Mountain bikers can look forward to lower prices, sharper looks and more braking power as Shimano roll-out upgrades to their second-tier Deore XT groupset to mark its 30th birthday. In line with tradition, the new XT will inherit many of the changes introduced to XTR last year, but despite the updated technology, Shimano say we can expect the price of the complete groupset to drop by around 10 percent.
Plenty more for XT
Versatility seems to have been the word written across the blackboard in big, bold letters at the XT development lab. The groupset will offer a dazzling array of options designed to address the requirements of cross-country, trail, all-mountain and 'trekking' riders alike. The chain and cassette are two of a very short list of components that have escaped redesign – and that's only because they were updated last year when XT went 10-speed.
While Shimano continue to tout the benefits of a 3x10 setup, XT's position as a staple for the cross-country market has been acknowledged with the introduction of a two-ring crankset, with a 38-26T option for trail riders and 40-28T for racers. Less shifts means less work for the left-hand shift lever, but rather than complicate things with multiple lever options, the new XT lever features a mode converter for easy adaptation between three- and two-ring setups.
Braking will get a big boost, with the Ice Tech technology unveiled on XTR last year being passed down to its sibling. XT will benefit from the same striking cooling fins and one-way bleed system, as well as new rotors with the same stainless steel/aluminium/stainless steel construction. All-in-all, Shimano claim a 25 percent increase in braking power as well as vastly improved heat dissipation.
The big S are also introducing dedicated XT-level 'trail' and 'race' wheelsets for 2012. The former has 21c tubeless-compatible anodised aluminium rims, with a 15mm E-thru hub up front and a choice of 12mm E-Thru or quick-release axle out back. The 'race' option has narrower 19c rims, with a quick-release rear hub and a choice of QR or E-Thru up front. All the wheels have cup-and-cone bearings, Center Lock disc mounts and 24 stainless steel spokes.
The new groupset will be offered in either silver or black. The latter will provide a good match for the new XT pedals which, as with XTR, include an integrated cage trail option (PD-M785) as well as a slimmer race version (PD-M780). Both have a much bigger surface contact area than the current M770 for improved stability, along with a slimmer axle housing for improved performance in mud.
- Crankset: 42-32-24T triple, 38-26T double or 40-28T double
- Rear derailleur: Improved Shadow design
- Front derailleur: Angled adjustment screws and clamp bolt for easier fitting and maintenance; direct mount option
- Chain: New 10-speed HG-X directional
- Cassette: 11-36T, 11-34T or 11-32T (CS-M771-10)
- Shifters: Rapidfire Plus with Vivid indexing (as on XTR); Instant, Multi- and 2-Way Release; mode converter allows use with double and triple cranksets
- Brake levers: Lightweight, with Servo-Wave technology, free stroke adjuster and tool-less reach adjuster; one-way bleeding system; Ispec compatible
- Brake callipers: Compact, with oversized 22mm ceramic pistons and one-way bleeding system
- Brake rotors: Ice Tech technology (aluminium core embedded in stainless steel) for improved heat management; 160/180/203mm with Center Lock or six-bolt mount
- Brake pads: Optional Ice Tech pads with aluminium cooling fins
- Pedals: Lightweight cross-country (PD-M780, 343g/pair) and integrated cage trail (PD-M785, 408g/pr) versions
The new XT will be available from July, with pricing TBC.
Trick new bits for 'trekking'
Shimano have broadened XT's appeal by developing a series of components and features aimed at commuters and leisure cyclists, or in their terminology, 'trekking' cyclists. Durability and practicality is the aim of the game here, with full-length outer casings, hub dynamos and an integrated chain guard for the front end of the 10-speed drivetrain.
The trekking group comes with a choice of V-brakes or Servo Wave disc brakes with three-finger levers. The discs don't get the mountain bike brakes' cooling fins but they do come with Ice Tech rotors (160 or 180mm, Center Lock or six-bolt). Shimano claim a 14 percent increase in stopping power over the current equivalent – a considerable improvement for those weighed down by panniers and racks.
The Hollowtech II crankset will be available in two versions: FC-T781 (48-36-26T or 44-32-24T; chain case compatible) and FC-T780 (48-36-26T: not chain case compatible). Both feature an integrated chain guard. Out back, there'll be a choice of 11-32T or 11-34T cassette.
Two new 6V-3.0W hub dynamos are available. DH-T785 is a disc brake version with Center Lock rotor mount, while DH-T780 has been designed for use with V-brakes. Both have an aluminium coil and axle, bringing weight down to a claimed 483g.
There's a new trekking pedal to go with the two XT mountain bike options – the double-sided (SPD binding on one side, flat on the other) PD-T780. Claimed weight is 392 g/pair, including integrated reflector. Like its mountain bike stablemate, the groupset will come in a choice of black or silver. Availability is slated for August 2011.
XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur
At the launch of the new XT, Shimano also unveiled a new XTR M985 Shadow Plus rear mech. Designed to complement the 'trail' rather than 'race' variant of the group, it has an on/off switch on its cage which can be used to add more spring tension and activate a 'friction stabilizer'.
The idea is that you switch this on to stop your chain bouncing when riding over rough terrain – preventing it from derailing or damaging your drive-side chainstay, and also cutting noise – but flick it off at the end of your ride to reduce the spring tension and make it easier to remove your rear wheel. The new mech will be available from June. There's no word yet on pricing.