Shimano’s flagship XTR mountain bike line made the jump to 11 speeds last year, and while we have certainly been impressed with its performance, it will always remain a bit of a halo product, out of reach of most mountain bikers. The new Deore XT group features many of the technologies first debuted in XTR M9000, but with a broader target audience. And while it does have a 1×11 setup that many riders are looking for these days, it also continues with double and triple chainrings for super wide gear ratios.
It all starts with the cassette. The XTR 9000 cassette has an 11-40 gear cluster, as does the new XT M8000 version, but there is a new 11-42 option that is specific to the single chainring setup. Unlike the SRAM XD driver, the Shimano cassettes fit on a standard freehub body.
The cranksets are available in both Press Fit and threaded options with aluminum arms. The single chainring has a specific, stainless steel tooth profile that Shimano calls Dynamic Chain Engagement, and is said to increase chain retention force 150 percent. It is offered in 30t, 32t and 34t.
The double crankset has three chainring pairings to optimize shift quality: 34/24, 36/26 and 38/28.
Interestingly enough, the single and 36/26 double cranksets will be available with the +3 mm wider chain line to function with the new 148 mm Boost hubs, a technology that SRAM unveiled a few weeks ago.
The triple crankset will allow for a massive range in gearing with its 40/30/22 chainrings.
The rear derailleurs make use of Shimano’s excellent Shadow RD+ system with adjustable chain tension for fine tuning maximum stability vs. lower shift effort. Naturally it will also be available with Shimano’s direct mount option.
The front derailleur adopts the design of the Side Swing design first seen in XTR. Featuring a different cable routing than a traditional derailleur, it allows for increased tire clearance. It will also be available in a number of more traditional mounting styles too.
The new shifters promise increased performance with a new slick cable and better ergonomics.
The XT brakes, one of the most popular options on the market, get even more refined with a sleeker design that takes up less handlebar real estate while still offering tool-free reach adjustment and an adjustable free stroke.
The new XT M8000 wheels get wider, though they are still not as wide as much of the competition. There are Trail and Race versions, with a 24 mm and 20 mm internal width, respectively. They both use aluminum, tubeless-ready rims and are laced with 28 spokes front and rear. Not clear is if the hubs will be available in the 148 mm Boost version as well.
The refinements continue with the pedals, also categorized into Trail and Race versions. The platform on each gets larger than its predecessor and the platform height is lowered by half a millimeter. Shimano says the Trail pedals have 11.7 percent more contact area with the shoe and the Race pedals 7.7 percent.
Stay tuned for our first ride report.