Why Alex Paton is ditching Dura-Ace for mechanical 105

Alex aims to find out if swapping to a modern third-tier groupset is an upgrade over a retro top-spec groupset

Clock09:22, Sunday 12th May 2024

Alex Paton has recently been restoring a Trek Madone 5.9 to its former glory. It is a bike that has a special place in his heart and a bike that he used to lust after when he was a young racer. In this latest instalment of his dream bike build series, he is looking at the bike's groupset.

Although it might not be getting ridden as much as some of his other bikes, whenever Alex finds the time to swing a leg over this retro bike he absolutely loves it. Apart from one thing, the levers.

Even though at one time they were Shimano’s top-of-the-line offering they now pale in comparison to what is on offer both in terms of functionality and ergonomics. Unlike the levers of today, the Dura-Ace levers on Alex's retro bike are big, and clunky and have the cables exiting out of the side of the lever.

This gave him the idea to make this part of the bike the next area to get some love, and by love, he means replacing it with something better. The groupset that Alex is looking to fit to his retro dream bike is Shimano’s R7000 11-speed mechanical rim brake 105, often seen as the 'groupset of the people'. It has all the trademarks of a modern groupset including neat cable routing, improved ergonomics and a well-balanced shifting action.

Getting replaced are the brakes, shifters, front and rear derailleur, cassette and chain. The only thing that will be remaining is the 10-speed Dura-Ace crankset which should work fine with the rest of the components.

It wasn’t all plain sailing with the 11-speed cassette too wide for the 10-speed freehub body of the rear wheel. Luckily with the help of local legend Tom Sturdy, Alex was able to machine a small section at the rear of the cassette away to allow it to mount correctly to the freehub.

It is not just the groupset that is getting some attention in this round of upgrades, with Alex making one crucial update to the bike in an attempt to make it just as fast as a modern equivalent. The component in question is the handlebars with Alex fitting some 36cm bars to the bike. With most of the aerodynamic drag experienced coming from the position of the rider, using narrower bars will allow the rider to get in a more aerodynamic position by reducing the frontal area.

To find out exactly how the build went and to get Alex’s first ride impressions make sure to check out the video linked at the top of the page for even more retro bike tech why not have a look at the differences between retro and modern Campagnolo Record.

What do you make of Alex’s decision to upgrade his Trek Madone 5.9? Let us know in the comments section below. For more tech features why not check out our tech feature library linked here.

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