Shimano are poised to launch a new entry-level road groupset and a new Deore series of mountain bike kit. At the Japanese firm's 2009 product launch in Birmingham we were also given a tantalising glimpse of the newest incarnation of Ultegra – but we've been sworn to secrecy on that until later in the year.
The new road groupset is called 2300 and slots in at the bottom of the Shimano hierarchy, just below Sora. The eight-speed group has a smooth, flowing design which makes it looks far more expensive than it is. Prices have yet to be confirmed but it is likely to be found on complete bikes selling for £500-£600.
On show at the launch was a bike decked out with all the 2300 kit. The groupset offers the choice of a double (52-39T) or triple (52-42-30T) chainset, with 170mm or 175mm cranks, spinning on a square taper bottom bracket.
The eight-speed rear derailleur has a 'wide link' design which Shimano say improves rigidity, shifting and durability.
The Sora-style shifters have been designed for riders who spend most of their time on the hoods. They feature reach adjustment and an optical gear display. The 2300 groupset should be available in July.
The new Deore is Shimano's 'workhorse' groupset and slots in below SLX. It is available in two versions – mountain bike or trekking/hybrid - and should start to hit the shops in June.
With its classy 'galaxy black' finish and trickle-down features from Shimano's higher end groupsets, you'd be hard pressed to tell it's aimed at the budget conscious.
The shifters and brake levers have been designed to work perfectly together, to the extent that the brake hose and gear cable even exit at the same angle to cut down on cockpit clutter.
The shifters, which are designed to be fitted inboard of the brake levers, feature two-way release (you can push them in either direction to change gear) and a longer and more comfortable paddle. The optical display is now tilted towards the rider, making it easier to see.
The brake lever now has a radial master cylinder, a tool-less reach adjuster, a more comfortable blade and a hinged clamp for easier removal from your bars – a first for Shimano. The fluid circuit inside the calliper has been redesigned for easier bleeding.
The Shadow rear derailleur hangs much closer to the frame than the old model, out of the way of rocks. It also boasts a stronger spring for crisper shifts and more direct cable routing.
The two-piece chainset has outboard bearings and an integrated bottom bracket, but forgoes Shimano's hollow crank arms in favour of solid ones. It weighs 973g and is available in silver or black.
Stay tuned for more from the Shimano launch, including two new mountain bike wheelsets, the new LX touring/hybrid groupset, a sneak peak inside the hollow Dura-Ace chainring and a sexy new six-bolt disc rotor.