Let’s take it down a notch, after a few successive weeks of heavy topics and tortured navel-gazing by yours truly. This week I want to talk about components.
I was chatting with a bike shop manager the other day, and he had recently come from a Shimano tech night with one of his young mechanics. His take away was that Shimano’s 105 groupset is just about the best value on the component market. His young wrench was very excited about all the 105 bikes he’d be building in the coming year.
This was illuminating for me. For probably too long I’ve been privileged to live in a rarified place in which Ultegra or SRAM Force constitutes the minimum conceivable investment in a new bike. I have not often enough questioned the conventional wisdom about quality parts, nor have I got much direct experience with 105. I did ride a SRAM Rival bike for some years, and I liked it, so my mind is very much open on what constitutes quality and what makes up the value of a gruppo for a rider like me (or you).
The old way of expressing the difference between the lower-priced component groups and their upmarket relatives was to say, if you’re riding a lot, then you want Ultegra/Force on your bike because it will last longer and break less. If you’re only an occasional rider, then 105/Rival is fine. This seems like a false and silly distinction now. Rival and 105 are marginally heavier than Force/Ultegra/Dura Ace/Red, but I don’t know them to be less robust. Do you?
Conspicuously absent at this point, is Campagnolo, who don’t really make a “value-oriented” gruppo, with Potenza coming in, price-wise, much closer to Ultegra/Force.
And so, this week’s Group Ride asks, what gruppos do you ride? What do you think represents the best value component set for a road bike? And what is important to you when choosing what to put on your bike?