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Groupset tiers and diminishing returns

Old 09-05-21, 07:35 AM
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PeteHski
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Groupset tiers and diminishing returns

Just thinking about building up a new road bike for next season. Money no object build but....

I'm really struggling to see any point in going for a top tier groupset i.e. DuraAce/Red Etap/Super Record. They just don't seem to offer any advantage remotely in proportion to their extra cost over second or even third tier groups.
Other than vanity and a few pointless gram savings, is there any point?
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Old 09-05-21, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Just thinking about building up a new road bike for next season. Money no object build but....

I'm really struggling to see any point in going for a top tier groupset i.e. DuraAce/Red Etap/Super Record. They just don't seem to offer any advantage remotely in proportion to their extra cost over second or even third tier groups.
Other than vanity and a few pointless gram savings, is there any point?
If it's a "money no object build," you would not be asking this question.
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Old 09-05-21, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
If it's a "money no object build," you would not be asking this question.
Not true. I would buy the top tier groupset if there was a good reason. So I'm asking if there is a good technical reason why I should? Do they last longer, shift better, or are they more reliable, etc? My intuition is that they are just grossly over-priced for extremely marginal gains - or even losses if more fragile parts.
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Old 09-05-21, 07:59 AM
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Yeah, saving a hundred grams on a groupset is really pointless (exception being top tier chains which are a hair more efficient) in terms of what it does. That's worth seconds up an actual mountain.

But when I found discounted DA shifters and derailleurs last year I grabbed them anyway and upgraded from 105, so do as I say, not as I do. My excuse was the 105s were scuffed up in a crash and the FD was trashed and replaced with a DA one, and the scuffed shifters and mismatched gruppo looked plain unsightly.
​​​​
Eh. In my defense, I don't have any other expensive tastes except bikes, which are pretty tame all things considered. There's no rational reason to buy DA over Ultegra. Nevertheless...
​​​​
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Old 09-05-21, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Just thinking about building up a new road bike for next season. Money no object build but....
Yep, it is or it isn't. Better is better but it may not be right for you.
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Old 09-05-21, 08:05 AM
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Of course the gains over the lower tier groups are marginal. But that's what getting that last nth degree of performance is.

I too say if money doesn't matter, why not get what is supposed to be and generally recognized as the top performing product group. Just the name recognition alone might move you up near the front of any group you ride with. And you won't be able to blame as much of your own inability on the bike.

If I didn't have to settle for third and second best, I would be riding new Dura Ace.
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Old 09-05-21, 08:27 AM
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The weight difference is worth 13 seconds on the biggest climb in my country.


I find these predictions to be very accurate for solo efforts. Whether that difference is relevant to you, well 🤷

​​​​​​

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Old 09-05-21, 08:42 AM
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I havenít kept up to date on the Dura Ace/XTR differences between the lower groups. In the past the top groups offered less cassette range than the lower groups.

I donít know if that still holds true, but there was some merit that if you buy the top group your not going to be using it in lower level performance situation.

I assume you are going with Di2. If so, just compare specs and if everything fits what you want, and buy the highest level.

John
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Old 09-05-21, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Just thinking about building up a new road bike for next season. Money no object build but....

I'm really struggling to see any point in going for a top tier groupset i.e. DuraAce/Red Etap/Super Record. They just don't seem to offer any advantage remotely in proportion to their extra cost over second or even third tier groups.
Other than vanity and a few pointless gram savings, is there any point?
Is this a racing bike? If yes = top tier. If no = go one step below. The top tier groupsets often sacrifice durability and longevity for weight savings.
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Old 09-05-21, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
If it's a "money no object build," you would not be asking this question.
Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Not true. I would buy the top tier groupset if there was a good reason. So I'm asking if there is a good technical reason why I should? Do they last longer, shift better, or are they more reliable, etc? My intuition is that they are just grossly over-priced for extremely marginal gains - or even losses if more fragile parts.
If you are questioning the cost of some marginal gains, it is not a "money no object build." Your decision is substantively identical to wondering if Ultegra is worth the additional cost compared to 105.

But okay, I'll play. Dura Ace comes with a three-year warranty, other Shimano gear brings a two-year warranty. That suggests that D/A is more reliable, in addition to being lighter and built better. Whether that is worth the extra cost is a natural question, and nothing to deny. It's a valid question.
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Old 09-05-21, 09:07 AM
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Buy 105, it works fine. Your friends might sneer at you though.

But the weight does add up. Reduced weight costs a lot for marginal gains. Usually the crank produces the most weight savings/$
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Old 09-05-21, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Not true. I would buy the top tier groupset if there was a good reason. So I'm asking if there is a good technical reason why I should? Do they last longer, shift better, or are they more reliable, etc? My intuition is that they are just grossly over-priced for extremely marginal gains - or even losses if more fragile parts.
Marginal gains are only marginal if they're not important to you. Saving a lb or so from 105 to Dura Ace is not much unless you are racing or for some other reason it matters to you. I have 4 bikes. One is cross bike the others are road bikes. Two have 11 sp 105, one has 15 yr old Dura Ace and one with 10 sp SRAM Red. All are mechanical. and, every one of them is excellent. Yes they are different but not as much as you'd think. Of course the SRAM operates differently and is lighter but they are all really good.
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Old 09-05-21, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by General Geoff View Post
Is this a racing bike? If yes = top tier. If no = go one step below. The top tier groupsets often sacrifice durability and longevity for weight savings.
Not a race bike. More of a fast gran fondo bike. Durability and reliability would be my top priorities.
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Old 09-05-21, 10:43 AM
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When my son started at age 15 doing triathlons and crits on his on a Specialized Allez with 105 ($700) and regularly finished ahead of others with much more expensive bikes. At 17 he saved up enough to get a Cervelo P2 with Rival ($2100) and again finished ahead of many with Dura Ace. He replaced the Allez with a Trek Madone 6.2 with Force at age 21 since he was working at a LBS and got a mechanics discount. He chose Force over Red purely for the cost savings and he felt that Force with wear less.

The point is you can't speed if you're not already fast.

Now I went with Red eTap from Rival simply because I could afford it.
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Old 09-05-21, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
If you are questioning the cost of some marginal gains, it is not a "money no object build." Your decision is substantively identical to wondering if Ultegra is worth the additional cost compared to 105.

But okay, I'll play. Dura Ace comes with a three-year warranty, other Shimano gear brings a two-year warranty. That suggests that D/A is more reliable, in addition to being lighter and built better. Whether that is worth the extra cost is a natural question, and nothing to deny. It's a valid question.
It is money no object in the sense that I can easily afford it. But that doesnít mean throwing money away on something for no meaningful gain. So I have to decide if itís worth it or not.

So I get an extra year of warranty. I didnít know that so thatís good info. If it really is more reliable then that would be worthwhile. But Iím hearing mixed views on that.

btw last time I debated between Ultegra and 105 I chose 105 and would do the same again. But as Iím looking to go electronic this time, 105 is not an option.
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Old 09-05-21, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
When my son started at age 15 doing triathlons and crits on his on a Specialized Allez with 105 ($700) and regularly finished ahead of others with much more expensive bikes. At 17 he saved up enough to get a Cervelo P2 with Rival ($2100) and again finished ahead of many with Dura Ace. He replaced the Allez with a Trek Madone 6.2 with Force at age 21 since he was working at a LBS and got a mechanics discount. He chose Force over Red purely for the cost savings and he felt that Force with wear less.

The point is you can't speed if you're not already fast.

Now I went with Red eTap from Rival simply because I could afford it.
Did you notice any performance difference going from Rival to Red? Rival etap is one of the options Iím considering.
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Old 09-05-21, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Did you notice any performance difference going from Rival to Red? Rival etap is one of the options Iím considering.
I went from a 2011 Trek Madone 4.6 to a Emonda SLR with Red eTap and Zipp 303 wheels. Really impossible to compare head to head.

I can say i've rented a Emonda SL6 with Ultegra mechanical while on vacation 3 times and there is a real difference, but the SLr is more than 3x the cost of the SL.

Just yesterday I was at the LBS and they had a bike with Rival eTap.. i didn't ride it.

One last comment, I have Rival CX1 on my CX bike and it is really nice.

I like Sram over Shimano because I like the Sram shifters over the Shimano shifters, otherwise I have no issue with Shimano.
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Old 09-05-21, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Not true. I would buy the top tier groupset if there was a good reason. So I'm asking if there is a good technical reason why I should? Do they last longer, shift better, or are they more reliable, etc? My intuition is that they are just grossly over-priced for extremely marginal gains - or even losses if more fragile parts.
If you study the shimano line up youll see many little differences that all add cost and shave a little weight Is the top tier price justified? I dunno, possibly not. Imo the real difference in disc vs rim, mech vs electronic, power meter vs no power meter, etc ...Much more so than 105 vs Ultegra in the same configuration.
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Old 09-05-21, 11:05 AM
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This is really a question only you can answer based on your cost/benefit criteria.
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Old 09-05-21, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Dura Ace comes with a three-year warranty, other Shimano gear brings a two-year warranty. That suggests that D/A is more reliable, in addition to being lighter and built better. Whether that is worth the extra cost is a natural question, and nothing to deny. It's a valid question.
I wouldn't assume the extra year of warranty implies higher durability. They're both pretty reliable and the additional cost to Shimano of an extra year of warranty is likely under 1% of the sales price. Given Dura-ace is about 40% more expensive, the extra cost of a 3 yr warranty is in the noise.
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Old 09-05-21, 11:46 AM
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Pete, think of it like really hot rodding your favorite sports car motor. What comes stock - say Ultegra - is very functional, durable and reliable. You can then throw cubic dollars to make it faster, but you quickly reach the point of diminishing returns by spending big bucks. If you were a competitive racer, the saving grams and sacrificing durability makes sense, but if you are a hard core recreational rider, then a step down from the top will still give you excellent functionality and durability with sacrificing very little.

I want the same route when building my frame a year ago and even though Dura Ace or Super Record looked sexy (and I could afford them) and might give me a bit of ‘cred’, I just couldn’t justify the reach for what it offered above one step down. Good luck

. I appreciate your prudent approach since it reflects mine .
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Old 09-05-21, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
I went from a 2011 Trek Madone 4.6 to a Emonda SLR with Red eTap and Zipp 303 wheels. Really impossible to compare head to head.

I can say i've rented a Emonda SL6 with Ultegra mechanical while on vacation 3 times and there is a real difference, but the SLr is more than 3x the cost of the SL.

Just yesterday I was at the LBS and they had a bike with Rival eTap.. i didn't ride it.

One last comment, I have Rival CX1 on my CX bike and it is really nice.

I like Sram over Shimano because I like the Sram shifters over the Shimano shifters, otherwise I have no issue with Shimano.
Thanks for the info, much appreciated. I have Sram X01 Eagle on my mtb and really like that too. Current road bike has 105 7000 which has been fine too. Hard to compare them directly due to their quite different use cases.
Rival etap is on the cards as much for its current availability as anything else.
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Old 09-05-21, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
This is really a question only you can answer based on your cost/benefit criteria.
It was the benefit part of the equation I was interested in discussing here.
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Old 09-05-21, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
If you study the shimano line up youll see many little differences that all add cost and shave a little weight Is the top tier price justified? I dunno, possibly not. Imo the real difference in disc vs rim, mech vs electronic, power meter vs no power meter, etc ...Much more so than 105 vs Ultegra in the same configuration.
This is what I'm thinking too.
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Old 09-05-21, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
Pete, think of it like really hot rodding your favorite sports car motor. What comes stock - say Ultegra - is very functional, durable and reliable. You can then throw cubic dollars to make it faster, but you quickly reach the point of diminishing returns by spending big bucks. If you were a competitive racer, the saving grams and sacrificing durability makes sense, but if you are a hard core recreational rider, then a step down from the top will still give you excellent functionality and durability with sacrificing very little.

I want the same route when building my frame a year ago and even though Dura Ace or Super Record looked sexy (and I could afford them) and might give me a bit of Ďcredí, I just couldnít justify the reach for what it offered above one step down. Good luck

. I appreciate your prudent approach since it reflects mine .
Yeah this is my line of thinking too. I'm not racing so a few grams of weight is irrelevant to my use. It's all about function, reliability, durability and quality. It seems like the top tier groups are focused on high level racing where every marginal gain counts and possibly at the expense of durability. So I'm pretty sure I'll stick with Ultegra level Shimano or Force/Rival level Sram. I'm off to the shop next week to discuss a build, so just getting all this clear in my own head first. Otherwise it's easy to get carried away and throw a load of cash at stuff that has no real benefit. All my previous road bikes have either been 105 or Ultegra level and never had any issues.
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