Installing shifters was new to me, I soon found design differences between Tiagra and 105. The gear cables are fed from underneath the shifters and then out through the top into the outer cables which run along the handlebars. This removes any messy cabling as seen with my previous Tiagra shifters, creating a much neater look.
The clamp bolt is situated at the top centre of the shifter as shown in the image above, unlike Tiagra shifters where this is found down the side of the shifter.
The left shifter presented me with trouble as instructional diagrams were a little confusing. To install, it required the removal of a small cover to guide the cable through the guide towards the outer cable. After resolving my doubts over where to lead this cable into the shifter I moved on and attached the cable to the front derailleur. I was then presented with very hard shifting moving the chain from the inner to outer ring. After checking that the inner cable ran smoothly through outer cables and cable guides I was left confused as to why the shifting required so much force to change gears. This left me to later conclude that although Tiagra and 105 do work together, for optimum performance you should use all the same throughout your groupset. After purchasing and fitting a new 105 front derailleur front cog shifting became relatively easier than before.
Fitting the cable to the right hand shifter was much easier and was also installed through the side of the through a far less obscure entry point. The cable then led up out of the top of the shifter into the outer cabling that is installed along the handlebars.
What’s it like?
Rear gear shifting is accurate, far improved from my previous Tiagra shifters, which although they changed gears successfully were clunky in comparison, 105 offers a more positive and precise feel.
Braking performance was as I expected, considering I had not changed the actual brakes, there was no noticeable change and they continued to run as well as they had with Tiagra Shifters fitted. These shifters come with spacers to adjust the brake lever stroke, however I left mine as is.
Ergonomic shifter hoods make for a more comfortable hold and do not have the bulk of lower end models such as Tiagra or Sora. This had meant I had lost my gear indicators- I’m not embarrassed to say I actively used them to prevent cross chaining, unlike some bike snobs out there on the internet that like to take the piss *cough*. I do prefer the lack of gear indicators now in preference for a cleaner look- it just means I have to look down at my gears now to find out exactly what I’m in.
Coming in at approximately £120 (via Ribble Cycles) with cables, cycling continues to be an expensive sport however it’s money well spent to guarantee the best gear shifting for your buck if Ultegra is out of your price bracket.
Shimano 105 Front Mech/Derailleur
I had used a Tiagra front derailleur with 105 shifters and this had made shifting very hard. If you are moving to 105 shifters then I would highly advise purchasing a 105 front derailleur which is designed to be the best compatible component with 105 shifters. Try asking the boffins at Shimano why.. all I know is- it works. Front cog gear shifting with 105 shifters still remains to be a little harder than my previous experience with Tiagra shifters, and this seems to be a common complaint I have found whilst trawling through internet forums and other reviews of the 105 left shifter. It's ok to live with however.
From what I've found it is cheapest on ribblecycles.co.uk
Shimano 105 Rear Mech/Derailleur
I also replaced my old Tiagra rear mech which had developed some extra play in the mechanism and had its jockey wheels knackered. Gear shifting with 105 mechs and shifters is now spot on. I held both the Tiagra and 105 shifter in my hands and could not tell if there was any difference in weight at all and continued to fit the new mech to the hanger! Look to weightweenies if you’re interested in minute gram saving! Shifting was much improved once I had everything set up and I have no problems like jumping gears.
From what I've found it is cheapest on ribblecycles.co.uk however at time of publishing clip on is out of stock.
Cable is installed under and then out the top of the shifter through a guide.
The Rear Mech/Derailleur ( I know I know cable isn't cut short enough...)
I recently had the inner and outer cables replaced and the front mech shifting into a bigger cog is a lot easier. I't still not quite as effortless as Ultegra or higher end Shimano groupsets but it's much improved.
I don't own a bike with an Ultegra groupset but from little experience having a quick feel of someone elses bike it's a lot easier and somehow feels more precise. It's an upgrade I will be looking to get when I hopefully can afford to get a new bike.
Ultegra groupset has just been reduced on Chain Reaction Cycles to £465- might be worth saving the pennies for?