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
|Recreation||Sora, Tiagra||9, 10|
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 cassettes have 8-speed available in five gradations:
|Cassette Model||Total capacity||Sprocket|
Note: The weight data is approximate.
*This column shows the number of teeth per cog.
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 Model||Total capacity||Sprocket|
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:
Result 1: Shimano 105’s 12-25 cassettes offer 45% smaller jumps between the gears.
Result 2: Shimano 105’s 11-28 cassettes offer 46% smaller jumps between the gears.
Result 3: Shimano 105’s 11-30 cassettes offer 46.6% smaller jumps between the gears than Claris’ 11-30 cassettes.
Result 4: Shimano 105’s 11-32 cassettes offer 45.9% smaller jumps between the gears than Claris’ 11-32 cassettes.
Result 5: Shimano 105’s 11-34 cassettes offer 46.11% smaller jumps between the gears than Claris’ 11-34 cassettes.
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-Shifters||Shimano 105 Brake-Shifters|
|Type||DCL Dual control||DCL Dual control|
|Optical gear display||Yes (not all models)||No|
|Invisible Cable Routing||No||Yes|
|Hydraulic Disc Brake Option||No||Yes|
|Bracket||Glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP)||Glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP)|
|Approximate Weight (pair)||500 grams||450-500 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 Brakes||Shimano 105 Rim Brakes|
|Mount||Traditional||Traditional + direct mount|
|Position||Fork, Seat Stays||Fork Seat Stays or Bottom Bracket|
|Weight (pair)||364 grams||348 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 Derailleur||Shimano 105 Front Derailleur|
|No||Integrated cable tension adjustment|
|Front Derailleur Type||Brazed-On, Clamp, High Clamp||Brazed-On, Clamp, High Clamp|
|Chainset compatability||Double and Triple||Double and Triple|
|Weight||128 grams||111 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 Derailleur||Shimano 105 Rear Derailleur|
|Material||Aluminum, glass-fiber reinforced polymer||Aluminum, glass-fiber reinforced polymer|
|Maximum rear cog capacity||34||34|
|Shifting system||8 speeds||11 speeds|
|Weight||284 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 Cranks||Shimano 105 Cranks|
|Number of |
|Crank Arm |
|Chainring Material||Steel||Anodized Aluminum|
|Bottom Bracket||Octalink, Hollowtech II||Hollowtech II|
|Bottom Bracket Weight||260g||92g|
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 Hubs||Shimano 105 Hubs|
|Axle Type||Quick-release||Quick-release (rim brakes), |
Thru-Axle (disc brakes)
|Brake Type||Rim brakes only||Rim and disc brake options|
|Weight (front)||214g||155g (rim brake), |
165 (disc brake)
|Weight (rear)||459g||368g (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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.