Component maker Shimano has revealed details of two new groupsets that will feature on road and mountain bikes in the 2014 model year. Such is the strange nature of the bike industry product cycle, that means we’ll likely see these parts on bikes this autumn.
The new eight-speed road group is dubbed Claris and replaces the rather clunky-looking 2300 components of old with a set that looks like a unified group and more importantly has that ‘everything Just Works’ Shimano feel.
Low gears are the order of the day for any beginner-orientated group, so Claris comes with 50/34 compact and 50/39/30 triple chainset options, and sprocket clusters of 11-28, 11-30 and 11-32.
The brake/shift lever units now use the same design as all other Shimano groups, with a shift lever behind the brake lever. Previous entry-level Shimano shifters had the second lever on the unit body, where it was impossible to reach from the drops, and while this is probably not much of a concern for beginners it’s nice that the interface is now consistent when you trade up.
Shimano says the other main focus was to improve front shifting so the chain, chainrings and front derailleur are all designed to work together, bringing Shimano’s long-standing philosophy of integration to its cheapest group.
For flat-bar bikes, there are levers with built-in shifters as well as individual levers and shifters, which means Claris could be used to very nicely dress inexpensive round-town machines.
The rear derailleur is typical clean-and sleek Shimano fare, available in two versions to handle different sprocket sizes, while the brakes follow similar lines to Shimano’s high-end dual-pivot models, but with a chunkier look to keep the cost down, and one-piece moulded brake pads instead of the separate pads and holders of more expensive brakes.
Shimano Claris component gallery
Mountain bike: Deore
On the mountain bike side, Shimano has revamped its Deore group, bringing technologies down from the more expensive XTR, Deore XT and SLX levels.
Most importantly, the new Deore group gets a Shadow RD+ rear derailleur, and new gearing options for larger-wheeled mountain bikes.
With its internal clutch, the Shadow RD+ derailleur design is widely considered to be the best way of controlling a flapping chain, so its introduction at a cheaper level is welcome.
Shimano hasn’t followed SRAM down the single-chainring route, perhaps reasoning that the uses of such an attention-grabbing design are limited to racing, racing and racing. Instead the new Shimano Deore offers chainsets with smaller rings to compensate for the gear increase caused by the larger wheels of 29 and 27.5in bikes. The new chainset options are 40/30/22, 40/28, 38/26 and 38/24, plus the 42/32/24 that was the only previous Deore offering.
That’s the other thing this new Deore group offers: a lot more options than before. There will also be a version for flat bar bikes – the category that Europe calls ‘trekking bikes’ – with larger triples, slightly smaller sprockets and a conventional rear derailleur.
And you’ll have the option of stpping better to, as Shimano is introducing a Deore version of its Ice technology brake rotor which sandwiches an aluminium sheet between steel braking surfaces for better heat dissipation.