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Shimano has new models of their groupsets every year but the lines generally keep the same names. This makes it difficult to figure out what year/version a particular bike has. Is there an easy way to figure this out and also determine which components/groupsets are better than others?

For instance, if I have Tiagra derailleurs from 2009 would they be better than Sora derailleurs from 2010 for a road bike?

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"Better" is a subjective term. Can you indicate what the intended use is? (The example you give is a good step towards narrowing down the question.) – Neil Fein Aug 25 '10 at 21:04
Well I certainly don't want to know if they smell better! – Joe Philllips Aug 25 '10 at 21:20
It depends on what you're looking for from your drive train. Durability? Ease of use? Weight? – Jack M. Aug 25 '10 at 21:21

Typically the majority of their yearly R&D is spent on their top of the line group, then they will trickle down it's technology to the next lower group, and continue that way, so usually, this years tiagra is close to last years 105, etc. The major thing to look for is # of speeds in a group, weight, and finish.

I believe the 2010 Sora(3400) set is a 9 speed, where the 2009 tiagra is a 9 speed - the major difference is the thumb button of Sora(3400) versus the finger paddle of Tiagra(4500), a substantial difference.

the quality goes 2200 < Sora < Tiagra < 105 < ultegra < dura Ace

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Good post! I never realized they had so many lines. I always thought the 105 was the bottom of the food chain. Nice to know that they have lesser expensive options as well that I can recommend to my more budget-constrained friends! – Brian Knoblauch Oct 7 '10 at 11:47
How can you tell which year it is? I don't think it's stamped on or anything right? – Joe Philllips Oct 8 '10 at 17:32

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