For a start, it’s a dedicated single-ring system so there’s no left-hand/front shifter. While the triggers aren’t longer than normal as they are on Saint, you do get a dimple-gripped thumb lever.
The rear derailleur cage is also kept short enough to keep the chain really tight and secure. There are different versions for close-ratio (28t max) and standard (36t max) cassettes too. That translates into sharper and more precise shifts than with a longer cage derailleur – especially when the bike is being battered all over the place – even though the shifter internals are mechanically identical to SLX.
The rear derailleur cage is short enough to keep the chain really tight and secure
The derailleur cage is alloy, rather than the steel found on SLX, and the on/off switch for the Shadow Plus clutch mechanism is anodised alloy rather than plastic. The thick alloy ‘X’ outer plate, pressed steel inner, direct mount compatibility and tunable-strength clutch are shared with the SLX derailleur.
The cost-effective SLX chain and cassette are the obvious value and durability match to complete the setup.