Shimano Sora has traditionally been the Japanese company's entry-level road groupset but that's set to change for 2012/13. Its scope will be expanded beyond drop-bar 'racers' to encompass touring bikes, hybrids and flat-bar urban commuting machines, with wider gear ratios, slicker shifting and improved durability.
Sora will no longer be lowest in Shimano's road pecking order, either – there's a new beginner group in the form of Tourney A070 (see below), an offshoot of the established touring/urban group. This will bring STI levers down to a lower pricepoint, to feed the growing grassroots interest in road and sportive riding.
The new nine-speed Sora 3500 group offers a wide range of gearing options, with a choice of two cassettes (12-30 or 11-30-tooth) and four chainsets – a super-compact 46/34t option for town bikes that should cross over well to cyclo-cross, plus a standard 50/34t compact, 52/39t double and 50/39/30t triple. The crank is a two-piece design with integrated bottom bracket and SG-X chainrings
The drop-bar STI levers have been improved – the downshift paddle has moved from the inside of the lever body to behind the brake lever, as on Shimano's more expensive groups – and are joined by new Rapidfire Plus flat-bar shifters. Both have optical gear displays and can be used with the same front derailleur.
There's also a choice of brakes – a new Super SLR brake calliper or a compact V-brake. The Sora levers can also be used with standard V-brakes, mountain and road cable discs, cantilevers and roller brakes thanks to a 'mode converter' chip at the lever pivot. The groupset is available in 'Mica Black' only.
The Tourney 'trekking' groupset stays in the Shimano line-up for 2012/13, with a few tweaks. The big news, though, is the launch of a new Tourney A070 variant aimed at road riders. Shimano's UK distributors Madison say this is an entry-level groupset aimed at people who want to get into road riding but don't want to spend a lot on a bike. The seven-speed group consists of Shimano 2300-style DCL STI levers, front and rear derailleurs, and 50/34-tooth chainset.
Also aimed at beginner road riders is a new SPD-SL pedal, the R540-LA. The LA tag stands for Light Action – it's easier to clip in and out of than the standard R540, making it ideal for those who are scared of going clipless. In fact, Shimano reckon 75 percent less force is needed to clip in, and 43 percent less force to clip out. It's available in black or white, with a claimed weight of 330g/pair.
Ultegra, 105 & Tiagra
There are no major changes to Shimano's second-tier groupset for 2012/13. However, Ultegra 6770 Di2 gets a new top-mounted satellite shifter option and the mechanical version gets optional wide-ratio rear gearing. While the standard 6700 rear mech can only be used with up to 28-tooth sprockets, the new 6700-A can handle 30. It'll work with close-ratio gearing too, down to 11-23t, and is available in SS (short cage) and GS (medium cage) versions, in silver or black.
The mid-range 105 and Tiagra groups also both get new wide-ratio rear derailleurs. The 5701 (black or silver) and 4601 (silver only) rear mechs can both be used with cassettes between 11-25t and 11-32t, and come in SS and GS variants.
Mechanical disc brakes
Shimano are adding two new drop-bar mechanical disc brakes to their line-up for 2013. The R515 is an evolution of the R505 road brake. It's said to be 30 percent more powerful, as well as having a lower profile design which reduces weight (to 181g, claimed) and makes it less vulnerable to crash damage. It's available in silver or black.
The CX75 is the cyclo-cross version. It uses the same calliper design but comes in 25g lighter (156g, claimed) – due to use of lighter small parts, according to Shimano – and has a slightly heavier action. It only comes in grey. Both designs can be used with Shimano's Ice Tech rotors for extra braking power.
Pricing & availability
Shimano have yet to confirm pricing for any of their 2013 kit. Initial delivery of the CX75 disc brakes is slated for June 2012. The new Sora parts are due to start shipping in May and the full groupset, with all its component options, should be available by July – see below for a rundown of availability. We haven't been given shipping dates for the other new parts.
- May: SS rear derailleur, 3500 (double) front derailleur, 3500 (double) Dual Control levers, brake calliper, 50/34t crankset, 11-30t cassette
- June: GS rear derailleur, Rapidfire Plus shifters, brake levers, 46/34t cranks
- July: 3503 (triple) front derailleurs, 3503 (triple) Dual Control levers, 50/39/30t cranks