Questions about purchasing bicycles and parts
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Next question in the learning curve. Whilst I have used MTB groupsets in the subject line the question applies to road groupsets as well.
Keeping in mind my riding is commuter/recreational, not racing of any kind, what is the advantage if any to a rider in my category of a groupset higher up the feedchain?
For example Joe has a Shimano Altus groupset. What advantages if any could I gain from say upgrading Joe to a Deore or XT groupset or getting a new bike with these higher level components?
Same with Chase with her Shimano 105 groupset. What would a bike with say a Ultegra groupset provide or with Chase upgraded to Ultegra.
What I am trying to do is getting a better understanding of what the higher level groupsets provide in terms of "rideability and/or performance" for a rider like myself.
Thanks in advance
Weight, durability, bling...
There can be some improvements in the mechanism in terms of ease of shift and others. But typically for the mid to upper groups, the niceness of the shifts are pretty much identical.
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple
I've also wondered the same thing. I know higher components equal better quality and all that. But is it really noticeable. Say one step up, say from an Alivio to LX?
Also just to get an opinion on this. Which would you say was more important, the front derailleur or the rear? I'm under the impression the rear is always more important (as you use that more often), so generally you would upgrade that before the front. Is this correct?
ie if your cash strapped could you just upgrade the rear without ever upgrading the front?
Good question ... should have thought of that too.
The front derailleur seemed to run into more problems than the rear with dropped chain, chain suck etc. So I think from a technical point of view, it's the more demanding unit. Yet again, FD is used a lot less than the RD. At the end of the day, even top group components are useless if they are poorly adjusted. I think it's easier to just buy the same group and not try to beat the system yourself.
One personal example I have is with cassettes from different groups. The cassette from two group levels up worked quieter and shifted with less clunk. The difference b/n the two was in the method of manufacturing. The cheaper cassette was made of cogs that were stamped while the more expensive cassettes were CNC machined, giving it better precision and tighter tolerance.
Thanks sogood. So generally speaking its better to buy within the same group set than mix and match. Hmmm. I wasn't aware of this.
Haha yeah I tend to do that.
I can't comment on the mtb groupsets, but having ridden my son's OCR2 with full Tiagra and the Black Beast with her mix of Ultegra and Deore LX (the rough mtb equivalent), there is a dramatic difference in the way they work. Whether that translates further up the line I don't know, but the next step up from Ultegra is Dura Ace which is race quality.
As sogood said, going upwards gives you greater efficiency, less weight, more durability and more bling ... however, I suspect that the differences between levels decrease as you get higher.
Modern gear systems are so good I doubt there is much to worry about. My son's Tiagra setup is very good, it's only when you ride it back to back with my Ultegra that the differences show. The Sow's Ear runs un-named Shimano derailleurs with el-cheapo rapid fire shifters and her gear changes are as clean as you could want (the best part of the rotten thing, along with the ability of both wheels to touch the ground at the same time).
Best gear changes of the lot are on the Europa. Positive with never a missed shift. Mind you, they are rather slow as I have to dig out the spanner, remove the rear wheel, dig out the locking ring spanner, remove the locking ring, dig out the chain whip, remove the cog, spin on the new cog, tighten it, refit the locking ring, reinstall the rear wheel, pfaff about getting the chain tension right. I tend to only do it in front of the tele with a glass of red nearby.
I had a good bike ... so I fixed it
I don't think there's any generality here. You can mix and match and it'll still work. But with the same group, the manufacturer have already selected the components so that they'll all match, for good or bad. Much easier and no need to screw your brain juice.
Occasionally you'll wind up with mismatches, but they aren't common ... or maybe I'm thinking of Campy and Shimano. The defining item in gear sets is the physical spacing between the rear cogs, but that is standard for a given number of gears - all 8 speed have the same spacing as do all 9 speed but 8 and 9 speed are different to each other.
Mixing bits though works.
My Black Beast, the Trek520, came out of the factory wearing Dura Ace bar end shifters, 105 front derailleur, Deore LX rear shifter, Ultegra crankset and rings, SRAM rear cog set.
When new, I replaced the bar ends with Ultegra brake/gear levers which then needed a gadget to handle the V-brakes as the aero brake levers on before had a different 'pull' to the brifters which that has never given me a problem and has given me braking with power to rival disc brakes and feel that makes normal road brakes feel like the dreaded diacompes from the seventies.
I've since dropped the granny from 30 teeth to 26 which, when combined with the 42 and 50 tooth chainrings, is well outside the official range of the 105 front derailleur. It is however, just within it's actual working ability so changing from the granny to the middle cog is slow and temperamental, but that's due to the range of cogs I'm asking it to work across.
I had a good bike ... so I fixed it
You definitely will have trouble mixing Campy and Shimano gearing components unless you use an adaptor. I don't see any reason to get so desperate.
Yeah, why buy campy in the first place **pokes tongue out**.
It's something I used to see quite a bit in the 'mechanics' section of one forum I'm on. I agree, why would you bother mixing the two unless you were on a shoe string and were able to source something 'at the right price'?
As for me? When I looked at updating the Europa rather than buying new, I was going to fit a Campy groupset - had it all priced, and the mechanic lined up, all I had to do was send the frame off to the frame builder (she needed spreading, brake mounts moved, paint, etc). If I ever buy a geared sportster, I'll consider Campy though I was thinking about this the other day (anyone else play the 'is he using Campy or Shimano" game while watching the TdF?) and thought I'd probably stick with what I know, but that was a thought made over a glass of red while watching a race on the other side of the world. When it comes down to making a purchase, who knows what I'll do. Hopefully I'll have scrounged a ride on a Campy equiped bike before then.
I had a good bike ... so I fixed it
I've done the whole upgrade thing on MTBs, so I can offer some small amount of experience to draw from.
Firstly, the derailleurs only go where the shifters tell them to. So upgrading a FD has little effect on performance if you're still using your crappy old front shifter. Same on the rear, but more noticeable, since the tolerances are finer before that annoying grinding between gears occurs. (If you are on a budget, upgrade the shifters, not the FD.)
There is a big jump in quality between Alivio and LX, a lesser one to XT from LX. Both these jumps will be noticeable in how the drive train responds to your input. XT to XTR is mainly for bling and a very small weight saving - there is essentially no difference in the performance, and in fact, XT will be more robust than XTR over time.
I've got an XTR (rapid rise) rear der on my MTB and the XT version of same der on my 'bent. There is no difference in performance between them (I was feeling rich when I got the XTR).
My FD on the MTB is XT and the FD on the 'bent is a no-name one. Both work very well, but that's because the controls for each are high-end shifters.
On the MTB, I'm running SRAM Rocket thumb shifters (these are calibrated to Shimano's rear derailleur - no other SRAM shifters are). The shifters are precise and smooth. Well worth the money I paid! I started out with Shimano LX RD and Deore FD, LX shifters, and the whole system was just imprecise and noisy.
On the 'bent I have XT Dual Control shifters, and again, these work as they were designed to do.
Anyway, the bottom line as far as I'm concerned is to go straight for XT or SRAM X9 components and know that you've got good quality gearing which will rarely let you down and will last many years. One less thing to worry about breaking then. Shopping online at Chain Reaction for these items allows you to get them for around half retail price too!
Last edited by Kalgrm on Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
(Huh?? Where did your post go Andrew?)
Address is http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/
I might be putting an order in some time over the next month or so - let me know if you want to pair up to save on the postage.
Okay, we'll just assume you are and won't go looking for evidence
I had a good bike ... so I fixed it
I'd like to humbly agree with Graeme in one respect Andrew. SRAMs X7, X9 or X0 gear is fabulous, light, precise and quiet shifting.
All done with the thumb too, so you never need take your fingers off the bar or brake lever. I fitted X7 to Princess and will never go back the the "other" brand, wish I'd saved a bit longer and gone for the X9, SRAMs higher end rear mechs are rebuildable, handy when you tend to bash it against rocks
When I eventually wear out or break the Tiagra on Deni I'll be having a damn good look at SRAMs Force or Rival road gruppos.
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
London Boy 29/12/2011
+1 for SRAM X.7, got it on my Alias and think it's fantastic kit. The shifters are really well designed ergonomically for MTB shifters.
I'm glad SRAM is competing now, single major manufacturer for running gear isn't good for anyone.
Go SRAM! Have X7 shifters & rear der. on my flat bar roadie & X9 on my MTB. MTB came SRAM equipped & I swapped the crappy low end shimano parts on the flat bar out myself. The only thing I kept was the front der. and brakes.
unfortunately only up to a point...
Rehab is for quitters!
Getting back on topic (just a little bit) - there are significant differences between Altus/Alivio and Deore groupsets. The Deore sees the entry of ramped chain rings / cassettes which improve shifting (especially with the correct, rather than just a compatible, chain). Lots of bikes will have mismatches and it's worth sorting out. There are all sorts of differences above Deore as well, but it (Deore) is a good 'value point'. I like my XT 'rapid rise' rear derailleur though.
In road gear, the 105 groupset is the comparable 'value point'. The girlie bike is noticeably nicer with her Ultegra groupset than she was with 105 - not really quicker though - despite the weight saving.
Litespeed Classic - 3Al/2.5V titanium tube set, Record 9-speed groupset, Open Corsa Evo CX
Alchemy Diablo - Columbus Zonal tubing, Ultegra 9-speed groupset, UltraGatorskins
Gitane Rocks T1 - U6 tubing, Deore/XT groupset, CrossMarks
For recreational riders the upgrade probably isn't worth the money when you consider some parts need to be in the same group set to work best, and just the general ROI is poor when you buy parts and upgrade and existing bike. Would have been cheaper to buy it on a higher model bike in the first place.
The groups sets are just a way for the manufacturers to differentiate the market place provide better technology/marketing matching each of those groups.
Yes, faster response, lighter weight, smoother ride...but seriously for a recreational rider to whom arriving 1 minute later due to less sweet shifting isn't going to be the end of the world.
Where as if you are riding the the tour and arriving 30 minutes after the leader is out of the question, you'll (or your sponsor) will happily fork out the cash for the most expensive technology to give you that 1 minute advantage.
I used to be one of those early adoptors with the newest tech and wanted the most expensive model of everything, but i've come to my senses now and realise you can make up performance (for recreational riding at least) by training that little bit harder, it is certainly alot cheaper, and you'll enjoy riding more, and that's what it is about...or so i'd like to think.
Okay I am one of those who has Campag shifters mixed in a 10 spd Shimano groupset. I used a Jtek device to mate the two.
It all started when I got a set of Campag shifters cheap, okay they were Chorus shifters with carbon levers (I have since got over my CF craze). Anyway I prefer the shape of the Campag hoods, they look better with concealed cable routing, and the carbon bling.
The set up was pretty easy, no dramas.
Shifting wise, I'd say Shimano and Campag are just as reliable and efficient.
I have also mixed 105 and Ultegra parts (chains, cassettes, RD/FD), and I cant say that I have noticed any difference. I have also tried 9spd cranksets in a 10spd drive train, and used a shimano 600 RD in a 9spd setup with no problems.
I currently have a mix of MTB parts and Road parts on my touring bike, 9spd XT FD/RD, XT crankset, 10spd bar end shifters, 12-25 Ultegra cassette, 10 spd chain. Front shifting is not ideal, but works 80% of the time. Will try a road FD to see if it improves shifting.
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