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I wanted to upgrade the components on one of my bikes, from Shimano 105 6500 (1998 9-speed) to 105 R7000 (2018 11-speed). But no reputable online shop has them. And the LBS says they can't get any 105 and claims US bike shops can't get non-Di 105. My go-to online shop, Excel Sports, now only carries Di Shimano group sets (R7100), while Competitive Cyclist has no Shimano group sets at all, not even Dura Ace.

Meanwhile, even basic small parts seem to have vanished. Googling for a stem expander plug, headset bearings ... all I find are sketchy sellers like ebay, Alibaba, and third-parties on Amazon. (Having heard about a flood of counterfeit Shimano on Amazon has made me very wary of Amazon).

So is it my imagination, or did the much ballyhooed and anticipated glut of bikes and bike parts in 2023 not materialize? In fact, it seems worse now than in 2022. Are we still stuck in a supply chain related shortage?

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    This question is likely to be closed because it's time sensitive and subject to change, but as of now it is not correct that FC-R7000 is in shortage in the US. Shimano has plenty in all sizes. Any shop that has a Shimano b2b account, which is all real ones, can get them. Jul 16, 2023 at 5:11
  • Reputable is subjective - plenty of places offering R7000 series indicates no shortage. I bet a lot of them are highly reputable LBS with an online shop.
    – mattnz
    Jul 16, 2023 at 5:58
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    I've had a LBS claim they couldn't get me a 10 speed chain for the next 6 months. Sometimes LBS lie to try for the upsell. You might need to find a new bike shop.
    – Criggie
    Jul 16, 2023 at 13:18

3 Answers 3

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There's another aspect to the supply and demand problem that hasn't been discussed yet.

In 2020, the demand for bikes and associated items ramped up because of COVID and the lockdowns. At this point, some companies ramped up production by a lot. Some held back, reasoning that demand would revert to normal-ish levels after the pandemic.

Wahoo is definitely one of the companies that did the former. However, in 2022 and 2023, their debt ratings were repeatedly cut, and they defaulted in 2023 (they reportedly restructured their debt, terms not public, and are continuing operations). I think this is part of why we are seeing some steep discounts on Wahoo smart trainers (although competition from the Zwift Hub is also part of it).

My understanding is that Shimano took the latter course and held back on expansions. Thus, there has been a general shortage of Shimano parts. Their largest OEM customers get priority on parts allocations, which definitely seems unfair to everyone else, but is probably inevitable in business.

The OP's situation may be further complicated by being on a rim brake bike. Shimano did commit verbally (in interviews after the launch of their latest generation of groupsets) to producing 11s 105 and Ultegra parts for some time. With these groups, you have a split between the rim and hydraulic disc groups, so they have to cover two combinations of shifters and brakes. And new rim brake bikes are not being offered due to lack of demand, plus I don't think it's that common for people to buy groupsets at retail to revamp older bikes. So, Shimano might not have a lot of 11s rim brake 105 or Ultegra groups on hand at all - they might have reasoned that the bulk of the demand would be for the hydraulic versions.

A different way to phrase juhist's contention is this: Shimano and everyone else in the cycling industry do seek to maximize their profits. They perceive that the demand for newer rim brake, mechanical shifting groupsets is low to nonexistent. For better or worse, the bike market has changed. It's not that there's a conspiracy to force everyone onto disc brakes. It's that when offered the choice, consumers tend to choose disc brakes. When offered the choice, they often take electronic shifting, and that means that a lot of newer road bikes have internal routing that makes mech shifting work less well, plus electronic shifting is heading downmarket rapidly. For example, SRAM just released Apex AXS, which is the same level as Shimano Tiagra. That's the stuff that goes on a lot of entry-level bikes! SRAM released a Rival AXS group last year, and Shimano correspondingly released an electronic version of 105.

When juhist said that

... Shimano has just detected that there are a huge number of cyclists with lots of money in their pockets ...

This might not be entirely wrong. We know that income inequality in the West has been increasing markedly. This means that willingness to pay for the fanciest bikes may have also increased markedly, which might have played some role in how the sport has developed technically. However, it will also price a lot more people out of the market, and this was a relatively expensive sport to begin with. Bike companies need to pay attention to the lower end of the market as well.

Without endorsing the notion that there's a conspiracy theory, consumers at the entry level of the sport may sometimes be better served by rim brakes. This is because if you cut enough corners, the mechanical disc brakes and lower-quality housing you see at the entry level frequently (but not always!) produce poor braking, even compared to entry level rim brakes. Furthermore, road bikes definitely don't need the extra dry braking power that discs give, and many people don't ride in the wet.

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    Where I disagree with the simple declaration of doing it for profit is that profit can also be achieved with selling more of less expensive stuff. Shimano is in fact good at this game. Now, in the context of upgrades, they can keep manufacturing 105 mechanical for OEMs, don't have the hassle of managing inventory on parts. And given the price difference between a new 105 groupset and a bike equipped with it, changing bike can be a better move for customers as well.
    – Rеnаud
    Jul 19, 2023 at 16:00
  • Most importantly, the manufacturers are competing against already existing bikes. Selling rim brakes and mechanical derailleurs to people who already have them is a lot tougher than selling "upgrades".
    – ojs
    Jul 19, 2023 at 21:06
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As of 2023, Shimano has made the commercial choice of not offering mechanical transmissions from 105 ranges and up (as well as rim brakes) for new groupsets. As pointed out in Nathan's comment, LBS have access to a different circuit and should be able to have access to different parts than online shops, if you need something that is not listed in the online catalog.

That being said, mechanical groupsets are still offered up to Tiagra for road groupsets. GRX is still dominantly mechanical (but requires hydraulic disc brakes - and it starts to be old, so possible that it will change in the near future), as well as all flat bar groupsets.

EDIT: This article provides some interesting insight (and pictures): they mention a prototype 12-speed GRX mechanical derailleur (using a 10-45 Microspline cassette). It also mentions (indirectly) that a bike with a 12-speed mechanical 105 has been exposed at Eurobikes, confirming what Weiven mentioned in the comments.

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    We should note that Shimano had verbally committed to keep up production of 11s mech 105 and Ultegra for an unspecified time. They’re rumored to soon be releasing 12s mech 105 and GRX groups - as in, these items have been spotted in the wild or on bike manufacturer listings.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Jul 16, 2023 at 13:36
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    And Shimano has also apparently announced that CUES will have drop handle bar components: bikeradar.com/features/shimano-cues-u8000 So it might be a transition situation.
    – Rеnаud
    Jul 16, 2023 at 13:40
  • CUES is a good point, it will replace all groups up to Tiagra.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Jul 16, 2023 at 17:25
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There's a reason and it's not for your benefit. It's because of money.

Shimano is in the business of extracting as much money as they can from the cyclist. If they find for example that there's a technology that can extract more money from cyclist, let's say STI shifters over bar-end shifters, they will discontinue the bar-end shifters and start selling only STI shifters. Well, ok, to be completely honest they might jack up the prices of bar-end shifters to the lever of pricing seen in STI shifters if there's a specialty application where STI shifters don't work.

Similar thing has happened in number of speeds in the rear sprocket. Arguably the best number for double chainring systems would be somewhere between 7-9 because that allows good gear jump distances, while still having a wide ratio of gears, but not too wide ratio of gears that the second front chainring would become redundant. A number of speeds between 7-9 would be much cheaper than the current 11-12, with cheaper wear parts and if built with the same level of technology than 11-12 speed chains for example, greater durability (but it seems Shimano manufactures the new 11-12 speed chains with better technology that has not trickled back to the lowest-cost 8-speed chains). Also with the same derailleur pull ratio, 7-9 speed systems would have more accurate shifting and less likelihood of problems, since the cable moves a larger distance for each shift.

The electronic shifting is a continuation of the same theme. There's no reason to make shifting electronic: mechanical system is far cheaper and has served us really well to this day. Also mechanical shifting systems don't need to be charged ever which is a major advantage. Shimano has just detected that there are a huge number of cyclists with lots of money in their pockets, and is designing schemes to extract that money into the pockets of Shimano shareholders.

I kind of suspect that Shimano has realized the complexity of STI shifters and is trying to reduce their costs by eliminating the complexity using electronic shifting, and at the same time selling the entire system to the cyclist at a higher price despite it having lower manufacturing costs. Of course with bar-end shifters the complexity could be eliminated.

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  • Your argument would only work in a monopoly. It’s true that companies (or rather their stakeholders and employees) want to make money. But if there is clear demand for a certain product and company A for some reason refuses to offer it, then company B should be happy to step in, as long as they can make a profit out of it. By your argument every bike manufacturer should be selling diamond encrusted single speed bicycles (true diamond frames) to maximize profit margin. Or put in other words: Why don’t you start a company for high-end mechanical groupsets if there is so much demand for it?
    – Michael
    Jul 16, 2023 at 9:54
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    If you think that 7-9 speed mechanical is the best choice, you can still buy Claris or Sora groupsets, and Shimano will make less money that if you would have bought a 105 Di2. So your argument doesn’t hold because Shimano still offers lower price mechanical groupsets.
    – Rеnаud
    Jul 16, 2023 at 12:57
  • Electronic shifting has many advantages and requires less maintanance to keep it in perfect shifting. It is too expensive and unnecessary for me but I can see well why people choose it for high-end bikes. Jul 16, 2023 at 13:29
  • @Renaud the difference between 7-9 speed Claris and 7-9 speed higher tier components is that Claris is manufactured to entry level standards from entry level materials.
    – ojs
    Jul 19, 2023 at 21:08
  • @ojs Sure, perfectly aware of this difference as I have a 15y old bike equipped with LX, and bought a bike equipped with Acera (since upgraded). I don't have personal experience with the road groupsets, but if I was not in the performance segment and wanted mechanical, Tiagra would be my way to go. Transposing from MTB, the biggest gap is between Alivio and Deore (=Tiagra), after Deore, it's mostly weight and some features/refinements. But that doesn't change the point I wanted to make: Shimano didn't stop mechanical on all segments, just on the performance oriented ones (sold separately).
    – Rеnаud
    Jul 20, 2023 at 5:49

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