Shimano Claris vs. 105: What’s Best for Your Needs? (groupset analysis)

Shimano Claris and 105 are two of the most popular road groupsets. 105 is higher in Shimano’s road hierarchy as it’s designed for “enthusiasts” whereas Claris components are considered entry-level.

Therefore, there is no doubt that Shimano 105 is the more sophisticated of the two.

However, higher-end components are not the best choice for every project. After all, sometimes it’s more practical to buy a cheaper car than a shinier one.

On the basis of this notion, a comparison between Claris and 105 isn’t out of place, especially from the perspective of a beginner.

The aim of this post is to compare the two groupsets and help people choose the one that fits their needs better.

Claris and 105 In Shimano’s Groupset Hierarchy

GroupsetSpeeds
Entry LevelClaris8
RecreationSora, Tiagra9, 10
Enthusiast10511
RacingUltegra11
Pro-racingDura-Ace11

As you can see, Claris components are considered entry-level whereas Shimano 105 is the “enthusiast” category.

Differences Between Shimano Claris and 105

This part of the post outlines the basic differences between Shimano Claris and 105 components.

Part 1: Cassette Comparison

Shimano Claris

Shimano Claris cassettes have 8-speed available in five gradations:

Cassette ModelTotal capacitySprocket
Material
Individual cogs*Weight
ICSHG50822512-25Steel12-13-15-17-19-21-23-25323g
ECSHG508128P11-28Steel11-13-15-17-19-21-24-28330-350g
ECSHG508130P11-30Steel11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30 330-350g
ECSHG508132P11-32Steel11-13-15-18-21-24-28-32330-360g
ECSHG508134P11-34Steel11-13-15-18-21-24-28-34330-360g
Shimano Claris CS-HG50-8 8-speed Cassettes

Note: The weight data is approximate.

*This column shows the number of teeth per cog.

Shimano 105

Shimano 105 cassettes are 11-speed and therefore come with smaller jumps between the gears than Claris.

The table below contains the parameters of 105 cassettes.

Cassette ModelTotal capacitySprocket
Material
Individuals cogs/GradationWeight*
ICSR70001122512-25Steel12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23-25269g
ICSR70001112811-28Steel11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-25-28284g
ICSR70001113011-30Steel11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-27-30304g
ICSR70001113211-32Steel11-12-13-14-16-18-20-22-25-28-32320g
ICSR70001113411-34Steel11-13-15-17-19-21-23-25-27-30-34325g
Shimano 105 11-speed cassettes

Note: The weight data is approximate.

Comparing The Gear Jumps

In the tables below, you can see the gear jumps of each cassette expressed in percentages:

12-25 Cassettes

Shimano Claris Jump
percentage
Shimano 105 Jump
percentage
12-138.3%12-138.3%
13-1515.3%13-147.69%
15-1713.3%14-157.14%
17-1911.7%15-166.67%
19-2110.5%16-176.25%
21-239.5%17-185.88%
23-258.69%18-195.55%
19-2110.5%
21-239.5%
23-258.69%
Average11.04%Average7.61%

Result 1: Shimano 105’s 12-25 cassettes offer 45% smaller jumps between the gears.


11-28 Cassettes

Shimano Claris Jump
percentage
Shimano 105 Jump
percentage
11-1318.18%11-129%
13-1515.38%12-138.3%
15-1713.3%13-147.69%
17-1911.76%14-157.14%
19-2110.5%15-1713.3%
21-2414.3%17-1911.7%
24-2816.6%19-2110.5%
21-239.5%
23-258.69%
25-2812%
Average14.28%Average9.78%

Result 2: Shimano 105’s 11-28 cassettes offer 46% smaller jumps between the gears.


11-30 Cassettes

Shimano ClarisJump
percentage
Shimano 105Jump
percentage
11-1318.2%11-129%
13-1515.28%12-138.3%
15-1713.3%13-147.69%
17-2017.64%14-157.14%
20-2315%15-1713.3%
23-2613%17-1911.74%
26-3015.38%19-2110.5%
21-2414.282%
24-2712.5%
27-3011.1%
Average:15.4%Average:10.5%

Result 3: Shimano 105’s 11-30 cassettes offer 46.6% smaller jumps between the gears than Claris’ 11-30 cassettes.


11-32 Cassettes

Shimano ClarisJump
percentage
Shimano 105Jump
percentage
11-1318.1%11-129%
13-1515.38%12-138.33%
15-1820%13-147.69%
18-2116.6%14-1614.28%
21-2414.28%16-1812.5%
24-2816.6%18-2011.1%
28-3214.28%20-2210%
22-2513.63%
25-2812%
28-3214.28%
Average:16.46%Average:11.281%

Result 4: Shimano 105’s 11-32 cassettes offer 45.9% smaller jumps between the gears than Claris’ 11-32 cassettes.

11-34 Cassettes

Shimano ClarisJump
percentage
Shimano 105Jump
percentage
11-1318.1%11-1318.1%
13-1515.38%13-1515.38%
15-1820%15-1713.3%
18-2116.6%17-1911.76%
21-2414.28%19-2110.5%
24-2816.6%21-239.5%
28-3421.42%23-258.69%
25-278%
27-3011.1%
30-3413.3%
Average:17.48%Average:11.963%

Result 5: Shimano 105’s 11-34 cassettes offer 46.11% smaller jumps between the gears than Claris’ 11-34 cassettes.

Conclusion

105 cassettes are a bit lighter than the Claris ones but not enough for a non-pro cyclist to notice.

Both 105 and Claris cassettes provide the same capacity range. However, 105 cassettes are 11-speed and come with smaller jumps between the cogs making it easier for cyclists to preserve their cadence when switching gears.

How Important Is This Factor For The Average Person?

The average beginner cyclist is unlikely to be underwhelmed by the larger transitions found on Claris cassettes. And if the bicycle is used for recreational cycling rather than racing, then the bigger jumps matter even less.

Nonetheless, cyclists who aim at a greater pedaling comfort and higher performance could make good use of the smoother transitions offered by Shimano 105.

How To Minimize The Larger Jumps of Claris Cassettes

If you combine a Claris cassette with a triple crankset at the front, the transitions between the gears will get smaller.

The downside of this approach is that the drivetrain will get ever so slightly heavier.

The trade-off may be worth it, however, because this combination will allow you to get a very wide gear range at an affordable price.

Part 2: Shifter Comparison

Both Shimano Claris and 105 rely on STI brake-shifters which allow cyclists to shift without removing their hands from the hoods.

Shimano Claris Brake-ShiftersShimano 105 Brake-Shifters
TypeDCL Dual controlDCL Dual control
Optical gear displayYes (not all models)No
Reach AdjustYesYes
Lever MaterialAluminumAluminum
Speeds811
Invisible Cable RoutingNoYes
Hydraulic Disc Brake OptionNoYes
BracketGlass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP)Glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP)
Approximate Weight (pair)500 grams450-500 grams

The main differences between the shifters are the number of speeds, cable routing options, and brake support.

Shimano 105 models have an “invisible” cable routing system thanks to which the cockpit is “cleaner” and more aerodynamic.

Also, there are Shimano 105 brake-shifters that can be used with hydraulic disc brakes.

Some people find the ergonomics of 105 shifters noticeably better the ones found on the Claris models. Ultimately, however, it comes down to personal preference. The ergonomics of Claris are certainly sufficient for most people’s needs.

Conclusion: Shimano 105 shifters are on a higher level than the Claris ones, but people who don’t mind big gears jumps and don’t care about hydraulic disc brakes could find the Claris parts satisfactory.

Part 3: Brakes Comparison

Shimano Claris does not offer disc brakes. Therefore, if you want to have disc brakes on your road bike, you’d have to purchase them separately.

Conversely, Shimano 105 has a hydraulic disc brake caliper (BR-R7070).

For that reason, I will only compare the rim brakes of each groupset.

Shimano Claris Rim BrakesShimano 105 Rim Brakes
Tire Compatibility28C28C
TechnologiesSuper SLRSLR-EV
Quck-releaseYesYes
MountTraditionalTraditional + direct mount
PositionFork, Seat StaysFork Seat Stays or Bottom Bracket
Weight (pair)364 grams348 grams

Shimano 105 rim brakes use a slightly more sophisticated pulling technology than Claris and can be paired with a direct mount frame and fork.

However, if you have a regular frame and fork and don’t intend to run hydraulic disc brakes on your bicycle, then the performance of Claris could be sufficient for your needs.

FAQ: What are direct mount brakes?

Direct mount brakes attach with two bolts directly to the frame and fork. People consider them stiffer than traditional brakes thanks to the extra support. They’re also lighter and have greater horizontal tire clearance.

At the end of the day, however, the gains are marginal, and the average cyclists would have a hard time noticing them.


Part 4: Front Derailleur Comparison

Shimano Claris Front DerailleurShimano 105 Front Derailleur
Special Adjustments
Features
NoIntegrated cable tension adjustment
Front Derailleur TypeBrazed-On, Clamp, High ClampBrazed-On, Clamp, High Clamp
Shifting system8-speed11-speed
Chainset compatabilityDouble and TripleDouble and Triple
Weight128 grams111 grams

Shimano Claris front derailleurs are simple and do not provide the user with options for multiple cable adjustment.

Conversely, the new 105 models have an integrated cable tension adjustment and more options for cable routing.

Another downside of Shimano Claris front derailleurs is that they have a shorter pull arm. In consequence, you have to press the lever harder to overcome the mechanical disadvantage, especially when making a big shift.

Conclusion: 105 front derailleurs are more comfortable than the Claris ones thanks to their superior architecture and the built-in options for adjusting the cable tension.

Part 5: Rear Derailleur Comparison

Shimano Claris Rear DerailleurShimano 105 Rear Derailleur
MaterialAluminum, glass-fiber reinforced polymerAluminum, glass-fiber reinforced polymer
Shadow TechnologyNoYes
Barrel AdjusterYesYes
Maximum rear cog capacity3434
Shifting system 8 speeds11 speeds
Weight284 grams (medium cage version)221 grams (medium cage version)

The main advantage of 105 rear derailleurs is that they can operate with 11 speeds and have a shadow profile.

This means that the derailleur is tightly tucked under the cassette – a more protected position during falls. As expected, 105 derailleurs are lighter too.

That said, the shifting of Claris rear derailleurs is good, especially when you account for the fact that the jumps between the cogs are larger and therefore more stressful on the mech.

Part 6: Cranks + Bottom Bracket Comparison

Shimano Claris CranksShimano 105 Cranks
Number of
Chainrings
2-32-3
Design2-piece2-piece
Crank Arm
Material
AluminumAluminum
Chainring MaterialSteelAnodized Aluminum
Axle MaterialSteelSteel
Bottom BracketOctalink, Hollowtech II Hollowtech II 
Bottom Bracket Weight260g92g
Weight:980-1120g715-760g

Shimano 105 cranksets offer significant weight savings in comparison to Claris cranksets. The savings are even greater when comparing a 105 crankset to a Claris one with an Octalink bottom bracket.

Part 7: Hubs Comparison

Shimano Claris HubsShimano 105 Hubs
Speeds8/910/11
Axle TypeQuick-releaseQuick-release (rim brakes),
Thru-Axle (disc brakes)
Brake TypeRim brakes onlyRim and disc brake options
Weight (front)214g155g (rim brake),
165 (disc brake)
Weight (rear)459g368g (rim brake),
361 (disc brake)

The main difference between Claris and 105 hubs are:

  • Weight – as expected, 105 hubs are lighter
  • Brake support – there are no Claris hubs designed for disc brakes
  • Speed support – a Claris rear hub can accommodate only 8 or 9 speeds
  • Axle – 105 disc brake hubs work with a thru-axle which makes it easier to avoid brake rubbing when installing the wheel

What Are The Main Advantages of Claris Components?

High Quality at An Affordable Price

The strongest point of Claris components is that they offer many of the basic features that you find in more expensive groupsets for less money. For that reason, Claris is a good choice for people who want to get into the sport of cycling without investing too much.

However, if you plan to get serious, an 8-speed groupset may feel a bit limiting once you reach a certain level.

That said, a modern Claris groupset is miles ahead of the components that the pros were riding 20 or so years ago.

For example, back in the 80s when Dura-Ace was introduced, it was only 6 speeds. And yet the professionals of that era had times untouchable by recreational cyclists.

Robustness

Claris components are fairly robust and can take some beating. They operate fine in imperfect conditions.

What Are The Main Disadvantages of Claris?

A Claris groupset has the following disadvantages:

  • Only 8 speeds (bigger jumps)
  • Low resale value
  • Lack of upgradability
  • Shifting isn’t as crisp as 105.
  • The front derailleur requires more shifting effort due to its poor leverage
  • No disc brake options.

What Are The Main Advantages of 105 Components?

Lightweight

105 is the groupset where the true weight savings begin. All of the components are ever so slightly lighter and contribute to a perceivable difference in comparison to groupsets lower in the Shimano hierarchy.

High-level Performance

Shimano 105 is the happy middle ground between entry-level components and professional equipment. As such, it’s the first lower rung groupset that inherits old and new features of Ultegra and Dura-Ace. Truth be told, most cyclists rarely outgrow 105 groupsets.

Upgrade Friendly

Shimano 105 leaves an opportunity for upgrades because the modern version is 11-speeds. In consequence, you can purchase and use some Dura-Ace and Ultegra parts. Meanwhile, a groupset like Claris does not allow you to do that because you’re stuck in an “8-speed world”.

Higher Resale Value

A bicycle equipped with 105 components will keep its price better. The same cannot be said about Claris groupsets because they’re cheaper by default and entry-level. In consequence, many people would prefer to buy them new and avoid the trouble that comes with second-hand purchases.

What are The Main Disadvantages of Shimano 105?

Price

Being a higher groupset, Shimano 105 has no technical disadvantages in comparison to Claris. Its only downside is the price tag which may be a little too high for some cyclists.

The Most Important Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Groupset

Below is a list of questions that will help you make a final decision:

1. What will be the use of your bicycle?

If you plan to use your bicycle primarily as a commuter and/or a fitness machine, then Claris components will be more appropriate.

A commuter bicycle has a higher chance of being stolen. Therefore, equipping it with racing parts makes sense only if you have a well-protected parking spot.

2. Do you want to get more serious in the future?

If you are a new cyclist, this question could be difficult to answer. After all, you can’t know with certainty whether you like something until you’ve built up some experience.

That said, it’s still worth asking yourself what are the chances of becoming an advanced athlete.

If they’re moderately high, and you have the funds, you may consider going with a higher groupset like 105 right from the start.

3. What’s your budget?

If buying a higher groupset makes you feel uncomfortable, postpone the purchase until you have more money or go with a cheaper one.

As already said, even an entry-level groupset like Claris is multiple times better than what professional had 20-30 years ago.

I hope this post has been helpful. Good luck with your choice.

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