New off-road wheels, touring groupsets and more from Shimano

More bits and bobs from '09 product launch

As well as their new road groupset and updated Deore kit, Shimano unveiled two new mountain bike wheelsets, a revised LX touring groupset and a new through-axle standard at their '09 launch in Birmingham. Other highlights included a bolt-through hub for SLX, a sneak peak inside the new Dura-Ace hollow chainring and a good looking new six-bolt disc rotor. Read on to find out more, and click on the thumbnails on the right for more photos.

Mountain bike kit

Shimano are launching two new mid-range mountain bike wheelsets this year – the catchily named WH-MT65 and WH-MT15.

The MT65 is a UST-compatible, disc-only wheelset available in two versions  – one for Shimano's Center Lock disc rotors and one for traditional six-bolt rotors.

It comes with white hubs, black rims and 24 black straight-pull stainless steel spokes per wheel. Weight is 1,796g per pair (817g front, 979g rear). 

The Center Lock version will be available from July, with the six-bolt equivalent hitting shops a month later. The wheelset will be targeted at the SLX price range.

The MT15 is Center Lock-only. It has 29 bladed, stainless steel spokes per wheel and weighs in at 1,982g per pair (895g front, 1,087g rear). The rim and spokes are black, with white decals. The MT15 should be available from September.

Also new for '09 is the SM-RT76, which is Shimano's first new six-bolt disc rotor for many years. It features a forged alloy spider and stainless steel rotor, and is available in 160mm, 180mm and 203mm sizes. Shimano claim it is "quite a step forward in performance" as it is lighter, stiffer, less noisy and offers improved lever feel. It is also said to reduce pad wear.

Shimano are adding a bolt-through 15mm 'E-Thru' hub to their well-received SLX groupset, which is good news for those with 15mm axle forks who can't stretch to XT or XTR. It takes Center Lock disc rotors, features labyrinth seals and adjustable angular contact bearings, and weighs in at 190g.

For those who want to pimp their ride, the company's non-series mountain bike parts are now available in white, including the M575 'flip-flop' lever, which can be run with a front or rear brake.

Also unveiled in Birmingham was a 29er-specific 12-36T cassette, the CS-HG61, which has to be used with a special hub, the M629 or 529, but means you can run lower gears.

Road kit

We're not allowed to tell you anything about the new Ultegra groupset yet, but to whet our appetites and show how far Shimano's technology has advanced, we were shown a cutaway of the new hollow Dura-Ace chainring.

Also on display was the Dura-Ace press-fit bottom bracket, which is already being specced on some complete bikes this year, and two new tools to help fit it.

Shimano's Di2 electronic shifting system was also available to try out, and impressed with its smooth gear changes.

Hybrids/touring

Alongside the new Deore mountain bike groupset is a version for touring/hybrid/commuting bikes. The gears and brakes have been designed to respond to a lighter touch. The integrated shifter/brake lever unit features a three-finger lever blade with bumper stop and a large optical gear display which is angled towards the rider. The groupset will be available from August.

The Deore LX touring/hybrid/commuting range has also been revised for 2009. The T665 disc brake features Shimano's Servowave technology and a new bleed circuit, and is said to have 10 percent more power. 

Shimano have also developed a new 8mm through-axle standard for hybrids with SR Suntour. This is designed for the European market, where many hybrids come specced with disc brakes and suspension forks, and should improve steering when carrying heavy loads.

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