The Shimano Claris groupset is a lower-priced group of gearing components often found on entry-level road bikes that are priced around $500 to $700 so it’s one of the more popular ranges when it comes to gear options for people who are new to road cycling.
The Shimano family has options that are priced lower like the Shimano Tourney – but you’ll seldom see this one on complete bikes. The shifter design is one of the main reasons why few opt for Tourney and many prefer Shimano Claris. While Tourney shifts up by incorporating a thumb lever within the hood and shifts down by using the second lever behind or beside the brake lever, the Shimano Claris comes with the same Shimano gear lever system and Dual Control integrated brake that many higher-level road bikes are equipped with like Dura-Ace and Ultegra.
So what that does is having a shift lever using the brake lever. When you’re going to brake at either end, you also shift up a gear simultaneously. You push the shifter behind the right brake lever inward when you’re going to shift up a gear, and you push both levers inward to shift down a gear. But when shifting the front derailleur, it works in reverse. You push both levers inward to move into the big ring, and only one lever is needed to move into the small ring.
Another huge difference between Shimano Claris and Tourney is the fact that Tourney only includes the drivetrain and shifting components without some brakes of its own whereas Shimano Claris is the whole package. It has a complete groupset from brake levers, cassette, brake calipers, front and rear derailleurs to chainset.
The Shimano Claris Groupset
When used, Shimano Claris’ performance capabilities are surprisingly adept considering its affordable price. Whereas the performance isn’t quite as polished as Shimano’s ‘posher’ options due to occasionally clunky gear changes that may require a re-set, the overall experience is impressive and becomes more so once you get used to how the hub works.
The shifting on the rear is probably the best feature of Shimano Claris, especially when setting the cassette down into harder gears, it works pretty well. The shifting works great even if you’re applying a lot of pressure to it like when you’re sprinting or climbing a steep hill. This amazes you more when you consider what either the entire drivetrain system or the rear derailleur alone has to work with.
Unlike the 11-speed Dura-Ace and 105 groupsets, 9-speed Shimano Sora, and 10-speed Shimano Tiagra groupsets, the Shimano Claris groupset having an 8-speed system means that the cassette has eight sprockets, and so making the jumps between gears bigger. This standardizes the Shimano Claris to fit a 32-tooth rear sprocket and a medium cage derailleur, giving you a slightly wider gear range.
That of course causes the sprockets to jump at least two teeth (so a movement to a 14-tooth sprocket from a 15-tooth sprocket won’t be possible) and even to four teeth. If you think about it, that’s putting some strain on the rear derailleur to move up or down by such several teeth in one turn. That’s pretty amazing!
Also, returning to that medium cage rear derailleur and 32-tooth rear sprocket is worth it. An entry-level groupset needs to have this rather very important feature as well as the 34-tooth small chainring (or if it’s a triple chainset, then a 30 tooth would do) combined with the 32 sprockets to provide more than enough gearing to aid beginners when cycling up the steepest hills.
However, the front derailleur of the Shimano Claris falls a bit short in terms of performance when compared to Shimano’s higher caliber products, but it still does an admirable job though.
And with the chain allowed to shift a chainring down by using the lever to let go of the gear cable, you have a very smooth shifting to the big ring from the small ring. However, going through the other motions to switch gears is a bit more of a struggle. The front derailleur pull-arm compared to those of more expensive groupsets from Shimano is significantly shorter, so there isn’t as much leverage when moving the cage.
What that means is that moving to the big ring from the small ring requires the prod of the shifters to be sustained and to stay strong, which is something a bit difficult sometimes, especially when already have cold hands and are exhausted by the time your long ride ends. There’s definitely going to be a struggle especially when your fingers are not tough enough.
You might find the shifting not as easy as you’d imagine, but at least you’d appreciate how precise the shifting is, and you’ll never have a problem with the chain falling off of any of the gears during a bumpy ride needless of a chain guard.
Keep in mind though that the Octalink bottom bracket system of Shimano is also used by the Shimano Claris chainset. Compared to the classic square-taper bottom brackets that other entry-level bikes use, the Octalink one is slightly more refined. And there’s also the fact that it looks astonishingly pretty for a chainset within the Shimano products hierarchy.
There are three types of setups when it comes to Shimano Claris chainsets. You can choose from two or three options available for a two-ring chainset. Both the 46/34t and 50/34t are compatible with the same type of front derailleur so you can get the former before changing the big chainring as you get more used to it. For a touring bike, you can equip it with the 50/39/30t triple chainset but will set you back an extra fiver more expensive ($100 compared to $95).
Lastly, there’s the Shimano Claris braking system. In terms of the way they look and work, they kind of remind you of Shimano’s older 105 Calipers back when the Japanese company had a 10-speed third-tier groupset before upgrading to 11-speed several years later.
In terms of modulation and power, this performs impressively well. But if it’s under heavy braking, the ability to decelerate could be slightly stronger. This can be a tad alarming for anyone who is accustomed to Shimano’s 11-speed components. Fortunately, upgrading to high-performance friction brake pads from brands such as Kool Stop or Swissstop (which shouldn’t cost more than $15) enhances the performance significantly.
And then there’s finally the obvious fact that the lower down Shimano’s line of groupsets you get, the heavier they come. But anyone wouldn’t probably notice the difference between the weights like the Shimano Tiagra or Sora for example. This is especially true when you take the Shimano Claris into account, which you’ll mostly see in bikes weighing the wrong side of 22 pounds.
Top 5 Best Shimano Claris Bikes
Fastback 28-Inch AL Claris Road Bike
It’s amazing how Schwinn managed to create an attractive road bike that is a blast to ride. It features a beautiful Road Tuned N LITENED GOLD triple-butted aluminum frame mated with an aluminum fork to stop the ride from being too harsh for even beginners. The result of this combo is a gorgeous road bike.
The Schwinn Fastback AL Claris Road Bike comes with a wide range of options in its drivetrain, tires, and shifters, including Shimano Claris 16-speed components. It has a Schwinn 50/34T compact crank which goes great with the Shimano Claris shifters, and it has Sunrace 11-34T cassette. The double walls of Alex X2200 wheels deliver tough performance on bumpy roads while remaining lightweight and comfortable. And the S2 saddle helps make the ride smooth as you go from A to B.
One significant drawback to purchasing this Shimano Claris bike is that you’ll be the one who is in charge of putting it all together when it arrives and if you don’t know much about mechanics and whatnot, then it can take a while. Chances are you’ll have to adjust the gear which is cumbersome. If you ride your bike on rough roads, a constant adjustment may occur.
Phocus 1600 Road Bike
Shimano is known for their design and engineering mastery, as well as the manufacturing of quality bicycle parts. Undertaking to create a Shimano Claris road bike packed with state-of-the-art goodies would be a significant challenge for any company, but thankfully that’s something at which Shimano excel.
This 19-inch aluminum fitness bike is equipped with Shimano Claris 16 speed derailleur with Micro shift integrated shift/brake lever combo and a carbon fiber road fork, making it easy to handle under even the most rigorous circumstances.
The Phocus 1600 is not your average lightweight at 37 pounds, but it’s not a heavy-duty bike either. In fact, this is perfect for commuting around town or longer distances if you’re into that sort of thing.
Although in total honesty, most people will probably appreciate the fact that it makes for quite the fitness improvement device on top of the convenience you have with cycling to and from your favorite spots to eat. And you’ll like the flat bar on this – perfect for those who want to get about town all year round.
The break and shifter lever of this bike feels very comfortable to rest your hands on while riding; it is very well padded and rest assured you can shift gears without too much effort. Though there are some issues with this bike that will need to be adjusted by a professional, overall you can count on this short review that it’s an excellent value.
Giordano Trieste Claris STI Gravel Bike
You get what you pay for when it comes down to the price of this Claris-equipped road bike from Giordano. Online retailers like Amazon do have some big discounts but it’d be remiss not to mention that this is a highly reputable bicycle brand, it features top-quality parts and it’s extremely comfortable. Giordano has made good on its specs by giving the bike a trendy and comfortable Chromoly Steel frame.
At this price point, you often end up with under-specced wheels, but the 32 Hole Double Wall Alloy Rim matched with Shimano Claris 16 Speed STI shifters and topped with 30 mm wide tires do a great job at pushing you across all sorts of terrain whether you’re moving at a leisurely pace or going for a rugged ride.
Giordano has had a bit of a struggle coming into the road bike market, but that really doesn’t matter once you get your hands on one of these bikes because it is extremely comfortable and equipped with many features that make riding safer, easier, and more enjoyable.
The frame is a little heavy because it’s constructed out of steel, but that’s to be expected. The parts are fantastic and the bike looks really good. Owning a bike can be great fun and physically healthy, but if the one you want has quavering gears it’s unlikely to make your experience any better.
That’s why you should ensure that you go to a really good bike shop to have this particular component of your new setup adjusted; most definitely before coming to your final decision because otherwise, you might end up feeling rather ill at ease while riding around town.
Tommaso Imola Shimano Claris R2000 Road Bike
Tommaso has made a name for itself with its lightweight bikes, and the new Imola road bike really lives up to that reputation. For a bicycle in its price range to weigh only 24 pounds is amazing, and while you may expect poor performance due to its weight, this actually is not the case.
This bike has many great features which make it very worthy of consideration and with Shimano Claris R2000 gears and the ability to handle 24-speed functionality, the Tommaso Imola really does stack up well against its competitors in this price range.
The Tommaso Imola is surprisingly adept when it comes to maximizing comfort and efficiency, which means that regardless of how grueling your ride gets you’ll always feel good at the end of it – a definite bonus!
Though it looks stocky from a distance, the Tommaso Imola is very stylish with its smooth metallic black or white or burnt orange paint job. The nice thing about the 700c tires is that it comes with can handle just about anything you throw at them – and they’re really fun to ride when you feel like getting some real speed going.
The compact frame geometry and shallow drop handlebar ensure your riding comfort whether you’re cruising for a leisurely ride in the park or biking to and from work – where seriously nobody will ever think you look out of place despite this bike’s heftier appearance at first glance.
Overall, the version of the bike is quite nice. It’s a blend of cost and quality. It looks decent enough but isn’t top-shelf. The seats on many entry-level road bikes can be uncomfortable at times, but this seat isn’t too bad.
If you want to upgrade your seat, there are different styles and some are made for comfortability as well. The speed of the bike is for sure something you notice about this bike over others with similar price tags. You’ll be able to keep up with higher-end brands which are really impressive considering your early investment in this bicycle brand.
RMG Gravel Bike by Royce Union
Astonishingly, Royce Union has managed to manufacture high-quality bicycles that come in a slew of styles and are an absolute delight to ride. You’ll especially love the Shimano Claris rear derailleur, which provides you with 16 speeds to best suit your riding style, as well as dual Shimano disc brakes for reliable and precise stopping power no matter what weather conditions it may be.
With its fast-shifting Shimano EZ Fire trigger shifters, the gravel bike allows you to tackle those hills like a wicked pro. It also comes with wide-profile All-Terrain tires that don’t slow you down even if you’re running through rocks and grass. A rigid aluminum frame and alloy 3-piece crankset offer lovely stability and control over larger bumps along your way.
The gear shifting of this bike is good, after several adjustments. Customers found that while the “popping” on the lower, inside gears was a lot less disruptive than in other models they’ve ridden. The brakes are amazing. While it took some getting used to for us, eventually we grew to enjoy the increased level of responsiveness and control we were given on bumpy roads.
The tires will give you a little more shock absorbency than you would have liked when riding over gravel, but if you buy them without any expectation you will be fine. For sure, you’re going to be very impressed with the quality of this product and love every mile that you’ll get from it!
Shimano Claris vs. Shimano Sora
The latest in Shimano’s stable of groupsets, Shimano Sora has just got its first upgrade. It has now been given an aesthetic facelift to harmonize it with every other model of gears within their road groupsets. But this new redesigned Sora, however, is not widely available on the market yet so for now, it’ll be a comparison between the Shimano Claris and the current Shimano Sora model and see how they differ from one another.
When it comes to the total investment required for a groupset upgrade (give or take a little depending on which parts you decide to replace) Sora is $67 more expensive. This small boost in price gives you a bit of an edge when it comes to performance, especially of the front derailleur.
With nine speeds to choose from, Shimano Sora is an upgrade over the eight-speed Claris that comes stock on most commuter bikes, giving you one less gap between the gear changes in your cassette, resulting in a sharper-shifting rear derailleur. If you think you might enjoy participating in races down the road, Sora is a better choice overall – it meets the demands of competitive cyclists and casual riders alike.
With that said your choice of Shimano Sora or Shimano Claris groupset depends on the type of bike and how much you’re willing to spend. If you have about $650 budget, you can expect to get a bike coming equipped with one or the other, and generally, you’ll be able to choose from either a lesser-known brand that comes with an expensive Shimano Sora groupset or one with a more famous name brand that comes with a cheaper Shimano Claris option.
Shimano Claris Advantages
The main advantage of Shimano Claris parts is the basic functionalities and features they offer that come in groupsets that cost more but at an affordable price. For those who want to get into the sport of cycling and are on a budget, Shimano Claris is a good choice.
If you’re thinking of becoming more serious about cycling and joining a cycling club or starting racing, then you may sometimes feel limited by a modern 8-speed groupset despite the advancements since it was originally created. Still, now Shimano’s Claris groupset is better than what veterans were using 2 decades ago.
Take the Dura-Ace groupset in the 80s when it was first launched, for example. Even though The groupset consisted of only 6 speeds, they had times in their era that were unmatchable by riders who rode with them for recreational purposes.
And here’s another reason why many want to ride with Shimano Claris components. It’s because they are quite robust and have been proven to be reliable. They work fairly well in not-so-desirable conditions.
Shimano Claris Disadvantages
A Shimano Claris groupset is considered quite a starter group thanks to its affordable price and some great features. On the other hand, it does have some downfalls such as only having 8 speeds and does not offer several upgrades and add-ons. They are also not up there with the top-of-the-line groupsets when it comes to resale value and disc brake options.
With the Shimano Claris groupset’s particular design, it’s not as crisp as 105, a disadvantage a lot don’t fully like. Additionally, the front derailleur shifting is difficult and there is poor leverage which makes it hard to move especially when changing gears quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Shimano Claris groupset good for racing?
The Shimano Claris is not a high-performance bicycle group, but it does make an excellent choice for riders who crave speed. It’s optimized for those with the need for speed when riding in hilly terrain. The shifting is so intuitive that the rider will be able to shift gears quickly even under pressure on long stretches of roads or over mountain vistas.
Would an 11-speed cassette be compatible with Shimano Claris?
No, because the 8-speed spacing on the Claris system makes it incompatible with using the 11-speed cassettes and derailleurs, as they will not both fit together without some significant alterations to either your bike or your wheels, spokes, and tires.
Would a Shimano Sora Groupset work well for MTBs?
Yes, the Shimano Sora Group is great for mountain bikes. However, if you own an all-mountain bike or a different style of mountain bike that requires a specialized groupset, you can’t use this groupset for your mountain bike.
- Always be sure to maintain an appropriate and safe shifting of gears in your vehicle. You want to avoid over-shifting or under-shifting as much as possible. Avoid using the smallest and largest cogs at the same time; try not to engage in these two extremes simultaneously.
- Keep gear changes smooth. Do not engage the gearbox too quickly. If you change gears too rapidly, it’s possible for the chain to jump up from the gears rather than properly moving into place. Whenever you shift, ensure that you are being patient enough and not trying to rush through gear changes.
Shimano groupsets offer riders a lifetime of reliable performance. The Shimano Claris and Sora groupsets fit the needs of every rider, from beginner to expert because they provide exceptional quality materials for nearly any type of riding situation – especially more intense ones like criteriums or races where you need to rely on your equipment even more than usual.
Shimano Claris and Sora are far more similar than different when it comes down to road biking and mountain biking. The comparison of Shimano Claris to other Shimano groupsets reveals the significant differences between the groupsets and their functions.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that there are some differences between their prices. You want to be sure that you understand what will happen when you choose a specific type of Shimano groupset.
A Shimano Claris groupset is a great choice for riders who are just beginning to pursue their cycling interests, or for those looking for something safe and reliable, but not necessarily the latest tech.