I originally picked up a 1.2 from Village Cycle in Chicago. This was my first new road bike and first with the fully integrated STIs, up till now I was rolling around on some ST2300s on my converted mountain bike. The shifting is a vast improvement over the 2300s, but I found it finicky and not really supple. At least not as much as I would have expected it to be. The other issue I found is the trim setting is no where near as nice on the Sora shifters as it is with the Tiagra. The 1.2 also only has 9 speeds instead of 10; I know, doesn't sound like a big deal but the gaps are apparent when you are looking for that gear to spin in at a consistent speed.
|The picture doesn't do it justice, honest.|
The 1.2 I feel has better paint, at least color wise. It was a eye popping blue and white, white bar tape, and matching black and blue rims. The paint had some metal flake in it so it really shone in the sun and was a definitely highlight of the bike.
The seat was a little lacking and I feel too padded for a road bike seat. I eventually swapped in a Selle Italia SLR Flow that feels really nice, there'll be something about that in the near future. The seat is also wide, so beware my fellow narrow butt-boned peeps, you'll want to change out the seat or face saddle sores.
For comparison the Trek 800 converted, lovingly named the Shrek Antenental Contilope, mainly because I originally built the bike with parts from a Schwinn Continental and the Trek 800 Antelope. It was slightly too small so it is up for sale and may find a new home in about a week. Still rode the North Shore Century on this, commuted like crazy, and before I converted the bike to a drop bar I rode the single tracks at Peninsula State Park in Door County, WI. All around great bike and I can only hope it goes to a great new owner.
|What I used to roll around on. Great ride, but a size too small|
Well after about 2 weeks on the 1.2 it was ready for the 30 ride tune-up that Village Cycle offers on their bikes bought from them. Well I logged onto their website to get their phone number and lo-and-behold they are having a sale! On all their bikes?! What! Well, lets see what they have going on. Hmmm, they have my 1.2 for over $100+ cheaper than I paid, but that 1.5 is now within my original budget....I gave them a rang. See Village Cycle doesn't allow test rides, but they do give you 7 days to return any bike for a refund, and 30 day exchange on any bike. So I inquired as to whether I could get store credit in the difference or the exchange for the 1.5. Well, they said bring it in for the 1.5, and so I did. Plus the 1.5 was $10 lower than my original price on the 1.2, they gave me $10 store credit....whaT?! Very unexpected.
|Right after one of the first rides.|
There is a major difference in the shifting between the Sora and Tiagra in areas like smoothness, precision, the material used in the shifters, and the feel. Where the Sora uses more plastic, Tiagra uses more metal and you can feel the difference in shifting response as well as braking. The bike stops more solidly and the shifting needs little to no additional pushes to take up any slack. Plus you are able to, though not fully, shift under some power. With the Sora it seemed I had to all but stop pedaling, or really lightly spin, to get it to shift without skipping.
The Tiagra allows for the rider to almost use the full cassette in both the big and small rings without any chatter, thanks to the trim features on the front derailleur. I get some very slight chatter if I cross-chain from the small to the 2nd smallest gear, and it does rattle when in the smallest rear in the small front. The big gear allows for one trim in and you can almost run the full cassette there as well. With the quick shifting you can move around the cassette and chain rings with ease and not miss a revolution.
The tires on the 1.5 were a big improvement, although not huge, they did grip better in turns and felt more locked to the road that that of the 1.2. Taking turns at higher speeds, sharp maneuvers and grip when wet were improved, even though the R1s didn't have any "tread". They have a sort of bumpy surface but not the traditional cutouts like the tires on the 1.2 had.
|July 4th ride with some friends; such a glorious morning!|
Overall if a 1.5 is within a price range it would be well worth it. From what I was told Shimano will be updating its line of shifters and derailleurs in the upcoming year. That means Dura-Ace becomes Ultegra, Ultegra 105, 105 Tiagra, and so on. The 2014 Sora was basically Tiagra from the last update. Could be interesting to see what the 2016 models come with.