Shimano 9-speed MTB drivetrains gain features

Trickle-down tech into price-conscious MTB groups

Shimano has updated its Alivio, Acera and Altus entry-level mountain bike components with features it claims are essential for real off-road riding.

Cranksets

Shimano's updated 9-speed cranksets gain gearing options and replaceable chainrings
Shimano's updated 9-speed cranksets gain gearing options and replaceable chainrings

Shimano is calling its latest 3x9 drivetrains 'Mega9 Lite'. Don't worry, 3x9 drivetrains aren't a new thing. In fact, they came out in the 1999 model year and were the norm in the early 2000s before 2-ring and eventually, single-ring drivetrains took over.

How to replace a crankset - video

The Acera crankset is offered with two 3-ring options, 44-32-22t and 40-30-22t. Altus cranks come in either 2x or 3x chainring set ups, with 36-22t and 44-32-22t and 40-30-22t, respectively. 

Shimano is also touting the new anodized black finishes, but what's more impressive is that the chainrings are now removable for swapping out worn or damaged rings. 

Hubs

For compatibility with modern Boost frames and forks, Shimano has widened its entry-level hubs. The MT-400 hubs are available in 110mm front and 148mm rear, while the MT-200 hubs come in 110mm front and 141mm (non-Boost) quick-release skewer rear options.

Front derailleur

Yep, you read correctly, brand new front derailleurs are still a thing. Updates for the Alivio front derailleur include going to Shimano's side -wing cable positioning.

The Alivio front derailleur gets side swing technology for smoother shifts and more rear tire clearance
The Alivio front derailleur gets side swing technology for smoother shifts and more rear tire clearance

Instead of the front derailleur cable pulling from the top or bottom, side swing sees the cable enter horizontally, which Shimano claims allows for more efficient routing, smoother front shifting and increased rear tire clearance.

Brake levers

Trickle-down technology is claimed for the Alivio disc brake lever. Like Shimano's higher-end Deore, SLX, XT and XTR levers, the new Alivio MT-400 lever blade is designed to work with two fingers. 

Alivio disc brake levers see trickle down technology from Shimano's higher end stoppers
Alivio disc brake levers see trickle down technology from Shimano's higher end stoppers

The new lower-end MT-200 brake lever is a three finger brake according to Shimano.

How to improve brake modulation

For dialing in a custom reach, Shimano states a 25mm adjustment range for the lever reach. With a minimum reach of 75mm, Shimano claims the new Alivio levers are ideal for riders with small hands. 

Pricing and availability

Here's the pricing Shimano has released. The Alivio hubs are $42.99 (rear) and $26.99 (front). Complete Alivio disc brakes come in at $60.99. The Alivio front derailleur is $28.99. And the FC-MT210-2 crankset retails at $39.99.

Pricing for complete groups and for the UK and Australia has yet to be released. Shimano predicts early June 2018 for the availability of the new price-conscious components. 

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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