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I read somewhere online (reddit) that today's Claris is better than the best groupset used in the tour de France from 10 years ago. Is this true and the groupsets just got that much better?

Just to clarify I'm talking about new Claris vs new groupset from 10 years ago.

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    Depends very muchly on how you define "better" More gears, lower weight, durability, gear-range, some measurement of "time to actuate gear", hand-pressure required to change a gear, etc.
    – Criggie
    Aug 19 at 2:22
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    Anything new should function better than anything used. If you were to service, clean, and tune up the old stuff, wear is still a significant factor.
    – Criggie
    Aug 19 at 2:59
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    Some would say 10yo Dura-Ace has more street cred than a new Claris, making it better regardless of all other comparisons.
    – mattnz
    Aug 19 at 3:04
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    I would say that 10yo Dura-Ace is outright hazardous. I can take it off your hands for free so that you don't have to pay for dangerous waste disposal.
    – ojs
    Aug 19 at 7:30
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    Claris today: 8 speeds, about the best possible speed count for double chainring setups. When you shift with 8 speeds, something happens for each shift as opposed to e.g. 11 speeds where you have to click...click...click a lot for anything to happen. Dura-Ace 2012: 11 speeds, ouch! It's a lot of click...click..clicks. So based on that, Claris today is better than Dura-Ace 10 years ago.
    – juhist
    Aug 19 at 10:54

2 Answers 2

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There are 2 metrics on which today's Claris is "better" than Dura-Ace 9000: range and low-speed performance (bigger cassette sprockets, and possibility to have gravel-ish sized chainrings). For the rest, the 10y Dura-Ace will remain lighter, more reactive, nicer to operate. Also characteristics like range might better for some, but not for everyone: for example a pro racer will prefer to have more speeds on a smaller range (and the range can be chosen depending the stage), to make sure they can select the most optimal ratio. Also, 10y ago, electronic transmission were available.

I can't talk specifically for Claris vs Dura-Ace, but I have an experience on the MTB side, having (had) a bike with 2019 Acera (one range above Altus, the Claris MTB equivalent) and a 15y old XT (one range below XTR, the MTB Dura-Ace equivalent). Even after 15y, the XT remain much nicer to operate: you need less effort to change gears, and they change instantly. Then not all features everything went to the lowest range: on one pressure the Acera could only change 2 gears (up), the XT 3. The index trigger works in both direction (pulling and pushing). Also the Acera as much more plastic parts, and after 1 or 2 years, it developed some play. So sometimes, I had to switch 2 gears and then go back to force the chain to move. It has been since replace by a Deore.

Now on which one to chose: it depends on your priorities. If you are not into cycling, the Claris will be easier and cheaper to maintain, and you probably won't use it enough to reach the point where play starts to develop. You will also appreciate the less race-oriented ratios (that also require training). If you are into cycling, you should know about the characteristics you are looking for, and the choice you'll consider would probably more 5y-old 105 vs 10y-old Dura-Ace.

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  • Upvoted, but confused about the claim that Claris is easier to maintain than DA 7900? Are you referring to parts availability/price? I'm not sure about the geometry and cable pull of modern Claris, but I'm sure all the old 10-speed parts (excluding 4700, which is compatible with 11-speed, including 9000) are interchangeable, so parts are still available, though perhaps slightly more expensive. The maintenance of adjusting brakes or derailleurs, or changing cables etc. makes no difference to me personally, whether I'm working on Ultegra or my parts bin Tourney from 1989.
    – jayded-bee
    Aug 19 at 10:25
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    @jayded-bee the point I was thinking to is that a 8-speed setup would be more forgiving to unperfect adjustments. A way to have "reactive" mechanisms is to design them on a more unstable way, but then you have to compensate with more accurate adjustments.
    – Renaud
    Aug 19 at 10:29
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Modern claris in 2022 is an 8 speed system, with either dual or triple chainring setup.
https://bike.shimano.com/en-EU/product/component/claris-2400.html

DuraAce 7900 was released in 2008 and is a 10 speed cassette.
DuraAce 9000 was released in 2013 and has 11 speed.
https://bike.shimano.com/en-AU/product/component/duraace-9000.html

So by an arbitrary measurement of "gear count" then 8 speed Claris is equivalent to Dura-Ace 7700 introduced in 1996 which was 8 speed.


Personally, I'd base my decision on what has the least wear, what is still available when I do need new parts, and what will fit my bike.

Since 8/9/10 speed all use the same width of cassette, there's a window of compatibility. I'd avoid 7 speed nowdays, and I'd absolutely not pay for anything based on a freewheel.

Trickle-down is also a thing in groupsets. The physical effort required to change gear is less than it used to be, and the design of cassettes allows upshifts to work better. Tech that was in DuraAce trickles down to Ultegra in a year or so, then to 105 after another couple years; so by that measure, modern claris could easily equal or exceed old worn DuraAce.

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    As an owner of one bike equipped with 5700 105, my entry would be Tiagra. I don't care for disc brakes, my 10 speed setup doesn't disappoint, allows for cheaper parts (cassette, chain, larger freewheel compatibility), and has the same cable pull as 11-speed stuff so modern replacements are easy to get (unlike with my 5700). That said, I used to also ride a Microshift 3x8 and that also got me everywhere reliably. I consider the 105 to be a premium group. At the end of the day though if I get dropped I never blame my bike, even if I'm riding with downtube friction shifters.
    – jayded-bee
    Aug 19 at 3:21
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    @jayded-bee fair enough - I don't like tiagra because they are intentionally a different standard, and it looks/sounds like "tiara" to me. I ride a 2x7 speed steel road bike from the 80s at the moment.
    – Criggie
    Aug 19 at 3:23
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    next bike I build I'll paint pink with sparkles, scratch the "G" off the Tiagra logos, and stuff sparkly ribbons into the bar end plugs. See how many Ultegra users I can drop on my princess bike, hehe. That said I think the difference between 105 and Tiagra is no greater than 105 and Ultegra but that's just been my takeaway; I'd never cough up the dough for DA yet some people refuse to ride anything but!
    – jayded-bee
    Aug 19 at 4:50
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    @jayded-bee remember the pink bartape, colour-matched saddle and stem cap too.
    – Criggie
    Aug 19 at 5:23
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    Actually, 7700=9 speed. 7400 is 8 speed.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Aug 19 at 10:20

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