We've been partying all day waiting for this big news. Now all the tea has gone cold, the cocktail sausages and cake have been eaten.
So, what’s this groundbreaking Shimano news that you’ve all been waiting for? Is it a new gearbox? Is it electronic gears? Is it a range of forks and rear shocks? Is it flying pigs? No, of course it isn’t, it’s actually a new Saint groupset! Now stop your groaning cos I promise you this groupset revamp is actually better than all those we’ve seen before. Ok, so there’s the usual change of appearance (and as you’ll see from the pics, the new Saint does look a whole load better), and the endless list of percentage improvements that Shimano always quote when they change a groupset, but unlike most other revamps there’s a bit more to it than just that.
Probably the best place for me to start is with the two major changes. The first of which is the rear mech. Gone is the old ‘bolt onto your axle design’ which was always very limiting when it came to hub choice, instead they’ve used the ‘Shadow’ technology which we’ve already seen on XT and XTR. This means you get a mech that sticks out less (so it’s more difficult to clout on stuff), has better cable routing, follows the shape of a cassette better, and it doesn’t have that stupid sprung pivot which results in it clanging away against your frame. The whole thing is massively oversized so expect it to be pretty bombproof, but despite this it’s still a shed load lighter than the previous version. Oh yeah, there’s also a genuinely short ‘short cage’ version.
The second major change is the brakes. The callipers now have four pistons rather than two, and the new ‘Servo Wave’ levers provide greater pad clearance, reach adjust, bite point adjust, and when they’re combined with the new callipers they produce 50% more braking power than the old brakes. Now obviously this is a claimed figure, but I can tell you that I was blown away by the power when I got to have a quick spin on them, they are incredible. Despite this incredible power the changing leverage ratios of the lever seem to give a nice progressive feel.
As for the other stuff, the shifters have been improved by increasing the mounting options and the speed of shifting, and then there’s also the addition of a double chainring specific front mech for bikes with 83 mm bottom bracket shells. The hubs have gone on a massive diet and now fit standard size Centre-Lock rotors rather than the oversized ones that Saint previously used. That alone is good news in our eyes, it just makes life simpler. The item that has perhaps changed the least is the one part of the Saint groupset that really has been popular, the cranks. Believe it or not the new ones are even stronger (we weren’t sure if that was possible), and yet they’re also lighter. There’s also a bit of change to the shape to make them more ankle friendly, and there’s now some steel pedal thread inserts, so basically if you liked the old ones you’re going to love these.
Anyway, I think that just about covers the basics of the changes (there are also a load of other smaller tweaks) to the Saint groupset, and if I had to sum it up in three words I think that for once I would choose the words of Shimano…stronger, lighter, better. If you want to know more about the finer details then get down your local newsagents at the end of the month and buy issue 75 which contains the full low down on the more ‘saintly’ Saint.
So, was this worth staying up till midnight on a school night? You tell me. I'm gonna have one more sausage then I'm off to bed, see you in the morning.
an·ti·cli·max (nt-klmks, nt-) n.
1. A decline viewed in disappointing contrast with a previous rise: the anticlimax of a brilliant career.
2. Something trivial or commonplace that concludes a series of significant events: After a week of dramatic negotiations, all that followed was anticlimax.
If you want to read the full press release, then read on:
“Find your Flow” with the new Saint
The new Saint keeps its basic characteristics like top-level durability and reliability for extreme mountain biking such as Down Hill, Freeriding and Extreme All Mountain. At the same time, this new group is completely different and promises much more. Further increased rigidity for example and a lightweight design which is in line with the current gravity trend for faster and smoother trails. The appearance is very technical and agressive, in shiny black and subtle gold coloured details.
4-piston disc brakes
The Saint disc brakes have been designed from scratch. The dual-diameter 4-piston calipers provide an incredible 50% more stopping power than the current BR-M800. The calipers have an increased oil flow which makes bleeding a lot easier. The brake levers feature Servo Wave technology that gives more brake power and offers excellent controllability and extra pad clearance as well. The levers feature a tool-free reach adjust and they have a beefy lever blade for optimal control.
The futuristic Saint Shadow rear derailleur minimizes the chance to damage the derailleur by hitting any object on the trail. Biggest difference with the Deore XT and XTR Shadow derailleurs introduced last year, is the super wide inner link that offers the additional stiffness that is so important in gravity. Shimano managed to combine it’s additional rigidity with a remarkable weight saving of over 100 grams compared to the current version.
The Saint rear derailleur has an increased spring tension compared to the other Shimano Shadow derailleurs. Furthermore, it has a bracket switch to select usage with close or wide ratio cassettes. Close ratio cassettes (23-28T lowest gear) are recommended for Down Hill and wide ratio (32-34T lowest gear) for Freeride and All Mountain usage. The Saint Shadow derailleur is available in a short (SS) and a medium (GS) cage version.
Rapidfire Plus shifters
The gravity oriented Rapidfire Plus shifters have been designed to combine a crisp shift feeling with 1-finger braking. They feature a short release lever stroke and Instant Release technology for a fast and direct response. Of course these shifters also feature 2-Way Release technology that allows the release lever to be operated in two directions. The new Saint shifters have been developed with an adjustable bracket to allow inboard and outboard mounting. Last but not least, they have an excellent mud shedding design.
The Saint cranksets will be much lighter and even more rigid (!!!) than current versions. There will be options for single and double chainrings. Both have been developed with HOLLOWTECH II technology and feature an extreme heavy duty spider arm and spindle. The new crank arm design allows more ankle clearance and the “honeycomb” designed bash guard has a great impact resistance. It has a steel pedal thread insert for extra rigidity. Single chainring options: 34/36/38/40/42T. Double: 36 x 22T compact drive crankset for All Mountain usage offers a wide gear ratio and a narrow Q-factor.
Saint includes a double specific mountain bike front derailleur, designed to perform with a 36x22T compact drive crankset. It has a very compact size with increased stiffness and improved clearance of the chain, chain stay and rear tire for an optimal compatibility with all kinds of full suspension frames. A wider and lower positioned inner plate reduces the chance of chain drop considerably.
Hub and freehub
The new Saint hub and freehub are around 100 grams lighter than current versions and they feature a standard size center lock mount which saves weight while maintaining strength. The hub has been provided with fully adjustable and easy serviceable cup and cone bearings. Over Locknut Dimension (OLD) is 110mm and they feature a 20mm through axle for an ultra stiff fork/hub combination.
The bearings of the freehub have been positioned wider apart for increased stiffness. The freehub body has been developed with Shimano’s quick engagement technology that results in increased performance especially in technical terrain. The Saint freehub will be available in two versions. 135mm OLD in combination with a 10mm or 12mm through axle and 150mm OLD with a 12mm through axle. Sealings feature a 400% improved durability.
The new Saint: lighter, stiffer, better. Enjoy the ride and “Find your Flow…”