merlin cycles

shimano guide 2018 

Monday 1st October 2018

When we purchased our Tarmac all those years ago, the word groupset didn't really compute to us. It came with a Sora which on the scale of groupsets, is not really something to shout home about but give credit where it's due, it's done the job for us. Our Planet X EC130 came equipped with the Ultegra R8000 set up. In comparison, it feels a bit more complex but the shifting and braking system are a pleasure to use. Is it value for money? It's hard for us to say at this current time as our Sora set up has looked after our commuting and to be fair, it's easy to tune and re-adjust so for a beginner wannabe mechanic, it's a groupset you want to start out on. Merlin Cycles dives a little deeper and have given their lowdown on the Shimano groupsets that you would often find on this year's bike range. For you Campag' lovers, you might want to go to another page, how about some climbs?! 

Groupsets are a big seller for Merlin Cycles so the cycling retailer has broken down the top selling sets and aims to helps cyclists identify the right one for them. Groupsets are categorised by discipline such as road or mountain biking, and within the latter category, there are both cross country and downhill/freeride groupsets.


Within each of the categories there is a hierarchy of different sets users can choose from and the choice of groupset has a large effect on how the bike will perform and look. All groupsets benefit from trickle down technology from each manufacturer’s top level groupsets, this means new lower level components can perform as well as mid-level ones from a couple of years ago.


By looking at insights data, Merlin Cycles have seen that Japanese brand, Shimano, produces the most popular groupsets with road groupsets topping the list of best sellers which are detailed below:


  • Dura Ace – Tested by Pro cycling teams over grand tours, this is the pinnacle of Shimano’s road groupsets. Available in mechanical or Di2.

  • Ultegra – Features many of the innovations seen on previous Dura Ace models but at fraction of the price. Also available in mechanical or Di2

  • 105 – Available in silver or black finishes and incorporates technology previously seen in Dura Ace and Ultegra only a few years earlier.

Ultegra proves to be the most popular range


Merlin Cycles’ best selling groupset is the Shimano Ultegra R8000. This groupset followed the Ultegra 6800 with trickle down technology from the Dura Ace range. The R8000 model resembles the Dura Ace range more than its predecessor in terms of both design and functionality. Shimano’s European product manager, Tim Gerrits, states in an interview with Global Cycling Network, that the Ultegra range ‘has exactly the same functionality as Dura Ace’. The difference is in the production methods and materials, which makes it difficult for even the more experienced pros to distinguish between.

The Shimano Ultegra R8050 is another popular groupset amongst cyclists. This model takes technology from the Dura-Ace Di2 groupset while at the same time refining the previous version of their Ultegra Di2 groupset. Shimano tweaked the ergonomics of their Di2 shifters and included more shifting options to fine tune the setup.

Other popular Ultegra groupsets include Shimano Ultegra 6800 Groupset and the Shimano Ultegra 6800 Disc Brake Groupset.

Best entry level sellers


The 105 groupsets, which are the more affordable range of groupsets, are the second best sellers for Merlin Cycles. Shimano's latest 105 groupset, the new 5800 series is now 11 speed with features from the Dura Ace and Ultegra Groupsets. The 105 5800 11 Speed groupset is the latest in the 105 series of road groupsets. It follows the Dura Ace 9000 and Ultegra 6800 groups in being 11 speed. With a choice of 3 chainset options 34/50, 36/52 and 39/53, together with the 11 speed cassette options, there is a 5800 groupset to suit every cyclist.

The professional’s choice


Shimano’s premium range, Dura Ace, is another firm favourite amongst cyclists. Tested by professionals, these groupsets shape the way for all groupsets produced by the Japanese brand. The most popular of which is the Shimano Dura Ace 9100 Groupset. The Dura Ace groupset is the result of Shimano’s ongoing passion for technology. This is reflected in every single component in the groupset. All components are joined together to work as one, reinforcing each other for unparalleled performance.

Shimano have improved upon each and every individual component. Together they form a truly superior groupset. A perfectly balanced total system. Improving performance by maximising efficiency: that’s how Shimano are able to ensure the best for cyclists with the highest demands.

Shimano Dura Ace R9150 Di2 Groupset Builder is the second best-selling premium groupset option for

In addition to traditional “Full” Synchro Shift, riders can optionally select “Semi” Synchro Shift. This intuitive new mode automatically reacts when the rider shifts from one chainring to another, automatically shifting the rear derailleur to minimise the gear step, thus preserving the rider’s rhythm.