A groupset on a bike is all of the parts that create the drivetrain and braking system, often including gear levers/shifters, derailleurs, bottom bracket, cassette, crankset, brake levers/shifters and cabling.
The demands placed on road and mountain bike groupsets differ, with more emphasis on reduced weight for road bikes and strength on MTBs, while their gear ratios are also dissimilar.
We’re focusing on road bikes here and, if you pay more for a groupset, you should expect a lighter weight, additional features (i.e. electronic shifting), enhanced durability and smoother shifting.
The three major groupset manufacturers found on the majority of bikes are Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo.
The Japan-hailing brand Shimano are the most common and offer a wide range of groupsets, beginning with Claris and Sora, which are found on many entry-level road bikes. The next groupset up is Tiagra, before Shimano 105 takes things up a notch.
Ultegra is found on serious road bikes of around £2,000 and up and is very similar to Dura-Ace in terms of performance, bar a few weight penalties (and will often use trickle down tech from previous Dura-Ace releases).
Both Ultegra and Dura-Ace groupsets now come in electronic shifting versions named Di2, while the latest Dura-Ace, Ultegra and 105 models now offering disc brake options.
SRAM’s groupset line up begins with Apex before moving on to Rival, Force, Force eTap, Red and Red eTap.
Campagnolo (or Campag) are often the cycling purist’s choice of groupset and the Italian’s range begins with Veloce (which nestles above Shimano’s Sora and Tiagra) before Potenza rivals Ultegra and SRAM Force, with Chorus placed just below the Record components, before Super Record tops the Campagnolo pecking order.
Campag offer a trio of electronic groupsets, which came with an EPS (Electronic Power Shift) label. Super Record EPS is the most expensive commercially-available groupset.