Brakes & Gears Etc


The Deore XT groupset from the Japanese component brand Shimano has been around since the very early days of mountain biking. First launched in 1983, before most of us here in the UK had even ridden a mountainbike, this level of equipment soon set a standard for others to follow.

It became a benchmark back then and in 2017 it still is and takes a place in the 2017 Dirt 100.

SRAM’s dominance in single ring transmissions took the focus from Shimano for a few years. Although here at Dirt we had been running 1×10 (and 1×9 before that…) the arrival of SRAM’s 1×11 transmissions had us quickly converted to their way of think. For a year or two they had the upper hand. Not to be out done, and with plenty of thorough development, Shimano moved into the world of 1×11 transmissions.

There’s plenty of love with this latest M8000 series of the XT groupset and we chose the disc brakes in the 2016 Dirt 100 as one of our most trusted ways of controlling and stopping a mountainbike. User friendly, easy to work on and with plenty of power on tap helped by finned and vented brake pads and IceTech rotors.

‘Shimano’s XT groupset gives an optimal balance of durability and low weight’

With still the option for a 2×11 transmission (the personal choice of Nico Lau) the real interest here is on the single ring chainset with a wide range cassette out back. Shimano’s eleven speed cassettes fit a standard freehub body, unlike the SRAM transmissions (apart from the NX level), so you can upgrade your gearing without the need to switch your wheels. With this system Shimano start with an 11T cog (rather than 10T) and go up to a 40, 42 or 46T. That’s a wide spread but not as vast as the 10-50T set up on SRAM’s Eagle drivetrain.

And as a system it works with the authority that we’ve always come to expect from Shimano. Constant evolution of the shift levers and cable tech has given intuitive and precise shifting in all weather conditions. The 3D composite chainrings are stiff, support the chain well and give good durability. The now standard ‘clutch’ Shadow RD+ rear mech stabilises the chain and now has adjustability too. It’s a thoroughly developed transmission and unlike SRAM (who feel the front mech is dead) offer a choice (of 1x or 2x) and it’s spec’d on some trail bikes – the Trek Fuel EX 9.8 in this year’s Dirt 100 is a good example.

Still a very sound choice on all but all-out DH bikes, XT is very much back where is belongs as a strong proposition for both transmission and braking. This groupset gives an optimal balance of durability and low weight at an affordable price point.

PRICE: From £494.93 (1x transmission)



Selected for Dirt 100 2017

View the full 100
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