First Look: New Shimano Saint Groupset
The internet has been full of speculation but the embargo has finally now been lifted and so here's your new Saint in all its glory...
With the help of riders like Aaron Gwin and Gee Atherton Shimano have taken their flagship gravity groupset and given it a serious makeover. Actually, as you'll see below in most cases it is far more than a makeover and hopefully when we get to test the stuff out we'll see a significant improvement over the already impressive current Saint groupset.
We'll start with the rear mech which unsurprisingly now features the Shadow+ chain stabilisation system. If you've been living in a cave then all you really need to know about that is that it's the best thing since sliced bread. It's like fitting a silencer to your bike. To further decrease noise Shimano have also added a rubber bumper in the 'B bracket'. Also unsurprisingly Shimano have decided to make Saint 10 speed. It was always going to happen and whilst there will probably be loads of you now shouting 'we need less gears not more', it has to be said that because of the increased amount of cable pull per gear on Shimano 10 speed systems (compared to their 9 speed stuff) we've actually found it to be more reliable. As before there is a 'mode converter' which allows an optimum setup with either a close or wide ratio cassette, and the linkage plates are super wide to improve stiffness and strength. Retail price will be £139.99
To go alongside the rear mech is the new shifter which will only be available on the right hand side thanks to Shimano finally seeing sense and making the new Saint groupset 1x10 specific. Probably the most welcome change is the addition of 'multi release' which means that unlike the old shifter you'll be able to shift more than one gear at a time when you're travelling down the cassette, and thanks to the 2-way release you'll also be able to do that by pushing the lever either forwards or backwards. Talking of levers, both have been extended slightly to help ergonomics and the force required to shift up the cassette is now much lower and more constant than it was before. The double set of bearings inside should mean it stays that way for some time too. The shifter will be available with either a standard or I-spec (integrated to the brake lever) mount and will sell for £59.99
Finishing off the gear side of things is the new chainset which falls under the usual Shimano tagline of 'lighter, stronger, stiffer'. Exactly how much lighter is yet to be confirmed, but apparently the majority of the weight saving comes in the spider area. The cranks will be available as arms only in 165, 170, and 175mm lengths and there will be a 68/73mm bottom bracket option (£229.99) as well as the 83mm (£239.99). A press fit bottom bracket should also be available at some point. The seperate rings will come in 34, 36 and 38 tooth sizes and will sell for £59.99
Onto the brakes, and once again it comes as no surprise to see a whole lot of influences carried over from the incredible XTR Trail brakes. We love the minimal design of these levers and they offer every adjustment you'll ever need in order to set them up to your personal taste. The 'servowave' leverage design means that even if you run these with the minimum distance until the bite point you still get a decent amount of pad clearance. Along with a calliper these will set you back £194.99, rotors will empty your pockets even further.
At the business end of the brake we have four ceramic pistons to dole out the huge amount of power that we've come to expect from Saint brakes, and then to help shed the heat we now have IceTech pads with cooling fins. One-way bleeding has also been introduced and this has already proved itself to be a great feature on Shimano's other brakes.
Arguably the most trick part of the new brakes is this rotor with its cooling fins. With their aluminium core Shimano's IceTech rotors have already impressed us massively with their ability to dissipate heat, but by extending that core inwards and shaping it into fins cooling is improved even further. Is it overkill? Quite possibly, but it's good to see Shimano pushing brakes forward even further. Each one will set you back £64.99 and they will only be available in a 203mm with a Center-Lock mounting. We'd expect to see a 6-bolt version in the not too distant future.
The entirely new product in the Saint range is this new set of MX80 flat pedals which can be seen as a long overdue replacement for the DX pedals. Crucially the the pedal is a whole lot thinner (8.5mm), plus it's a little wider (3mm). The DX already had a good concave shape but this pedal takes that even further, and Shimano look to have done a good job with the replaceable pins. Mud shedding ability was apparently also high on the design list, and it's great to see that they've stuck with what has proved over the years to be one of the most reliable axle and bearing systems around. Pricing is very competitive at £59.99, but with so many racers running clips we're surprised they haven't also come out with a new SPD pedal.
Finally it's the turn of the hubs, and we might as well say now that until Shimano decide to use cartridge bearings rather than loose cup and cone ones we're never going to be fans. Yes on paper their system might be best, but in reality (read British mud) they require too much servicing and if you leave it too late you're screwed. If you agree with Shimano though then a front hub will set you back £69.99 and the rear (with its new faster engagement) is £119.99. Both are available in 32 or 36h and whilst the front is 20mm only there's a choice of 150x12, 142x12, 135x12 or 135x10 bolt-thru rear.
So there you have it, your new Saint Groupset. Well, actually you'll have to wait until July at the earliest to get hold of it, but in the mean time we'll be getting the chance to test it all out and give you our first impressions. Stay tuned...