Shimano Sora STI shift-brake levers for 2x9-speed drivetrains. The Dual Control levers feature an integrated optical gear display and a sleek ergonomic design. Variable Reach adjustment with two spacers allows for a more comfortable use with smaller hand
Strengths: Cheap and cheerful
Perfect for an aspiring road cyclist
Good starting point for future upgrades
Amazing for just commuting and getting around in town
Pretty durable for its price
Weaknesses: Difficult to shift gears while on the drops
Needs frequent tuning and maintenance
Not ideal for hardcore, lung busting road races. Invest on something something higher up the Shimano lineup such as 105 or Ultegra.
Shimano Sora is perfect for a beginner who is just starting to cycle. It is the perfect groupo for the commuter bike. I'm not afraid to get my Sora dirty because it is extremely cheap to replace and easy to fix. It is by no means a DuraAce, but it does what it is meant to do. Shift gears flawlessly. I would definitely recommend it to any novice cyclist who is looking at buying a first bike.
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: April 22, 2010
Strengths: Reliable, cheap, accurate.
Weaknesses: Button downshifters, occasional rub on FD that can't be trimmed.
I've put 6,000 miles on a 2006 Trek with Sora shifters, a cheaper-than-Sora Shimano 2203 FD and Tiagra RD. I recently purchased a full carbon bike with 105 components, so I have some perspective on the Sora components.
There are deficits with the Sora shifters--in particular, the downshift buttons aren't conventient from the drop. But overall, my Sora components did not display any of the problems complained about by other reviewers here. They worked reliably and accurately year after year. I had the bike adjusted at the LBS twice, once at 1500 miles and once at 4000. The Sora shifters worked acccurately for thousands of miles. They're still fine. I don't dislike them at all....
Though some say they wear out, they get out-of-adjustment, etc., I've seen none of it. They're not as sweet as the 105s in weight and ability to trim the FD, but they function like workhorses and I'd readily recommend them.
Carbon frame vs. Trek Pilot 1 aluminum frame? Night and day difference. Cheapo no-name brakes vs. Tektro R580 brakes? World of stopping difference. Sora vs. 105 shifters? Toyota Yaris vs. Toyota Camry.
Strengths: smooth operation, reliable shifting, no ghost shifting.
Weaknesses: easily fatigued aluminium casting. check your for fracture lines.
The sora came with the GT Series 4 that I bought in 2006 - end of season sale. The derailleur performed perfectly for 20 months, needing only three cable tunes to correct mid-cassette jumping. Quiet and smooth, it was reliable and got me through some pretty tough century-plus rides. Until the derailleur unit broke off and became one with my wheel. It lasted 14300 km, and broke through the solid aluminium casting around the position-adjuster screws. I now use 105.
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: May 3, 2008
Strengths: Low cost of acquisition and ownership
Weaknesses: cheap product quality, low cost design, doesn't really invigorate the road riding rookies into wanting to compete or get better
Well, being that this gruppo came with the bike I purchased, a 2006 Fuji Newest 3.0, it can easily be faulted for the price I got the bike for. For the purposes the bike was made for, it serves it purpose just fine, but for someone like me, who as delusions of road racing grandeur, it doesn't inspire with the faults. The Sora components included in my bike were the shifters, front and rear derailleurs, and the cassette. The brakes were Tektro no-names, and the 3 chainring crank was Fuji branded.
I've had the bike professionally tuned a couple times since my original purchase. Most recently, about 4 weeks before this typing. The rear derailleur can be precise and quick when I need it to be so, but unfortunately, it can be that without me pressing any shift button/lever. Occasionally, when I'm putting in a bit of power up hill, the system shifts up one or two gears without my consent. Now, if this were down hill, I wouldn't have a problem, but that isn't the case. Like one other person mentioned in a previous review, he called it "ghost shifts". I would have to agree with him. The low spec system doesn't seem to be designed from the start as something you can stick with for years.
The shifters themselves, although adequate for what I use the bike for, don't really seem to be much in the way of a quality product. They are made of cheap plastic and don't seem to be anything to talk about. The small shift lever is also in a very odd place as well. Not bad for when you are on the hoods for practically all day, but when I want to go to the drops, well.... up shifting isn't something I can do, for both shifters. Another negative for the left shifter is that when I drop from the largest chain ring to the smallest, or even the middle to the smallest (remember it's a triple), the upshift lever likes to stick. I can brake, but I cannot go from the small ring to the middle unless I damn near brake the unit. This has happened enough times for me to almost treat the bike as a 1x8, instead of a 3x8. Another thing about the shifters, for both of them, is that the length of the throw from one ring to the next, regardless of the derailleur, is quite long. There is almost or more than an 1.5 to 2 inches of travel from "neutral" to full extension. If the shift length was shortened by about 1/2 an inch, I think it would be much more comfortable and quicker too. The final thing with the shifters is the length of the brake/shift lever. When in the drops, it is somewhat far from a comfortable grip for me. When on the hoods, the shape of the shifter, including the levers length, don't allow to much in the way of the ability to pull the levers to stop with as much force as I want.
Lastly, the components aren't really made to be rebuilt, just pull and replace, no salvage, no repair. Kind of reminds me of the medical model, "When in doubt, cut it out."
The units are cheap, and since that is a main point for the gruppo(any almost all of Shimano stuff), replacement parts are inexpensive should you get into a wreck. Additionally, the component are compatible with some higher end Shimano stuff. For example, you have probably seen some low spec bikes, like the Specialized Allez or the Masi Alare has Sora shifters with a Tiagra rear derailleur. This low spec compatibility does allow some cash strapped riders to equip their bikes with somewhat better components should the need or opportunity arises.
Overall, for the price and it's intended use as to get people used to road riding, it isn't bad, but for prolonged use, something better should be chosen first off. Tiagra is so much better in every way that I fail to see why Shimano wants to do a Campy rip-off with Sora, when they can be unique and have the same kind of shifters across the line. I'm so glad that my bike is currently being converted to Campagnolo Mirage.