Shimano vs Microshift gears: Which Groupset is Better?

by | Oct 17, 2023 | Tips & Guide

When it comes to selecting the components that will power your ride, one of the most important decisions is which brand of gears to go with. Shimano vs Microshift gears are two of the biggest players in the bike gear world.

Shimano has been a leader in cycling components since the 1920s, pioneering many innovations in gear technology over the decades. With different groupset lines spanning from entry-level Tourney gears to elite XTR drivetrains, Shimano offers reliable performance across all price points.

Microshift is a relatively newer Taiwanese brand, founded in 1999. Despite its newcomer status, Microshift has quickly made a name for itself producing high-quality drivetrain components that often aim to compete with and be compatible with Shimano gearing systems.

So how do you choose between these two gear giants? 

This comprehensive guide will compare Shimano vs Microshift gears across critical factors including quality, shifting performance, gear range options, compatibility, weight, pricing, and availability. 

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your existing drivetrain or equip a new bike, understanding the pros and cons of each brand will help you select the best gear for your cycling needs and budget. Read on for the full breakdown!

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Comparison Table of Shimano vs Microshift Gears.

Reputation & QualityIndustry leader known for precision engineering and rigorous testing proceduresLess established brand but rapidly gaining recognition for high-value components
DurabilityProven to withstand heavy, hardcore usage over yearsProne to more wear and tear under frequent heavy usage
Shifting FeelRenowned for flawless, ultra-smooth, and precise gear changesCrisp shifting but not quite as refined as Shimano
Gear Range OptionsExtensive – 7-speed up to 12-speed optionsLess diverse – maxes out at 11-speed road and 10-speed MTB
CompatibilityComponents designed specifically for Shimano systemsEmphasis on compatibility across brands including Shimano
WeightHeavier but competitive at elite racing tierLighter overall especially for mid-range components
PricingCommands premium pricing, especially for high-end partsGreater value and budget pricing for entry and mid-level
Heavier but competitive at the elite racing tierReadily available globally online and in shopsSmaller supply network but improving availability

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Quality and Durability.


The reputation and engineering quality of each brand.

When it comes to reputation, Shimano is virtually synonymous with cycling components. For over 90 years, the Japanese brand has been an industry leader known for precision engineering and continuous innovation. Shimano has a reputation for uncompromising quality control, rigorous testing procedures, and an obsession with their groupset performance.

Shimano gears are prefered by professional racers and enthusiasts alike for their smooth, consistent shifting and durability mile after mile. 

Meticulous design, high-grade alloys, and advanced manufacturing result in components that work flawlessly under pressure at the highest levels of racing. This pedigree of engineering excellence translates down to Shimano’s recreational groupsets as well.

Microshift is a much younger company, getting its start in 1999. In just over two decades, the Taiwanese brand has established itself as a go-to for high-value, budget-friendly componentry.

Microshift emphasizes lightweight, responsive shifting gears aimed at Shimano compatibility and quality without the premium price tag.

Microshift has proven itself capable of producing high-performing drivetrains, Microshift delivers impressive performance for the price.

Durability and lifespan of gears.

When gears are subjected to frequent shifting under load, rough terrain, and the forces of powerful riders, durability differences between component brands begin to emerge.

  • Shimano’s premium gearsets like XTR and XT are built to withstand tremendous abuse from the aggressive trails, downhill, and enduro riders. 
  • Solid chromium-molybdenum axles, heavyweight cassettes, and heat-treated alloy derailleurs can run smoothly for thousands of miles even under duress.
  • While not bombproof, Shimano gears set the benchmark for longevity in high-wear cycling disciplines.
  • Microshift drivetrains are also designed with durable materials to handle bumps and impacts. However, under the same punishing conditions, Microshift components are more prone to eventual wear and tear over time. Aluminum cassette sprockets and derailleur parts will eventually get chewed up and may need replacing sooner than their Shimano counterparts.

For the average rider putting on normal miles, Microshift provides suitable durability. But hardcore cyclists logging heavy mileage and pushing the limits will get longer-lasting performance from Shimano’s proven design and materials. The Japanese brand remains the choice for maximizing gear life under pressure.

Performance and Handling

When it comes to real-world shifting performance, both Shimano and Microshift deliver quick, smooth gear changes when properly tuned.

Smoothness and precision of shifting.

When it comes to the all-important metric of shift quality, Shimano gears have built a reputation for unrivaled smoothness and precision. The shifting feel with Shimano drivetrains is virtually unparalleled.

Shimano engineers its groupsets to shift with almost no lag time between the moment you click the shifter and the chain moving flawlessly between cogs. Rigorous testing ensures that front and rear derailleurs move the chain horizontally and vertically with zero hesitation.

Features like Shimano’s 2-way release, reduced shift cable friction, and consistent gear tooth profiles enable lightning-fast shifts that cleanly drop into gear every time. The shifting is so fantastically precise that you can slam through multiple cogs in an instant.

RELATED POST: SHIMANO DEORE VS ALTUS. Comparing Shimano mtb groupsets.

Microshift gears also offer smooth and accurate shifting performance, especially on higher-end mountain and road component lines. Quick-engaging shifters and optimized derailleur geometry help Microshift deliver solid shifting.

Microshift shifting is not quite as refined as Shimano’s industry-leading execution. There can be slightly more drivetrain noise, the lag between shifter and derailleur, and the potential for occasionally missed shifts compared to flawless Shimano groupsets.

For both brands, proper setup and adjustment are key. But when tuned precisely, Shimano remains the pinnacle of perfect shifting feel and accuracy under pressure. The difference is like a sharp luxury sports car versus a nimble economy hatchback.

Noise levels when changing gears.

In addition to smooth shifting performance, operating quietly is an important characteristic of bike gears. Excessive drivetrain noise can be annoying and distracting on the road or trail.

  • Shimano groupsets are known for running extremely quietly even under load. Careful engineering of gear tooth profiles, chain links, and pivot points enables Shimano shifters, derailleurs, and cassettes to move through gear changes with minimal sound. Less friction means less audible noise.
  • Microshift drivetrains aim for quiet operation but some noise is inherent, especially on lower-tier components. Inexpensive Microshift mountain cassettes can produce a bit more of a tinny or metallic sound compared to Shimano when shifting. Upper tier Microshift parts minimize noise but not quite to the same degree as Shimano.

It’s worth noting that both brands require proper adjustment and lubrication to prevent excess noise over time as cables fray and parts wear. But with optimal setup, Shimano retains an advantage in minimizing sound on both road and mountain gearing. The difference is subtle but will be noticed by more sensitive ears. For near-silent running, Shimano is tough to beat.

Performance in different conditions (wet, muddy, etc)

In addition to dry and clean settings, gears need to operate smoothly in rain, mud, snow, and other adverse conditions that cyclists inevitably face.

Shimano gears engineers its components to be more resistant to the elements. Advanced seals, pivot bushings, low-friction coatings, and mud-shedding designs allow Shimano derailleurs and shifters to continue functioning reliably despite wet, dirty, or gritty conditions.

Features like Shimano’s Shadow Plus clutch rear derailleurs firmly grip the chain to prevent bounce and chain drops over rough terrain. The Shimano brake system has excellent all-weather stopping power as well.

Microshift gears incorporate seals and protective mechanisms too but may be more prone to degradation in messy conditions over time. Heavy mud or grit intrusion can impair Microshift shifting performance sooner than on comparable Shimano drivetrains.

For fair-weather cycling, both brands work great. But Shimano offers better protection for riding through the elements while maintaining crisp gear changes. Serious cyclists who ride year-round will benefit from Shimano’s ruggedness in wet and muddy settings.

Range of Gears and Compatibility.

While Shimano’s all-weather durability gives it an edge for riding in adverse conditions, both brands offer a range of gearing options to suit different riding needs and bike compatibilities.

Number of speed options and gear ranges

Shimano offers wider overall gearing range options, from budget 7-speed systems up to high-end 12-speed mountain and road drivetrains.

Microshift maxes out at 11-speed for road and 10-speed for MTB configurations.

Shimano’s higher gear counts like 11 and 12-speed provide more incremental steps between cogs for improved cadence control. Microshift focuses more on wider gear ratio spreads between top and bottom cogs within a given speed.

Compatibility with different bike types:

Both brands make components suited for road, mountain, hybrid, and cyclo-cross bikes. Shimano has more dedicated groupsets designed specifically for certain cycling disciplines. Microshift focuses on cross-compatibility for simplified mixing and matching.

Shimano ensures its parts work seamlessly together but mixing with other brands can require adjustments. Microshift emphasizes broad compatibility with Shimano and other systems when used properly.

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Availability of replacement parts and accessories

Replacement Shimano components are easy to source from retailers worldwide due to the brand’s ubiquity. Microshift spares may be harder to find outside of major online shops

Shimano also offers far more accessory add-ons like upgraded pedals, shoes, meters, etc. due to its dominance in cycling. Aftermarket support is more limited for Microshift products currently.

In summary, Shimano provides more diverse gearing configurations but Microshift promotes flexibility for combining its products across different bike styles and with other component brands. Shimano has a much more mature accessory ecosystem.


Weight and size of Shimano vs Microshift gears:

  • Weight differences:

Microshift prides itself on having lighter overall component weights than Shimano for similar quality levels. For example, a Microshift Advent 9-speed mountain groupset weighs around 2.6 lbs compared to about 3.1 lbs for a Shimano Altus 9-speed kit.

Weight savings come from Microshift’s extensive use of aluminum rather than steel on derailleurs and other parts. Lighter shift levers and derailleur pulleys also contribute to Microshift’s advantage in gram shaving.

However, Shimano does have high-end component lines that are very lightweight like Dura-Ace and XTR. At the top racing tier, Shimano can compete on weight by using advanced alloys and carbon fiber.

  • Size and compactness:

Microshift gears do fit into a smaller overall package versus comparable Shimano groupsets. The rear derailleurs, shifters, cassettes, and other components have a more compact profile and take up less space on the bike frame.

This can be advantageous for bike designs with tight space constraints. The smaller profile also appeals aesthetically to some riders. Shimano aims more for durability which results in slightly larger part sizes and fuller shaping.

In summary, Microshift takes the win when it comes to leveraging lightweight materials and compact dimensions, especially for mid-range and entry-level groupsets. But Shimano can achieve similar lightweight performance at the elite racing level.

Comparison of Shimano vs Microshift pricing and value across gear levels:

  • Entry-level pricing:

At the entry-level, Microshift drivetrain groupsets are less expensive than comparative Shimano packages. For example, a Microshift Advent 9-speed mountain kit runs about $125. 

The comparable Shimano Altus 9-speed group goes for around $175.

For new riders or bike builders on a tight budget, Microshift provides very cost-effective performance. Shimano commands a brand premium at the low end.

  • Mid-range pricing:

In the mid-range, the gap in pricing shrinks. A Shimano SLX 11-speed mountain setup retails for around $310. The similar-quality Microshift Arsis 11-speed group is $270. At this mid-tier, the Microshift value advantage diminishes.

  • High-end pricing:

Up in the high-end race territory, Shimano once again demands more premium dollars. Top-tier XTR 12-speed drivetrains run $1,000+, while the range-topping Microshift XLE 11-speed groups cost around $650 or less.

  • Value analysis:

Overall, Microshift provides greater value efficiency at the entry and mid-levels. But Shimano justifies its premium pricing at the high end due to exceptional performance, features, and prestige. Based on quality alone, both brands offer fair value.

In summary, Microshift gears represent a value sweet spot for budget and mid-range builds. But for pro-level parts, Shimano gear pricing still reflects its reputation for engineering and reliability.

Availability and Support

When it comes to sourcing parts and services, Shimano’s global size offers advantages over the smaller Microshift.

Shimano gears, parts, and accessories are widely stocked both online and at local bike shops worldwide. The brand’s ubiquity makes finding replacement components or upgrades easy and convenient.

Microshift gears & products have rapidly expanded in availability but still lag behind Shimano in accessibility. Components may need to be ordered online versus picked up locally. Certain Microshift-specific parts may be back ordered or on longer shipping timelines.

Similarly, Shimano’s service network is vast and technicians will be thoroughly familiar with repairs and maintenance. Microshift authorized service may be further between depending on location. Wait times for service may be longer.

For riders who prioritize availability and service access, Shimano provides advantages thanks to its enormous market presence. Microshift availability is improving but still trails the industry giant.

Pros and Cons of Shimano.

– Renowned for flawless, precise shifting performance– More expensive, especially for high-end gearsets
– Very durable and reliable even under heavy use– Slightly heavier weight
– Extensive range of gearing options and configurations– Overkill for some casual riders’ needs
– Components optimized for different cycling disciplines
– Excellent all-weather performance
– Global availability of parts & service support

Pros and Cons of Microshift.

– Significant cost savings over Shimano– Durability not quite as robust under hardcore usage
– Lightweight especially for mid-range gearsets– Replacement parts can be harder to source
– Compact profile great for tight bike frames– Availability and service network is smaller globally
– Emphasis on cross-compatibility with other brands

ALSO READ: Detailed comparison on Shimano tourney Vs Microshift Mezzo entry-level mtb groupsets.


In summary, both Shimano and Microshift produce high-performing drivetrain components suited for various cycling disciplines. Shimano gears are renowned for their flawless shifting and durability at the cost of higher pricing. Microshift delivers impressive quality and features at more budget-friendly price points.

For top-tier performance where reliability is critical, Shimano remains the brand of choice for discerning pro and elite riders. Those on tighter budgets will find great value in Microshift component packages that punch above their price.

Ultimately there is no universally “superior” option. Needs and preferences differ. For many, Shimano represents a gold standard while Microshift caters to value-conscious spenders. By understanding these brands’ relative strengths, any cyclist can make an informed decision on which gears fit their riding style and budget.


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