For winter 2015/2016 it was back on to the trusty winter steed which is a Scott Speedster S55. This was actually my first road bike that got me into cycling and I kept it once I went carbon.
The Scott Speedster originally came with a mix of of unbranded and Shimano Sora 8 speed from 2012. For anyone wondering, this means that the shifters had the thumb shifters on the inside of the shifter itself to move down the rear sprockets or to the small chainring at the front.
I actually used this set up in the winter of 2014/2015 after being on Ultegra all summer. However, the whole groupset, by the end of the winter was tired and required replacement.
The first real decision was going to be whether to go for Shimano 105 5800 or Shimano Tiagra. Before Shimano Tiagra 4700 was released it was going to be Shimano 105 5800 hands down! Firstly, because the crankset on looked like a bloody silver dinner plate; and secondly, the cables couldn’t be routed under the bar tape. However; when 4700 was due for release and the first pictures were released it appeared that these two of my major grievances had been rectified. Therefore, I plumped for Tiagra, even though 105 5800 was only £30 more.
Once ordered in I got VeloHeads in Harrogate to fit it and service the bike. The finished article was this:
The first looks when picking it up after fitting were striking. The whole bike looked a lot cleaner in terms of lines and also components. The cables from the shifters and brakes being routed under the bar tape gave the bike a more cleaner cockpit. Also losing the thumb shifters was a very welcome site. Moving down the bike to the crankset and, again, the visual improvement is nothing short of fantastic thanks to the four arm spider and the black (rather than silver/grey of the previous groupset). Along with the new groupset I had some SKS Blumels installed for winter to try and reduce grit and general crap getting into the front mech and generally covering myself too.
Having been using my Ultegra 6800 equipped Cube Agree GTC Race all summer I was quite looking forward to getting back on the winter bike and with the thought of a new groupset I knew it wasn’t going to be as bad as the previous winter.
To put this into some context this groupset has been on my winter bike since November and I have ridden it through until the 2nd week of March so it has had everything that the British winter could throw at it.
The first I noticed that is a massive improvement, particularly over the old Sora, is the ergonomics of the shifters. They seemed to be far more comfortable and over longer rides this made for a far more comfortable experience. Along with that, losing the thumb shifters made the gear shifting process far easier and more comfortable.
The whole Tiagra groupset really did exceed my expectations. And it didn’t just pass my expectations in a small manner. No, it really made a great impression on me.
Over the whole winter, the only thing that I needed to adjust on the groupset was adjusting the cable tension on the front derailleur. The rear derailleur never missed a beat and I never had to readjust it. After being set up, the groupset was pretty much maintenance free. I found it to be very reliable and it ran and ran and ran.
In terms of the shifting performance, the shifts were crisp and precise. Never missing a gear or mis-selecting. In terms of the feel it was positive but quite a heavy gear change, particularly on the front chainrings. (I am only comparing that to the Ultegra that I had just come off.)
The one thing that I was really looking forward to testing out was the Tiagra brakes as I had read that they increased braking performance by a whooping 30%! Unfortunately the brakes were too short in the caliper arm by 5mm for my frame and I needed the long drop version. Therefore, I cannot pass any comment on these.
Shimano Tiagra 4700 has had a massive leap forward with this latest release and in all honesty it is not a million miles away from Ultegra 6800. A lot closer than i was expecting in fact.
If I was to buy a winter bike again I would definitely look for it to come with Tiagra 4700 because it just keeps going and it is economical. It would not cost a great to replace parts if I threw the bike down the road on some ice for instance.
Obviously, for a summer bike I think I would prefer something slightly lighter and quicker shifting. This would be Ultegra but for winter I really can’t fault the Tiagra.