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The mechanical Shimano 105 12-speed groupset – Believed dead and now resurrected

Here it is – the long-awaited entry-level 12x, mechanical road groupset. After the introduction of the 105 Di2 revolution at the end of 2022, Shimano have taken the next big step. Their latest mechanical road bike groupset is set to be the ultimate entry-level choice. But what is new and what is the groupset capable of?

Almost written off, the mechanical road bike drivetrain is experiencing a revival. Along with the new 12-speed GRX, Shimano present their latest mechanical road groupset, promising unparalleled shifting performance with the 105 series. But we’ve got bad news for all the old-school fans and weight-weenies who are already breaking out in cheers and hoping for rim brakes: The 105 series remains exclusively compatible with hydraulic disc brakes. But is this groupset perfectly suited for the broad cycling masses and tight budgets nonetheless? And does it offer long-distance performance without any dependence on electricity – just pure freedom?

What’s new about the mechanical Shimano 105?

The mechanical Shimano 105 is based on the same components as its electric twin. Only the shifting elements have been updated. So, the innovations are limited to the rear derailleur, front mech, and STI brake shift levers.
The RD-R7100 rear derailleur encompasses everything Shimano have learnt from decades of drivetrain know-how and 12-speed Di2 experience, revealing an extremely compact, light and efficient derailleur. It boasts the same key specs as its Di2 counterpart. Similarly, the front derailleur, which is said to deliver excellent shifting performance due to improved smoothness and sophisticated cable routing.
The new STIs are particularly deserving of mention. As with the new GRX range, Shimano placed great emphasis on improved ergonomics. The levers are designed to fit both small and large hands perfectly, and allow for easy shifting and braking. Shimano themselves boast of “maximum comfort and excellent controllability”.
Overall, Shimano brought excellent innovations that offer top-notch mechanical shifting for road bikes thanks to the proven cassette, crankset and brakes of its electronic counterpart.

The weights and prices of the new mechanical Shimano 105 components

Component Weight Price
Shift-Brake System 306 g € 314.95
Front derailleur 96 g € 56.95
Rear derailleur 249 g € 75.95

Our conclusion on the new mechanical Shimano 105

Shimano 105 is the go-to option for an entry-level groupset, and, after the introduction of electronic Di2 shifting, it now brings reliable, mechanical 12x drivetrains to the people. The shifting performance of the affordable 12-speed drivetrain looks to be extremely promising, and it’s easy to upgrade thanks to the cross-compatibility of Shimano’s road groupsets. Overall, it’s a welcome addition to the Shimano portfolio.

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Words: Calvin Zajac Photos: Shimano