04 January 2016

Tiagra Is Top-Of-The-Line. Really!

Some of you may be riding bikes equipped with Shimano Tiagra components. In the hierarchy of the world's largest component maker, it is fourth in the six levels of road components--one level below the 105 (which, along with the Deore LX, its mountain-bike counterpart, has long offered Shimano's best value for the money, in my opinion) and one level above Sora.  So. if you have Tiagra, you have good stuff that functions well, though it might not last as long as Shimano's better lines--Ultegra/600 and Dura-Ace for the road and Deore XT and XTR for mountain bikes.

I have long known that, in addition to bike parts, Shimano also makes fishing equipment.  Not being a fisherperson myself, I hardly paid attention.  However, when looking for a diagram of a Shimano derailleur, I came across this:

It's a Tiagra, though obviously not one you're riding.  Actually, there are several different models of Tiagra.  Like the one in the photo, they're made for deep-sea fishing.  None of them are cheap, but from what I understand, they are among the best, if not the best, deep sea fishing reels  available.

And, I must say, they are beautiful, though I have to wonder how they (or any other reel used in deep sea conditions) would keep their looks.  To be fair, I think most fisherpeople aren't as inclined to buy their equipment for aesthetics as some cyclists are. Or, perhaps, they define beauty in a different way.

I think it's interesting that, for one sport, Shimano gives its top-of-the-line models the same model name as the one that appears on mid-level equipment for another sport.


  1. I have long been a fan of Tiagra-level components. They hit my "sweet spot" in the cost vs. function calculation. Almost anytime I need a new derailler, Tiagra is what I always use for the front and usually for the rear (though Deore is also used if I need a long cage). Tiagra hubs are a staple in all of my road wheels, and I can't find a thing to complain about. I think I view the "high end" stuff a little differently: there is the race to be the lightest, while moving towards ever-higher gear counts, necessitating thinner gears/chains, which seem too delicate to me. I am (perhaps needlessly) concerned about the longevity of pared-to-the-minimum parts seen on the newest racers.
    I'm not a racer, though. Perspective changes.

    My father enjoys fishing as a hobby. He is quite "into" all the gear, much as we are into our bicycle gear and gadgets. Not too terribly long ago I was discussing with him about a bike I was putting together and mentioned the wheels were getting built. (He is not a cyclist, though I do drag him up and down the bike path when the weather is nice. He's conversant enough in the topic to follow along with me.) I mentioned I was using Tiagra components. He seemed unreasonably impressed with that, so I asked what he knew about it. He was thinking that Tiagra-level bike stuff was the same as fishing gear and he thought I was really splashing out on the new bike. I had to laugh.


  2. Wolf--I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say about cycling equipment, even as I admit to having Dura-Ace derailleurs (9 speed) on one of my bikes and that most of my equipment is middle-to-high-end. Perhaps I am a bit of a snob (or that I simply have been spoiled by using nice stuff for so long), but I rationalize the equipment to myself because, although I no longer race and don't ride as many miles as I did in my youth, I still ride more than most people. Also, I want my stuff to last.

    Tiagra is certainly good, and I'm not surprised to read your comments. Very few people actually "need" more than Tiagra or 105, and even fewer can afford Dura-Ace or even Ultegra. I have such equipment because I know how and where to get good deals, and I don't look for the "latest" (11- or 12- or whatever-speed, for example).

    That story about your father is funny. Imagine if the roles had been reversed: What if he'd bragged about his fishing equipment to someone who rides a Tiagra-equipped bicycle?

    Happy New Year!

  3. Wolf--I should also mention that I tried to find out what "Tiagra" means. Google and Bing redirected me to "taiga" and "tiger". I'll look it up in print. Because Shimano has so often named its products after birds (e.g., Sora, Lark, Eagle, Pecker(short for "woodpecker") and Crane), I imagine "Tiagra" is also an avian.

  4. Hmm, I wonder if the "Tiagra" name started with the fishing gear or the bike gear, first? I really know nothing about the fishing gear.

    Also, I grew up with old 10-speeds, and was definitely familiar with the Shimano bird derailleurs. Campy was just an impossible dream back then... Pecker derailleur sightings caused much childish mirth with my crew of delinquents, back in the day.

  5. N/A--Ah, yes. Your final sentence brings back memories. I never knew about the "Pecker" derailleur until I saw it on the Disraeligears (UK) website.

    I also recall when Campy (or even SunTour Cyclone was an "impossible dream".

    Your first sentence poses an interesting question. From what I understand, Shimano is even bigger in fishing than in cycling, so it wouldn't surprise me that the name started with the fishing gear. Whatever the case may be, it's still surprising that the name denotes top-of-the-line equipment in one sport but mid-level in another.

    Happy New Year!