling why worry about it? Buy whatever makes you happy.

    I have compared Tiagra and 105 STIs and drivetrian and can't detect any difference. As both seem satisfactory I wouldn't want more but I know not everyone's like me.
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • I think Campagnolo Athena was a lovely groupset I recently tried and much better then my 105's..

    The Athena 11 groupset was given a really good review in the Cycling Weekly about 11 months ago and on this basis I brought it at a really good price and have not regretted it and would always choose Camapag over Shimano.
  • irezumiirezumi Posts: 142
    For every day riding it's irrelevant.

    Having the gearing properly set up is the most important thing.
  • twotyredtwotyred Posts: 822
    For groupsets from the same manufacturer above the 105 price point there will be little difference. I've got 105 on one of my bikes and Ultegra on the other and I can't tell a difference in the shifting.

    More difference between manufacturers. Personally I don't like the thumbshift on Campagnolo which is difficult to use if you have small hands. Also in my experience Shimano shifts more smoothly than Campagnolo. I have no experience of SRAM double tap.
  • Beyond a certain level I mean.

    I'll be looking to buy my first decent road bike in the new year (having ridden single speeds up until now) and whatever I decide upon will almost certainly be available with a choice of groupsets. For someone who will want to enjoy riding fast, who will want decent quality equipment that functions well, yet has no plans to start serious racing, how much difference will getting kitted out with something above 105, for example, make? I love the bling factor of flashy gear, but will ride quality really be noticably improved by a keen hobby cyclist such as me.

    Cheers in advance.

    Spend the majority of your budget on the bike bike with the best frame - regardless of what groupset it has
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  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    In my experience, at the outset, the differences are often imperceptable - it often just comes down to aesthetics and personal preferences. However, in time i find that better quality components don't go out of adjustment and generally last longer - on my race bike I have Record and it gets fettled once per year and that's it - it's consistently reliable throughout and season after season. Contrary to many opinions, I'd recommend that you put old/ secondhand good stuff on a winter training bike - they're better built and quality of materials/finished means they don't corrode as much as the cheap stuff. It also goods me good reason to treat my best bike to new parts and put the old stuff on the others.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Thanks again guys. Some interesting thoughts there.

    I was reading up on Campag Athena and, very good though the reviews are, it sounds like it requires a fair amount of looking after, which, to an amateur like me...

    I should perhaps reiterate that I am not talking about anything of a lower quality than 105. SRAM perhaps?
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    My TT bike has 105, my roadie has Tiagra, can I notice the difference?, nope, not at all.
  • thel33terthel33ter Posts: 2,684
    Sram is hard to get used too, but I really like it. I don't like the thumbshifters on Campag cause I have small hands.
    And now you know, and knowing is half the battle
    05 Spesh Enduro Expert
    05 Trek 1000 Custom build
    Speedily Singular Thingy
  • whyamiherewhyamihere Posts: 7,333
    I'm certain that my dad's 2009 Veloce shifters actually work slightly better than my 2009 Centaurs (supposedly one groupset up)... The only reason I went for Centaur over Veloce was sheer vanity.
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,676
    Lillywhite wrote:
    The Athena 11 groupset was given a really good review in the Cycling Weekly about 11 months ago
    If it's as weak as the one for SRAM Apex recently added to the CW website (here) it would be a waste of pixels or ink.
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • jonmackjonmack Posts: 522
    I've got Rival and Red on my two bikes and in all honesty I don't think there's a huge difference, Red is noticeably smoother but it's double the price so i'd expect it to be!
  • The groupset (IMHO) when refering to quality of ride has a far lesser effect than the frame and wheels. Therefore if your budget is, say 2k buy a bike with 105 and a good frame and light wheels, rather than dura ace/ ultegra hanging on a cheap frame with heavy wheels.

    This "rule of thumb" can be applied to all groupsets regardless of brand.
    Tail end Charlie

    The above post may contain traces of sarcasm or/and bullsh*t.
  • SoniSoni Posts: 1,217
    I came from a Sora/Tiagra mix Trek 1.5 - to a Trek 2.5 with full Ultegra, had nothing but problems with the Sora/Tiagra mix, had to keep fine tuning the gears after every ride and it still didn't perform that well, however with the Ultegra, i've hardly touched it, apart from a tweek of the barrell adjuster on the rear derailier once or twice due to cable stretch, and the gears shoot in to their position with pinpoint accuracy every time, its almost like a gun going off, bang bang bang and its spot on.

    I would definetely recommend Ultegra.
  • Simon E wrote:
    Lillywhite wrote:
    The Athena 11 groupset was given a really good review in the Cycling Weekly about 11 months ago
    If it's as weak as the one for SRAM Apex recently added to the CW website (here) it would be a waste of pixels or ink.

    Nah the one on the Athena was spot on and my use of the bike from May to October confirmed their assessment.
  • clx1clx1 Posts: 200
    thel33ter wrote:
    Sram is hard to get used too, but I really like it. I don't like the thumbshifters on Campag cause I have small hands.


    I've got small hands and Campag. on two bikes(Centaur and Chorus 11 Speed) and don't have any problem with the thumb shifters. I also have a bike with a mix of 105/Ultegra.
    There is no argument that the Shimano set up is smoother but I much prefer the Campag, the re assuring "clunk" as you change gear is part of it's charm and is certainly not a disadvantage.
    If I was building or buying a new bike though I would go for the Athena group, it seems to me that it offers a fantastic value/performance package.
  • irezumi wrote:
    For every day riding it's irrelevant.

    Having the gearing properly set up is the most important thing.

    I have road = SRAM red, TT = Ultegra/DA mix, and Ultegra/DA on the cross. 105 would have done the job very well in all cases but some of the builds just happened to have it attached.

    Although I've never used it, 105 has the reputation of being the best balance, bomb proof for road and not a weight concious exercise.
    http://twitter.com/mgalex
    www.ogmorevalleywheelers.co.uk

    10TT 24:36 25TT: 57:59 50TT: 2:08:11, 100TT: 4:30:05 12hr 204.... unfinished business
  • jonmackjonmack Posts: 522
    edited November 2010
    ...
  • TheStoneTheStone Posts: 2,291
    I started on the low end Shimano Sora. It worked, but needed a lot of adjusting and wasn't that easy to get right. Tiagra was a step up, but Ultegra is much better again. Just works. Needs very little attention and if required is very easy.
    exercise.png
  • What's rule 5? :?

    I'v only used Ultegra a bit of DA, Campag, SRAM red but I recon that unless you're racing 105 is best.
    http://twitter.com/mgalex
    www.ogmorevalleywheelers.co.uk

    10TT 24:36 25TT: 57:59 50TT: 2:08:11, 100TT: 4:30:05 12hr 204.... unfinished business
  • jonmackjonmack Posts: 522
    edited November 2010
    ...
  • geebee2geebee2 Posts: 248
    My approach was to decide roughly how much I was prepared to spend to save a gram, although there are also small other non-weight related differences.

    It's easy to argue that the odd 100 grams here or there doesn't make any difference, but when you add it all up, a 7kg bike really is nicer than a 10kg bike.

    Anyway, in my case it's around £1 a gram.

    For me this suggested SRAM Force rather than Rival but not Red.
  • paul64paul64 Posts: 278
    jonmack wrote:
    I've got Rival and Red on my two bikes and in all honesty I don't think there's a huge difference, Red is noticeably smoother but it's double the price so i'd expect it to be!
    Jon, after using (black) Rival for about 15 months now the lack of smoothness is the only thing which continues to bother me compared with my Shimano gear. What is responsible for the Red smoothness, is it the rear mech or the shifters as I might look into sorting it?
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,676
    Lillywhite wrote:
    Simon E wrote:
    Lillywhite wrote:
    The Athena 11 groupset was given a really good review in the Cycling Weekly about 11 months ago
    If it's as weak as the one for SRAM Apex recently added to the CW website (here) it would be a waste of pixels or ink.

    Nah the one on the Athena was spot on and my use of the bike from May to October confirmed their assessment.
    That's great, I'm glad you like it.

    So should I take everything they write as gospel? I'd rather not.
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • paul64 wrote:
    jonmack wrote:
    I've got Rival and Red on my two bikes and in all honesty I don't think there's a huge difference, Red is noticeably smoother but it's double the price so i'd expect it to be!
    Jon, after using (black) Rival for about 15 months now the lack of smoothness is the only thing which continues to bother me compared with my Shimano gear. What is responsible for the Red smoothness, is it the rear mech or the shifters as I might look into sorting it?

    It's the shifters, zero loss or something. Basically they're a lot slicker.
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