How to select Shimano brakes for road bikes and summary of model numbers

Posted at: Mar. 18, 2021

Brakes are an important part of a road bike that is responsible for braking. In this article, we will discuss how to select Shimano brakes for road bikes, which are of high quality and highly available in Japan, and summarize the model numbers of each grade of brake.

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How to choose a Shimano brake

Choose a current model rather than an older higher grade!

If you look for Shimano brakes not only in the new market but also in the used market such as used stores and auctions, you will find many older model Shimano brakes (model numbers without the “R”).

The price is reasonable, and you may be tempted to take a chance on a higher grade, but the performance of the current Shimano brakes is so highly regarded that it is said that “the difference between old and new models > the difference in grade”.

So, keep in mind that it is better to choose a current model of a lower grade than to buy an older model of a higher grade.

Shimano Brakes and Compatibility

When replacing Shimano brakes for road bikes, you need to make sure that they are compatible with STI levers.

For the models we have picked up this time, they are compatible with the following STI levers. If they are compatible, the manufacturer officially allows the combination of “upper STI levers and lower brakes” or “lower STI levers and upper brakes” even if they are not the same grade.

Model number Grade
ST-R9100 DURA-ACE
ST-R9150 DURA-ACE
ST-9001 DURA-ACE
ST-9000 DURA-ACE
ST-R8000 ULTEGRA
ST-R8050 ULTEGRA
ST-6870 ULTEGRA
ST-6800 ULTEGRA
ST-6770 ULTEGRA
ST-6700 ULTEGRA
ST-R7000 105
ST-5800 105
ST-5700 105
ST-4700 TIAGRA
ST-4600 TIAGRA
ST-R3000 SORA
ST-3500 SORA
ST-R2000 CLARIS
ST-2400 CLARIS

Grade and model number

DURA-ACE

The top grade of Shimano components. The latest model, BR-R9100, costs $200 for one.

Model number Grade SLR-EV Dual pivot
BR-R9100 DURA-ACE
BR-9000 DURA-ACE
BR-7900 DURA-ACE x x

ULTEGRA

Race-grade middle-rank ULTEGRA from Shimano components; the latest model BR-R8000 is a little cheaper than the DURA-ACE BR-R9100 at around $100 (one).

Model number Grade SLR-EV Dual pivot
BR-R8000 ULTEGRA
BR-6800 ULTEGRA
BR-6700 ULTEGRA x x

105

Shimano’s top-of-the-line, hobby-grade, “race-ready” 105. These brakes are popular because they use the same “SLR-EV” and “dual pivot” as the higher grade brakes, and can be used for entry grade road bikes.

Model number Grade SLR-EV Dual pivot
BR-R7000 105
BR-5800 105
BR-5700 105 x x

TIAGRA

TIAGRA is Shimano’s mid-grade brake, and unlike the other grades, it is the only older model without the “R” in its model number. TIAGRA brakes are relatively common as a component set for middle grade road bikes, but since there is not much difference in price between a front and rear set of brakes and the latest BR-R7000 ($10-$20), the BR-R7000 is often chosen.

Model number Grade SLR-EV Dual pivot
BR-4700 TIAGRA x x
BR-4600 TIAGRA x x

SORA

SORA is used in entry-level road bikes.

However, as with TIAGRA-grade brakes, you can buy BR-R7000 (105 grade) for a little more, so it is less likely to be chosen as an upgrade and more likely to be for standard brakes.

Model number Grade SLR-EV Dual pivot
BR-R3000 SORA x x
BR-3500 SORA x x

CLARIS

CLARIS is Shimano’s lowest grade component for road bikes, and many people say that CLARIS brakes don’t work very well while other components do, so many people buy an entry-level road bike and replace them with BR-R7000 or other higher grade brakes that cost less than $100. It is also a brake.

Model number Grade SLR-EV Dual pivot
BR-R2000 CLARIS x x
BR-2400 CLARIS x x

BR-R7000 (105 grade) is the best upgrade

Among Shimano components, it is said that even a layman can tell the difference between the latest 105 and above. It is said that the brakes work so much better when you go from less than 105 brakes to 105 and above brakes that you can clearly see the difference.

As you can see from the model list, the latest BR-R7000 uses the same technology as DURA-ACE and ULTEGRA, so you can see that the performance is quite high.

Even so, the BR-R7000 is often sold by mail order for less than 8,000 yen for a set of front and rear brakes, and as mentioned above, its performance is comparable to that of the higher grade brakes, making the new BR-R7000 an excellent choice for upgrading your brakes.

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