In a nutshell, the Shimano Tiagra is an affordable groupset suitable for those on a smaller budget, while the Shimano 105 is the brand’s iconic groupset, marking its entry into the high-end segment.
Shimano is a key brand in the world of cycling. The originator of many legendary and innovative products, it has left its mark on the sport forever. But with so many different groupsets on offer, it can be hard to know which one to choose, to find the right compromise for your riding.
The Shimano Tiagra and 105 are often compared: but which one to choose?
As a cyclist, I’ve had the opportunity to test both drivetrains in the course of my cycling, and in this article, I’ve put together all the information and advice you need to know about which groupset to choose between the Shimano 105 and Tiagra.
Let’s dive in.
Shimano groupsets overview
In theory, Shimano’s range of groupsets goes like this, classifying them from entry-level to high-end:
Claris, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra and Dura-Ace.
If we stop there, we can deduce that the 105 is better than the Tiagra, that’s it, thanks for reading, that’s the end of the article.
I’m kidding, it’s worth digging a little, isn’t it? Just to understand this ranking.
Let’s talk about the main differences between Shimano Tiagra and 105.
Comparaison des composants principaux
Spontaneously, looking at the paper like this, it’s hard to say who comes out on top.
In my experience, I felt more at ease on the 105 when shifting gears and chainrings, but for me, this is mainly due to the difference in the groupset cassette, which we’ll talk about next.
To put it simply, the 105 cassette has more chainrings and more teeth, making the granularity of the ratios finer and therefore more precise.
Did you know that both Shimano Tiagra and 105 use the same gear cable pull ratio to move the rear derailleur? That means you can totally fit a 105 rear derailleur into your Tiagra system if you want to give it a boost.
And hey, the front derailleurs are pretty similar too, but the 105 might offer a slight improvement in performance and weight reduction compared to the Tiagra. So, if you’re looking for a little extra oomph in your ride, it might be worth considering the upgrade.
There’s a difference here: I find the brakes on the 105 much better.
Well, you have to distinguish between pad brakes, mechanical disc brakes, and hydraulic disc brakes, but overall, I feel better on the 105.
For pad brakes, the product seems better designed and the materials are generally of better quality.
This is perhaps the biggest difference between the two groupsets.
The 105 has a better chainset with a better chainring that allows smooth, clean gear transitions, greatly improving comfort on the road. You can feel it.
Also, the design of the 105 chainring makes it lighter than the Tiagra chainring, which will be anecdotal for many, but for those looking to optimize the weight of their bike, it’s worth taking into account.
Well, if they’re at that point, maybe they don’t need to read such an article.
What I’d advise you to remember when you’re just starting out is that when the price difference between two components is significant for a weight difference of just a few grams, I’d advise you to invest the difference in components that deserve to be improved, like your tires for example, as this will be more profitable for you.
Overall performance comparison
Speed and gears range
Among the elements that differentiate the Shimano Tiagra from the Shimano 105, we find the number of cassette speeds.
This difference allows the Shimano 105 to have a tighter gear ratio, which then makes shifting smoother and more gear options available.
As for the gear range, here again, we can directly identify a difference:
- Shimano Tiagra: 12-28 teeths
- Shimano 105: 11-32 teeths
The range offered by the 105 is once again wider, making the bike more flexible and enabling you to adjust your ratios to the next level, for easier climbing of steep slopes or seeking maximum speed on the flat.
I touched briefly on the subject earlier, but if you aim to optimize the weight of your bike, chances are you’ll find the Shimano 105 more interesting than its Tiagra friend.
All in all, the groupset 105 is lighter than the Tiagra, which is more pleasant for long rides or when you’re looking for performance and want to beat your records (or those of others, ahah, I may have some future champions in my readership).
However, this weight difference has a financial counterpart, which is crucial when making your choice, since the Shimano Tiagra is more affordable than its rival.
A group adapted to your budget, no need for big eyes.
As I just mentioned, the Shimano 105 groupset is MUCH MORE expensive than the Tiagra groupset.
That’s no surprise, so weigh up the pros and cons of such an investment.
It’s important to note that the price difference is greater when you buy the whole groupset at once, rather than piece by piece, where it’s possible to reduce the gap.
Things to consider
Compatibility between the 105 and Tiagra
If you want to upgrade your current group or choose a new one, think about the compatibility between the elements.
Don’t forget that the Shimano Tiagra operates at 10 speeds, while the 105 operates at 11. This could lead to compatibility issues if you want to mix components from the two groupsets.
Disc brake options
Both the Tiagra and 105 groupsets feature disc brakes, but only the Tiagra offers mechanical or hydraulic disc brakes, while the 105 offers hydraulic disc brakes only.
In theory (but this is easily verified in practice, believe me), hydraulic disc brakes offer better and more constant braking power, making them better brakes overall.
However, maintenance of this type of brake is more complicated because it’s more regular, and it’s also more expensive in the long run.
On paper, if you’re looking for an affordable group that delivers decent performance, the Tiagra will be just right for you. If you’re looking for more performance, the 105 and its features will suit you better.
My personal favorite is the 105.