Mix and match bike parts

I thought the idea was that all the parts of a gearset were perfectly matched, and that there was limited interchangeability, even between components from the same manufacturer.

My bike has (had..!) Shimano Tiagra from new, and some replacements were needed.

The local bike shop offerered me the Tiagra or 105 front mechs. "What's the difference?" "A fiver", "No, I mean mechanically", "Nothing".

We've only got the 105 chain blocks in, they are identical, or slightly better, yes it's a fiver more.

New chain sir? We prefer to fit SRAM when we service and build bikes.

Confused? I should say so.


  • I thought the same when I bought my TT bike.  Ribble insisted on fitting an SRAM chain, despite the fact that everything else is Tiagra.

    However, ever since I bought it, I wish I'd gone for a 105 set up (if nothing else I could have had a black crank with 105 which would have looked better - yes, I am that shallow).  Anyway, because Tiagra is compatible with 105, it means that I can upgrade all the components bit by bit.

  • I've got a mix of SRAM Red, Ultegra and Tiagra on mine. All very smooth! SRAM and Shimano are generally interchangeable but Campag isn't. 

  • SRAM chain is actually a smart move as they come with a quick link allowing easy fitting and removal - which means you can maintain it better. The fundamental geometry between Shimano and SRAM are the same. 

    As far as derailleurs go, the main concern is the ratio of cable pull which governs whether a shifter and derailleur are compatible - your chainring and cassette have a predefined space between each gear and to move the chain across you need to pull a precise amount of cable. That said, there is some compatibility between brands though this is mostly coincidental. 

    Generally, there's no harm in selecting components from a higher or lower tier when mixing and matching - provided you select components designed for the same number of gears. Shimano techdocs give a good idea of compatibility (easily googlable) for their products at least. This allows you to upgrade bits at a time and slowly improve the bike without the other half noticing. Lighter, crisper shifting is the main advantage of an upgraded derailleur.

    Finally it's worth noting that if you're picking up some older brakes on eBay (5600 era Ultegra or similar) that some time ago Shimano changed the cable pull of it's STI brake levers and therefore you really must check that you can pull enough cable to give stopping power!

  • You lost me at derailleur...image

  • Worth pointing out that the current Shimano Sora groupset, that most of us would turn our noses up at it.........won the 1997 Tour de France under the name Dura-Race....thats trickle down tech for you.

  • sorry guys, you're all wrong - Campag is the choice for those in the know....image

  • Do they do Clydesdale builds then? image

  • and it deteriorates into another which is best debate.......................image

  • SRAM 10spd power link is a one-shot. Not designed to be reused,  unlike their 9spd counterparts. Get some KMC quick links. 

  • Thanks for the inputs. I believe that everyone who has posted so far has been technically correct (or intended to be correct).

    I like the idea of the SRAM chain. Easy to fix on the road if you have a chain break. But you  do need to be carrying a spare SRAM link and a chain tool. It seems to work fine with Shimano.

    F Buddha, I do have a bike with some campag stuff on it, and yes, it's as smooth as silk. Lord only knows why, because the Italians can't make anything else that's engineered to last and works well.

    Bkins: I didn't know that Ultegra had some interchangeability with the plebian levels. I suppose it depends which piece of Ultegra you have!

    Anyway, just to report that the set up on my bike appears to be working at present.

  • FYI you can (and should IMO) put a quick link in your shimano chain.
  • GraemeKGraemeK ✭✭✭
    What Buddha said, Italian is the way. I love the feel of dropping down a few cogs quickly on my Campag bikes. On the other hand I'd love Campag EPS but when I think about the electrics on the Alfa 147 GTA I had years ago, I fear a downshift might cause the seatpost to spin round like a comedian's bow tie or something.
  • Blisters wrote (see)

    F Buddha, I do have a bike with some campag stuff on it, and yes, it's as smooth as silk. Lord only knows why, because the Italians can't make anything else that's engineered to last and works well..



















     Nope... me neither.... image

  • All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

    I assume that the Alfas are there for humour intent.

  • Silvio is old and still getting away with more than I ever will.... robust!

    Though I like that the Alfa service manual used to give up prescribing service intervals after 90k miles....

  • I was told by someone in the bike trade a few years ago that Shimano sell more bike kit in a day than Campag do in a year - but that doesn't take anything away from the brand.  it just works so smoothly, rarely ever needs fettling and is as robust as buggery.  my training bike has Campag kit that is 9 years old - beyond keeping it clean I haven't had to fettle around with it at all bar the odd indexing issue which is usually caused by some crap in the cables.  just one cassette change in that time over dog knows how many '000s of miles.  top kit is Campag - shame they don't do MTB kit....

    the problem is that Shimano have huge marketing muscle and deep pockets to support teams so dominate the industry and it's priced to help bike builders offer good deals on fully built bikes.


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