The wonderful thing about bikes is they all come equipped with different parts. Even though you might have a bike model similar to another rider, you can get a completely different experience by having another set of suspension, wheels, or gearing.
We often get asked a lot about different bike parts, and one of the most common questions is about gearing. Many recently asked us what the difference is between the Shimano Altus and Acera groupsets.
In this article, we’re going to be answering that question by discussing the following:
- Who Are Shimano?
- What Is Shimano Altus?
- What Is Shimano Acera?
- What Are The Differences Between Altus And Acera?
- Which Is Better?
Who is Shimano?
Shimano is a company from Japan. It was started in 1921 by Shozaburo Shimano. They are well known for making cycling components, fishing gear, and rowing equipment.
They are a huge company, and if you are interested in bikes, there’s little chance you wouldn’t have heard about them.
What makes Shimano special compared to other companies is the incredible value for money you get. They offer a wide range of different products, and they work excellently.
Shimano is known for making products that we call fit and forget. You just put them on, and they work excellently for a very long time.
What Is Shimano Altus?
Altus is a groupset made by Shimano. The most recent model you will find is called the M2000.
The Altus is not just a groupset, it’s more of a range of different products, and it’s designed for mountain biking and off-road riding. They offer a great amount of products to suit every rider’s needs.
The first thing to mention is the shifters, they make a few different types, some integrated with brakes and others stand-alone. The most recent model comes with 9 speeds, giving you a wide range of shifting that you can use on trigger levers.
The brakes, unlike many other groupsets, can be either hydraulic or mechanical, hydraulic being the better option, in our opinion. When it comes to the bottom bracket, you get a basic square taper style which is slowly becoming older technology. Connected to this bottom bracket, you get a crank which is a 3X.
You get both rear and front derailleurs on the Altus groupset, and the gear ratios offer a huge range for climbing up hills. The rear derailleur has the ability to work with cassettes as large as 45 teeth which is exceptional, but unfortunately, they don’t offer that cassette in this range.
What Is Shimano Acera?
Acera is another groupset from Shimano, and the most recent model you will find is the M3000. It’s designed for off-road riding and is made with slightly better technology compared to other groupsets in a similar price range. Again like the Altus, this is a range of products you can mix and combine.
The Acera uses 9 speed shifters, and you get a wide variety of options, such as stand-alone shifters or compatible with mechanical and hydraulic brakes. You get a wide range of gearing which is perfect for off-road riding and steep climbing.
With the brakes, you only get hydraulic calipers in Acera. I know this seems crazy because they make mechanical brake levers, but this is purely just for cross compatibility with other groupsets, such as the Altus we spoke about above. The bottom bracket comes in both square taper and hollow tech versions.
As far as derailleurs go, you get various options from 2X and 3X options on the front, and on the rear, there’s only one option with a maximum of 36 teeth. Overall, Acera offers a wide variety and everything you might need.
What Are The Differences Between Altus And Acera?
Both Altus and Acera are great groupset ranges and are very similar. They do have their differences that it’s vital to speak about. Here’s what you need to know:
The first thing to mention is that Shimano has groupset levels. For example, Tourney being one of the lowest, and the highest being Dura Ace, the professional’s choice.
Acera is the next level up from Altus in the Shimano world, so overall, it’s generally better.
Generally, Acera is better quality than Atlus. They use lighter materials, and the technology is a little more refined, making it a more pleasant groupset to use. If you ride them one after the other, it is noticeable.
Although the technology is quite similar, the Acera has some differences in the fact that you have hollow bottom bracket shell options with cranks to suit, which is generally the modern standard. Compared to the Altus, which only uses a square taper bottom bracket, which is older technology now and more on budget bikes than anywhere else.
As far as looks go, it’s really each to their own. The Altus has a more stealth-like look than the Acera, which is brighter with its silver detailing. We don’t mind the way each looks. Generally more professional compared to other manufacturers.
Price is very important to speak about when it comes to cycling components as it can hugely differ from one groupset to another. The Altus comes in at around $120 as a rough average for a groupset, depending on the parts you choose.
The Acera comes in around $150 for a groupset. It could be slightly more or less, depending on your chosen parts. The Altus is cheaper, but you are getting better parts from the Acera groupset.
As these are both groupset ranges, it depends on the combination of parts that will make the overall weight of your groupset. Generally, if you made the lightest combination of Atlus and Acera, you would find Acera to be fractionally lighter. Only by a very small amount, and it probably wouldn’t be very noticeable.
When it comes to brakes, you only get hydraulic brakes in Acera. They are much more powerful and require much less maintenance than mechanical ones. They still offer mechanical options on the shifter for cross compatibility.
Then we have gear ratios, and this is where it can get a little more complicated. The Altus on Shimano’s website comes in 3X versions only, which are heavier and harder to use but offer a lot more ratios, especially for climbing.
The Acera comes in 2X and 3X versions, giving you the option to sacrifice a little bit of range you might not use for a groupset that is easier to work around and slightly lighter and sportier.
The derailleurs are both pretty much the same. Although you can fit a larger cassette on the Atlus, that will only work on particular cassettes, which are hard to come by, and you can have issues with the larger chainring at the front.
Although both groupsets offer different gearing options, both offer a very high range of gears for climbing and descending. You shouldn’t need to be looking for bigger cassettes even if you live on a mountain.
Which Is Better?
In our opinion, the Acera is better. It offers more options, is of higher quality, and has better technology. Should you invest an extra $30 into an Acera groupset? 100%! Overall, they are both excellent and you will get an incredible experience whatever you choose.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.