Incorporating many of the features of XTR, but at a much more attractive price, XT has been the benchmark groupset since the word groupset was invented. Shifting is fast and reliable, the ball bearing innards almost equalling the action of its more expensive brother as you move into larger cogs, though you don’t get the multiple upshifts or pod adjustments.
Shifting into smaller cogs felt more solid through the shifter paddles, with the tough looking mechs completing the job admirably. Shifter pods have removable windows to avoid bar clutter and shed a few grams. The chainset gets the Hollowtech treatment to keep the weight reasonably low and is fairly stiff. You can feel the Dyna-Sys technology working with certain shifts, but can be hard to notice tested back to back with a traditional three-ringed chainset.
The cassette is the highlight of XT, alloy spiders keeping the mass down and stiffness up at a good price. Outshining SRAM X9 on performance, and beating it on price, XT is a great addition to any bike, and with double chainsets coming out soon will further improve flexibility.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.