What Is It
Shimano’s new R7000 105 group brings high-end ergonomics to its more affordable hydraulic road disc brakes while offering a wide range, double-chainring drivetrain.
- Excellent shifting and braking
- Great 2x gearing range for road and mixed surface riding
- No free stroke adjustment
- Heavier, but not by a huge margin, than more expensive Shimano offerings
Shimano’s 105 group has long been a workhorse aimed at value-conscious road cyclists. It benefits from the technologies developed at the Dura-Ace level, distilled at the Ultegra level, and arrives at 105 as robust and reliable. Released in 2018 and available now in 2019, the R7000 groupset has an 11-speed, mechanical drivetrain, entirely compatible with Dura-Ace and Ultegra by the way, and now features 105 branded hydraulic disc brakes. Don’t fret though, rim brakes are still available.
RoadBikeReview got our hands on a group. Here’s a look at the component weights, and impressions from the build process and the first hundred miles aboard the new Shimano 105 group.
If you’re truly concerned about every gram on your bike it’s unlikely that you’ll look to Shimano 105 R7000 as your first choice. But the new parts are far from heavy. The following component weights were taken on a Feedback Sports Digital Scale. I unboxed each item and zeroed the scale before weighing each component.
- Shifters: 611 grams (no shift cables or hydraulic lines)
- Crank: 726 grams (172.5mm crankarms and 50/34 chainrings)
- Rear Derailleur: 226 grams (GS medium cage)
- Front Derailleur: 95 grams (braze-on style)
- Brake Calipers: 110 grams (each, no hoses)
- Cassette: 361 grams (11-34)
This puts the Shimano 105 R7000 group at nearly a pound heavier than Dura-Ace. But then again, R7000 is also $1500 cheaper for a similar mechanical/hydro build kit ($2,455 vs. $959). If you’re looking to maximize your dollars while avoiding unnecessary weight? Consider 105 brakes and derailleurs and then upgrading the cassette and crank, as those are where the biggest difference lie.
I installed the Shimano 105 R7000 group on a Trek Crockett cyclocross frameset. The 300 Series Alpha aluminum frame features slick internal routing for the derailleurs and rear brake and the full carbon fork keeps the front end light. The Crockett has copious amounts of tire clearance, letting it serve cyclocross and gravel duties easily thanks to space for a 40mm tire. While Trek doesn’t sell a complete Crockett with Shimano’s latest 105 group, it is available as a frameset for $1070. This makes it a fitting canvas for this budget-friendly component group.
Build-up was a straightforward affair. If you’ve worked on the latest generation of Shimano road groups, then nothing will come as a surprise. If you haven’t, there are two items in particular that are worth mentioning, the front derailleur and brakes.
The R7000 front derailleur setup was new to me because I haven’t had time with Shimano’s latest, upper echelon mechanical groups (I’m a sucker for electronic shifting). But it was quick to learn. Here’s the lowdown.
The Shimano 105 R7000 front derailleur has an integrated cable tensioner. This is handy, essentially making the derailleur easier to set up without the use of an inline cable adjuster. Also helpful is a set of lines on the body and actuating arm of the front derailleur that tell you when tension is properly set. Shift to the large chainring, then hit the downshift button halfway to get the derailleur in the large chainring trim position.
During normal riding, you use this spot when in the big ring and larger part of the cassette. Shifted there, you use the cable tensioner to align the two marks on the derailleur. Beyond that set up is a matter of limit screws and the initial positioning performed when you bolt on the derailleur.
In addition to the new cable routing and integrated tensioner, the new front derailleur also has a built-in cable housing stop. For bikes that run full housing, like the Trek Crockett, this is certainly handy and doesn’t get in the way if your bike runs a bare cable.
The bleeding process of the new Shimano 105 brakes was easy enough, much like all of Shimano’s one-way bleed brakes, and uses a cup at the lever and syringe at the caliper. The lines use a barb and olive at both ends forgoing any banjo fitting. This helps with internal routing because you can approach the process from either end of the tube in question.
Where the Shimano 105 R7000 hydraulic disc brakes vary from Ultegra and Dura-Ace is the lack of free stroke adjustment. This is the distance the lever moves before the pad makes initial contact. There is still reach adjustment, but if you’re accustomed to using free stroke to dial in the feel of your brakes, you might find yourself missing it on the new 105 stoppers.
Out on the road the shifting and braking action was smooth and predictable. The shifting is light and accurate once the cables settle in and tension is dialed. Front shifting in particular is quick and easy. The newer front derailleur design helps, as does the excellent shift ramps on the heavily relieved chainrings. While Ultegra and Dura-Ace rings are hollow, Shimano saves money on the 105 crank by using solid versions that are externally machined to decrease weight.
The Shimano 105 rear derailleur worked its way across the 11-34 cassette easily. The GS cage is required for the largest two cassettes offered in the 105 line, the 11-32 and 11-34. While much has been made of clutch rear derailleurs, the new R7000 rear derailleur did well on rough terrain, never making too much of a racket. To be fair, a front derailleur helps keep a chain on, as did Trek’s integrated chain catcher. But with a properly adjusted 2×11 drivetrain you can still get out into the wilds. Clutches are nice, but not mandatory for mixed surface riding.
The hydraulic brake/mechanical shift levers are comfortable and still feature a fairly good-sized knob at the top where the master cylinder is housed. While it is bulkier than hydro/Di2 models, the larger lever also keeps your hands in place securely when riding in rough terrain, something the sleeker Di2 versions can’t claim.
According to Shimano, the 105 levers have the same lever throw as Ultegra or Dura-Ace but they lack free stroke adjustment, so they do feel a bit different. That said, the braking action is still light and crisp on the 105 flat mount brakes. Likewise, the ergonomics of the levers feels identical to its more expensive kin and reach adjust is still on offer. This is a big step up from the Shimano 5800 series RS505 levers that were pretty ungainly looking and not quite as nice in the hand as the new R7000 levers.
Should You Buy It?
If you’re looking for a budget-oriented, performance road group, Shimano’s 105 R7000 group is a good choice. While it’s cliché to write, the new R7000 group, like SRAM’s third tier Rival, does offer an incredible amount of trickle-down technology at an affordable price. The braking and shifting, once dialed in, is hard to differentiate from more expensive groups. The appearance is less refined, though still attractive in its utilitarian black finish.
It’s only on the steepest of terrain that I notice, or at least think about, the extra weight of the 105 group. But at the same time, I much appreciate the 34-34, 1:1 ratio low gear that is available. It’s great for riders in mountainous areas and just as suitable for gravel and mixed terrain riding.
So instead of asking whether you should buy the group, it’s just as useful to ask why shouldn’t you buy it? Clearly, if you prefer a 1x drivetrain in the same price range, then you’ll want to go with a SRAM option. If you want to spend more money or prioritize weight, then you may want to look at ways to drop weight over the 105 group. SRAM’s groups are lighter and so too are Ultegra and Dura-Ace. But if you want an affordable 2×11 road group with hydraulic disc brakes and a low 1:1 gear ratio, then Shimano’s 105 R700 group is hard to beat.
Learn more at bike.shimano.com.