Shimano 105 or Tiagra, What’s the Difference?


Claire Achen wants to know the difference between Shimano 105 and Tiagra components. Both are quite similar, not top end equipment, but both very workable. We go through what we think

Question: Can you tell me the difference in quality between the Shimano Tiagra and 105 components, especially derailleur’s? Practically, what difference would a person notice as she shifts/rides?

Hi Claire,
Let me start with the statement that Shimano Tiagra is not as good as Shimano 105! Why? Well, the Shimano 105 is lighter and it is made better quality materials, in saying this, the Tiagra maybe more durable and hard wearing, but it has the one big draw back, it is only 9 speed at the moment.

As to the actual gear change, the 105 could feel slightly smoother, but both are as accurate in their change. The Shimano 105 has the same sleek lines as the Dura-Ace and has the same efficiency, but at a very nice price.

Obviously it’s 10 speed and comes with the Hollowtech II bottom bracket; the brakes are of Dual-Pivot design and give a solid braking feel. The Shimano 105 group is brilliant for the price, you could just about race on this stuff, not because of any lack of functionality, but just that it is heavier than Dura-Ace and Ultegra.

The Shimano Tiagra set has some of the same attributes as the 105, except the main draw back is that it is “only” 9 speed. The chainset is also Hollowtech design, as is the chainset. The brakes are also Dual Pivot, so no problems there and the rear gear derailleur is compatible with compact chainsets, the Tiagra is a good group, well made and very efficient.

So to answer you question, would you notice any difference? No you would probably not notice any difference with the gear change and everything else would feel much the same. The weight difference would be marginal unless you are racing where that little extra always helps.

The big difference and the one that would make me decide not to but it and go for the Shimano 105 has to be the 10 speed gears. Its maybe only one gear, but 9 speed will be obsolete very soon. So you can either buy the 105 group set now or wait until Shimano bring out the 10 speed Tiagra, which for sure they will.

Check Shimano 105 price and availability here

Check Shimano Tiagra price

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  1. Chad

    I’m looking to upgrade my 9 speed drive train to a 10. I currently have tiagra shifters. Will the Tiagra shifters work on a 10 drivetrain or will I have to upgrade the shifters as well?

    • Samuel

      it will work, maybe you’d need to change the chain and perhaps some other adjustments

  2. Jamey

    Tiagra is the best-kept secret in cycling. I’ve owned and ridden bikes with 105, Ultegra, Campy Super Record 11, and Tiagra, and I’ve honestly noticed very little difference in the quality of shifting. Given the choice between two bikes with the same frame/fork, but asked to spend $800 more for, say, Ultegra (Scott Addict with Tiagra = $1600; Addict with Ultegra, $2300, albeit with better wheels), I’d opt for the former, even though it lacks a tenth gear, and spend the $800 on parts upgrades of my choosing. Tiagra is amazing stuff–indistinguishable from 105, IMO. For sport riding/fast training, only ego necessitates spending more. For racing, in categories where fitness is largely the determining factor (i.e., the three lower cats), a fitter rider on a Tiagra-kitted bike will ALWAYS beat a slightly less fit rider on a D-A superbike. (Duh.) I can’t believe how little respect Tiagra gets, just because it’s a utility-priced group. The stuff just lasts and works. I think it’s the best expression of Shimano’s design/manufacturing philosophy: The best features dropping down to more popularly prices.

  3. Nige

    Which would be best for a beginner, shimano 105 or tiagra.

  4. Abbas


    I have just upgraded my road bike frame from a Raleigh RC6000 to a GIANT OCR C1 and replacd the 9sp shimano 105 with a 9spd dura ace groupset except for the cassette. I have also changed the crank to a FSA 53/39 and it’s working great. Should I replace the cassette? The durace is a 12-23 and the 105 is a 12-25? Will there be a difference in climbing hlls?



  5. david piciocchi

    I have 3 road bikes,a leasport (alloy frame carbon fork)with tiagra gears and 2 azzurri’s (full carbon )one with the latest 105 and the other with sl altegra.Let me tell you that there is a great difference between tiagra and 105’s in shifting quality,i ride all 3 bikes regularly and between the 2 (tiagra and 105)it’s not only a weight issue in difference.There is a weight difference between the 105’s and altegra but the shifting quality i have found the same.Tiagra gears are great for a beginner.

  6. obc

    Unless they’re exceptionally strong or they’re riding on relatively flat terrain, I advise sporty riders to go for compact gearing. For perspective you should compute the ratios available on your current setup. Chainring teeth / cassette teeth = drive ratio, or chainring teeth /cassette teeth * 27 = gear inches.At the top end a 50/11 is roughly equivalent to a 53/12, as 50/12 is roughly equivalent to 53/13. At the bottom end 39/27 is roughly equivalent to 34/23, which is similar to 30/21. That means if you find yourself using the smallest ring on your triple with anything larger than 21, you will need a 29 to duplicate that ratio with a 39-tooth ring. Shimano and SRAM only go to 27.That said, I use a 50-36 compact crank with a 11-23 cassette on the passes and in the canyons of Colorado. The 50/11 combination is strictly for extended periods over 31 mph, downhill and/or downwind. The 36/23 gets me up just about any road that has pavement, but sometimes I wish it were a 25.Unless you never have occasion to use the 30-tooth ring on your bike now, I recommend the compact. As to cassette gearing, don’t bother with an 11 unless you have long stretches of speeds over 30 mph; for the bottom end, look at the lowest gear you now use and duplicate that ratio with a 34-tooth ring. If you do go with the standard adjust your cassette sizes accordingly.

  7. Randy Schroer

    I presently have a triple chainring but want to swap it out for a double. I can’t decide between a compact (50/34) or standard (53/39) crankset. What are your thoughts and what cassette would be optimal for either? Thanks.

  8. Alison Addy

    Hi Tim,you are mising it a little, the back of the frame is the same as is the rear axle width. The cassette for a 9 and a 10 are the same size.

  9. Tim

    There’s a lot of talk about 9 vs. 10 speed but someone who has a 9 speed might not be able to fit the upgraded 10 in their frame … am I right or missing something on this one?

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