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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 05-21-13, 05:05 PM   #1
gamby
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ST3500 Sora lever review

I'm posting this for those who might google a review of these levers in the future.

They are on my '85 Trek 400 "restomod" roadie, that formerly had ST3400 9-speed levers on it. I was sick of the thumb buttons and now Shimano has the 3500 series out with the "proper" shifter setup.

I got them for a song online (Niagra Cycle) and was pleasantly surprised after I unpacked them. They are essentially a 9-speed version of 10-speed 5600 105 levers. The hoods are the same, the lever shape is the same, the shift/brake action is very similar. Trickledown has been VERY good to Sora.

I'm a fan of the hood shape, as the 3400 hoods are narrower and less ergonomic than the 105-style 3500 hoods. Definitely a comfort upgrade. The levers are painted (not anodized), so I don't know how long the finish will hold up. They look fantastic now--especially with black bar tape.

Braking action (leverage/clamping) is improved over the 3400 levers, mostly due to the longer 105-style lever of the 3500. It's still not stellar on this bike, but I think that's due to the Tektro R536 calipers that I'm running for the 27" to 700c conversion on this bike. The 5600 105 levers with 6500 Ultegra calipers on my other bike clamp like the Dickens.

No issues with tuning--they set right up in a snap.

Sure, the Soras don't have the clout of a higher end group, but they work fantastically. A great choice for a 9-speed backup bike.

Hope this helps some people in the future.
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Old 05-21-13, 05:59 PM   #2
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I never had a problem with Sora before and the new levers intrigue me, so thanks for the review,
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Old 05-21-13, 06:05 PM   #3
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16,000+ miles on my Sora shifters and derailleurs. No problems.
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Old 05-22-13, 05:44 AM   #4
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So they are pretty much the same as 4500 generation Tiagra levers?
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Old 05-22-13, 07:09 AM   #5
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So they are pretty much the same as 4500 generation Tiagra levers?
Yes, but black. This is a huge leap forward for budget Shimano builds. I prefer Microshift levers ($50 less), but they merely purchased the design from Shimano. 'Least that's what my LBS tells me.
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Old 05-22-13, 12:27 PM   #6
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Good info, thanks.
It's nice to know Shimano continues to spread their knowledge and tech downwards to less expensive groupsets.
Maybe in 20 years a department store bike will shift like a pro bike of today.
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Old 05-22-13, 12:42 PM   #7
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I test rode a Specialized Roubaix with the new Sora 3500 shifters. They do work just fine, and you can shift from the drops, but there's a lot of slop in the system IMO. I think they would work fine for a commuter or secondary bike. But I would spend the extra money to get 4600 Tiagra for my primary bike. I would actually get Tiagra on a secondary bike myself but I'm kind of picky about shift quality.
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Old 05-22-13, 12:44 PM   #8
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What? No thumb buttons?
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Old 05-22-13, 12:52 PM   #9
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Nope, Sora shifters now look like their big brothers. The photo is a bit misleading though, the shift cables are not routed under the bar tape.

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Old 05-22-13, 12:56 PM   #10
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Nope, Sora shifters now look like their big brothers. The photo is a bit misleading though, the shift cables are not routed under the bar tape.
After riding (still) one bike with 5700, I have gone back to 9 speed exposed der housing levers on my other bikes. Much easier to change cables and I found the 'cleaner cockpit' of concealed cabling to be a meh.
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