New Shimano 105 Di2 groupset: is the world of cycling on the wrong track?

New Shimano 105 Di2 groupset: is the world of cycling on the wrong track?

The presentation of the new Shimano group is symptomatic of the times we live in, where almost everything is expensive. And especially when it comes to mobility. Inevitably, a car, a truck, a light utility or a bicycle is a complex product, assembled with hundreds, even thousands of parts from suppliers, transported by truck or boat. A huge and complex supply chain, highly dependent on raw materials and the cost of energy. As a result, the slightest increase in one of the links in the chain sometimes leads to very significant inflation of the finished product. Couple this with shortages and a gap between supply and demand, and you quickly understand why the average price of new cars is skyrocketing, in the same way as that of bicycles… and spare parts. If bicycle brands have preferential rates on groupsets (cranksets, cassettes, shifters, brakes, wheels, etc.) by ordering large volumes for OEM original equipment, this is not the case for individuals when they want to buy a part. In this case, they pay full pot. And in these sales times, don’t expect too much discount on groups, whether for electric bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes.

Shimano 105 Di2, expected, but disappointing?

The principle does not change: Di2 is “semi wireless”. The connection between the levers and the central battery (located in the seat tube) is wireless. The battery then sends its energy to the two derailleurs through the cables housed in the frame.© Shimano

First of all, we have obviously not yet got our hands on this group to give us an opinion on its use. We will therefore not comment too much on its reliability and quality, even if some of our colleagues who have driven it announce that it is rather convincing in use. But it’s frankly an understatement to say that the Shimano 105 Di2 group (12 speeds, a first) was expected. I think on a personal level that it must have been about 5 years since I heard about this “Arlesian”. So, here it is finally. But was the wait worth it? Already, it seems that with this Di2 electronic version, Shimano has decided to purely and simply do without a mechanical 105 group (with cables and brake pads). Too bad, yet it was a great transmission, inexpensive, reliable and very recommendable. The less fortunate will therefore have to turn to Di2 (the upper ranges Ultegra and Dura Ace are now only sold in Di2…). But at what cost ! Here are some prices (recommended retail price) communicated by the Japanese giant:

  • Crankset: €182.99
  • Complete front or rear disc brake: €362.99
  • Di2 lever: €274.99
  • Di2 rear derailleur: €274.99
  • Shimano has worked on the ergonomics of
    Shimano has worked on the ergonomics of the “cocottes”, and we know how uncomfortable disc brake hoods can be due to the prominence induced by the brake fluid reservoir.© Shimano

You want to buy the complete groupset, crankset, brakes, derailleurs, cassettes (with an unpublished 11/36, a novelty that should appeal to those who climb), lever… it will cost you around 1900 €. That’s almost €1000 more than the old 105 groupset with 11 speeds and pad brakes! And a few years ago you had a perfectly decent, full-featured bike with a mechanical 105 groupset at that price point. Above all, this Shimano group is announced at 2999 gr. Rather heavy, rather expensive, the “group of the people” is no longer so. Delusional.

Shimano still announces technologies borrowed from the old Di2 Ultegra and Dura Ace groups, and even the presence of the Hyperglide (specific machining of the profile of the cassette sprockets for a smoother and faster change of gears). But no more advanced Hyperglide+ is obviously reserved for the upper Ultegra and Dura Ace ranges. Logic. But is the 105 worth its price? It is very difficult to say if the increase is entirely attributable to raw materials and inflation, or if Shimano (but not only) benefits from it in passing to increase margins, neither seen nor known.

The poor on foot, the rich on pedelecs/bicycles and electric cars?

The world of mobility seems to follow a strange trajectory, where inequalities are growing. Obviously, the 105 is not the cheapest groupset at Shimano. Tourney (7 speed), Claris (8 speed), Sora (9 speed) and Tiagra (10 speed) are much more accessible to the general public. But it is not impossible that these groups follow the trend by gaining a pinion each. And seeing their prices go up at the same time. If we had to give you one piece of advice, it would be this: stock up on mechanical Shimano 11-speed parts and groupsets (very proven components that are reliable, durable and easy to maintain), whether in 105, Ultegra or Dura Ace. But it will still be necessary to find second-hand, the commodity becoming as rare as the cheap second-hand car.

For others, we will have to pray that the global economic crisis will ease in the years to come and that manufacturers will come to their senses. But nothing is less certain. In the automotive sector, Mercedes has already announced that the focus will be on high-end (and very high-end) cars, to the detriment of compact and intermediate ranges. Sell ​​less, but more expensive while maximizing margins: a strategy that works for manufacturers, but for how long?

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