$120 CHINESE GROUPSET - A Safe or Risky Bet?

Dernière mise à jour : 28 avr. 2021

Shimano have pretty much a monopole when it comes to groupset in the cycling market, and they can charge a premium for it. There are a few other players like Sram, Campagnolo, FSA, but there is finally a new budget player in the game, and it’s price point makes it extremely tempting to test it out.

What’s up guys my name is charles and welcome back to my cycling youtube channel, if you are new here , don’t forget to hit the subscribe button for more cycling content.

120$ US for a groupset that claims better quality than 105, but lower than ultegra at a much, much lower price, can this be real? In today’s video, I’ll take a deep look at this product from Sensah, a chinese groupset manufacturer founded by sram ex engineers selling on Aliexpress. I’ll run you through the specs, which one I went for, we will mount it on my bike and will do some in-depth testing. I’ll wrap up this video with my recommendations if you should, or shouldn’t buy this thing. Allright let’s jump into it.

Knowing I had several builds coming up in 2021 and groupset are now a rare breed, I ordered early december the groupset full price of aliepress, I did not got for the ‘’Pro’’ 12 speed model because I wanted it 11 speed to be compatible with all my wheels and cassettes. Available in both short cage and long cage, I went ahead with the slightly more expensive long cage to accommodate cassettes up to 34t, the short cage goes up to 28t only. The shipping was fast to quit their warehouse in China, but Canada post held on to my package for 3 weeks. So in total it took around 45 days to arrive, note that I did not have any duty or custom fees, which is always appreciated when ordering from overseas.

Right off the bat, the unboxing experience is a C minus, the outer cardboard box is thin and cheaply made, but at least the components are nicely secured in the foam. No instructions in the box, so you either need to know about bike mechanics or go to your local bike shop, but keep in mind, some bike shops might be furious that you order this online from china and either refuse to build it for you, or charge you a ridiculous amount for it. So make sure you either have good bike shop connections, or ask for a quote prior to bringing in this chinese groupset and your frame! Now into a 1 minute bike montage to get this thing running on my old Garneau Genix A1!

Sooooo, first impression on the groupset, it looks great and it feels great. I’ve tested it for about 100km on my indoor trainer and it gets the job done. The rear derailleur and right shifter are doing a great job, the shifting is fast, snappy and precise. I didn’t get any jumps or rattle so far, it’s been behaving just as I needed it to. Let’s look at some test footage where I’ve tried to be super aggressive with the shifting, testing the double push, super quick gear-up, I literally tried to break this thing.

Now into the front derailleur and left shifter, I had some issues here. Sometimes the front derailleur was jamming and it was locking the shifter, it happened to me when I was pushing the lever all the way down when it was already on the big gear. Several other people have issues with the front derailleur and in the long run, it could cause your left shifter to break, due to the high tension. So I’d recommend to either be always extremely gentle and careful with your left shifter, or simply swap the front derailleur. Here is some test footage testing it.

A good solution for the front derailleur would be to find a second hand tiagra, 105 or even ultegra one, it can be found for under 30 dollars on facebook market place or ebay. It would be for a more accurate shifting and prevent from breaking your left shifter.

Something else I realized is that the hood's rubber is a bit rough on the first ride, it’s been leaving some big red marks in my hands and some rubber particles. But it did get better and more comfortable the more I’ve used it.

For the braking, both levers work great, their return is quick and I do feel it provides enough power into the calipers. Nothing special to mention here

Now what else can I say about this groupset. It’s extremely affordable, but it’s quality over time is still yet to determine for me. Trace velo left shifter failed after 400km, but he has the Sensah front derailleur that caused the issue. Other people have claimed to do over 5000km on their groupset and had no issues at all.

So overall, do I recommend this 120$ groupset? My answer is a yes and a no, it depends.

If you are relatively new to cycling and don’t know much about bike mechanics, I would avoid it. Invest right away into a 105 and have your local bike shop build it and maintain it for you. It might cost you more up front, but the peace of mind and the reliability will save you time, money and frustrations over time. Also 105 have a way better reselling value.

If you are an experienced cyclist and know about mechanics and only have one road bike, my recommendation is a neutral. It can do the trick even if you do a lot of mileage with good maintenance, but at that level in your cycling journey mind as well ride ultegra.

Where I do recommend this groupset is for the people like me who know extremely well the mathematical formula: N+1. I’d equip this groupset on your second bike, your project bike, your commuter and even your crit bike. Criteriums are prone to crashes, and trust me, you don’t want to break a Di2 Hydraulic shifter or derailleur, that would cost you hundreds of dollars to replace. A great advantage of this Sensah groupset is that paired with an aluminum or an old carbon frame, you can absolutely not care at all to crash that bike in the barrier because the financial drawbacks are minimal.

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