I won’t miss Shimano’s ugliest levers

Lumpy and unloved, RS505 levers die on R7000’s altar

With the very exciting and totally predictable appearance of the new 105 R7000 groupset, which includes its own R7020/7025 hydraulic levers and brakes, we can finally bid farewell to one of Shimano’s least aesthetically pleasing products, the RS505 STI lever.

Advertisement

The lumpen RS505 appeared on the scene way back in 2015, fulfilling the need for a 105-equivalent hydraulic lever at a time when your only other mechanical shifting option was the pricier RS685.

Until the advent of Dura-Ace R9100 (or rather, R9120 and R9170 if we’re being pedantic, and we are), Shimano kept its road disc brake options at arm’s length, declining to grant them full groupset status.

The RS505s were "non-series", which means no groupset branding
The RS505s were non-series, which means no groupset branding
Cycling Plus

Nevertheless, every bike manufacturer on the planet wanted to put discs on their latest road bikes and they needed an affordable option for entry-level and mid-range models, hence the RS505 (and its 10-speed counterpart the RS405).

Don’t get me wrong, the RS505s work absolutely fine. The shifting is hard to fault and the braking is indistinguishable from that of Shimano’s other road hydraulics.

The ergonomics were always slightly more divisive. I never had a problem with them and found the big lumpy hoods at least gave me plenty to rest my hands on.

Some of our testers however didn’t get on well with the square-edged bump created by the bleed port, which can create a pressure point depending on exactly how you grip the lever body.

Lovely bike, not-so-lovely levers
Lovely bike, not-so-lovely looking levers
Matthew Allen / Immediate Media

My real beef with the RS505s is their looks — they’re hideous. They make dainty, racy road bikes look oddly front-heavy, and they’re totally out of keeping with the svelte roadie aesthetic I’m desperately trying to cultivate.

We take a look at Shimano’s new 105 R7000 groupset

Rest in peace, big guy

Shimano's new R7020 lever, shown on the right next to a non-hydraulic R7000, looks great
Shimano’s new R7020 lever, shown on the right next to a non-hydraulic R7000, looks great
Courtesy

With the handsome new R7020 hydraulic groupset likely to feature on many 2019 bikes, the 2018 models with RS505s are suddenly looking rather frumpy.

This is bad news if you run a bike shop and have stock sitting around but it could work in your favour if you’re a customer shopping around for an end of season bargain in a few months, and you can forgive the RS505s their shortcomings.

The 10-speed RS405 isn't any prettier
The 10-speed RS405 isn’t any prettier
Courtesy

Given Shimano’s usual pattern of trickling tech down, it seems all but certain that a similar fate will befall the Tiagra-equivalent RS405s in a year or two — Tiagra R5000 (or R6000) anyone?

Advertisement

Will you be pouring one out for the unlovely RS505? Do you like brake levers you can find in the dark? Let us know in the comments.