There was me thinking that the rear mech couldn’t really get any better and that if we were going to see any major advancements in gear technology it’d probably have to come from a gearbox. How wrong was I? Very. This XTR rear mech is easily one of the most impressive bits of kit that I’ve ridden for quite some time. Yeah other things that I test out are often a little bit better here and there, but this thing is proper game changing stuff and it’s pretty much all down to one little gold switch…
From Dirt Issue 120 – February 2012
Words and photo by Ed Haythornthwaite.
That ‘chain stabilising’ switch engages a clutch mechanism which in one fell swoop puts an end to a load of the things which I hate about conventional gears. Saying it stops chain slap isn’t really doing it justice. Yes it does make it seem like your bike is fitted with a silencer, and I’d love this mech for that fact alone, but what it also means is that you’re far less likely to drop a chain. To really test what this mech was capable of I fitted it to a hardtail with a triple chainset (normally the best recipe for chain loss) and have since ranted it through terrain where many people wouldn’t even take a hardtail. Despite all my best efforts I haven’t dropped my chain once. Massively impressive to say the least. It has been so good in fact that it’s kind of making me reassess the whole 1×10 thing. If it continues to give me such faultless performance (and I can’t really see any reason why it won’t) then I no longer really need to bear such hatred towards anything apart from a single ring and chain device set–up.
As good a 1×10 setup is, there’s no doubting that it is a compromise in some situations. Before the introduction of this rear mech I think that was definitely a compromise worth paying as it was really the only way to stop chain loss through the rough stuff, but now I am not so sure. What I can tell you though is that if you’re running a 1×10 set–up on a trail bike and have one of these mechs then there’s really no need for anything other than a top guide. Even if you really want to run a full chain device then I still reckon you’ll love what this mech has to offer in terms of silencing. You might think that the noise of your chain slapping around doesn’t bother you but I bet that once you’ve tried one of these you will instantly change your mind. Everyone who has ridden my bike has loved its stealth like nature, and it’s fair to say they were a little gutted when they got back on their own rattling bike.
So, hopefully by now it’s pretty bloody obvious that I recommend getting one of these rear mechs. Yes it is expensive but personally I’d happily save money elsewhere in order to run one of these. If the rumours are true though then hopefully you shouldn’t have to wait too much longer to see this technology trickle down to more affordable groupsets, and it sounds like SRAM are on the case too. Put it this way, if this design doesn’t become widespread then something is seriously wrong with the world.Price: £169.99