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Old 10-19-06, 10:50 AM   #1
SoonerLater
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Bike Building -- Choosing Between Sora, Tiagra, 105, etc.

Having been unable, so far, to find a bike which fits me (60 or 61cm, sloping top tube) and my intended uses (light touring, towing kids), I'm close to just building up a bike from a frameset. This brings up the question of picking a drive train. To make the decision tree simpler, I'm assuming for the moment that the drivetrain will be entirely Sora, all Tiagra, all 105, etc. (not a mix and match). So anyway, here's the quandry:

Everybody bashes Sora (the bane of entry level road bikes, it seems), but you can get 8 speed cog gear ranges (e.g. 12-21, 12-23, 12-25, 13-23, 13-26) which are very close to what you can get from a 9 speed Tiagra or 105 (e.g. 11-23, 11-25, 12-25, 12-27) and as far as the front cranks, I think that any combination of double or triple rings in the front for Sora, Tiagra or 105 is available for all.
  • If I don't really care about riding an 11 tooth cog versus a 12t cog (I go fast enough to suit me now with a 48 chainring and a 13t cog on my '83 Trek 520);
  • If I don't care about not having a cog greater than 25t or 26t (I never use my lowest gears even when climbing anyway);
  • If I dont' care about the few grams to be saved (I take 10 lbs off the bike just skipping lunches);
  • If I don't plan on using brifters (just bar end shifters instead);
then what good reasons are there not to build it up with Sora instead of the more expensive stuff? Will Tiagra or 105 last longer? Stay in adjustment longer? Shift noticably smother? I'm not knocking the better stuff. I know it's better. I'm just not sure that I can see whether it's enough better to justify the greater cost. Then again, whatever I install will be on the bike for years (I hope). It won't kill me to spend the money for Tiagra or 105, but I'd prefer not to waste money.

All comments, pro and con, welcome.
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Old 10-19-06, 02:45 PM   #2
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All shimano stiff works well but the 105 will be lighter, crisper,more accurate, last longer look better and be a joy to use compared with the cheaper stuff. Sounds like you've already chosen Sora but don't spoil your pleasure for the sake of cheapness.
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Old 10-19-06, 02:49 PM   #3
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Have you tried riding bikes with these groups on them to see if you can tell a difference? I know you haven't found a bike with the right geometry for you, but ride some that are close enough and compare the groupo to see what feels good to you. My $0.02.
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Old 10-19-06, 03:02 PM   #4
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I'm a Sora fan, but considering that you plan to use bar end shifters, I would go up to 105 in the other componentry just because you're saving the money on the STI, so go ahead and go higher end on the other stuff. plus I have a weak spot for the black 105 stuff.

On the other hand the Sora will serve you just fine, and with bar end shifters, you have the option of using them in friction mode rather than indexed, so you have the ability to have very reliable shifting without worrying about the fine adjustments too much.
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Old 10-19-06, 03:03 PM   #5
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I discovered my love of biking while riding a borrowed '83 Trek 620 touring bike. It's what I'm still riding, even though it's too small for me. Being that old, its components (e.g. downtube shifters) are nothing like anything available new today, so I have very little reference. I did test ride this week for a few blocks a sora sti bike and a tiagra sti bike and I can attest that i liked the tiagra a lot better, but since I don't see paying for sti, I wasn't sure that it was really a fair comparison. I have no source that I know of to ride any bar-end equiped bikes with any component groups. With barends at about $60 and 105 brifters at $300, it seems a lot more to pay for shifting without moving your hands. But I could get spoiled.
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Old 10-19-06, 04:15 PM   #6
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I have Sora DRs on my '83 and have had no trouble with them. I use Shimano light action barend shifters with a 7 speed cassette 12-28 cogs and a triple chainring set-up of 48-38-28. I think this is a great combination for a touring bike.
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Old 10-19-06, 06:44 PM   #7
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The biggest gripe about Sora is the STI levers. The "mouse ear" that drops your chain is out of place and impossible to reach for most people. Tiagra and 105 are similar. But if it were me and the budget allows I would get 105 compact/double.
Another knock against Sora is that low end componentry is manufactured for people that don't plan to ride much. So if you ride alot, even if you care for it, it will wear out faster. Treat yourself right.
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Old 10-19-06, 07:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by humble_biker
Another knock against Sora is that low end componentry is manufactured for people that don't plan to ride much. So if you ride alot, even if you care for it, it will wear out faster. Treat yourself right.
No. I've got 2600 miles on mine. Not a lot, but I think if it were not designed to be durable, it would be showing some signs of fatigue. And I'm a big guy riding hills, I shift a lot. I've seen people complain about not getting much more life than that out of Dura-Ace. The difference is in cost and weight. Sora of course shifts differently, but since I ride on the hoods most of the time, where the "mouse ears" are easily reached, this isn't a problem.

I've never...never heard anyone complain about Sora wearing out any faster than any other component group.

Edit: Maybe Sheldon will stop by on this thread, I believe I saw him once say that he wished that Sora was available in 9-speed. I assumed that he was implying that it was good stuff.
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Old 10-19-06, 08:47 PM   #9
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I too am a Sora fan, one in 7 speed, one in 8 speed. In also ride Tiagra and RSX, but I prefer the Sora.
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Old 10-19-06, 08:59 PM   #10
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I don't know much about Sora, but 105 has been around for years and is generally rated as good quality. All I can say is don't scrimp on account of a few dollars. The joy of saving a few bucks will be quickly forgotten with the onset of malfuctions!
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Old 10-19-06, 09:38 PM   #11
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Go with a flat bar, and some MTB components. Cheaper, stronger. More comfort when you're hauling a trailer too.
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Old 10-20-06, 02:34 AM   #12
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My brother has a Trek 1200 with a Tiagra triple. He has several thousand miles on it with very few problems. The only real gripe is poor front shifting. I believe it's from having too short chainstays not the der or STI's fault. Trek designs their road bikes with decidedly race type geometry unless it's a touring model. The short stays produce a very severe angle in certain gears. If the bike were a double, I think the Tiagra would shift perfectly.

The only thing I have against Sora is 8 speed. Because the 9 speed standard was around for so many years, it is well supported. 9 speed is still the only option on a MTB. The choice of chains and cassettes for Shimano 9 is huge. Even though Shimano is phasing out 9 speed, the rest of the industry is still supporting it. 9 speed barcons are relativley cheap also.

Lack of support is why I am selling off all my Campy 8 speed parts. I don't think Shimano will ever be in that position. Good luck and you should consider one of the 9 speed groups if possible.

Tim
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Old 10-20-06, 03:46 AM   #13
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105 has always been the best bang for the buck. Even though 9 speed is no longer the cream of the crop, there are tons of stuff out there new and used. Since the 9 speed line is interchangeable from Tiagra up to DA you'll be able to have better compatibility than if you limited yourself to 8 speed Sora. i have numerous bikes, all but 1 are 9 speed (got a DA 10 just for grins). I'm always swapping around cassettes amongst the 9s.
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Old 10-20-06, 06:34 AM   #14
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That's funny about 9 speed being the cream of the crop. In MTBs, 8 speed is the cream of the crop. No worries about snapped chains or folding the big cog. Can't say as much for 9 speed.
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Old 10-20-06, 02:27 PM   #15
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105 is the best group for the money. Check out www.probikekit.com and the prices are excellent. Really no reason to go with anything less. You can get soup to nuts for $516.

http://www.probikekit.com/display.php?code=D1092

But, I have ridden with grip shifters, downtube shifters, and now with brifters and I can say that Brifters are fantastic. I would never go back to downtube shifters. I used to think that grip shift was awesome, but now I know much much better. Brifters are to shifting what clipless is to pedals.
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Old 10-20-06, 03:34 PM   #16
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That's funny about 9 speed being the cream of the crop. In MTBs, 8 speed is the cream of the crop. No worries about snapped chains or folding the big cog. Can't say as much for 9 speed.
Good point. I have a 9 speed FSR XC Comp and a 8 speed Rockhopper. While I have not experienced any problems with the 9 speed, I don't feel there is any advantage to the 9 speed since I don't use the full range of cogs anyway. I wish Specialized had put a 8 speed on the Comp and put the money saved into a better front shock. That's a component that makes a difference.
As for road riding, I have to admit, I like the extra gears and am in the process of evaluating an upgrade to my C'dale.
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Old 10-20-06, 03:36 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowandsteady
....Brifters are to shifting what clipless is to pedals.
Never tried them either... my size 14-A foot limits my choices and I'm not willing to throw down $350 for shoes and pedels that I might like better. I ride on old fashioned flat, rubber pedals. No clips. No straps. No spds, etc.

Maybe someday.
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Old 10-20-06, 04:00 PM   #18
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I loath my Sora equipped Bianchi. RD is fine, FD is a constant PIA.
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Old 10-20-06, 05:41 PM   #19
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My light tourer (Lemond Buenos Aires., 8spd, shimano 600 brifters, ultegra double) has problems in the brifters (downshift release won't catch and the reach to click is way longer than I'd like). I've collected all the parts to go 105 triple but with Sora brifters. I specifically want to try out those mouse ears. I'm thinking they might be more convenient for my touring setup since I never shift from the drops and it just seems like my hands would stay more neutral with these shift positions. I guess I will find out.
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Old 10-20-06, 05:43 PM   #20
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(actually would probably call that upshift release (to a higher gear))
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