What is a Groupset on a Bike?

what is a bike groupset

Looking to understand the bicycle transmission hierarchy? The drivetrain is the second most important component on a bike, following the frame. It’s important to have knowledge of the drivetrain to evaluate if the bike is worth the money you’re spending.

Do you find technical specifications hard to understand when looking for a new bike or trying to upgrade yours? What is the best bicycle drivetrain group? How does a Shimano 105 groupset compare to Dura-Ace? What is the equivalent of Campagnolo Record in Shimano? Is it worth switching to electronic transmission like Di2, EPS, and eTap?

This explanatory guide provides a brief overview of road bike drivetrain groups to help you better understand them. Don’t hesitate to refer to this guide while deciphering manufacturers’ technical sheets.

shimano road bike groupset ranking


If you are in the market for a new bike or looking to upgrade your current one, you need to understand bicycle transmission groups. The drivetrain is the second most important component of a bike after the frame, and it determines the quality and value for money you are getting. However, technical specifications and terms can be overwhelming. In this guide, we will compare three popular equipment manufacturers of bike transmission groups: Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo.


Shimano is a Japanese equipment manufacturer founded in 1921 and is the oldest and most well-known OEM. It is the market leader with almost half of all production bikes fitted with Shimano groupsets. Shimano offers complete series for all uses, including the Shimano MTB range, and is the most affordable option on the budget side. Even the entry-level bikes come equipped with Shimano. Though the parts do not have a flashy design, they are reliable, and spare parts are easily available. Shimano offers a wide range of groupsets from the budget-friendly Claris (8 speeds) to the high-end Dura-Ace (11 speeds) with electronic and non-electronic options.

Ultegra Di2 (electronic)11
Dura - Ace Di2 (electronic)11

SRAM is an American company that made a name for itself in the mountain biking world in the 1980s before venturing into road biking in 2006 with their Force and Rival groups. SRAM also owns the wheel maker Zipp. SRAM offers parts with a more daring and colorful design than Shimano, and they claim to have lighter parts than the competition. SRAM’s hobbyhorse is the single chainring, which they offer in groupsets like Apex 1, Force 1, Rival 1, and Eagle. The single chainring eliminates the need for a front derailleur, simplifies the transmission, makes the cockpit sleeker, and reduces weight. It is gaining popularity among gravel bike owners. SRAM’s high-end transmission unit, the eTAP wifi series, is the only electronic transmission without cables. SRAM offers a range of groupsets from the budget-friendly Apex (10 speeds) to the high-end Red eTap (11 speeds).

Apex 111
Rival 111
Strength 111
Red eTap11

Campagnolo is an Italian brand that is associated with luxurious materials, magnificent design, and a hefty price tag. The brand was founded in 1933, and Tullio Campagnolo invented the first quick-release models and designed the rear derailleur. Campagnolo is the most famous brand associated with the history of cycling, thanks to its partnerships with cycling legends such as Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartoli, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merck, Bernard Hinault, and Vincenzo Nibali. Campagnolo’s range has electronic versions of its transmission groups, identified by the EPS mentioned. Campagnolo offers a range of groupsets from the budget-friendly Centaur (11 speeds) to the high-end Super Record EPS (12 speeds) with customizable levers and other wonders in carbon and titanium screws.

Chorus EPS11
Record EPS11
Great Record12
Super Record EPS12

In conclusion, Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo offer several models of transmission groups with different levels of quality. The prices go up as the parts become lighter, the shifting between pinions becomes easier, the levers become more comfortable, ergonomic, and customizable. At the high-end, you will find electronic groupsets and other wonders in carbon and titanium screws. Whether you choose Shimano, SRAM, or Campagnolo, understanding the groupset will help you make an informed decision.

105 groupset


For beginners, leisure use and a low budget

If you’re new to cycling and looking for an affordable road bike groupset, then we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re planning to use your bike for leisurely weekend rides, commuting to work, or updating an old bike, we’ve compiled a list of solid options from the three leading manufacturers:

Shimano Claris: This groupset is commonly found on entry-level bikes and offers a reliable transmission with 8 speeds and either a double or triple crankset.
Shimano Sora: If you’re looking for a more serious option, then the Shimano Sora groupset may be right for you. With 9 speeds available in either 2 × 9 or 3 × 9 for double or triple cranksets, the Sora boasts smoother and more precise shifting than the Claris. It also features internal cable routing and revised brake calipers for increased performance.
Shimano Tiagra: The Tiagra groupset is a slightly cheaper alternative to the 105 but doesn’t compromise on performance. Available in either 2 × 10 or 3 × 10 speeds, the Tiagra is compatible with a wide range of frames and features brake calipers that are of the same standard as those on the 105.
SRAM Apex: With its WiFLi system and compact platform, the SRAM Apex groupset offers precision and sturdiness. Its 10-32 cassette allows for a wider speed range for easier climbing, and it’s available in a 2 × 10 speed model or a single chainring (1 × 10) with the SRAM Apex 1 groupset.
Campagnolo Centaur: Campagnolo has ventured into the entry-level market with its Centaur groupset, which features the same technologies as its other products but with more affordable materials. Despite being made from aluminum, the Centaur groupset still offers the ergonomics and mechanics that Campagnolo fans know and love. Prices have come down, and the Centaur is now almost the same price as its direct competitor, the Shimano 105. This groupset is only available at 2 × 11 speeds.
shimano groupset chart
For experienced and regular use

Looking for a high-quality bike drivetrain that’s perfect for daily use or even competitions?

Shimano 105: For regular use by experienced cyclists, the Shimano 105 is the benchmark groupset from Shimano, commonly found on mid-range bikes. It’s considered the best value for money and only available at 2 × 11 speeds. The Shimano 105 offers reliable and solid performance, requiring minimal maintenance, and has powerful braking. This makes it a safe bet to equip a daily use bike, improve the equipment of a training bike or even venture out into the competition.
SRAM Rival: The SRAM Rival is an American competitor of the Shimano 105. Its single chainring version (1 × 11 speeds) is lighter and easier to use on many gravel bikes. The Rival is strong, versatile, and low-maintenance, providing an alternative to Shimano. It boasts crisp shifting typical of SRAM and the sharp look of its big brothers, with only the materials being different. The SRAM Rival is available in 2 × 11 or 1 × 11 speeds.
Campagnolo Potenza: Launched in 2016, the Campagnolo Potenza is the latest groupset from Campagnolo designed to compete with Shimano’s Ultegra. The Potenza in 2 × 11 speed replaces the Athena drivetrain. It inherits the technologies developed for the Chorus, Record, and Super Record groupsets, but without the carbon to contain the budget. Like other Campagnolo transmissions, the braking is particularly powerful, making it a great option for those looking for efficient, quality transmission at an affordable price.
Shimano Ultegra: Shimano Ultegra is designed for pro-level equipment, boasting the same ergonomics, design, precision, and functionalities as the Dura-Ace. It’s the second most commonly found Shimano groupset on production bikes after the 105. The only differences are the weight and the price, with the components of the two transmissions being compatible with each other, whether mechanical or Di2 versions, allowing for parts to be mixed at a lower cost. The Shimano Ultegra groupset weighs slightly heavier than its competitors Campagnolo Chorus and SRAM Force, but its performance is formidable. The Ultegra Di2 is available as an alternative to the traditional Ultegra.
SRAM Force: The SRAM Force groupset is precise, solid, fast, and silent, with a qualitative design. It benefits from the brand’s innovations, and its very hollow carbon structure considerably lightens it. The braking is of high quality, but slightly less effective than its competitors. Like all SRAM groupsets, there is a double or single chainring version (2 × 11 or 1 × 11 speed) for those who want to lighten their cockpit and not bother with the passage of the chainrings.
Campagnolo Chorus: The Campagnolo Chorus groupset is a formidable group for those who don’t have the budget to equip themselves with a Record. It’s precise, with excellent ergonomics of the levers, carbon to lighten the whole and give it a crazy look. The Chorus differs from its big brother only by the weight and the absence of the famous red bands, and the use of aluminum on some parts instead of carbon for the Records. The gears are smooth, the derailleurs are precise, and the levers offer excellent grip. The braking is powerful and smoothly progressive. The Chorus is available in an electronic EPS version and is a serious alternative for Campagnolo fans who want World Tour-worthy gear and performance without having to shell out for the Record budget.
road bike groupset ranking
For competitors and lovers of fine mechanics

Looking for high-end bike components? Check out these top options:

Shimano Dura-Ace: Shimano’s flagship model is the result of years of research and development. It’s been used on Tour de France-winning bikes since 2011, and was ridden by Peter Sagan when he won the Paris-Roubaix. The Dura-Ace is available in a 2×11-speed electronic version, the Dura-Ace Di2.
SRAM Red and Red eTap: The SRAM Red groupset is known for its flawless operation, fluidity, and efficient braking. The electronic version, the SRAM Red eTap, is easy to assemble and use, and doesn’t require cables or batteries inside the frame. The SRAM Red has been used by Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, and Wout Van Aert on the Tour de France.
Campagnolo Record: Campagnolo Record is a legendary drivetrain group known for its carbon design, ergonomics, and precise braking. It’s available in an electronic version, too. Note that Canyon offers series bikes equipped with Campagnolo Record transmission with its Ultimate CF range.
Campagnolo Super Record: The Campagnolo Super Record is a more advanced version of the Record, with even more carbon and titanium hardware. The electronic version, the Super Record EPS, is fully customizable via the My Campy app. The Super Record is known for its performance and aesthetics, but it comes with a high price tag.

Looking for top-of-the-line bike components for competitors and lovers of fine mechanics? Consider these options from Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo.

road bike groupset ranking


What distinguishes a bicycle drivetrain unit that costs $330 from one that costs $1,800? Both allow you to pedal, brake, and change gears, so what makes the price difference worth it?


The primary factor that changes as the price goes up is the weight, which decreases. For example, Shimano 105 levers weigh 490g per pair, while Dura-Ace Di2 weighs only 230g. In cycling, a lighter bike is more responsive and easier to ride, but the components must also be stiff and strong. This requires more expensive materials, such as carbon and titanium, to contain the weight while maintaining stiffness.

An entry-level bicycle drivetrain group will have aluminum components, while a high-end group will integrate carbon, titanium, and electronics with software that allows you to customize the operation of the transmission.


Higher-end bicycle drivetrain groups offer greater precision, speed, and fluidity in gear and chainring changes. Electric drivetrain groups eliminate the friction caused by cables and sheaths, allowing for faster and smoother gear changes. Customizing the functions of the derailleur control levers makes it possible to change the pinion without releasing the grip on the handlebar, which allows the equipment to be fully adapted to your habits and save precious seconds in competition.

Braking capacity also increases with the rise in range, with calipers being more rigid, providing more powerful, progressive braking and more feeling at the levers. This not only makes it more efficient but also safer, allowing you to enter corners faster and ride harder.


Higher-end drivetrain groups are not designed for regular use due to their lightweight and delicate structures. Cassettes and chains require scrupulous maintenance to have the same lifespan as their steel counterparts, and diagnosing issues with an electronic group is much more complicated than a mechanical group, often requiring a visit to a bicycle dealer and parts replacement.

Many cyclists have a less expensive bicycle with a medium or high-end mechanical drivetrain group for training and use their high-end electronic drivetrain group for competition to avoid possible issues during races.

In conclusion, understanding the hierarchy of different bicycle drivetrain groups can help you decipher and compare the technical specifications of bikes that interest you.

Hi, I’m Jason Tie

I have been passionate about electric scooters and bicycles since they came on the market, but I really took to skateboarding when I was young.

I started with the skateboard at 7 years old when my dad taught me how to ride. Since then, I have mostly owned freestyle skates and longboards- even if they were difficult for some people in our town.

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