Shimano’s budget Alivio groupset treated to trickle-down tech

Shadow-style 9-speed derailleurs, two-way release shifters and Rapidfire Plus Mono shifting feature in the M3100 groupset

Shimano Alivio bicycle groupset

Shimano’s Alivio groupset, the Japanese brand’s budget mountain bike kit that’s frequently specced on a lot of sub-£750 bikes, has been updated in response to its big sibling, Deore, going to 12-speed.

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While the groupset retains its 9×2 (nine gears at the back, two chainrings at the front) and 9×3 drivetrain configurations, the rear derailleur has been updated, while compatibility with full suspension bikes and wider tyres has also been improved for the front mech options.

The Alivio shifters can now all change three gears at once and the triple chainring front shifter only has one paddle thanks to Shimano’s Rapidfire Plus Mono tech.

While the Alivio groupset won’t be setting new standards in outright performance, it’s an important groupset for consumers who might be buying a bike on a budget, and this update introduces some of the tech previously seen on more expensive Shimano components.

Read on to find out what changes have been made to the M3100 series of parts.

Trickle-down technology

Shimano’s trickle-down technology programme has to be one of the best things for the budget-conscious mountain biker; top-tier features slowly make their way to lower-priced groupsets, giving those constrained by cash access to better performance.

The recent 12-speed update to Shimano’s Deore groupset is a clear example of this, but where does the tech ‘go’ from the outgoing Deore model?

The answer is to the next groupset down, and in Deore’s case that’s Alivio. Officially named M3100, it sits just below Shimano’s 10, 11 and (now) 12-speed Deore range, keeping the nine-speed drivetrain alive and well.

Shimano Alivio M3100 groupset updates

Updates to the Alivio M3100 family include a visual redesign of the rear mech, new front and rear shifters, and new double- and triple-chainring shifting front mechs.

Visual updates for Alivio rear derailleur

Shimano Alivio bicycle rear derailleur
The rear mech has received some visual updates.
Shimano

The new Alivio RD-M3100-SGS rear derailleur touts a low-profile silhouette using Shimano’s Shadow RD tech, where the mech has been designed to be as slim as possible.

This reduces the chances of it getting damaged by rock strikes or the ground and also helps stop the mech hitting the chainstays over rough terrain.

It can work with up to a 36-tooth rear cassette sprocket and down to an 11-tooth smallest ring. It’s able to cope with a 22-tooth change in front chainring size, too.

The new Alivio RD-M3100-SGS rear derailleur retails for £34.99.

Front derailleur gets better full-sus compatibility and tyre clearance

Shimano Alivio bicycle front derailleur
The front mech is now more compatible with full suspension bikes.
Shimano

For the old-school 2x and 3x drivetrain fans, Shimano has also updated the Alivio front mechs.

Both the FD-M3120 and FD-M3100 front mechs are now compatible with 2.3in tyres mounted to ‘wider rims’ and tout a powerful gear-shifting movement that should help reduce the amount of force required to change gear.

Compared to the outgoing FD-M4000 front mechs, they also have a deeper shifting cage which should improve their compatibility with suspension bikes.

As the suspension compresses or extends, the chain’s angle moves in relation to the bottom bracket and can rub on the mech’s shifting cage. A deeper cage should reduce the chance of this happening.

Shimano Alivio FD-M3120 front derailleur

Designed for double chainring-equipped cranksets, the FD-M3120 can accommodate a minimum 22-tooth small chainring and a maximum 36-tooth big ring.

It’s available with direct (D), E-Type (E) and band clamp (M) frame mounts and can be used on bikes with 48.8mm and 51.8mm chainlines.

The FD-M3120 front derailleur retails for £22.99.

Shimano Alivio FD-M3100 front derailleur

The triple chainring mech has a large shifting range and can be used to shift between 22-30-40-tooth chainrings and is 50mm chainline compatible.

The mech’s specced with only one clamping option but Shimano’s tech documents state that it’s ‘multi-fit’, which means it should be compatible with plenty of bikes.

The FD-M3100 front derailleur retails for £22.99.

Shifters updated with single-paddle levers and three-gear jumps with one push

Shimano Alivio bicycle gear shifter
The rear shifter lets you shift up to three gears at once.
Shimano

The Alivio SL-M3100 gear shifters come in three models: the rear 9-speed SL-M3100-R shifter, the front three chainring SL-M3100-L shifter and the front three chainring SL-M3100-2L.

All of the shifters are clamped to the bars using a band clamp; there is no I-spec compatibility.

Shimano Alivio SL-M3100-R shifter

The 9-speed rear shifter has a gear selector indicator and features Shimano’s Rapidfire Plus system that’s been around since 1985, so there’s nothing new to report there.

It’s possible to shift three gears with one push using the main thumb paddle. The new Alivio groupset only features top normal gear shifting, so this means it’s possible to shift up to three lower gears in one go.

The SL-M3100-R shifter retails for £19.99.

Shimano Alivio SL-M3100-L shifter

Shimano Alivio bicycle gear shifter
The SL-M3100-L shifter uses two thumb paddles.
Shimano

Designed for triple chainsets, the SL-M3100-L shifter has a conventional two-paddle design and features a gear selection indicator.

The SL-M3100-L shifter retails for £19.99.

Shimano Alivio SL-M3100-2L shifter

Shimano Alivio bicycle gear shifter
Rapidfire Plus Mono means that there’s only a thumb paddle on the shifter.
Shimano

For double chainring chainsets this shifter uses Shimano’s Rapidfire Plus Mono tech, which means one single thumb paddle is used to shift to lower and higher gears.

This shifter doesn’t feature a gear selection indicator, however.

The SL-M3100-2L shifter retails for £19.99.

Shimano Alivio crankset, cassette and chain updates

Unlike the rest of the Alivio groupset, the MT210-2, MT101-2, MT210-3 and MT101 cranks do not receive any new updates over their current models.

The HG53 chain also remains unchanged.

Alivio’s 9-speed 2×9-speed 11-36-tooth, 12-36-tooth and 3×9-speed 11-32-tooth, 11-34-tooth, 11-36-tooth and 12-36-tooth are also the same as the current models.

Shimano Tourney groupset updates

Shimano Tourney bicycle rear derailleur
The short cage Tourney rear mech is compatible with 18in wheeled bicycles.
Shimano

Shinano’s budget Tourney groupset, aimed at touring and commuting bikes, also gets updates for 2020.

The changes mean the groupset now has two new 6- and 7-speed mechs.

Shimano claims the new RD-TY200-SS short-cage rear derailleur is its most affordable rear mech and can accommodate from a 12-tooth smallest sprocket up to a 34-tooth max lower gear.

And because the mech’s a short cage, there’s enough ground clearance for 18in-wheeled bikes, so expect to see the new Tourney kit on kid’s bikes soon.

Shimano Tourney bicycle groupset
The Tourney groupset is Shimano’s budget 6- and 7-speed offering.
Shimano

The RD-TY200-GS rear derailleur has a longer cage and is only compatible with triple front chainring setups and 14-28-tooth cassettes.

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There are also updates to the shifters, front derailleurs, cranks and cassettes.