Road Bike Groupsets: Everything you need to know!

Velocrush India
6 min readSep 2, 2018

Everyone these days is looking to buy a geared bicycle. 18 speed, 24 speed, which one should I buy? Shimano Acera or Shimano altus? Ohh, there’s SRAM also. What’s the difference and how much should I spend?

While you’re surrounded by this cloud of confusion, worry not. We are hear to answer all your queries.

So let’s start with the basic.

What is a groupset?

A groups is basically a collective name for all individual mechanic parts (gearing and braking)that are attached to the bike frame. Parts included are gears, brake levers. Disc or brake calipers, front and rear derailleur, cables, chainset, bottom bracket, cassette and chain.

A Groupset are categorised by manufactures.They name into different levels of pre and performance with each part clearly marked with the groups name for easier identification. This not only makes buying and replacing a worn out part easier but also helps in identifying the level of performance a bike is aimed at.

What companies make road bike groupsets/ bicycle gears?

Basically, there are three main companies that manufacture road bike groupsets.

1. Shimano — a Japanese multinational manufacturer of cycling components

2. SRAM (Scott, Ray and Sam) — is a privately owned bicycle component manufacturer based in Chicago, Illinois, United States, founded in 1987.

3. Campagnolo- is an Italian manufacturer of bicycle components with headquarters in Vicenza, Italy.

Can I mix and match the components?

These companies manufacture parts that look very similar. However, they are incompatible with each other’s systems. Indeed it’s often the case that different groupset from the same manufacturer don’t work very well with each other. Usually, this happens because each gear system has a pre-determined amount of cable pull and corresponding mech movement that differs slightly with each manufacturer.

The same applies when it comes to brake levers and calipers.

So if you’re tempted to mix and match gears, it’s surely not a good idea.

Besides, each group manufacturer recommends only using similar named Groupset component as some components may not work with a differing number of gears.

For instance, Shimano Dura Ace 11 speed must use an 11 speed rear or front mech as it is different in size to some of its lower tier groupsets.

Road Bike Groupsets
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So what does Shimano make?

Shimano are the world’s biggest bicycle groupset manufacturer. Their components are widely used and are very common in India.

Have a look at the hierarchy of Shimano Road groupset from Professional to entry level

1.Dura Ace Di2 (electronic shifting)
2.Dura Ace
3.Ultegra Di2 (electronic shifting)

So what does Campagnolo Make?

One of the oldest bicycle manufactures of cycle gears in the market is Campagnolo. They are the brand that invented the rear derailleur. They not only make grouspets for some of the best cycling teams in the world but also make stuff for regular riders as well.

Have a look at the hierarchy of Campagnolo groupsets from professional to entry level below:
1.Super Record EPS (electronic shifting)
2. Super Record
3. Record EPS (electronic shifting)
4. Record
5. Chorus EPS (electronic shifting)
6. Chorus
7. Athena
8. Centaur

So what does SRAM make?

Road Bike Groupsets

in the market of groupset manufacturer, SRAM have come with with a series of ingenious inventions which have quickly gained a wide fan base from professional to recreational with their alternative view on operating systems.

Have a look at the hierarchy of SRAM road groupsets from professional to entry level is as follows:
2. Force
3. Rival
4. Apex

Here’s our guide on how to shift gears like a pro!

Bicycle gears is directly proportional to what you pay!

Companies make the groupsets by keeping a certain levels of rider and usage in mind. This is seen in the material finish and pricing of the groupsets.

The best material is usually saved for the high-end bicycle group sets where performance and weight reduction is of paramount importance.

Besides, almost all the innovation, and research and development goes into the top end groupsets. However, over the years, this trickles down to the lower groupsets. This only means that today’s mid-range group sets are packed with features that were available to professional riders only a few years ago.

Also, even low end groupsets are now packed with features that were unthinkable.

Performance and durability of bicycle groupsets:

Performance and durability are two vital factors when it comes to choosing a groupset. Most of the times, with bicycle groupsets, there tends to be a trade between the two.

Top-end groupsets:

Groups sets under this category are very light and work really well. However, the parts in such high-end groupsets are designed to be light and not necessarily for the rigours of everyday biking.

If you’re using them just for racing and ensure to maintain them well, they should last you longer. Do keep in mind, they are not the best for everyday or commuting purpose.

Mid-price groupsets:

Offer a combination of performance, durability and weight. Compared to the top end groupsets, the pricing is way cheaper. In low end groupsets, you are likely to find parts that are of the same shape and feel but made from alloy and plastic instead of titanium and carbon.

Low-end groupsets:

Groupsets under this category offer basic performance and are neatly priced. This groupset is build with heavier material and can take a decent beating from everyday riding. However, don’t be surprised if they don’t live up to your expectation.

Our suggestion is to go for mid price bicycle groupset as they last longer and aren’t too expense or are heavy either.

Which Road Bike Groupsets should you buy?

Leisure riders –

If you are a leisure rider, then low end road bike groupsets are perfect for you. Bicycles with low gears offer an impressive performance and are inexpensive as well. Also, these bikes don’t usually see a great deal of sustained use or abuse. The gearing on the bicycles also tends to be lower with fewer gears. These gears will offer good enough ratio to cover a variety of terrains.

Regular riders –

If you’re a regular rider, durability with great performance is the key. In such cases, consider choosing a mid-price groupset.
Anything that’s below the high-end groupset will offer good technology at a decent price tag. However, there will be a slight penalty of weight. The chain and cassettes are more hard wearing then top end groupsets.

Racers –

If you are a hardcore racer, go for the best performing groupsets in the market. These top end bicycle gears are packed with the latest features and are very light. Performance in terms of gears and brakes are much more efficient, smooth and precise.

On high-end bikes the chain sets often tend to differ for better power transfer. Be prepared to spend on parts like chains and cassettes that wear out at a faster pace.

Got any questions regarding road bike groupsets? Comment and let us know below!

Also, don’t forget to comment and let us know which road bike groupsets you’re using!