The Bike List

Groupsets: Shimano Sora 3500, 18 or 27 gears

Shimano's Sora groupset, last updated in 2013, is one step up from the Claris groupset and is common on road, cyclocross, flat-handlebar commuting and touring bikes between £500 and £1600. The materials used throughout are a combination of aluminium and steel.

The road bike, dual-control integrated brake and gear levers allow you to operate both brakes and gears from the same position on the handlebars. The shifters also feature a gear indicator so you know which gear you're in and how many you have left in either direction. To shift down a gear (to a harder gear on the rear for example) you simply press the paddle located behind the brake lever. To shift up a gear (to an easier gear on the rear) requires the brake lever itself to be pressed inwards, which will also bring the paddle with it.

The groupset is available with compact (50-34) chainsets that provide 18 gears or 27 gears in the form of a triple (50-39-30). Sora is also available with a smaller 46-34 compact gear combination, also known as 'super compact', which is ideally suited to those new to cycling. The rear derailleur is designed to offer a wide gear range, which again is ideal for anyone new to cycling, and will accept cassettes with a large cog up to 32 teeth. Sora uses Shimano's Hollotech II bottom bracket standard as opposed to the Octalink system found on Claris. Shimano's Hollowtech II system uses wider and larger bearings that are placed outside of the bottom bracket shell which allows for a wider 24mm axle. A wider axle improves stiffness, strength and ultimately efficiency, too.

Shimano Sora is the only current Shimano groupset that offers 18 or 27 gears and because of this is not upward compatible with Shimano's next groupset - Tiagra - which offers 20 and 30 gears, making upgrading more expensive.

Strengths: Good value, wide gear range available, gear indicator, durable, ideal for those new to cycling.

Weaknesses: Weight, number of gears, limited compatibility, gear cables protrude from side of levers.

Price bracket of bikes that feature Sora 3500: £500 to £1600

Chainsets available: Compact (50-34), Super Compact (46-34) and Triple (50-39-30)

Colours: Silver or black

How many road bikes on The Bike List feature 2300 components or groupset? 16% of all road/racing bikes.

Cost to buy Sora 3500 aftermarket components:

  • Road 9-speed STI brake/gear levers: £160
  • Chainset: compact £75, triple £80 (Hollowtech II)
  • Road brake callipers (rim brake): £20 each
  • Brake caliper (disc brake without rotor): £30
  • Front derailleur: £20-£23
  • Rear derailleur: £27-£30
  • Hubs: front £13, rear £20
  • Cassette (HG50): £20
  • Chain (CN-HG53): £15

Total cost of parts listed above excluding disc brake: £390 - £401 (rim brake caliper x2). Available online from £220, with rim brakes but excluding hubs.

Click here to see all bikes that feature a Shimano Sora 3500 groupset or parts.

What does Tiagra offer that Sora doesn't?

Aside from offering more gears, the Shimano Tiagra groupset as a whole is lighter than Sora 3500, improving the overall weight of any bike it features on. Tiagra features Shimano's Hollowtech II bottom bracket standard that places the bearings on either end of the bottom bracket shell (the frame itself) allowing the use of a larger, stiffer spindle.

Next one up: Shimano Tiagra 4600 20 or 30 gears