Road Bike Groupsets: Everything You Need To Know

Road Bike Groupset

A groupset is a combination of the individual parts of the bike attach with a bike frame which makes you stop and go. In other words, a combination of shifters, chainset, cassette, derailleurs, brakes, bottom chain, and cables is a road bike groupset.

If you are planning to get a road bike then, after the frame second-most important thing you need to look at the groupset because groupset decides how smoothly your bike allows you to change gear, how your brake works, how much speed your bike has, etc.

There are three famous manufacturers of groupset. Shimano is the largest and most famous brand and another two manufacturers in this list are the SRAM and  Campagnolo.

Hierarchies Of Road Bike Groupset

Shimano Groupset Hierarchy

Shimano is a Japanese company that started in 1921 by Shozaburo Shimano by making freewheels in a rented corner of a demolished celluloid factory. 

Shimano road bike groupset

Entry-level Shimano groupsets

In Entry-level of Shimano groupset I have classified three groupsets that is Claris, Sora, and Tiagra

  • Claris: The range starts with the budget price Claris, which is usually found at the most affordable bike available. Claris is the 8-speed system(8 gear at the rear) combine with either double or triple crankset(two or three gear at the front).
  • Sora: Sora can also be found in an entry-level bike. It is a 9-speed system available in either standard double crankset or a wide range triple.

  • Tiagra: Now next is Tiagra, which comes with a 10-speed groupset but offers 105 experience, but economies are spiced areas, for example with one-price brake pads rather than higher quality cartridges.

Performance Shimano Goupsets

In the classification of Shimano performance groupset I have selected 105 and Ultegra groupsets

Shimano 105 Goupset
  • Shimano 105 is the most affordable performance-focused groupset from a Japanese firm and comes with many mid-market road bikes.
  • This 11-speed groupset is considered by many riders to be the best combination of performance, durability, and value. The launch of the latest 105 R7000 groupset bought matching hydraulic levers and disc brakes. Previously, the unlovely RS505 levers were considered 105 equivalent.
Shimano Ultegra
  • It is just below the professional-level Dura-Ace.
  • This 11-speed has many of the same design features as the range-topping Dura-Ace and offers all the performance most rider ever need, but in comparison to Dura-Ace it is slightly heavier.
  • As like Dura-Ace, Ultegra includes both Di2 electronic shifting and hydraulic disc option in addition to a traditional mechanical shifting rim brake.

Pro-level Shimano groupsets: Dura-Ace

  • Shimano Dura-Ace is the peak of Shimano’s range and features on many top-level pro machines. It comes with  11-speed gearing and combines top-end design along with lightweight materials, such as high-grade alloys carbon fiber and titanium.
  • It offers rim brakes, disc brakes, mechanical shifting, and Di2 electronic shifting configuration.

Shimano GRX gravel components

In May 2019, Shimano introduced a range of components under GRX for gravel, adventure, and backpacking. GRX offers lower gear for best suited these kinds of ride.

GRX is not a groupset per se, it’s a component that complements Shimano’s existing groupsets with components at Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, and Ultegra Di2 levels.  The naming scheme something like this:

  • Ultegra level: RX800( Ultegra mechanical shifter are ST-RX810, Ultegra.
  • 105 level: RX600
  • Tiagra level: RX400
GRX comes with  RD+ rear derailleurs front derailleurs and 1x and 2x crank, dedicated hydraulic levers, cyclocross style inline levers, clutch equipped shadow.

SRAM Groupset Explanation

US Brand SRAM came in the market the late eighties and proven itself due to lightweight GripShifter shifters during the craze of a mountain bike.

In 2007 SRAM introduced its lightweight Red road groupset and now produces an expensive range of components for the road bike and cyclocross bike alongside mountain bike offering. 

SRAM’s road groupset range includes four main groups: Apex, Rival,  Force, and RED(in ascending order of price). SRAM groupset is super lightweight on the market at each price range and all of its groupsets now feature hydraulic disc brake.

SRAM groupset of road bike

Entry-level SRAM groupset: Apex

Apex is an entry-level road bike groupset which offers SRAM’s WiFli system. WiFli comes with a wide gear range between 11 to 32 teeth – for the rear cassette(some SRAM road derailleurs will go as 36 teeth big cog). That allows SRAM to offers a wide range of gear ordinarily found by using a triple front chainring setup without the extra weight and complexity of a triple. Now other manufacturers are now offering similar setups.

SRAM also features its Apex group in 1×11 gearing. That means one chainring at the front and 11 gear at the rear.

Performance SRAM groupsets: Rival, Force, and Force eTap AXS

SRAM Rival groupset
  • Next in the line is Rival, it can also use a wide range of WiFli rear derailleur and cassette, but it’s made by lightweight material than Apex.
  • Rival is the most popular SRAM drivetrain for road bikes and it is 11-speed. It can be found mostly two chainrings at the front(2×11) or just one(1×11).
SRAM Force groupset
  • Going up in price like Shimano Ultegra-level SRAM’s Force groupset uses lightweight materials like high-grade alloys and carbon fiber to be a very competitive gear setup.
  • Like Rival, it’s also 11-speed groupset that can be configured with two chainrings at the front(2×11) for more gearing range or one chainring at the front(1×11) for simplicity.
SRAM Force eTap AXS
  • In 2019 to complete directly Shimano Ultegra Di2, Shimano added Force eTap AXS to its range, a 12-speed wireless groupset.

Pro-level SRAM groupsets: RED, RED eTap and RED eTap AXS

SRAM’s RED group proven itself by victory in the Tour de France on numerous occasions.  SRAM RED groupset is a direct competitor of Shimano Dura-Ace and Campagnolo Super record.

SRAM RED components use super-light material throughout including high-grade alloys, plenty of carbon fiber, titanium even ceramic bearings. In comparison to all the top of the range of gear groups, SRAM RED is the lightest in the market at just 1747g.

SRAM RED eTap is a wireless electronic version of the 11-speed RED groupset launched in 2015. In 2019, it was replaced by the all-new and mostly refined RED eTap AXS, SRAM first 12-speed road groupset, which is available in a hydraulic disc brake and rim brake option.

Campagnolo Groupset

Italy’s manufacturer Campagnolo comes in the market in 1933.  Tullio Campagnolo founder of Campagnolo got inspire to release a quick-release lever when he failed to remove the rear wheel during a race.

It is obviously the most storied cycling brand thanks to its association with so many of sport’s greats – Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain. As such, Campagnolo is oftentimes the choice of the day in the wool aficionados and bike collectors.

Road Bike Groupset 1 OpenAirBikes

Entry-level Campagnolo groupset: Centaur

Campagnolo groupset starts higher up the overall hierarchy in the competition, so you will not get the Campagnolo groupset on the bike that cost less than $600.

The entry-level Centaur groupset is almost similar to the Shimano 105 and SRAM Rival. It is an 11-speed groupset and is build with lightweight alloys.

Performance Campagnolo groupsets: Potenza and Chorus

Potenza came into the market in 2016 as a competitor of Ultegra. It combines higher-end components like four-arm crankset with a dropped inner shift lever found on the now discontinued Veloce and Athena groupsets, which is easier to reach from the drops but limits the rider to one downshift. It offers 2×11 gearing. Potenza is the best replacement for the Athena groupset.

Chorus is just below the range-topping Campagnolo Record family is the 11-speed. It made with light-alloy, carbon fiber, and titanium. Chorus groupset is between Shimano Ultegra and Shimano RED.

To compete with Shimano and SRAM, both Potenza and Chorus now offer the H11 hydraulic disc brake option.

Pro-level Campagnolo groupsets: Record and Super Record

Campagnolo Record is leader groupset from the Italian brand. It builds with high-grade carbon fiber in its construction combined with lightweight alloy and titanium. A 12-speed record is found on the most expensive bicycles $3800.

Campagnolo additionally offers a considerably more higher-level groupset as Super Record. While basically equivalent to Record, it uses significantly fancier materials to keep groupset as lightweight and help and improve every single part groupset. It is just typically found on the most costly pro-level road machines.

Both Record and Super Record are presently accessible with Campagnolo’s hydraulic disc brake as an alternative.