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The current road lineup is Claris / Sora / Tiagra / 105 / Ultegra / Duraace

105 stands out as odd because its a number. Is there some special meaning ?

from https://bike.shimano.com/en-EU/product/component/105-5800.html


Research

  • 105 was released in 1983 as a 6 speed groupset under the name "A105 Golden Arrow"
  • At the time Ultegra was known as "600" so some consistency in a 3 digit number. Dura Ace was always called Dura Ace, and Ultegra got its name in 1997
  • MTB groupsets have always had a name. There are no numbers for the groupset as a whole, though each year's revision has a model number.

Conjecture from the web

  • 105 is the reverse of 501, which came from Levi's Jeans, popular in the late 80s in Japan and matching the "workhorse reliable" nature of the 105.
  • 105 reads as "SOI" or "501" when rotated 180 degrees. But SOI is not a Japanese nor English word, like Dura-Ace ( Duralumin alloy + Ace 'best') or Ultegra = ( ultimate" + Integrity)
  • In the late 80s Shimano introduced SIS shifting and SLR braking. At this time many groupsets were stopped, like the 200GS, 300GS, 400GS, 500EX, and Exage. New groupsets with SIS/SLR replaced them over time.

So why has "105" persevered ?

  • 2
    Might be a good idea to forward this question to Shimano on Twitter or FB. I couldn't find any email contacts on Shimano website. – Klaster_1 Mar 2 at 4:23
  • 2
    I've contacted the PR person of my region, 'll give an update if they can redirect me to someone that could know more. – cookiemonster Mar 2 at 12:17
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    My guess is like the fabled "Gorilla story", no one at Shimano has been squirted with a fire hose, but they still call it 105 - the reason why lost to the mists of time. That does not stop me hoping someone has the answer though. – mattnz Mar 3 at 4:11
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    @mattnz yep - there's plenty of different disagreeing opinions on the web, and no definitive answers. – Criggie Mar 3 at 6:11
  • Possibly related - I came across the "rule of 105" in a GCN video. The rule says "the rim must be at least 105% the width of the tire if you have any chance of re-capturing airflow from the tire and controlling it or smoothing it. " as mentioned in web.archive.org/web/20180428033729/https://silca.cc/blogs/… and bicycles.stackexchange.com/a/55483/19705 Probably a coincidence, but relevant. – Criggie Sep 7 at 0:19
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This is a non-answer because I've been looking at Japanese bicycling sites and blogs and no one really knows. The closest answer is found here:

105の名の由来とは?

最後に、各グレード名の由来についての豆知識を紹介します。1971年に誕生したデュラエースの名は、素材のジュラルミン(Duralumin)と耐久性を意味するデュラビリティ(Durability)に、世界一のコンポという願いを込めた「エース」を組み合わせた造語です。1976年に誕生のアルテグラは、Ultimate(究極)+Integrate(統合)を意味するコンポーネントです。1982年に誕生した105については、当時のダブルレバーSL-A105の型番を継承し、現在では105というグレード名になっています。

which google translate translate (with some clean-up) as:

What is the origin of the 105 name?

Finally, I will introduce my knowledge about the origin of each grade name [in the Shimano series]. The name of Dura Ace which was born in 1971 is a combination of Duralumin of the material and Durability meaning durability combined with "Ace" which wish of the world's best component. The birth of Ultegra in 1976 is a component that means Ultimate + Integrate. Concerning 105 which was born in 1982, it inherited the model number of the double lever SL-A 105 at that time and now it has become the grade name of 105.

So it's a non-answer answer. The author of this article, Kenji Hashimoto, is a sports journalist in Japan and so it's about as close as one might get unless you ask Shimano.

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