Shimano Deore XT M8000 11-speed - first look

Trickle down XTR tech and new 1x specific cassette

Shimano has just announced the details of its next generation Deore XT mountain bike groupset – M8000. We all knew that the trickle down of Shimano XTR M9000’s 11-speed was only a matter of time, but we hadn’t expected it quite this soon, with the group likely to appear first on 2016 model year bikes.

The new group features many predictable technologies originating with XTR 11-speed, but the biggest news has to be the welcome surprise of a new, wider-range 1x specific cassette – marking Shimano's first real move to provide a 1x option for the masses and providing an alternative to SRAM's freshly announced GX groupset. There’s still no mention of Di2, so it’s mechanical-only for now. 

Wider range cassette for 1x11

M8000 xt introduces a new 11-42t cassette for 1x11 users :
M8000 xt introduces a new 11-42t cassette for 1x11 users :

One of the main complaints we have with Shimano’s new XTR is its 11-40T-range cassette – limited when used with a single ring drivetrain, especially compared with SRAM’s more expansive 10-42T option. Shimano XT looks to improve this with a wider cassette range of 11-42T – dubbed ‘Rhythm Step’.

This new cassette, which is compatible with 1x11 drivetrains only, continues to use a standard freehub body, meaning it will fit your existing wheels. Although we presume it will, in fact, work, Shimano states this new 11-42T cassette shouldn't be used with M9000 XTR.

For those looking to use a double or triple crankset, a 11-40T cassette option exists. The new cassettes will feature hardwearing steel cogs, aluminium spiders, and aluminium big cogs (40/42T).

Cassette spacing for the 11-40T is 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40, while for the 11-42T it's 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-28-32-37-42.

XT M8000 will share the same chain as Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed, which is a Sil-Tec coated model.

Crankset choices, improved bottom brackets

Just like xtr, shimano xt m8000 is all about rider options - one, two or three chainrings is the main choice :
Just like xtr, shimano xt m8000 is all about rider options - one, two or three chainrings is the main choice :

Just like XTR, XT M8000 will continue to allow options, with 1x11, 2x11 and 3x11 drivetrain configurations available. The standard crankset is the same for both 1x and 2x setups, although it’s to be confirmed if the 3x crank is different again.

Available in 30, 32 or 34T sizes, the 1x11 chainrings will use Shimano’s ‘Dynamic Chain Engagement’. This is a slightly hooked and taller tooth profile instead of the more common narrow-wide designs from other companies.

Double ring options are 34-24T, 36-26T and 38-28T. There’ll be just one triple option available, with 22-32-40T gearing, which is insanely low combined with the 11-40T cassette.

Middle and outer chainrings, including the one for 1x11 configurations, will feature a carbon construction with steel teeth for increased durability.

New threaded and press-fit bottom brackets are said to take a cue from XTR and Dura-ace designs with smaller bearings and improved seals that reduce drag, drop weight and improve durability.

The shifting bits

The rear derailleur is now shadow+ only, a long-cage version is available for those looking to use a triple chainring up front:
The rear derailleur is now shadow+ only, a long-cage version is available for those looking to use a triple chainring up front:

The long cage (SGS) version pictured right is for triple-ring use

The Shadow Plus rear derailleurs follow XTR in providing a lighter shift effort, with external adjustability and increased clutch tension range, and an even lower profile for improved clearance from trail hazards.

Taller tooth pulley wheels are claimed to improve shifting. For those using front shifting, these re-designed pulley wheels are said to better allow cross-chain riding too.

Non-clutch equipped rear derailleurs are discontinued in the new M8000 line-up.

Plenty of front derailleur options, including shimano's new side-mount standard :
Plenty of front derailleur options, including shimano's new side-mount standard :

Plenty of mount options for the front derailleurs

Front derailleurs are equally overhauled, including a new Side-Swing version that offers far lighter shifting effort and greatly increased tyre clearance. This latter change is crucially important for 29ers with short chainstays and long-travel trail bikes – although the frame must be suitable for this new standard, which was only recently introduced via XTR M9000. 

The shifters are available in bar clamp and i-spec versions:
The shifters are available in bar clamp and i-spec versions:

The new shifters are available in bar clamp, I-Spec II and older I-Spec B variants 

Controlling these new derailleurs are the new M8000 11-speed shifters. Keeping with Shimano’s Multi-Release design, the new triggers feature a claimed 20 percent lower shift effort, improved indexing accuracy, new ergonomics and textured levers.

Braking

The m8000 brakes feature an all-new lever and master cylinder design, but re-use the same caliper as the previous generation xt brake:
The m8000 brakes feature an all-new lever and master cylinder design, but re-use the same caliper as the previous generation xt brake:

No more 'Race' or 'Trail', now just one option for the brakes

In keeping with current-generation caliper and brake pads, the new M8000 brakes receive a new lever and ‘integrated’ master cylinder design – to achieve a sleeker look, lower weight, improved durability and greater handlebar space, according to Shimano. Lever feel and feedback is said to have improved too.

Where XT was previously available in either ‘Race’ or ‘Trail’ options, Shimano has simplified the choice and now only offers a Servo Wave model, like the previous Trail versions. As previously found on the Trail brakes, tool-free reach and Free Stroke adjustment remain.

A narrower clamp band (I-Spec II compatible) offers increased adjustment – beneficial for those using remote levers for suspension and/or dropper seat posts.

Wheels go lighter and wider

The new wheels feature a lighter and wider tubeless rim profile :
The new wheels feature a lighter and wider tubeless rim profile :

Just as XTR got some matching new hoops, so does XT M8000. The new wheels will be available in Trail (M8020) or Race (M8000) variants with UST-tubeless aluminium rims and 24 or 20mm inner rim widths respectively.

Both options will be offered in either 27.5 or 29in, with no 26in option for either. The wider profiles are a positive step, though riders looking to run 2.3in or greater tyres may be wishing for wider again. The new rim design is said to drop 40g apiece from the previous generation M785 and M788 wheels. Both options use 28 butted spokes front and rear.

Also available as a separate item, these wheels feature new lightweight hubs, which claim to feature an improved ‘seal structure’. Details are vague, but this likely allows for reduced drag along with increased protection to the bearings – to what extent exactly, we don’t know yet.

The wheels (and separate hubs) will be offered in a front 15mm thru-axle only with the M8000 Race available in a choice of 135 QR or 142 x 12mm thru-axle out back (not interchangeable) and the M8020 Trail wheel as a 142 x 12mm rear axle only. As the cassette uses a standard freehub body, these hubs will be backwards compatible with all eight-, nine- and 10-speed cassettes too. Brake mounts are Centerlock-only.

Pedals go wider too

Both the m8000 race and m8020 trail pedals feature wider and more stable platforms :
Both the m8000 race and m8020 trail pedals feature wider and more stable platforms :

And perhaps something for everyone, the XT pedals have received an update too in the form of a wider platform.

The PD-M8000 Race features a .8mm wider platform compared to the previous M780, while the new PD-M8020 Trail goes 3.3mm wider than the previous M785, which results in a claimed 7.7 percent and 11.7 percent more pedal-to-shoe contact respectively. The platform height is lowered by .5mm too.

Getting ready for Boost

Further showing support for Boost 148 rear axle spacing, Shimano XT M8000 cranksets will be available in a ‘B-Series’ option. These feature a +3mm offset chainline, 1x11 and 2x11 options only though.

To overcome this outward position, certain M8000 front derailleurs will be available with offset mounts.

Pricing, weights and availability

Thanks to Shimano Australia, we've now managed to weigh some of the key components ourselves. Given the wider range cassette, the new 2x11 groupset is actually heavier than the current generation XT, with the exception of the lighter wheels (weight TBC). Unfortunately, we haven't yet been able to weigh the new 1x11 crankset or cassette.

We’re currently waiting on US and Australian pricing, and we’ll add this to the chart below as it becomes available. Release dates are estimated for as early as June.

Shimano XT components

Weight

Pricing

M8000 cassette, 11-40T

411g

£75 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 cassette, 11-42T

TBC

£80 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 Single-Ring Chainring

TBC

£50 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 Crankset, without chainrings

TBC

£100 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 Crankset, double (36/26T)

717g

£150 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 Crankset, triple

TBC

£160 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

MT800 threaded bottom bracket

TBC

£30 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

CG-H700 chain

257g

£28 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 Shadow+ rear derailleur, GS

273g

£ 75 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000/M8020 Front Derailleur (Direct Mount)

121g

£30 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 shift lever, right only (clamp type, inc inner cable)

144g

£ 45 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 shift lever, left only (clamp type, inc inner cable)

129g

£ 40 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 disc brake assembly (priced per end, no rotor or adaptor) (weighed with alu-backed race pads front/rear)

260/275g

£100 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 Race wheel, front (15mm only)

TBC

£175 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 Race wheel, rear (135 QR)

TBC

£185 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 Race wheel, rear (142x12)

TBC

£195 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8020 Trail wheel, front (15mm only)

TBC

£175 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8020 Race wheel, rear (142x12 only)

TBC

£195 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8000 Race pedal

340g

£75 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

M8020 Trail pedal

TBC

£80 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

David Rome

Former Editor, Australia
Dave was the editor of BikeRadar Australia until early 2016.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road and cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Fast and flowing singletrack with the occasional air is the dream. Also happy chasing tarmac bends.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Fuel EX 27.5, SwiftCarbon Detritovore, Salsa Chilli Con Crosso
  • Dream Bike: Custom Independent Fabrications titanium, SRAM Etap and Enve wheels/cockpit
  • Beer of Choice: Gin & tonic
  • Location: Sydney, Australia

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