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In this article, I compare the two most affordable electronic road bike groupsets on the market: Shimano 105 Di2 and SRAM Rival AXS.
As a Shimano Di2 user, I’ve also tried AXS, and I’ll share my experience with you below.
Both groupsets are excellent options, but which is the best for you depends on your specific requirements, preferences, and budget. That’s why I suggest testing them out before making your decision.
Let’s examine them in detail.
Abbreviations used: FD – front derailleur, RD – rear derailleur
Shimano 105 Di2 vs. SRAM Rival AXS: Summary
The following table summarizes the most important features of these two groupsets.
|Feature||Shimano 105 Di2||SRAM Rival eTap AXS|
|Power meter crankset available||No||Yes|
|Satellite shifters compatibility||No||Yes¹|
|Launched||July 2022||April 2021|
¹You can use wireless satellite shifters.
Pros and Cons
Let’s now take a look at their pros and cons.
|Shimano 105 Di2||SRAM Rival eTap AXS|
|Pros||• More reliable|
• Better shifting (especially front derailleur)
• Better ergonomics
|• Fully wireless
• More user-friendly smartphone app that offers more data
• More affordable
• Compatible with sattelite shifters
|Cons||• More expensive|
• Less user-friendly mobile app that offers less data
• Not compatible with sattelite shifters
|• Less reliable
• Worse front derailleur shifting
• Worse quality
Shifting is the most critical function of cycling groupsets, and it’s where these two groupsets differ the most.
The first difference is in the shifting system. Shimano Di2 has two buttons on both levers. The left lever shifts the front derailleur, and the right lever shifts the rear derailleur. Unfortunately, it has no hidden buttons like Ultegra or Dura-Ace Di2.
TIP: Check out this comparison of Shimano 105 vs. Ultegra vs. Dura-Ace Di2.
SRAM is simpler. Each shifter has only one button. To shift the front derailleur, you press them at once. Shifting the rear gears is done by pressing the left or right button.
Both systems have their fans and the Shimano vs. SRAM debate seems never-ending. I recommend trying both to see which one suits you better. I’m more used to Shimano, but I find SRAM very intuitive.
Let’s focus on shifting speed for a moment. Both groupsets are comparable in this regard. However, SRAM has been criticized for its front derailleur shifting, which is not as accurate, smooth, and reliable as Shimano.
On the other hand, SRAM Rival has better chain management. The RD’s spring keeps the chain tensioned, eliminating chain slap when riding rough roads or cobblestones.
One significant difference between the 105 Di2 and the Rival AXS is that the 105 Di2 is semi-wireless, and the Rival AXS is entirely wireless.
On the 105, the cables run from the battery (hidden in the seatpost) to the FD and RD. There are no cables between the shift levers and the battery because the battery is directly in the levers.
SRAM, on the other hand, is entirely wireless. The shifters, FD and RD, have their own batteries, which can be swapped between the FD and RD as needed. The batteries are compatible with all SRAM road groupsets.
The wireless groupset has an advantage, particularly for those who want to build their own bike, because installation is more straightforward. In fact, you only need to thread the brake cables through the frame.
In fact, it was designed so you don’t need to shift the front chainring as often. SRAM achieved this by making it smaller but, at the same time, increasing the gear range of the cassette.
For completion, here is the table showing the available chainring and cassette options:
|SRAM (X-Range)||Shimano (traditional, road)|
|Chainrings||50/37, 48/35, 46/33T||53/39, 52/36, 50/34T|
|Cassettes||10-26, 10-28, 10-33, 10-36T||11-23, 11-25, 11-28, 11-30, 11-32, 11-34, 11-36T|
The Shimano 105 Di2 electronic groupset is a bit heavier than its mechanical predecessor (R7020). The R7020 groupset weighs around 2780g, while the R7100 weighs about 2992g.
Surprisingly, despite being wireless, the wireless SRAM Rival AXS groupset weighs about 150g more than Shimano.
Design is a matter of personal preference. While it affects both functionality and aerodynamics, in this section, I’m only assessing appearance.
Personally, I prefer Shimano’s design. I can’t get used to the SRAM AXS battery protruding from the FD and RD. However, I admit that this system is clever.
Which set do you like? And do looks play a role for you?
Ergonomics is an essential factor for me. During long rides, shifters must fit well in my hands to prevent bruising and make the ride more comfortable.
Previous SRAM Rival sets had bulky levers, but the latest Rival levers are slimmer. The same applies to 105. Rival is slightly bulkier than 105, but both fit well.
Winner: It’s a draw
The braking experience is similar on both groupsets, unlike MTB groupsets, where the braking effect dosage is slightly different.
David Arthur created an interesting comparison of Rival and 105, which includes a braking distance test.
Although SRAM wins in his braking test, the results were so close to each other that I think it should be a draw.
Winner: It’s a draw
Sattelite shifters are a useful accessory for climbers as they remove the need to move your hand to shift gears. Unfortunately, the Shimano 105 Di2 doesn’t allow you to connect them since the levers lack an accessory port.
Similarly, the SRAM Rival AXS also lacks this port, but you can attach wireless satellite shifters to it.
Both groupsets support Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity. However, SRAM’s mobile app is more user-friendly and provides more data than Shimano’s app.
Therefore, if you want to know how many miles you’ve ridden on each gear or wish to quickly reconfigure the buttons, SRAM is the better choice.
Unlike 105, you can buy SRAM Rival with a Quarq power meter. Quarq power meters are considered pretty reliable (unlike Shimano power meters), so you don’t have to buy a 3rd party power meter.
Price-wise, SRAM has an edge. The price increase between Shimano 105 R7020 and R7100 doubled, jumping from around $950 to $1900.
Yes, 105 Di2 is an excellent groupset, but in my opinion, this increase is not justifiable.
SRAM Rival AXS is more affordable. It will set you back at only about $1400. It is cheaper than the 105, even if you buy it with a power meter and satellite shifters.
Total Score: Shimano (3), SRAM (4), It’s a draw (2)
Shimano 105 Di2 vs. SRAM Rival AXS: FAQ
In my opinion, and based on the price and experiences of others, I have concluded that the SRAM Rival AXS offers better value than the Shimano 105 Di2, which is too expensive.
However, I still recommend trying both groupsets and selecting the one that suits you best. Both work well and have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Which groupset are you leaning towards, and is there anything that bothers you about the other one? Let me know in the comments.