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A non-gearwhore’s 105 vs Tiagra shifter first impressions

They shift awesome.

Even though the 10-speed shifter is paired with a 9-speed cassette, they click and snap into position almost instantly. Even though I limited the range to nine speeds by adjusting the cable attachment a little tight, there is still a minor tweak I need to do. Nine clicks does not equal nine properly-spaced clicks.

I didn’t touch the front derailleur yet, but it’s already working better. It still needs some adjustment, but I can actually get into the big ring now.

While I was at it I rebuilt the rear brake. There was a pivot point that was seized, so that got rid of a whole swack of dead space in the lever before it started to engage. I also replaced all the cables for the first time in five years and 4000 km. I probably waited too long. I’m sure most of the improvement in shifting and braking was due to that, but anything I can do to justify the expense.

The biggest improvement was completely unexpected—there’s another viable hand position. While the lever position stays the same, the top of the hood is extended much further away.

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I rarely use the following position with my hands covering the tops of the hoods because of the bend in my wrist. It’s uncomfortable to have my wrist flexed with all that weight on it. But now I can rotate my arms 90º, bend my elbows, and my wrists get into a completely straight position. Easier on the wrists and elbows, while pulling the body further forward for better aero! It feels like about the same position as bullhorns would have. It’s also more natural to move from that position to a traditional hands-on-the-hood position for better brake access.

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The only problem is that when you upgrade one component, the other components’ shortcomings become more obvious. Not to mention while everything is apart it gives a good opportunity to inspect everything else that’s wrong. The front derailleur still isn’t very good. The brakes have stripped bolts, are not very serviceable and still bind. The rims’ wear indicators are showing they’re almost done. The cassette’s teeth are showing wear. Even though the chain has been cleaned and lubed it feels notchy. The front hub sounds like a wind chime. The rear is bent and grinds. The tires’ rubber is cracked and worn. After all is said and done it might have made sense to buy a new bike… if only upgrading weren’t so much fun.

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