Shimano 2013 Saint and ZEE: In-depth Look at Sea Otter

Apr 22, 2012 at 5:30
Apr 22, 2012
by Richard Cunningham  
 
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Shimano gives the Press a hands-on look at its two gravity ensembles, Saint and ZEE, at a catered luncheon attended by select bike designers and pro racers who had a hand in their development. The actual product looked much more impressive than the press-release images led us to believe. Those hoping for radical new innovation may be let down, but hard core riders who want tangible improvements will be quite happy. The new Saint was driven by input from racers and carryovers developed for XTR, like the addition of the Shadow Plus one-way clutch and Shimano's more linear shifting DynaSys ten-speed metrics. Shimano surprised many with its affordable ZEE gravity ensemble, designed to bring most of the features and durability of Saint to a component lineup targeted at weekend warriors and budget racers. We thought you might like to see the new parts up close and personal.



Saint 2013 - Stronger and Quicker


Saint cranks are hollow forged duraluminum (a super-strong 7000 alloy) with a tubular steel bottom bracket that is claimed to be 250-percent stronger than XTR. Shimano Saint supports press fit and threaded bottom bracket types. Chainrings are available in 34, 36 or 38 tooth options.

Saint rear derailleurs are updated with Shimano's Shadow Plus chain stabilizing clutch system. The gold lever above the cage pivot is the engagement switch. A removable mode chip on the derailleur mount converts the parallelogram's sweep angle to follow a close-ratio DH cassette or a wide-ratio XC sprocket stack for enduro use.

Clever PB readers will recognize the super wide parallelogram pivots of the 2013 Saint rear derailleur from rough-cut prototypes photographed on Aaron Gwin's Trek racebike last season. The lower link is a whopping, 45 millimeters wide. Part of the reason is to provide crisp shifts. Shimano admits, however, that its impact data underestimated the punishment that World Cup racing inflicted on the gear changer, so the new Saint mech was completely redesigned to survive the worst. Oversized adjustment screws are used to allow up to three gears to be blocked from either side of the cassette.

The Saint Shift lever has been lengthened slightly and it pivots on ball bearings to overcome the added resistance of the Shadow Plus clutch. The action is smooth, with a generous amount of feedback with each shift. Two shifts can be made with one push of the thumb paddle, while the return lever metes out one shift at a time.
Santa Cruz Syndicate's Greg Minnaar raved about the new mech saying that, '...it shifts instantly when I push on the lever, rather than having to push and wait for the shift on the lever's return stroke.'

The new Saint brake lever is short and lightweight, with a quick-acting ServoWave mech to ensure that the four-piston caliper reacts instantly to the rider's command. Shimano stiffened the hoses and boosted the flow rates of the fluid to provide a more accurate feel at the brake lever. Textured holes on the lever blade (as well as a file-pattern on the shift paddles) assist wet-weather performance.

brakes
Saint's four-piston caliper houses ceramic pistons that block heat from the hydraulic fluid. Asymmetrical piston diameters reportedly reduce noise. A steel buffer plate distributes clamping force to aluminum-backed sintered metal brake pads which feature ICE tech cooling fins. Shimano claims that Saint brakes are 150-percent stronger than XTR - the equivalent of increasing the rotor diameter two sizes larger. Note the extended aluminum banjo fitting - another improvement to insulate the fluid from heat.

Saint gets a dedicated pedal, with sealed ball bearings, a concave platform and pins that are replaceable from the back-side. The profile is acceptably thin for a platform that features a durable spindle and bearing system.

Shimano Saint DH ICE rotor with extended cooling fins 2013
Strangely missing at Shimano's 2013 Saint launch were its latest ICE Tech brake rotors (as shown in a press release earlier this week). The aluminum core, sandwiched between the stainless steel braking surfaces has been extended into the ID of the rotor to form a wavy cooling fin which is reported to dissipate heat more quickly. Shimano says that the new rotor will appear in May.



ZEE 2013 - Powerful Tools for Gravity Riders on a Budget


Zee cranks use forged, solid 6000-alloy arms and share the same bolt pattern as Saint and XT, so all Shimano-compatible chainguides and bash rings can be used with the crankset. Gearing options are 34, 36 and 38 teeth.

Zee rear derailleurs share the Saint's medium-length pulley cage and the Shadow Plus chain control clutch. The parallelogram, however, lacks the Saint's super wide pivot stance and is built on the same geometry as SLX. The ZEE derailleur lacks the Saint's mode-change function, but separate B2 links are available to cause the derailleur to follow close or wide ratio cassettes. Both models were on display at the launch.

ZEE rear derailleur compared with 2013 Saint
Shmano's lower-cost ZEE rear derailleur (left) compared with the 2013 Saint changer. Note how sturdy the Saint derailleur is constructed.

ZEE shift levers lack the Saint's super-smooth-running ball bearings, but retain the longer levers and lighter action to compensate for the Shadow Plus system.

ZEE Brake levers lack the Saint's cosmetics and external reach adjustment, but it retains the fast-acting ServoWave mech and the hydraulic internals are the same, which ensures that ZEE riders will enjoy similar power and one-finger modulation. Both Saint and ZEE are convertible to Shimano's ISPEC integrated shift/brake lever system.

ZEE caliper details
Shimano found a way to bring its hard-stopping four-piston caliper to ZEE - ceramic pistons and all. You won' t find ICE Tech rotors on ZEE brakes, but you will get cooling fins and sintered metallic brake pads..
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116 Comments

  • + 95
 so you take a dh group and hype it up and then make it more expensive than xtr, and on top of that, you add a 10 gear cassette. i dont need 10 cogs for dh, and not even xc...whats wrong with you people....rotors for $130 each?
  • + 38
 And thats why they made Zee.
  • + 50
 yah i dont see the point of 10 cogs. I'm still running 8 cogs on my dh rig.
  • + 9
 The original release article mentioned the Zee line was for young riders/groms, not the financially embarrassed. Prevention of market stagnation is an important part of the corporate wheel. You have to keep bringing out new, and probably in a lot of instances, unnecessary product almost as a form of advertising an existing market.
  • + 27
 'Oversized adjustment screws are used to allow up to three gears to be blocked from either side of the cassette'
  • + 16
 10 gear cassettes are over hyped especialy for DH nobody uses all of them,6 gears or less is all you need for DH.
  • + 5
 yes..and im sure that not just me, but maaany of us, when in need of a heavier gear, click the shifter 2 times at once to jump one gear, and that with a 9speed! with a 10 speed i can see myself jumping 2 or 3 gears every single time....
  • + 13
 Probably in DH Race, but thinking to all the riders who ride in FR with their Dh rig(s) 10 cogs might be justificated...
  • + 38
 im xc and i know it
  • + 32
 homemade 6 speeds is where its at...if in doubt, ghetto it out.
  • + 10
 Guys... If you read the article, it states:
'Oversized adjustment screws are used to allow up to three gears to be blocked from either side of the cassette'
So there you go, boom, you can all use your six speed cassettes with your 10 speed saint.
  • + 7
 You would need a 10 speed cassette for the proper spacing, but you can take cogs off so you'd only have 6
  • + 21
 is it me or do the old cranks and brakes look wayyyy better? o.0
  • + 2
 on the topic of not needing 10 speed... i converted my current saints down to 6 Razz suppose it wont be as bad though having multi release..... if you read though it said that the screws on the limit adjusters are long enough to rig it up as a 4 speed removing the big 3 and the smallest three so you can have the option to run whatever gearing you want.. nice idea i guess
  • + 5
 Why would you want to buy 10 speed and only use 6 gears you would use a wider chain with 6 gears that would be much stronger and last longer
  • - 1
 If you beleave in the hype people will buy it any way,10 gear cassettes that are modded to a 6 gear cassette doesn't require a stronger chain.Just you're shortend 9sp or 10sp chain will be enought for 6 gears.
  • + 1
 I've had my x.5 shifter for near on 6 years, for some reason It only reaches 5 gears, 6 if its feeling good (hardly ever) and frankly I could not give a shit as I dont pedal at all, only for jumps, so why the hell would I need 10 speed?!
  • + 2
 @Chris Adam.
You are correct about the screws but, you still have to use specific cassettes and chains.
  • + 2
 "And thats why they made ZeRODE". Fixed it for you Tom.

Gearboxs should be made by Shimano, but if they're going to milk the profit cow with Mechs for longer, make a dishless 6 speed hub for DH FFS! I know you can use lots of singlespeed 135mm hubs for this, but a new Standard(yawn)just for DH should be made, hell 142 would probably do.
  • - 7
 saint 10-speed rear derailleur can be used with an 8-speed cassette, 8-speed chain, and 8-speed shifter combo.
  • + 2
 agreed... I wish I could have just a 3 or 4 gear more reliable DH specific gear... I really don't get the point of having 10 cogs
  • + 0
 chris-adam-media: that kind of limiting achieves nothing. The tight tolerances and the narrow chain require to much maintenance and precision for daily use. The engineers are trying to hard and marketing tools don't get it.
  • + 2
 @Angryham. I lol'd!
  • + 3
 Cuban, don't see how you could use a ten speed with 8 speed, the spacing between cassette gears is way different. Or is there some freaky coincidence that makes it work? 9 speed mech yes, ten no, they have different leverage ratios.
  • + 3
 Yup, they do. Don't really like the new look of pretty much everything except the rotors.
  • + 2
 @noskidmarks they do make gearboxes the zerode has a shimano alfine in it
  • + 1
 Yeah I have a Zerode. They could make the Alfine more easily adaptable as a gearbox at least. Much more manufacturers would jump all over a cheaper Pinion style gearbox made by Shimanno, as they'd not have to think as much to design it, and neither would their customers to understand it. Look at all the smack talk in the Zerode thread on here. You can spell something out,but if it's not easy to picture/understand lots of people just won't understand it, and nobody wants to fail some lame social quizz on their own bike if questioned on a ride. The Pinion and G-Boxx bikes look very tidy and much the same as their regular counter parts. No multiple chains etc(no matter how beneficial) for riders to get a mechanical concept of.
But yeah it doesn't matter, Zerode will eventually build their All MTN Zerode, Alutech and Nicolai are building Pinion based All MTN bikes, so once they get their market recognition, and prove themselves, hopefully Pinion will be able to lower production costs.
[Reply]
  • + 30
 Sealed bearings in a Shimano pedal, nice to see. Please, please, PLEASE Shimano, sealed bearings in the hubs now!
  • + 3
 Dude, all of Shimano's decent hubs have sealed bearings. I think you're getting sealed confused with cartridge. Shimano's bearings run smoother, handle side loads better and are fully serviceable.
  • + 8
 yes he means cartridge. thats all well and good, but try riding them in british weather..the sealing on them is terrible, shit and water gets in an its game over. most people wont bother to service their own hubs, by which point the hub shell is pitted, worn and damaged beyond repair. there's not need for it, the benefits of cartridge far outweigh the reasoning for using ball bearings.
  • + 1
 I ride year round in Vancouver which is primarily rain and grit. The weather is on par, if not worse than the UK, and the Shimano stuff is bombproof. As with any bearing, don't blast it with a hose or pressure washer and you'll be fine. I have XTR hubs and Shimano pedals that are many years old and are perfect. Once a year service does the trick. I agree that cartridge bearings are easier for most people but the increased friction and weight don't outweigh any benefits for me (and obviously for the Shimano designers and riders).
  • + 3
 Am I the only one who thinks the old cranks look way better??
  • + 1
 shimano bearings durability depends on which model you get.. the boron nitride ones (new xtr/ saint) are fine but the stainless ones are made of thin stainless backed onto softer metal to make it lighter.. the result is that they pit far too easily.... my mate ruined his xt hubs in less than 3 months but my saints are on their third year and still feel just about as smooth as they were when i got them..
  • + 5
 I use Shimano hubs and pedals on all my bikes, because I know how to service them. But as a shop mechanic they're a nightmare, as so many 'civilians' don't have a clue what to do, and ruin their Saint hubs in 6 months. The line I always use is "you CAN service them, so you HAVE to service them". So your average man in the street, Hope are still more user friendly.
  • + 1
 I've serviced a few. My current rear is a Deore xt from a few years ago. I'd say anyone with serviceable hubs who doesn't have saint or xtr needs to buy new ball bearings. Get the right size and go shop for something top notch. It is like upgrading to xtr's for way less. I still prefer cartridge when all is said and done. I buy a lot of used and swapping out a cartridge makes a new hub. The races in sealed bearing hubs can't be repaired.
[Reply]
  • + 17
 Uses the same bolt pattern...standard 104BCD... AMAZING
  • + 2
 yeah, thank god they didn't come up with 'a new standard' for those.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 If I were shimano, I would have marketed this stuff differently. It's basically a Saint "light" for the most part right? Same basic designs and Saint but not quite as pimped out with all the bells and whistles. Since that's the case I would have called it something along those lines.

Calling is something like Zee, it makes it feel like the cheap product line, even if the quality is good. People know Saint stuff is great, but they see this and they say whats the difference. Using the Saint name on this line I think would have been a good idea. I compare it to what Avid does with their brakes. With the Code, and the Code R or the Elixir CR, and Elixir R, etc. Keep the name people know, and the basic product people trust, but adjust the model (and price) based on what features each one has or doesn't have.

Even though it's really dumb and shouldn't matter, people are influenced by the name brand on their products. I think if Shimano called this the "Saint B" (just making that up) or whatever, people would take to it much better, still being able to say that are rocking "Saint" on their bike.
  • + 2
 Should've ressurected the 'Hone' brand for it personally, seems to suit and sounds a crap load better than 'zee'!
[Reply]
  • + 9
 that zee crankarm looks like a deore with stickers.
  • + 3
 it is. also has a longer spindle.
  • + 1
 And I think it has steel pedal inserts
  • + 3
 Its basically a rebranded Shimano M545 crankset with an 83mm bb option
www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/components/cranksets/product/review-shimano-shimano-m545-crankset-39799
These have been around for a while and are great.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Looks some quality kit! The introduction of affordable short cage mech with a clutch is a big swing for me to switch from sram x9 over to zee next year.
  • - 5
 A clutch, say whattt? :L
  • + 5
 Actually, most of Sram derailleur will be available with a clever lock system that do the same exact thing. Harder spring, then it can be turned off for wheel removal.

And more tension = more friction
There's a fine line that you can't alway cross.
If the lever have to be on ball bearing, there will be something elsewhere that will most likely fail from the added contrains.
  • + 1
 Couldn't have said it better myself. Definitely investing in a clutch mech for next season.
  • + 1
 i think im gettin a zee for my dh bike and a slx with clutch for my xc bike deffo seems like a good idea to me bye bye chain slap!!!!
  • - 1
 So I got neg'ed for asking a question .... Well that Makes sense?
Thanks for answering Smile
  • + 3
 You got neg'd for not reading the article, which answers your question.
  • - 1
 I read the article and didn't understand how the clutch worked or why it was needed, or would be use full. so I asked a question waiting for someone to explain , to which they did and got neg'ed for asking a question.
  • - 1
 it prevents the cage from moving forward... thats as simple as its gunna get, if you dont understand still your retarded
  • + 1
 Chillax , I under stood it on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:47.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 if the cooling fins work as same as termoregulators from the pc processors it means that in shiny days the fins are just going to overheat the caliper... thats what i deduce :/
Or maybe they could help on absorbing the cold breeze while riding.. well i cant say anything cause i dont have a wind testing lab Smile
  • + 8
 The fins will not overheat the rotor on a warm day. Heat will be passed to the fins and the colder air running over the fins will take the heat away from the fins. As soon as you use the brakes the temperature will rise above air temperature meaning that the brakes will lose heat to its surroundings. Hear transfer will only work one way once there is temperature difference.
  • + 5
 someone's been studying their thermodynamics! good job.
  • + 3
 i kind of doubt those goofy looking fins are actually going to be effective. just some new marketing hype imo.
  • + 2
 Those goofy looking fins add mass to the rotor which will act as a heatstroke and definitely stop the sudden ramp up in heat.

On a warm day (say 40 degrees C) that's nowhere near how hot rotors get under braking (150C+) so no need to worry there.
  • + 1
 haha i guess Mechanical Engineering is helping me somehow! I reckon they will help as technically it all makes sense. Its like saying the fins on an air cooled motorbike engine do nothing, they have a massive impact on the effectiveness of the air cooling system.
  • + 1
 Same basic concept as cooling fins on a motorcycle engine. Not hype. It is a totally sound design.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 What a stupid name, Zee. Whatever. I must be in the minority here but I think that the pedals are not aesthetically pleasing. Then again I'm spoiled by my Point 1s
  • + 3
 Like "Hone" was such a better name for the previous cheaper version of the Saint group.
  • + 0
 yeah, they should've just named it hone again. SMH on this one.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Im sticking to my 2010 XT and X.0 in all my bikes... nothing newer or with more speeds than that, or I will be losing serial money worthless
  • + 1
 I am with you on the x0 shifters, but I might look at a new x9 with the clutch. Basically it is a damper for the spring in the derailleur. Seems like someone should have thought of that years ago. derailleurs aren't specific to the number of cogs right? Is that is all in the shifters?
  • + 2
 but is it anybody having so many issues with the RD without the clutch? I havent tried them yet, but I have never had any troubles with the current derailleurs in any category, DH, AM, FR, XC, trail... I just do what we always used to do when taking the wheel in/out and thats all. Im afraid they are selling us smoke (maybe just a bit, but, anyway...)
  • + 0
 true. it is the quiet people are buying, which might be silly if you think about when your chain bounces.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Shimano spec'd the Zee rear short cage as 1x10 for up to 36T cassettes, but didn't spec a limit on the chain ring size. Is there a reason the Zee short cage could not be used with a 2x10 36T cassette and 36T chain ring, mounted on a triple ring in the stock middle ring location? I don't see why not but Shimano does say 1x10 specific. Are the cages more narrow and not able to handle the chain line on a 2x10?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Personally, the brakes and pedals look great in person And the shifters feel better than XTR (which is the benchmark for me).The parts ooze quality which doesn't come through in pictures. The cranks look a bit cheap compared to the old version but are still nice.
I'm looking forward to getting some ride time on this stuff even on my AM bike.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Time to stock up on m810 saint drivetrain to avoid 10spd
  • + 0
 true man! is the moment to get the oldies and keep our 9speeds for ever! lol
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Why a bashring instead of just a taco? A taco is lighter and probably cheaper in the end as you already have the backplate...

Is there anyone on a DH rig who really needs a bashring anyway?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Any one know if the 'free stroke' adjustment on the brakes actually work this time? (Can the levers be set up to not have any free stroke?)
[Reply]
  • - 1
 hmmm .. anyone else notice the lack of an updated BB to match and where are the hubs ... and when are they guna get their act together and make saint rims we are all dreaming of ... le sigh .. il stick with last model saints for a while i think ...these are nice just not nice enough ...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 the saints are so nice but the zee brakes look like they could be worth ago
[Reply]
  • + 0
 I'm almost tempted to get the new gear system. I haven't owned a NEW setup it over 7 years. My current Shimano Deore LX has still been doing its job.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 When will the Saint group and Zee released? Cannot wait anymore!!
  • + 0
 would have been nice for them to base the lever on the slx instead of deore though... i think id find it a pain to have to get out an allen key to adjust the lever reach
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Dont need 10 Gears in dh. For the price drop 2 and charge less !
[Reply]
  • + 0
 so the new saint won't come with a 9 speed option? The only way to achieve 9 speed is blocking off 1 gear? If so i'm getting the older saint! Never running 10 speed
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Could have thought of a better name than zee, unless it stands for something...
[Reply]
  • + 0
 What has better quality- SRAM XO or Shimano Saints?? And is the Zee equivalent to a SRAM X9?
[Reply]
  • + 0
 i still dont like the brakes as much as last years, and i think the pedals are quite ugly. but the rest i can live with.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The pedals look pretty nice!
  • + 1
 yeah they do! As soon as CRC get them in I'll order them. Been looking for a a new pair to replace my service hungry straitlines for ages.
  • + 0
 I might but it depends how much they cost!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Hmmm.....think I'm gonna hold off on buying my SLX brakes and wait for ZEE. Looks very nice! Wink
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Oh great more over priced crap! I can't wait. Even Gusset is beter value for money.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 The Zee's crankarms look deceptively similar to Shimano Deore. With different graphics of course.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Sram x.0 dh 202g, sram x.9 207g, xtr 985gs 203g, saint 2013 280g... What's up with that shimano?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i like everything except the pedals
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  • + 0
 Don't like the look as much. Last saints look way badder.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Old Saint's was better !
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Why not install a standalone mini cooling fan nxt to the banjos?
[Reply]
  • + 0
 how much will the "zee" brakes retail at ? (GBP) around £160
  • + 0
 145 each no rotor/ mounts
[Reply]
  • + 0
 how much will the "zee" brakes retail at ? (GBP)
  • + 0
 145 for front or rear system, no rotors or adaptors included
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Shadow plus!!, I won XTR Brakes at this tent!!!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 First '13 Saint Im getting are those pedals. Drool
[Reply]
  • + 0
 i dont care how much those rotors are I WANT THEM!!!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 WANT THAT ZEE !!!!
[Reply]
  • - 2
 icem4n(1 mins ago)

When will the Saint group and Zee released? Cannot wait anymore!!


tomorrow morning after 10.30.
  • + 0
 not till late june and availability will be a problem
[Reply]
  • - 2
 SAINTS ARE SO SICK!!!
[Reply]
  • - 1
 no clipless pedals?
[Reply]
  • - 2
 those brakes look like they could stop a bus!!
[Reply]
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