Each year there are a couple of Shimano groupsets that get the overhaul treatment and this year it’s the turn of both Saint and SLX, but it doesn’t stop there…
From Dirt Issue 123 – May 2013SHIMANO 2013: SAINT, ZEE & SLX Groupsets
Each year there are a couple of Shimano groupsets that get the overhaul treatment and this year it’s the turn of both Saint and SLX, but it doesn’t stop there…because this year also sees the introduction of Zee, an entirely new groupset. It’s probably best to start with the news that the excellent Shadow+ chain stabilisation system will now be available on every Shimano groupset down to SLX. The bad news for some – everything will also be 10 speed so you won’t be able to benefit from this technology if you’re still running 9 speed. And yes, that includes Saint. There will probably be a load of you now saying that we don’t need 10 speed on our DH bikes, and you’re probably right, but on the positive side the increased cable pull that Shimano introduced on their 10 speed has meant that we’ve actually found it to be more reliable than the 9 speed stuff. Talking of numbers of gears, it’s great to see that Shimano have now focused Saint (and the new Zee) as a single ring only product. No more front mechs and left hand shifters for them.
So what’s new? Well there’s all the usual talk of ‘stiffer, lighter, stronger’, but the biggest difference is probably the new Saint brakes which blend the design of the much loved XTR Trail brakes with a high–power 4–ceramic piston calliper. We reckon these are going to be nothing short of awesome power wise, and when combined with the new Saint Ice–Tec rotors which feature built in cooling fins there should never be a problem with heat build up. If there’s going to be any issue with these brakes it’ll most likely be that they’re overkill.
The Saint shifter has some welcome changes too, most notably multiple rather than single release. Ergonomics have also been improved and shifting is lighter than ever. An entirely new product in the Saint line up is the flat pedal which can be seen as a much needed replacement for the DX pedals. The proven bearing design remains but the pedal is a whole lot thinner (8.5mm to be precise), a little wider, and the pin design is far better too. I’m just a bit surprised that they didn’t see this as a good opportunity to also release a new DH SPD pedal. Oh well, maybe next year.
Finally, and arguably of most interest to a lot of readers, is the new Zee groupset. The best way of describing this is as a roughly SLX priced version of Saint. Shimano did try making a cheaper version of Saint before in the shape of Hone, but that never really took off for some reason. We reckon it’ll be a different story with this stuff though, particularly with the rear mech as this will offer Shadow+ technology with a short cage, all for a pretty sensible price. Previously Saint was your only short cage option, and this Zee kit should be a whole lot cheaper. The brakes will also share a lot of the Saint technology, and although they won’t come with Ice–Tec pads and rotors as standard you will be able to upgrade to these if you want.
So there you have it, 9 speed is dead it seems and Shadow+ is most definitely the way forward. Hopefully we’ll have pricing before too long, and get the chance to try it all out, but I’m afraid it’s looking like you lot will have to wait until later on in the summer to get your hands on it.