Tiagra gets a re-work
This is big news for budget buyers as Tiagra now comes with integrated BBs and a range of gear options. In nine speed it does have the advantage of simple swap over to compact from standard double. Simply buy a new crank and slot them into the same BB. You can even use the double front derailleur.
There’s adjustable reach levers and neat gear indicators (you love ’em or hate ’em) on the lever tops – the whole thing does have the look of Ultegra/105 but will be a fraction of the cost. The hubs get bearing protection seals and come in 32 and 36 hole versions. Elsewhere there’s an improved braking system with siffer and lighter caliper arms and an 11-25 cassette for compact users after a wider spread of gears.
New Compact cranks
Well this probably confirms that the Compact crank is here to stay. Compact cranks at a variety of price points in the Shimano range will be welcome and these add a 10 speed and a 9 speed set up to the party. Both are 50/34 tooth chainrings and no news as yet as to when there will be alternative ring sizes.
Both cranks have the familiar cap free design and use the integrated bottom bracket system. Interestingly Shimano claim that there is no need for another front derailleur or shifter, just pull out your standard crank adjust the chain length and Go! Surely you must have to adjust the derailleur height and faff about a bit?
They have only released 3 crank lengths though – 165, 170 and 175mm – so no use if you like a 172.5mm, you’ll have to use the FC-700 which does. These are both set to retail below the FC-700 so will probably come in well under £135.
The FC-R600 is a 10 speed compatible aimed at Ultegra/105 10spd users unit and the FC-4550-S aimed at the Tiagra and 9spd users. The finish is good and the weight slightly less that the usual doubles.
We see this as being aimed at flat bar users, commuters and perhaps touring cyclists. Although it may see the start of something new for the high end in the future? who knows. The obvious problem is the hub width and accomodating the spokes and the disc rotor and the cassette. So until this can be addressed and the unit lightened up a bit I doubt it will be in the pro-peloton just yet. We had a quick spin around the car park and it certainly feels positive, although it’s probably only going to make it to flat bar and touring bikes first.
Miguel Indurain had experimented with UK made Hope discs for his road bike as heavier riders do tend to suffer with melting glue on tubular tyres, when riding long descents on hot days. Then there’s carbon fibre rims to try to deal with…
It’s interesting that Shimano have attacked this market so we predict that discs will appear at Paris-Roubaix in the next few years (perfect if it rains!) but they will have to be lighter and they’ll have to develop some special wheels first. The race is on.
New 105 pedals
DuraAce pedals are great, but use them through the winter and they’ll soon start to look tired. With the launch of the new 105 pedal will mean that you can have a set of pedals for each bike at an affordable price. Shimano’s excellent Look-style system across all the price points.
Sora gets a face lift
Even better news for the budget end is the re-vamp and update of the Sora group. It actually now resembles old-style 105 and although the improvement may be mostly cosmetic, it’s still a great budget priced 8 speed group with STIs.
The fact that they still make 8 speed is good news for road riders still on 8 who need spares, but we are sure that Sora will eventually become nine speed. The end is nigh.
Weird and wonderful city bike stuff can have cross-purposes and the Alfine is no exception. They have a crankset that would also do a cyclo-cross single chainring job very well and also a chain tensioner that would also do a road singlespeed a great job. It also gets flatbar disc brakes with long elegant levers – there are certainly going to be a few nice looking commuters in the 2007 bike ranges.
Although this group is aimed at the commuter, lifestyle end of the flatbar market we still really like the fact that you could fit a disc brake and hub gear to pretty much any mountain bike frame and have a superb street bike. Shimano spends a lot of time researching and developing products for this market and the Alfine looks like a good job. Our new favourite Shimano toy – See full gruppo pic. below.
Much of this gear will be in the shops towards the end of the year, they will be available from Ultimate Pursuits stores.
The new 105 pedals
Tiagra brake calipers
Rear mech looks great
The Alfine Gruppo