Shimano Altus vs Acera: Which groupset should you choose?

Close up view of a mtb rear wheel

When it comes to bikes, even if you have a similar model to another rider, you can have a completely different experience with different gears, suspension, or wheels. Each bike can be equipped with different parts.

This blog aims to highlight the main differences between Shimano Altus and Acera groupsets.

Who is Shimano exactly?

It’s safe to say that almost every cyclist has heard of Shimano. It’s a huge Japanese company that is best known for producing bicycle components, as well as fishing and rowing equipment. The company was founded in 1921 by Shozaburo Shimano.

If we focus on the bikes, Shimano is known for making high-quality products that offer excellent value for money compared to other companies. I have Shimano components on my road bike and I have never experienced any problems so far.

Shimano Altus vs Acera

Altus and Acera are both Shimano brand groupsets, designed to offer affordable and basic options for bicycles. However, there are some key differences that are important to consider. The Acera is flexible and efficient, with an optical display that makes gear changes easier and ensures better distribution of braking force. On the other hand, the Altus provides smoother and more efficient shifting, a more durable crank, and a lighter-weight option.

To make the right choice based on your preferences and needs, it is essential to understand the main differences between the two. 

But before that, let’s explore what groupsets are. 

They are collections of different components that work together to provide bicycle shifting, braking, and other functions.

What is Shimano Altus?

Shimano Altus is a basic groupset that is lightweight, durable, and specifically designed for mountain biking and off-road riding. It offers excellent value for money and is suitable for beginners and recreational mountain bikers. The Altus groupset consists of shifters, cassettes, derailleurs, sprockets, and chains, all of which are compatible with other Shimano parts, making it easy for you to integrate and replace them.

The shift levers come in different types, some of which are integrated with brakes, while others are independent. The newest model comes with 9 speeds, providing a wide range of gearing that can be used on the trigger levers. 

The brakes, unlike many other groups, can be hydraulic or mechanical. As a fan of steeper slopes myself, I would prefer hydraulics because they are more powerful, offer better control, and are usually lighter. The bottom bracket is a basic square taper style, which is slowly becoming older technology, and when paired with this bottom bracket, you get a 3X crank.

The Altus groupset comes with both rear and front derailleurs, with the gear ratios offering a wide range for climbing up hills. The rear derailleur can work with cassettes up to 45 teeth, which is exceptional, although cassettes in this range are not yet available.

What is Shimano Acera?

Shimano Acera is a groupset that provides reliable performance at an affordable price. It is a great choice for riders who want better technology than other groups in a similar price range. With its wide range of gears, it is perfect for off-road driving and steep climbing. The components in this group also can be mixed and matched according to your preferences.

The Acera groupset has a 9-speed drivetrain that ensures smooth and precise shifting, durability, and strong braking performance. This results in reliable operation. The group includes shifters, derailleurs, cranks, bottom brackets, chains, cassettes, and brakes.

You can choose between stand-alone shifters or ones that are compatible with mechanical and hydraulic brakes. Due to cross-compatibility with other groups like Altus, you can only get hydraulic brakes here. The bottom bracket is available in both square taper and hollow tech versions.

The front derailleur comes in different options of 2X and 3X, while on the rear, there is only one option with a maximum of 36 teeth.

Overall, Acera offers a wide range of options and everything you might need.

What are the main differences between Altus and Acera?

Both Altus and Acera are great groups that are very similar. But, there are differences between them that you should know:


In general, Acera is better quality than Atlus because they use lighter materials and the technology is a bit more refined. That makes this group more pleasant to use.


Here the groups are also quite similar to each other. The Acera has the option of a hollow bottom bracket shell with cranks to match, which is generally the modern standard. The Altus, on the other hand, only uses a square-tapered bottom bracket—now an older technology that’s more common on low-end bikes than anywhere else.


It’s really to each his own when it comes to looks. The Altus has a more stealthy look than the Acera, which is brighter with silver detailing. Overall both look more professional compared to other manufacturers.


With bicycle components, it is very important to talk about the price, as it can vary greatly from one set to another. The price of the Altus hovers around $120, depending on the parts you choose.

Meanwhile, the Acera is available for around $150. It can be slightly more or less depending on the selected parts. It’s true that the Altus is cheaper, but you get better parts from the Acera.


When it comes to weight, the total weight of a bike will depend on the combination of parts it is made of. If you choose the lightest combination of Atlus and Acera, you will find that the Acera is almost imperceptibly fractionally lighter.


The Acera offers only hydraulic brakes, which are stronger and require less maintenance compared to mechanical ones. However, the shifter also offers mechanical options for cross-compatibility. 

Gear ratios

The gear ratio is another important factor to consider. The Altus is only available in 3X versions, which offer more ratios but are harder to use. On the other hand, the Acera offers both 2X and 3X options, making it easier to use and a bit lighter and sportier.

Considering the options and quality, I think the Acera is a better choice for a mountain bike. It costs about $30 more than the Altus groupset, but the better technology and quality make it worth the investment.

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