Shimano's older high-grade brakes vs. current lower-grade brakes: Which is better?

Posted at: Mar 19, 2021

Which is better, Shimano's older generation higher grade brakes or the current lower grade brakes? This article examines Shimano's brake technology and the year they were released.

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Shimano Brake Technology

First, let’s check out the technology used in Shimano’s brakes of the past.


Shimano's 105 brake BR-R7000 with SLR-EV

Shimano’s latest brake technology is this SLR-EV. It is a conventional dual-pivot system, but with three fulcrum points for increased rigidity. The amount of pull on the brake lever is compatible with the NEW SUPER SLR.

SLR-EV | Shimano


The current SORA BR-R3000 brake is the NEW SUPER SLR.

The NEW SUPER SLR is an evolved version of the SUPER SLR, and when combined with the corresponding STI lever, it can provide strong braking power even with weak force.

It is different from the SLR-EV mentioned above, but the amount of brake lever pull is compatible with the SLR-EV.



This is the generation of Shimano’s dual-pivot brakes, often referred to as the old SUPER SLR because it is easily confused with the NEW SUPER SLR.

It requires more grip strength when braking than the NEW SUPER SLR.

Each technology and corresponding Shimano brakes

Let’s take a look at each grade of road bike and see which brakes use each technology.

DURA-ACE BR-9000 or later BR-7900 BR-7800 or earlier
ULTEGRA BR-6800 or later BR-6700 BR-6600 or earlier
105 BR-5800 or later BR-5700 BR-5600 or earlier
TIAGRA - BR-4600 or later BR-4500
SORA - BR-3500 or later BR-3400
SORA - BR-3500 or later BR-3400

As of January 2021, only brakes of the 105 grade and above are compatible with the latest technology, SLR-EV; all brakes below TIAGRA, even the latest ones, stop at NEW SUPER SLR.

Although 105 is race-ready and preferred by hobby racers, it has been compatible with SLR-EV since the previous generation BR-5800, so this may be the reason why “if you are going to upgrade, at least go with 105”.

Shimano’s Current Brakes and Technology

Next, let’s take a look at the current generation of Shimano brakes for road bikes and which technologies they use.

DURA-ACE BR-R9000 - -
ULTEGRA BR-R8000 - -
105 BR-R7000 - -
TIAGRA - BR-4700 -
SORA - BR-R3000 -
CLARIS - BR-R2000 -

Shimano’s current generation of brakes are all NEW SUPER SLR or higher.

The 105 and above are the latest technology “SLR-EV”, but all other grades are NEW SUPER SLR. In this sense, we can say that the technology is “105 and above, and the rest”.

Upper grade of the old generation vs. mid-range or lower grade of the current generation, which is better?

When buying brakes at a second-hand store, the question that comes to mind is: “older generation higher grade vs. current generation mid-range or lower grade”? That’s the question, isn’t it?

Let’s compare the current generation mid-grade and lower-grade brakes with the older generation upper-grade brakes.

The higher grade of one generation ago is better than the lower grade of the current generation

First of all, the following is a comparison between the higher grade of one generation ago and the current grade.

DURA-ACE BR-9000 - -
ULTEGRA BR-6800 - -
105 BR-5800 - -
TIAGRA - BR-4700 -
SORA - BR-R3000 -
CLARIS - BR-R2000 -

The 105 and above are already SLR-EV one generation before the current R generation, so even the older models are better brakes than the middle and lower grade brakes of the current generation.

If you don’t consider the condition of the parts, then a used 105 or higher brakes of the previous generation is a better buy than a new lower grade of the current generation.

Two generations ago, the higher grade had the same technology as the current lower grade

So how does it compare to the brakes of the higher grade two generations ago?

DURA-ACE - BR-7900 -
ULTEGRA - BR-6700 -
105 - BR-5700 -
TIAGRA - BR-4700 -
SORA - BR-R3000 -
CLARIS - BR-R2000 -

All are now NEW SUPER SLR. In other words, the current generation of mid- and lower-grade brakes can be viewed as “equivalent to the brakes two generations before the higher grade” in terms of technology.

Incidentally, the current generation of mid- and lower-grade brakes were released between 2015 and 2017, while the brakes two generations before the higher-grade brakes are products that were released between 2008 and 2010.

Considering the deterioration of the parts, it would be better to buy the current generation mid- and lower-grade brakes with equivalent technology than to buy brakes that are more than 10 years old.

I’ve been looking at the older generation of Shimano’s higher grade brakes and whether the current lower grade brakes are better.

In summary, here’s what we’ve learned

  1. current generation vs current generation => current 105+ is better
  2. 1 generation old 105+ vs lower grade current => 1 generation old 105+.
  3. 2 generations ago 105+ vs current lower grade => current lower grade

When you want to replace or upgrade your brakes, it is quite difficult to decide which parts to choose, but if you look at it from the perspective of the technology installed, it will be easier to choose.

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