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I'm upgrading my road touring bike, currently with a 3x8 drivetrain and bar-end friction shifters. I'm going for integrated brake/shift levers, and wondering about the difference between the Claris ST-2400 and Sora ST-3500 STI shifters.

I already know that the Claris is 3x8 and the Sora 3x9. Upgrading to a 9-speed cassette and chain should be no problem (chain rings are already 9-speed compatible). I'd choose the same cassette range for either, and I don't think having the extra intermediate gear would matter much to me.

My question is: are the Sora shifters better (in terms of materials, reliability, smoothness, accuracy, or whatever) than the Claris? It's a 50-ish dollar difference, so that's not that big a deal. Anything else I might've missed? I'm not really interested in going to a 10 (or more) speed rear, so the higher end mechanisms are out.

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The Sora groupset does indeed sit above Claris in the Shimano pantheon. Shimano carefully engineers each level to be incrementally better than the one below it, in terms of features, weight and quality of materials.

You should be able to feel a difference between the two groupsets in terms of shifting. An extra sprocket in the rear is nice to have as you will be more often able to select an optimum gear.

If you can afford the Sora groupset, it's worth having.

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I'm assuming you have and want drop bar brifters. The Sora I just worked on was not dual lever, it was more campy-style with one main lever integrated on the brake, and a thumb push lever on the inside of the hood for changing down.

I've only ever seen it on Sora, no other Shimano groupset has that format.

So be wary if that doesn't sound like you.

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    The current Sora's are like the 105s and other Shimano levers. The thumb button to push down is a few years old (I'd like to say 34xx or earlier). – Batman Apr 6 '18 at 23:13
  • Even Claris is dual lever these days. – Vladimir F May 29 at 9:13
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One thing to mention regards 8 or 9 speed is that you need to spend more effort keeping a 9 speed chain clean and lubricated in order to achieve good shifting. I'm actually skeptical that the Sora shifting is ever better than the 8 speed Claris but I'm certain it is worse for a dirty chain.

I don't really notice the extra cassette sprocket.

The new generation Claris ST-R2000 and Sora ST-R3000 shifters are prettier than the previous generation Claris ST-2400 and Sora ST-3500 that you mention. They have ditched the stupid gear indicator window. Also the new generation shifters have Internal cable routing, the brake and gear cables go under the bar tape where as the older generation only did this for the brake cables.

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