Never mind 11-speed or electronic shifting, it’s Shimano’s latest budget components that are set to shake up cycling over the next couple of years. Thanks to the Japanese company’s new Claris groupset, there’ll be £600 bikes in the shops next year that’ll be good enough to race on!



Claris is definitely entry level but low cost no longer equates to a massive drop off in performance because of trickle-down technology from the higher end groupsets.



If you can afford Dura-Ace or Ultegra, why wouldn’t you? But there’s a strong argument that far from being the runt of the litter, Claris is probably better than Shimano 105 was a dozen years ago. Now you’ll be able to get a complete bike for less that the RRP of the 2012 105 group and that’s got to be a good thing for cash-strapped riders and newcomers alike.



As Shimano are targeting first time cyclists there’s more good new for those of us with hill-climbing related issues. Claris may only be eight-speed but these are all the right kind of gears for people with my kind of fitness. When I started riding all those decades ago I had to struggle with a 44×22 lowest gear, now there’s the option of a 34-tooth small chainring and a maximum 32-tooth sprocket. That’s lower than some mountain bikes!



And if you’re in the mood for a spot of climbing don’t forget CW‘s very own Wiltshire Wildcat sportive on Sunday. There’s a choice of 80, 62 and 34-mile courses, all starting and finishing at Salisbury Race Course. Details at www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/sportives.



This article was first published in the March 7 issue of Cycling Weekly. You can also read our magazines on Zinio, download from the Apple store and also through Kindle Fire.