New Shimano Linkglide XT and Deore drivetrain boosts longevity for e-MTBs and hardcore riders

Revised cassette tooth profile, rear mech, chain and shifter an option for Shimano Deore and Deore XT groupsets

Linkglide drivetrain

Shimano Linkglide is a new spec option for the brand’s XT and Deore mountain bike groupsets that uses a new tooth profile to reduce wear.

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Designed for both e-MTBs and conventional mountain bike drivetrains, it’s aimed at reducing tooth wear under high torque use, without impacting shift quality, leading to lower maintenance and replacement costs, according to Shimano.

Linkglide will be an option initially on 1×11-speed Deore XT and 1×10-speed Deore drivetrains, and Shimano says that it ups durability three-fold over its Hyperglide cassettes in muddy conditions.

This, it says, results in fewer chain skips and smoother shifting, as well as increased drivetrain longevity.

How is Shimano Linkglide different to a standard groupset?

The tooth profile on the rear cassette has been subtly altered to improve longevity.

The teeth on Shimano Linkglide cassettes have a new profile that’s more pyramid-shaped than Hyperglide, with a wider base to up robustness.

Shimano has also worked on the region of the cassette where shifting between sprockets occurs (the shifting gate). This has been redesigned and is claimed to result in smoother pedalling with less risk of jerky shifting.

According to Filip Scholliers, Shimano’s MTB product planner: “We noticed that less experienced cyclists ride in the same gear, sometimes under excessive torque, for long periods of time, which puts strain on their drivetrain. As well as that, riders who shift under torque also cause excess wear and tear and ultimately a loss of drivetrain performance.

“Hyperglide+ technology still offers competitive cyclists a lightweight drivetrain with our quickest shifting, whereas Linkglide is an extra option for increased durability. Or to put it another way, Hyperglide+ is made for fast and Linkglide is made to last.”

There’s a Linkglide-specific chain, although some existing HyperGlide chains will also work with Linkglide.

The Linkglide components consist of shifters, rear derailleurs, chains and cassettes.

The rear derailleurs, shifters and cassettes are not cross-compatible with Hyperglide because they use different gear pitches, although there’s cross-compatibility with Hyperglide chains and chainrings. Shimano has introduced different branding to make it easier to differentiate between the two systems.

The Linkglide Deore XT 11-speed cassette (part ref CS-LG600-11) is available in a single 11-50t option, and Shimano says that it weighs 780g.

For 10-speed Deore, there’s an 11-43-tooth cassette (part ref CG-LG600-10) with a claimed weight of 634g. The 11-, 13- and 15-tooth – which typically wear out faster than the larger cogs – sprockets are replaceable.

LinkGlide mechs have a different cable pull ratio to HyperGlide.

With the revised tooth shape, new Linkglide rear derailleurs have launched too.

At Deore XT level, the 1×11-speed mech is part number RD-M8130-SGS, while the equivalent 1×10-speed Deore mech is part number RD-M5130-SGS.

They share much of the tech of the existing Hyperglide-compatible Deore XT and Deore rear mechs, such as Shadow RD+ design and the chain stabiliser switch to reduce chain slap.

More chain choice

There’s a new CN-LG500 11-/10-speed chain too, which Shimano says is “e-bike rated”.

Shimano’s existing Hyperglide chains are compatible with Linkglide though, so you can run the ebike rated CN-HG601-11, CN-HG701-11 or CN-HG901-11 chains with Linkglide cassettes and mechs, as well as the “e-bike designed” CN-E8000-11 chain.

Linkglide shifters include an I-Spec EV 11-speed option.

Finally, the Linkglide 11-speed shifters are available in I-Spec EV (SL-M8130-IR) or band-on (SL-M8130-R) options, while the Deore 10-speed shifter (SL-M5130-R) is clamp band only and includes a gear display window.

All feature 2-Way Release and Rapidfire Plus, while the XT level shifter also has Instant Release for faster shifting.

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Shimano says that it expects Linkglide to be specced as OEM (original equipment manufacturer) on many ebikes. It will also be available as an aftermarket option, although you’ll have to swap chain, rear mech and shifters at the same time to ensure compatibility.