Today we are on the topic of mixing and matching parts again…

I’m looking at upgrading several components of my Trek 1.5 I recently purchased a Ultegra rear deraileur to replace the Tiagra unit there now. I’d like to upgrade the shifters from the Sora units there now to either 105 or Ultegra units. My main question is whether it’s ok to mix and match components from the different families? I’m thinking about going with 105 components due to their reliability and relatively low cost. Thanks ahead of time for your answers.

-Mixing Mike

Hi Mike,

You should have no problem mixing and matching these components. As long as everything is either Shimano 9speed or Shimano 10speed, you’re fine. Until recently, it was hard to find a bike that had all the parts from one group, like Shimano 105. Typically you would see a bike with an Ultegra rear derailleur, maybe 105 cranks or shifters, and then Tiagra parts everywhere else.

(Then it would be called an “Ultegra bike” to make it sound better, but that’s another story…)

The one thing you do not want to do is mix and match Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo together. I consider these manufacturers separate families. You could call Sora, 105, Ultegra, etc. cousins, as they’re all part of the Shimano family and they play well together.

The only exception I’ve seen is with a few of the top end components new for 2009. For example, the Shimano Dura Ace 7900 shifters and derailleurs won’t mate to earlier versions.

But like I said, the general rule is that all levels of Shimano will work together. A bike with an Ultegra rear derailleur and everything else 105 would make for a great riding bike. All you’re really giving up to the more expensive components is weight (and at the same time, you’re probably gaining durability.)

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6 Comments
  1. Good question, with a good answer. This leads me to the question: Is there a benefit (aside from pride and the obvious weight benefit) of having matching components?

  2. @Frank

    Usually with high-end groups, they’re made to work in perfect harmony. So if they’re set up perfectly and you can really test things, you may notice a very slight performance advantage if you have full Dura Ace vs mostly Dura Ace plus cheaper replacement chainrings or something.

    But for the most part (outside of pro racing) it’s just aesthetics. It’s just cooler to have full Dura Ace, Red, or Super Record.

  3. You can buy a component called a Shiftmate that will allow you to marry Campag and Shimano in various combinations.
    I have all Campag on my road bike and I prefer Campag shifters, but a recent CX purchase was Shimano equipped. Ditched the shifters and replaced them with Campag and a Shiftmate and they run fine.
    Best of both worlds!

  4. @Nick

    Generally I hate any sort of adapter, but the JTek Shiftmate looks pretty cool. Glad to hear it’s successful!

  5. Hi i have a 2003 giant nrs3 xcntry racing bike with shimano sx components. I would like to upgrade to xtr derailleurs and levers, can i mix with the current chain and front and rear cassettes

    Specifically, i want to mix xtr gear shift levers with sx derailleurs

  6. @Peter

    If I remember correctly, yes, you could upgrade to XTR shifters. Just make sure everything is 9-speed. Don’t go and get the new 10- or 11-speed shifters! So you’ll probably be shopping on eBay.

    Also, if the drivetrain components are 12 years old, consider replacing the chain, cassette, and chainrings! The precise shifting of XTR shift levers will be inconsequential if the drivetrain is rough and worn!

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