cycling global logo
Home » Accessories » Shimano 105 Versus Tiagra - Is It Too Close To Call?

Shimano 105 Versus Tiagra - Is It Too Close To Call?

Amy L
July 13, 2021

The Shimano Tiagra vs 105 debate has been going on for years. If you want to know more about these groupsets, then you've come to the right place.

As somebody who has upgraded through the Shimano groupsets, I understand the differences that a better rear derailleur or chainset can make to your overall riding experience. One of my bikes currently runs a full 105 groupset (spoiler: I think it's great).

We'll be covering the main differences between Shimano 105 Versus Tiagra, breaking down each component so you can decide whether the extra expense of a 105 groupset is worth it.

Key Differences Between Tiagra And 105

  • The biggest difference is that Tiagra runs a 10 sprocket set-up while 105 has 11. Giving you closer ratio gearing.
  • Road bikes with a full Shimano Tiagra groupset are a fair bit cheaper than those that are 11-speed 105 groupsets but if you buy components separately, the cost difference between Shimano 105 and Tiagra isn't that great.
  • If you're a triple chainset fan, then Tiagra is the highest quality Shimano option there is.
  • 105 is close to 200 grams lighter than the Tiagra system.

Shimano Groupsets Overview

Manufacturers like Shimano will produce various types of components at different levels. This gives cyclists options when it comes to buying a road bike gear or a bike.

Shimano produces 6 road groupsets and these are (starting with the best):

  • Dura-Ace
  • Ultegra
  • 105
  • Tiagra
  • Sora
  • Claris

Dura-Ace and Ultegra can be purchased with Di2 shifting.

What is Di2? Find out here:

Hydraulic disc brakes are available on Dura-Ace, Ultegra, and 105.

Shimano claims (and I have no reason to doubt them) that the 11-speed 105 groupset is the most popular in the world.

The fact that the 105 groupset is 11-speed is what sets it apart from Shimano Tiagra, that being only 10-speed.

With the 11-speed 105 groupset, there has been quite a lot of technology which has filtered down from the top groupsets of Dura-Ace and Ultegra. The Tiagra groupset is heavier. As with pretty much everything in road cycling, you pay more to have lighter components.

Dual Brake Levers - Mechanical

  • Tiagra - 493g (pair)
  • 105 - 476g (pair)

As you can see there isn't a huge amount of difference in the weight of these two so the biggest difference is that the Tiagra brake levers run a 10-speed system whereas 105 is an 11-speed.

Both of the brackets are constructed using glass-fiber reinforced plastic, with the main levers being aluminum so durability is good for both Tiagra and 105.

If you need to make adjustments, on both levers this can be done using a screw-operated system. This is especially useful for those with a shorter reach or smaller hands are you are then able to move the levers to be closer to you.

When it comes to shifting gears, the 105 R7000 is quick and very light - it is a much-improved model from its predecessors.

The lightness needed in shifting is similar (if not the same) to that of an Ultegra or Dura-Ace setup.

The 105 isn't the only model that has benefited from upgrades. Tiagra's cables now run beneath the bar tape, which is how the higher-end Shimano groupsets have it.

Admittedly, the Tiagra shifting isn't as light but it's forgivable considering the price difference.

However, a triple chainset is only available with Tiagra so that is something Tiagra has over 105.

Dual Pivot Brakes

  • Tiagra - 360g (pair)
  • 105 - 388g (pair)

One of the biggest differences between Shimano 105 and Tiagra is braking.

The latest caliper brake design from Shimano is called SLR-EV Dual Pivot - this is available on 105, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace, so not Tiagra.

The concept of this design is that the twin pivot design will apply equal force through each arm. So the braking will be consistent and deliver equal amounts of power and control.

This also means that when you want to slow your bike down, it only takes a small amount of pressure on the brake lever, and locking wheels shouldn't be a problem.

Compared to previous brakes, this system does have a more grippy feel, in wet and dry conditions.

Tiagra brakes have also seen a good amount of improvement and an increase in stopping power. However, they aren't of the same quality as 105.

Don't get me wrong, the Tiagra brakes aren't lacking in stopping power but you don't get the same amount of feel from the levers.

When the time comes to change the cartridge brakes, it is noticeably easier with the 105 components than the Tiagra. Though there is still a decent amount of flex, it just isn't as straightforward.

Shimano presents these brakes as having the capacity to take up to 28mm wide tires. What we found is that the newest 105 - the R7000 has more drop than it used to (51mm vs 49mm).

What does that mean for you?

It should allow you to be able to fit 30mm wide tires - providing the frame is correct.

With a 105 set-up, it does come with a direct mount option - you will need to ensure that your fork and frame are compatible. A direct-mount option means that the brake arms won't need a central bolt to attach to. Instead, they can be bolted straight to the fork/frame.

Tiagra doesn't have this direct mount option.

Disc Brakes

As you would expect from Shimano 105, the disc brake units are 11-speed and Tiagra is 10-speed.

An impressive feature is how streamlined the 105 R7000 STI units are in comparison to old versions.

If you have smaller hands, then the R7000 brakes are likely to work better. This is because the lever does sit more closely to the handlebar than ST-R7020 levers.

The Tiagra brakes are impressive too. They don't fail to offer the stopping power riders want (and need).

Due to the fact that Shimano uses a 160mm rotor, you won't need to apply lots of pressure to the brakes.

By that I mean you don't need to place more than two fingers on the brake levers to stop.

Both 105 and Tiagra perform well with Disc Brakes.

Chainset

  • Tiagra - 910g (50-34 tooth)
  • 105 - 716g (50-34)

Both the 105 and Tiagra chainsets feature aluminum crankarms and a steel axle.

The design is the same, both having a four-arm spider. This serves to keep the weight down but the strength and stiffness high.

For the outer ring, both groupsets use aluminum and GFRP. This further increases the stiffness.

The similarities continue with the crank lengths as both offer them in the below sizes:

  • 165mm
  • 170mm
  • 172.5mm
  • 175mm

For riders who need a shorter crankset, they will need to opt for 150 R7000 as it is available in 160mm.

The differences start to appear when you look at the chainring options.

Shimano 150 is available in:

  • 53 - 39
  • 52 - 36
  • 50 - 34

Whereas Tiagra offers:

  • 52 - 36
  • 50 - 34

However, Tiagra does offer a triple chainset option ( 50 - 39 - 30). If that option interests you, then you will need to consider compatibility with your left-hand shifter along with the front derailleur.

As both are Shimano parts, swapping them out can be done easily. Both chainsets use a 110mm bolt circle diameter.

A key difference between Shimano 105 and Tiagra chainsets is that the 150 is quite a fair bit lighter than Tiagra. So, for those riders who are keen to minimize weight, this could be a key consideration.

Front Derailleur

  • Tiagra - 106g
  • 105 - 109g

Both groupsets use the same material to make the front derailleur. This is aluminum coupled with a chain guide that is stainless steel and then chrome-plated.

A key difference between 105 and Tiagra is that the 105 is intended for 11-speed and the large chainring has teeth between 46 and 53.

Whereas Tiagra is compatible with a 10-speed system. The large chainring is good for teeth between 46 and 52.

You won't be able to get any larger than 53 teeth with Shimano, unless you're prepared to go up to Dura-Ace.

Should you need a triple chainset, you will be looking at Tiagra for that.

When you look at these derailleurs, they are different in appearance. The 105 R7000 groupset uses Shimano's "compact toggle design".

This design isn't something we're used to seeing on the 105. It's only been available on Dura-Ace and Ultegra.

What this gives is an increase in tire clearance.

When it all comes down to it, the Tiagra front derailleur was smooth, quiet, and shifted cleanly.

Rear Derailleur

  • Tiagra - 277g (long cage)
  • 105 - 220g (short cage), 227g (long cage)

When it comes to rear derailleurs, this is where the 105 groupset differs from the Tiagra. The 105 R7000 is very different from the previous 105 models. It stems from the Ultegra R8000 design from the previous year.

The design of the 105 R7000 rear derailleur comes from the mountain bike derailleurs. The whole design is aimed at tucking the derailleur further into the bike, whilst also increasing the size of the sprocket it can take.

As you will expect, the 105 is designed for 11-speed and Tiagra is for 10-speed respectfully.

The parts are fairly similar both featuring aluminum components in the bracket body, plates, and plate body.

You do get an option with both 105 and Tiagra rear derailleurs for whether you want a short or long cage version. These will be used with different cassettes.

The 105 short cage version is capable of shifting a 30 tooth, whilst the Tiagra sits at a 28-tooth sprocket.

Both the Tiagra and 105 long cage versions can take on a 34-tooth sprocket. However, the 105 R7000 can shift a 40-tooth chainring without any issues so it's quite an impressive difference in performance.

The new Tiagra is certainly more improved from older models and does what Shimano claims, which is offering "precise and long-lasting shifting performance".

Cassette

  • Tiagra -308g (12-28)
  • 105 - 284g (11-28)

As for the cassettes, each has nick-plated steel sprockets. The 105 does get a spider arm and the lockring, which are made of anodized aluminum. This does make it lighter.

That's not the biggest difference however. This would be that the 105 cassettes are 11-speed and the Tiagra is 10-speed.

You do get options for each cassette. The 105 is available in:

  • 11 - 25
  • 11 - 32
  • 12 - 25
  • 11 - 34 - this will fit onto a 10-speed wheel

The Tiagra line-up isn't too dissimilar at:

  • 11 - 25
  • 12 - 28
  • 11 - 32
  • 11 -34

The great thing about using nickel-plated cassettes is that their durability is second to none and they are able to withstand a lot of use.

Not to mention the fact that shifting is smooth, sharp, and performs well under pressure.

Chain

  • Tiagra - 273g (114 links)
  • 105 - 257g (114 links)

As with everything 105-related, the chain is an 11-speed, and with Tiagra, it's a 10-speed chain.

The 105 is lighter than the Tiagra and narrower.

I have to say though, both are very quiet when in use. This is largely down to the Sil-Tec (PTFE) coated links.

Bottom Bracket

  • Tiagra - 92g (threaded), 71g (press-fit)
  • 105 - 77g (threaded), 69g (press-fit)

Tiagra vs 105 comes in close with the press-fit bottom bracket as both are of similar weight.

There is quite a bit of difference between the Tiagra and 105 groupsets when you look at the threaded options, certainly in percentages. In actual weight, we're only looking at 15 grams so it won't add much to your road bike.

What the Shimano 105 does have on its side is its excellent durability as parts of the bottom bracket are used in the Ultragra groupset.

Everything you need to know about the 105 R7000 groupsets can be found here:

Shimano 105 vs Tiagra Groupset Conclusion

There's no denying that the Tiagra groupset is impressive.

It's a groupset that can give you what you want from a mid-tier road bike. Sure, there are a few niggles but they are tiny and can be overlooked.

What you need to decide on is how important it is to have 11-speeds. It does, of course, come with a cost.

Shimano Tiagra Groupset Upgrades

It's not as simple as upgrading your Tiagra groupset components one at a time. You can't make the 10 and 11-speed parts work together.

If you do want to take the upgrade route, you need to upgrade a large number of the Tiagra groupset components at once to make it work.

A 105 groupset has that extra sprocket. You also have to consider whether the spacing on the sprockets is narrower when you compare the Tiagra and 105. Due to this, the chain on the 105 groupset is narrower as well.

Then you have to factor in whether the shifting control levers have one additional position than that found in Tiagra groupsets.

Shimano 105 Groupset Upgrades

Should you decide that you want to start with the 105 version, you will arguably have more options. Or at least, upgrading can be done more easily.

There is no need to upgrade the components at once. You can choose to upgrade to Ultegra or Dura-Ace as they need replacing.

It probably sounds like an attractive option right now, but I have to say, as somebody who has a 105 groupset, I won't be upgrading my components to Ultegra or Dura-Ace. I don't feel the need - the 105 groupset is fantastic and relatively budget-friendly.

Do you need more than Shimano 105?

Check out more bicycle accessories

Final Thoughts

Both groupsets offer many great features, so you can see why the Shimano Tiagra vs 105 is a hotly debated topic.

If you're after lower gears, then the 105 clinches it. While both systems will work with a 34-tooth sprocket, if you use a long-arm of a 105, you can stretch it to a large 40-tooth sprocket.

Another difference between these groupsets is the stopping ability and performance in the braking system. Shimano 105 vs Tiagra and 105 steals it. You get better control and it's easier to gain it.

Though I can't get away from the fact that Tiagra offers the best value for money, if you're looking to future-proof yourself, then the 105 groupset is the better purchase.

The 105 groupsets are lighter than Tiagra, and have better braking performance. You also get the benefit of 11-speed.

Amy L
About the Author
I'm Amy, A writer and when I'm not writing, I'm usually found on two wheels! I own several bikes; my favourite has to be my faithful Bianchi Infinito CV. We've been through a lot together - we've even been to Paris together...twice!. My first carbon bike. My first love. Cycling is my passion and climbing is my thing, so if there's a climb out there you think I should know about - let me know!
Related posts:
Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Cycling Global is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon (.com, .co.uk, .ca etc) and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Copyright © 2021 · Cycling Global · All Rights Reserved