We’ve seen this play out three times before, and so nobody should be surprised that Shimano’s affordable racing group, 105, has inherited the extra gear and trickle-down technology of Ultegra and Dura-ace and has gone 11-speed with the just-announced Shimano 105 5800 component group. (We expect a similar official announcement about SRAM Rival any day now.)
Announced on April Fools’ Day, but certainly not a joke, Shimano’s 105 5800 group now inherits almost all of Ultegra 6800’s new technology, including a redesigned hood shape, the new redesigned front derailleur with a longer lever arm and stabilizer bolt, the new four-arm, compact gearing-compatible crankset and perhaps easiest to ignore, but possibly the most impactful, the new polymer coated shift cables.
We’ve spent some time on 6800 and 9000 (see the upcoming issue 24) and have come away most impressed especially with the front shifting and hood shapes. We have high hopes for Shimano 105. The light action of the shifting on 6800 and 9000 is great—it starts to approach the feel of Di2, but the jury is still out as to whether mud causes more problems with the tighter spacing and lighter spring action.
Gearing options on the new Shimano 105 5800 11-speed group involve a wider range of options, with three cassettes (12-25, 11-28 and 11-32t) and three chainring options (39/53, 34/50 and 36/52) but if you’re reading this you might lament the lack of a 36/46t option. Not all is lost, as Shimano offers its Ultegra 6800 crankset with 36/46t chainrings, but it’s important to note the 46t chainring on this option is not HollowGlide and instead features cosmetic plastic caps to imitate the flush look of a HollowGlide chainring that perfectly mates with the four-arm spiders.
With these limitations of the 105 5800 crankset, if you’re looking for components to build up a cyclocross bike, you’ll probably want to upgrade from 105 5800 to the Ultegra 6800 crankset if you want the 36/46t chainrings. That will be most cost-effective than trying to separately source Ultegra 36/46 rings (we’ve been unsuccessful, and Shimano’s reps say they’re hard to get) and swap out the stock rings on the 105 crankset. Or, just stay with a tradition five-arm crankset 110mm BCD or 130mm BCD 105 cranksets, which Shimano will continue to offer as well, and will be compatible with aftermarket rings from Rotor, WickWerks and Praxis among others. You could also use the excellent Shimano CX70 or CX50 cyclocross cranksets, despite both being 10-speed cranksets.
To work with the new wide-range 11-32t cassette, the new medium cage 105 GS rear derailleur will accept up to a 32t cog, a two tooth increase from the previous GS model. Since we’ve been able to push a 6770 short cage rear derailleur to work with 36t rear cogs (at your own risk, depends on the derailleur hanger, YMMV), some cyclists might get the longer GS to work with a 34t if you can find an 11-speed cassette that goes that big.
The 105-level HG600 chain marks the return by Shimano to asymmetric chains, after its attempt with the 7900/7901 asymmetrical chain but then reverting to a symmetrical chain with the Dura-Ace chain. The inner links get Shimano’s Sil-Tec PTFE inner link coating, a coating similar to that found on the new shift cables. Ultegra also gets arunning change with the new HG700 asymmetrical, directional chain. Both chains still feature Shimano Chain Connector Pins, after a one-month ill-fated experiment with master links with 7900.
The new Shimano 105 11-speed group also comes with black and silver finishes, and either 68mm BSA bottom bracket cups or BB86 Press Fit bearings.
See the slideshow below for a full image gallery of the new Shimano 105 5800 components.