SLX replaced both Deore LX and Hone in the middle of Shimano’s hierarchy for 2010, meaning that it’s covering mid-range trail, all-mountain and even light freeride duties.
That’s a big ask, but SLX is cropping up on a lot of bikes this year, and it’s easy to see why. It almost matches Deore XT for features and performance, and gives away little in weight, but is considerably cheaper.
A perfect example of SLX’s ‘middle way’ is the cassette. To save a bit of weight without incurring too much extra cost, the cassette is semi-spidered – the three largest sprockets are carried on an aluminium spider like a high-end cassette, while the remaining sprockets mount directly as with cheaper models.
If you’re running a twin-and-bashring setup with a 36-tooth big ring, SLX’s double-speciﬁc front mech, with its smaller radius cage, is well worth a look. The shifters are the same shape as XT (and have the same removable gear displays) just with more plastic and weighing slightly more.
Sadly, they lack XT’s instant cable release and internal bearings, which means shifts aren’t quite as snappy but they’re still characteristically smooth. The difference is slight, though, with the low-proﬁle Shadow rear mech shifting smoothly.