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Update:

It's a Sora road group set, so 9 speed on the back with 11-32t cassette, and double on the front (50-34 I think).

And I do want to add more gears if possible, so 10 speed or more if possible. That's the reason I am looking at 105 or something better. If that's not possible, then I will just replace with a Sora.


I have Giant Defy 3 with full Sora group set. Now the rear derailleur got broken. I was thinking to do a upgrade instead of just a replacement if possible, but to keep as many existing components as possible to save on cost. I am thinking of a 105 rear derailleur (or something better)? I know I am going to replace chain, cassette and rear shifter as well. Will it work with Sora front derailleur and crankset?

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  • The number of gears/cogs on the rear cassette would be extremely helpful in answering this question. Can you provide that in the question please?
    – Ted Hohl
    Jul 16, 2022 at 18:03
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    Keep in mind that upgrading the rear derailleur won’t give you a lot of improvement. The brifters and cable installation are much more important for good shifting performance.
    – Michael
    Jul 16, 2022 at 20:13
  • @TedHohl it's a 9 speed on the rear (Sora). Jul 18, 2022 at 2:03
  • @thotwielder thanks for updating the question. My answer aligns with 9-speed, as that was what I was assuming it might be.
    – Ted Hohl
    Jul 18, 2022 at 3:53

2 Answers 2

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In seeking to just replace the rear derailleur (RD), which is the least expensive option, you would just need to find a replacement RD that works with the same number of gears you currently have with the Sora groupset. For example, if your current bike has a 9-speed cassette on the rear (this is what is spec'd on the 2016 Defy 3 for example), you could replace it with the 105 equivalent: RD-5500-GS (long cage) or the RD-5500-SS (short cage) rear derailleur. The long cage version can handle a larger range of gearing (larger range in the cassette and the front chainrings combined).

However, it may be challenging to find a new RD-5500 around. Not impossible, but there has been a couple of generations go by. This is assuming that you are currently on a 9-speed cassette.

The next step up in cost involves what you mentioned at the end of your question: replacing the RD, cassette, chain and rear shifter; and would it be compatible with the current crankset and FD. The general rule of thumb is that a one gear change (say 9 to 10 speeds) on the rear can work pretty well with the current FD/chainrings. It starts to get a bit chancier for seamless operation after that. This is due to the narrower chain width and the spacing between the front chainrings among other things. It does not mean it will not work, but it gets riskier, so it is best to be aware of the possibilities of an upgrade on the FD/chainring area.

You may find that moving to a 105 groupset at the 11-speed level may be prudent at this time. 12-speed 105 just came out and it is electronic shifting only as I understand it. So procuring a full 105 groupset (maybe if possible, without the brake calipers) could be an option, and eliminate potential issues with the FD/chainrings with a hybrid configuration. I have seen new full 105 7000 series groups on eBay for $700+, but that includes everything.

One other KEY consideration to going to 11 speed is this: an 8/9/10 speed freewheel (likely what you have if you are not already on 11 speed), will not take an 11 speed cassette (only one exception and that is the 11-34 11-speed cassette which will fit an 8/9/10 freewheel). So going to 11 speed in the rear could add the additional cost of a new wheelset, or at least a new rear wheel.

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    The new 105 (R7100) is a no-go for this bike: only available for hydraulic disc brakes
    – Renaud
    Jul 16, 2022 at 20:03
  • @Renaud and it is 12 speed as well. Quite a jump from the OPs starting point.
    – Ted Hohl
    Jul 17, 2022 at 0:13
  • couldn't OP try 105 5700 as 10 s road derailleurs work with 9 speed shifters? may be easier to get than 5500
    – Swifty
    Jul 19, 2022 at 17:57
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It doesn't strictly answer the question, but it might be useful to add too: in 9-speed, there is no split between MTB/trekking and road products.

You don't indicate what is your aim with the upgrade. If you just want other better components, it's likely that you'll have to replace the whole groupset (and possibly the wheel too). In this price range, the price of the operation + labour can be close to the price of a new bike.

On MTB derailleurs, the RD-M591 or RD-M592 are better than the Sora ones, but they have slightly different cassettes requirements. They are designed for 11-34 cassettes. Upgrading to one of these will improve the climbing abilities. That being said, if this possibility interests you, better to give the detailed specs of your current bike (the 2015 Defy is a 3x9 with a 11-28 cassette, the 2016 a 2x9 with 11-32).

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