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Old 06-13-06, 04:45 PM   #1
miyata610
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What actually makes a more expensive groupo better?

When it comes to drivetrain parts, i.e. derailleurs, cassettes, cranksets and chains...... apart from wieght, is there a scientific reason why dura-ace should be any better than, say, Deore? I chose a road v mtb on purpose.

I think the only feature that would make a difference would be engineering tolerances, i.e. less "play" in the better gear. However, I doubt there is a measurable difference between the various groupos.

Maybe the lighter weight of the derailleurs may mean it can accelerate more quickly to its new position during a change. I find this hard to believe though because of the tiny distance that the derailleur actually moves.

The shapes of cogs and gears and chains is the same across the range, it's only the materials that seem to differ.

Finally, the lower tech materials may actually be stronger and outlast the higher tech materials used on the expensive groupos. The material choice seems to be for weight saving rather than endurance.

Is groupo choice more an issue of road "cred" and fashion rather than science?

Of course I'm sure we all agree that the very minor weight difference is irrelevant when we look at the total weight of rider plus bike....

Thoughts anyone?

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Old 06-13-06, 04:57 PM   #2
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Generally speaking, technology improvements go into the more expensive groupsets first, and filter down to the "lower" levels later. So in small part, you are paying for some R&D.

More expensive groupsets also tend to use lighter/more durable materials, e.g. titanium instead of steel cogs, metal instead of plastic shifter parts, etc. So in small part, you are paying for "quality" and lightness.

More expensive groupsets also tend to be "comped" for sponsored racers. Marketing folks know that they can sell product by using the ol' "well the pro's use it, it must be good" shtick. So in small, no, in large part, you are paying for being a sucker
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Old 06-13-06, 05:01 PM   #3
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It is no different than the situation with any number of other products. Expensive watches don't keep time better than cheap ones. Expensive cars don't make the morning commute any shorter than cheap ones. And on and on. It is what luxury is all about and preference. Why does one even have to ask?
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Old 06-13-06, 05:06 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 'nother
Generally speaking, technology improvements go into the more expensive groupsets first, and filter down to the "lower" levels later. So in small part, you are paying for some R&D.
I don't think so. I think the latest technology you can find from Shimano is in the 105 group. Why? Because it is the latest to get an upgrade. The other groups will get whichever improvements 105 got and any newer ones when they are re-released. It has always been that way with Shimano.
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Old 06-13-06, 05:22 PM   #5
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For many components, more expensive may mean LESS durable.
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Old 06-13-06, 05:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by fmw
I don't think so. I think the latest technology you can find from Shimano is in the 105 group. Why? Because it is the latest to get an upgrade. The other groups will get whichever improvements 105 got and any newer ones when they are re-released. It has always been that way with Shimano.
I remember Sheldon Brown saying something along these lines. Also, don't be afraid to mix groups when they are compatible (says me with the Dura Ace/Ultegra/RSX bike and the soon to be built Chorus/Centaur bike).
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Old 06-13-06, 06:09 PM   #7
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i think its whatever works... sometimes a cheaper group can be light and made better. like Luxury cars may have more little tricks, but thoose tricks can break, and require more to maintain when the cars older. for me its all about price and weight and how its built. and if its compatible of course.
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Old 06-13-06, 06:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fmw
I don't think so. I think the latest technology you can find from Shimano is in the 105 group. Why? Because it is the latest to get an upgrade. The other groups will get whichever improvements 105 got and any newer ones when they are re-released. It has always been that way with Shimano.
As I said, generally. Yes, 105 was the latest to get an upgrade, but it's only now going to 10s which appeared in DA and Ultegra first. Also this year's 105 did not get material upgrades; e.g. the cogsets are still all-steel, not Ti as you can get in DA, and more shifter parts are plastic than in DA. Just because it got an upgrade doesn't mean it's "better" than DA. Nor does it mean that DA is "better" than 105; just different -- though most DA fanboys will argue to the grave that the "feel of DA" noticeably better than 105 regardless of year. I find it hard to differentiate myself but I am not a DA fanboy.

Anyway if you take that which you quoted me saying in the context of the whole post I think you'll see that we're in agreement . . . the major component of more expensive sets comes from marketing, style, etc., not necessarily "quality".
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Old 06-13-06, 06:51 PM   #9
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Tolerances, material, manufacturing type, batch quantity, and sometimes design.

Holding tighter tolerances means crisper shifting, less play in parts, etc.
Better materials = lighter and/or more durable.
Hand built is usually more expensive.
Making 200,000 is cheaper per unit than making 2,000.
And sometimes, they'll go with a design that's just cheaper, like sora vs. 105.
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Old 06-13-06, 07:11 PM   #10
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"Is there a scientific reason why Dura-Ace should be any better than, say, Deore?"

I am not sure what should be so "scientific" about a commercial line of bicycle components. You are not
classifying organisms by family, genus, etc. It is a nonsensical question. Are you meaning to ask why some are expensive and others less so? If that is what you mean, then there are reasons why Dura Ace costs more than 105.

The components are lighter and are made of more expensive metals and have other more costly features that make it cost more to make parts. They have finishes that require more steps and hence more labor to make. Money has been put forward to develop top of the line features. More money is spent advertising them and promoting their use in pro events. They are generally the "halo" products for which their manufacturers are known in the market. Everyone involved in cycling knows Dura Ace is a Shimano product and Record is a Campagnolo product. Shimano isn't so much interested in your knowing Tiagra is a Shimano product as it is in your knowing it is made by the same people who designed the Dura Ace components.

Are they therefore "better"? I suppose it depends. To the weight-shaving pro racer who has a team of race mechanics to fall back on, smooth functioning at the least weight penalty is probably pretty valuable. To the non-competetive sport and fitness rider who doesn't tax his equipment as much, the difference probably isn't as significant, so why buy top of the line when the difference isn't going to be apparent, unless the appearance/ bike jewelry considerations are important. (Shimano hopes they are!) Does the more expensive gear work better? Sure. It had better for what you pay for it.

Longevity of product improvements makes for opportunity to shift improvements into lower-line components, keeping all of your product lines competetive at their price points. That 105 is the latest to be freshened doesn't mean the most advanced or costly production has gone into its manufacture. 105 is an important line, though; it is featured in the $1,200-$1,800 price-range bikes, an important entry market for the shop that caters to serious cyclists who may one day trade up to Ultegra at $2,800-3,500 or to DA at $1000 more. So it makes sense to hype 105, but that in no way is equating it in quality to DA.
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Old 06-13-06, 07:20 PM   #11
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I know this is really picky, but I keep wondering why folks call Shimano component groups "groupos". I can understand calling Campagnolo component groups "groupos" because Campy is an Italian manufacturer, but Shimano?
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Old 06-13-06, 08:42 PM   #12
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The editors of "Cycling Plus" are lukewarm about road bikes that use the Tiagra group. Their reasoning is that a $600 bike with Sora is a good bike, with components that work well. To get a substantial and meaningful upgrade, a cyclist needs to move up to a $1,200 bike using Shimano 105. To the editors of "CP", the benefits of Tiagra are far too modest to justify upgrading from a $600 Sora bike to a $900 Taigra bike.

And, if someone looks carefully at the 2006 105 group versus the 2006 Ultegra group, the differences are trivial...hardly enough to justify someone selling his $1,200 105 level bike to buy a $2,000 Ultegra level bike.

From a "bang for the buck" point of view, the Shimano Sora and 105 groups offer good value. The Taigra and Ultegra groups offer a bit more style and polish, but at a high price.
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Old 06-13-06, 08:57 PM   #13
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As a wrench, I have to tell you that Dura Ace is more durable, performs better and is frankly designed better than say 105s. It is not to say that 105s are bad, just that Dura Ace is better.

Think of them as tools - you can buy a tool at Target that will do the same thing as a tool purchased from Sears Craftsman. But anyone who has held a Target wrench and then a Craftsman wrench will instantly know the difference.

I will give you a concrete example: try 105 shifters and then Dura Ace. There is a huge difference in play and ease of shifting.
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Old 06-13-06, 10:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spider-man
For many components, more expensive may mean LESS durable.
+5 informative

You're paying for weight savings and looks.
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Old 06-14-06, 02:57 AM   #15
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The good thing about Tiagra is that it is 9-speed, so upgrading was easier with other higher end 9 speed stuff. Tiagra is a good group if you cannot afford 105. It is a big step up from SORA IMO...but thats just me...
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Old 06-14-06, 03:07 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHenry
I am not sure what should be so "scientific" about a commercial line of bicycle components. You are not
classifying organisms by family, genus, etc. It is a nonsensical question. Are you meaning to ask why some are expensive and others less so? If that is what you mean, then there are reasons why Dura Ace costs more than 105.
LOL. I'm not sure why you equate science with biology and nothing else. That is nonsensical.

Engineering is a science too, as is materials science.

I didn't mention cost in my original post, because that isn't a question I am interested in. It is clear that a small part of the cost is in the materials and the rest is simple marketting.

It is interesting to read peoples responses to my original post. Most people are obviously convinced that Shimano, and any other group(o) maker, actually produce a better product in the higher end group(o)s. Some others seem to have a more realistic aproach.

Interesting.

And for those that have a problem getting their heads around the word "better", I apologise for not defining the word in my original post. By "better" I mean better from the point of view of a cyclist who is not competing at a proffesional level. Would this hypothetical cyclist be able to distinguish between a DA rear derailleur and a Deore rear derailleur in a blind test, with all other components the same? I doubt it. Would the DA derailleur outlast the Deore? I doubt that too. But I am very interested to hear other peoples opinions and their reasons.

I think the bottom line here is that people feel good about owning higher level components and that is what seems to be most important. I agree it is similar to buying a more expensive car or watch, it doesn't have to make sense, that's just what some people want to do. I should feel the same way about a person riding a DA equiped bicycle as I would a person that wears a Rolex. Kool.

Oh, and I didn't know that you weren't allowed to use the slang word "groupo" except when refering to Campy stuff. Sorry. Actually, I didn't know it was an Italian word, I thought it was just slang. I only used DA and Deore as examples, feel free to substitute other brand names from other makers.
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Old 06-14-06, 03:43 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
The editors of "Cycling Plus" are lukewarm about road bikes that use the Tiagra group. Their reasoning is that a $600 bike with Sora is a good bike, with components that work well. To get a substantial and meaningful upgrade, a cyclist needs to move up to a $1,200 bike using Shimano 105. To the editors of "CP", the benefits of Tiagra are far too modest to justify upgrading from a $600 Sora bike to a $900 Taigra bike.

And, if someone looks carefully at the 2006 105 group versus the 2006 Ultegra group, the differences are trivial...hardly enough to justify someone selling his $1,200 105 level bike to buy a $2,000 Ultegra level bike.

From a "bang for the buck" point of view, the Shimano Sora and 105 groups offer good value. The Taigra and Ultegra groups offer a bit more style and polish, but at a high price.
I agree with the mags assessments. Problem is, why is Ultegra such a huge seller? It's is the standard which almost every group seems to be based on. It offers almost Dura Ace performance with very reasonable price.

Enlighten us.

Tim
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Old 06-14-06, 03:59 AM   #18
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There are like what 6 diffrent tiers of products for both road/mountain and for shimano and sram.

At some point your paying for the better materials (durability aka plastic vs metal), another tier may have you paying for better materials in a slight weight savings (ti vs steel), then another has you paying for the hype or the name.

Wich tier is wich is the secret and one that neather company will let out easily, as you can see the descriptions of each are very broad on there home sites.

general rule is that the very top of the food chain is all rep, and the very bottom is rubbish, so I just stick to the middle, seems to be the best place to get the most for your money.
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Old 06-14-06, 04:11 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozrider
I will give you a concrete example: try 105 shifters and then Dura Ace. There is a huge difference in play and ease of shifting.
My main bike is a Litespeed set up with DA. My other rb is a Specialized equipped with 105. Riding my Litespeed I am convinced of the superiority of DA for the feel and smoothness in shifting until I get on my Specialized to observe, or be reminded, that the 105's are not bad at all and come closer to DA in performance then I tend to give them credit for.

However, on my longer, hillier rides, DA has proven to hold up better (performance-wise) than the 105's.

Definitely not scientific, just my experience.
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Old 06-14-06, 04:37 AM   #20
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I talked to a friend of mine who is a CNC machinist for Boeing in Everet WA. After showing him and explaining to him the alloys used and the machining done in making a DA group, you would all cry and fill your pants when you find out the actual cost to manufacture an entire group. Let's just say, you're paying about 96% for R&D and Overhead (lot of overhead), the other 4% is actual cost of production. If I recall correctly, to manufacture an entire DA group with CNC machined parts, mass produced on an assembly line, costs about $50 or less.
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Old 06-14-06, 05:17 AM   #21
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The levers and a few of the components inside are cast, not machined.

$50 isn't that bad. My company has one item that we buy (meaning it's probably even cheaper than that) from a supplier for $17 and we well it for $270. I'm guessing the actual product is worth about 8-9 bucks and we sell it for $270. That's a 30x markup vs. something like 20x for dura-ace. Not too bad. Why? Because it pays our salaries, it pays for the other projects that we work on, and it pays for the many projects that get scraped and never make a penny. It also pays for the sheer momentum of R&D when something big sets us back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patriot
I talked to a friend of mine who is a CNC machinist for Boeing in Everet WA. After showing him and explaining to him the alloys used and the machining done in making a DA group, you would all cry and fill your pants when you find out the actual cost to manufacture an entire group. Let's just say, you're paying about 96% for R&D and Overhead (lot of overhead), the other 4% is actual cost of production. If I recall correctly, to manufacture an entire DA group with CNC machined parts, mass produced on an assembly line, costs about $50 or less.
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Old 06-14-06, 06:34 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patriot
I talked to a friend of mine who is a CNC machinist for Boeing in Everet WA. After showing him and explaining to him the alloys used and the machining done in making a DA group, you would all cry and fill your pants when you find out the actual cost to manufacture an entire group. Let's just say, you're paying about 96% for R&D and Overhead (lot of overhead), the other 4% is actual cost of production. If I recall correctly, to manufacture an entire DA group with CNC machined parts, mass produced on an assembly line, costs about $50 or less.
How would a production machinist have any idea how much it would cost to manufacture a groupset? I'd say the $50 figure is absurdly low. One hour of *time* for a Boeing union machinist is probably more than $50 if you consider his benefits.
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Old 06-14-06, 07:54 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Phantoj
How would a production machinist have any idea how much it would cost to manufacture a groupset? I'd say the $50 figure is absurdly low. One hour of *time* for a Boeing union machinist is probably more than $50 if you consider his benefits.

Key words: mass produced.

In a mass production line, that one machinist probably puts out far, far higher production numbers than one per hour.

Those numbers are factored in as an actual line cost, not single unit pricing....for single unit pricing, dream on...you are looking at buying an airplane.

I can tell you with absolute certainty, that a 1.4million dollar piece of telecom equipment (I was R&D for it a few years back), costs around 90k if you buy parts from other makers...about $10-12,000 if mass produced in-house. Only thing stopping us from mass producing.....how many folks can afford a $1.4mil purchase?
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Old 06-14-06, 11:38 PM   #24
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^^^ My friend knows this for certain because he owns a machine shop that he runs on the side. He does it as his main job whenever he gets layed off from Boeing. He's even done some outsourcing in the production of custom parts for the company.
And yes, an entire DA group (everything probably costs far less than $50 to manufacture, because it is mass produced on a machinists assembly line. You have to figure, those groups sell worldwide, not just here in the U.S. As a guess I would say they probably make several hundred thousand a year, or more.

Only reason I would say this, is because I once asked an online bike shop how many DA and Record groups he sells. He said, "I usually sell a full/partial group almost everyday". And he's a small online retailer. Now add up all the big online retailers and bike shops around hte world. Millions upon millions of groups of various caliber are sold by Shimano every year.
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Old 06-14-06, 11:49 PM   #25
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I paid extra for DA because I couldn't resist a cassette with holes pre-drilled for me
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