Shimano Zee Rear Mech Review

Jan 23, 2013 at 0:07
Jan 23, 2013
by Matt Wragg  
 
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Shimano have something of a checkered past when it comes to affordable, heavy-duty drivetrains. Their Hone group comes to mind, with its non-standard derailleur mounting that very quickly (and thankfully) went the way of the dodo. So when we agreed to test the Zee mech, our first question was: "Will it work with my regular dropout?" It does. For the few who are not familiar with Zee, it is Shimano's affordable gravity groupset that some refer to as 'Saint Light' and it has become a popular offering on mid-priced bikes.

Close-up of the used mech.
Zee is Shimano's affordable gravity groupset - here is our battle-scarred test mech.
On the scales vs XT.
A wide-range Zee on the scales, vs. an XT long cage mech.

Shimano Zee rear mech details:

- Short cage only
- 10-speed only
- Shadow RD technology: Super low-profile design with clutch chain stabilizer
- DH spec - 28T Capacity
- Freeride spec - 36T Capacity
- Weight: 270g

- MSRP: $115.48 USD

Details

There are two versions of the Zee mech available and you need to make sure you get the correct one. There is a DH version, designed for close-ratio cassettes, and a FR one that works with up to 36t cassettes. This is one of the big differences between this and the Saint mech, which comes with an adjuster allowing you to easily switch between the modes. Aesthetically, yes Saint is a bit prettier, but the main difference is that the Saint uses a massive, wide-spaced parallelogram, while the Zee derailleur shares the more compact design of the XT mech. As for weight? Well, Shimano states the weight of its Saint mech at 280 grams. Our wide-range Zee weighed 270 grams. If you are using your Zee for Enduro or AM use, that's 12 grams more than Shimano's XT Shadow-plus mech - and $25 less.

The setup w 11-36t cassette.
We used the wider-range freeride version with an 11-36t cassette.

Setup

The Zee mech is compatible with all of Shimano's ten-speed components, so we ran it with an XT shifter, because it's what we were already running. The mid-cage derailleur was paired with an 11-36 cassette and a single-ring crankset. There was no drama regarding setup. We more or less threw it at the bike and it started working fine. It is a 10 speed, so as always, it takes a little bit of fine tuning to get the gears dialed.

Close-ups of the damage
Some close-ups of the beating our test mech took, and survived. On the left you can see the gouges in the body and on the right, if you look closely, you can see how far bent out of line the cage became.

On the Trail

It is immediately noticeable how good the Zee mech feels with the XT shifter. Gone is the ambiguous lightness of Shimano from years gone by, replaced by an incredibly solid, positive feeling. Having ridden a few different options on different bikes since setting this up on our long-term test, we find ourselves coming back to this setup and appreciating how good this combination is. In a blind test you'd be hard pushed to pick this out as a cheaper option. Here at Pinkbike we are big fans of clutch mechs and this Zee is no different - it isn't when you use a clutch derailleur that is the big deal, it's if you go back and try to ride a bike without one that you realize just how good they are and the Zee is everything we hoped it would be in that regard - quiet running and precise shifting.

Where the Zee mech really stands out is in terms of survivability. It was with the 2012 XT derailleur that we first noticed that the current Shimano mechs keep working well past the point when you'd expect them to fail. That XT mech was scored, grated and slightly twisted, but it kept going. This Zee mech goes another step beyond that. Just after fitting it, we were riding with it at Lenzerheide, in Switzerland. Coming through the boulder fields, there were dozens of rocks protruding at about derailleur height. Eventually, a few of them hit home and a couple of them were big hits. We were sure we would look back to see a small pile of twisted metal hanging from the dropout, yet it kept working. Looking at the mech at the end of the week there were a number of big gouges on the body and it wasn't what you'd call straight, but it still changed gear every time you pressed the lever. OK, the indexing wasn't perfect and if you are the kind of person who likes your bike to be just so it would probably have upset you greatly. For us, it's reassuring that you can be more confident of making it home, no matter what happens. If payday is still a few weeks away when you hit your derailleur, you can keep riding, even if it isn't perfect (or if you're lazy like me you can just keep using it as it is for months). And that is impressive.

Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesWe can't help thinking Shimano have shot themselves in the foot with the Zee rear derailleur. After using the Zee mech for a while we are hard-pressed to offer a reason why you would buy the more expensive Saint. It's well-priced - $115 buys you one of the toughest mechs we've ever used. - Matt Wragg

Shimano
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217 Comments

  • + 57
 After trying out the zee derailleur, and zee brakes, I must report that they are great. Though, I do love the aesthetics of saint. I think shimano will take a big step in becoming OEM on more DH bikes. I mean lets be honest, either you spend $$$$ and get saint or xo on a bike, or you get CRAP. Dealers, manufacturers, and consumers will all be drawn to zee for OEM, and I look forward to it! As for the brakes, short levers, awesome calipers, the best of all shimano brakes combined. EPIC!
  • + 22
 I actually have to agree with this. The shitty oem parts on bikes are why I've never bought a complete bike. Plus this derailleur is cheap enough that if/when it gets f*cked up or clipped by a rock, it's easy to replace.
  • + 65
 I always found that SRAM X9 was a good compromise... Very decent quality, about half the price of X0, and you can have an X9 group on many bikes.
I bought an X0 derailed/shifter once, and I never felt that the price difference was worth it, then snapped it on a root and just like that lost 300$... Since then, I always go with X9, and looks like the Zee group will offer me a good second option!
  • + 6
 pretty sure I seen a Scott catalogue than confirmed this, their new gambler comes specced with Zee kit on it! I've been running the mech for a while and I honestly can't fault it!
  • + 2
 Personally I didnt notice a huge change in noise (maybe because my bike was fiarly quiet anyway?) but when you land off big jumps you cant hear any chain slap... Its a quality mech though- i went through 4 x9's in a year because of shoddy design, and now back on zee this has lasted 6 months with no problems and precise shifting!
  • - 42
 Zee is good, it is also 3 times the price of an x-5 or even x7. They all can take massive abuse, survive outwardly, can be bent back into shape but the bearings take a beating on all of them. For dh - only top three gears used. So any of them is overkill...but then I want a simple and though bb-gearbox anyway.
  • + 19
 here is where you're wrong Wakaba... chain reaction cycles have the 10speed x-7 for £39.99 and the Zee for £49.99 (not quite 3 times the price) and, if we were to compare this to anything that Sram produces, surely it has to be the X-9 as that has a similar RRP, I for one won't be changing back to SRAM gears for a long time!
  • + 11
 The new Norco Aurums come spec'd with Zee
  • + 2
 Yep Kev-robert, is right the new gambler have a Zee derailleur, and also a Zee crankset ! I think that my next derailleur will be this one, looks strong and it's not that expensive !
  • - 4
 CRC dumps stuff though, at prices below the wholesale for many independant dealers and distributors, and the only reason shimano even sells to them is because of the volumes they do. You cannot hold them up as an example of anything other than one mail order store to another and then only within the same region. Its what... a thousand kms from switzerland to the UK ? Shipping a derailleur over to canada will really hose you in postage costs.
  • + 11
 I run an x7. I honestly cant find any fault in it, but I would still definitely keep the Zee in mind for a cheap upgrade for sure.
  • + 7
 CRC 100$ or more FREE shipping (customs have to be paid once in a while, since random chosen package are charged duty sometimes your package comes totally free)
  • + 5
 Im pretty sure Pinkbike has it mounted on an specialized Enduro Evo... Review coming soon possibly?
  • + 28
 Support your local shop! Web stores can't fix ur bike, offer you trail info, sell you the emergency repair part to get you going for the weekend or support the local riding scene and trail network. Keep your money in your own community and your whole community benefits.
  • - 4
 That looks like a welded rear tri, so no, not en EVO
  • + 3
 @genericmk: You need to elaborate on that. You can see the inside of the chain-stay is yellow which is the same as on the new yellow and black Enduro-Evo. Not to mention that a Zee derailleur would make perfect sense on a 180 mm travel free ride rig.
  • + 4
 Evo means long travel, not carbon.
  • + 21
 Thanks for the love livehardrideharder and the rest of the Pinkbike community. We're stoked you guys are diggin on ZEE.
  • + 5
 @kootenaybikes yeah man and a f***in' website can't hand you a beer like my shop does the place is like CHEERS "sometimes you wanna go... where everybodddddy knowws yer naaaaa-aayymmeee" hahahaha f**kin support your bros, bros!
  • + 3
 ive ridden saint and xo shifting groupings on bikes. for me, saint takes the cake. the only reason i run xo right now is because it came on my bike and i dont have the extra cash to make the switch. but if you are looking for a lower priced alternative for mech's, you cant go wrong with x9 or zee.
  • + 2
 Yes that exact Enduro specialized bike has been tested..... www.i-mtb.com/specialized-enduro-evo-bike-test
  • - 2
 JUST KEEP AN EYE ON MY SELL ITEMS. Baby blue Driver8 M (slightly used) with complete ZEE components(brand new) about to be sold in a freaking low price!
  • + 3
 I just have issues with sram. Lots of people like them and that's cool, every company has a following. I find sram derailleurs to be lacking 'something' that I was able to find in most shimano derailleurs. With that in mind I've only tried x5, x7, x9, no x0 (so I can't speak for that) but the others just felt spongy to me, if that makes any sense.
  • + 2
 when you say spongy do you mean by the way they shift? if so i know what you mean, I felt saint to be much more stiff and responsive with the shifting. and honestly i dont feel a performance difference between xo and x9.
  • + 1
 one day when my saint dies i might try it....then again i have a spare 810 rear mech so.....much later, I paid 132bux at CRC for the saint. I will not be using the Zee. Nice option though.
  • + 1
 got the Zee rd+shifter combo for less than USD90 Big Grin
  • + 3
 in reply to all of those above, who commented on me stating the price of a zee mech on CRC... I did support my LBS, my whole 10speed drive train came from the same shop, it was just to prove it isn't a massively expensive option, especially if it works well!
  • + 2
 Yep that's exactly what I mean. I understand that I'm comparing a Mercedes to a Kia as far as derailleurs go which is why I bought my Saint to begin with. I understand why people like rocking x5 and x7 especially for racing purposes since you really don't need to shift that much and odds are you'll blow through a few in a season and they are cheap to replace. Now with the zee you don't have to drop $150 to $250 (depending on where you shop of course) to replace a lost or broken Saint. ZEE ftw!
  • + 1
 Looks like saint have a new competitor
  • + 3
 and its his little brother!
  • + 1
 My local bike shop can't fix my bikes anyways..
I bring in an 8" bike and they just gawk at it...
  • + 1
 shimano has stopped supply Zee in my area ...
  • + 1
 unlucky for you, they're great mechs!
[Reply]
  • + 19
 I got one its the dogs nuts, shifts fast and reduces chain slap, looks like a Saint not that im bothered and when the welsh Mountains smash it off im not going to curl up and cry for too long because I could probably get 2 to the saints 1. (",)
  • + 21
 Thanks for the love! +1 for the first line.
  • + 5
 they both rock but the Saint has gold paint
  • + 4
 I went from XT-XTR 9spd to a Zee mech with XT shifter and its brilliant. Quiet and positive shifts, can't think anything of it ever doing anything bad.
  • + 2
 mmmmmm gold paint...
[Reply]
  • + 10
 You can run the Zee on a 9spd setup, by using a 9spd SRAM shifter. I'm running an X9 shifter with the Zee on my miniDH bike, 9spd cassette and chain, and it works perfectly Smile

But for the price you can have it in France, it's just one of the best derailleur out there.
  • + 2
 Interested to know more, have you done any alterations? Heard rumours of this...
  • + 1
 Very interested in knowing more, since I have a 9spd X9 shifter and would love to get a clutch mech. What kind of cassette do you have? I'm running a PG970 11-34, wondering if it would work okay.
  • - 1
 ???? So Shimano Zee has a different actuation ration than other shimano's derailler? Or do you use a cable pulley to convert the actuation?
  • + 2
 No the Zee has the same ratio as a Shimano XT or XTR, 10spds. Basically, you could run it with a 10spd XT, XTR, Saint, SLX, Zee, or any 10spd Shimano RD.

My setup on my miniDH bike (see the pictures in my profile) is SRAM X9 9spd shifter, SRAM PG980 11-32 cassette, and I think a shimano XTR 9spd chain (but not entirely sure, might just be XT). With a Shimano Zee FR version (for cassettes up to 36T as mentionned in the article)

And I'm not using any mod on the derailleur, or shifter, both are stocks.

It works because the ratios are really close (I think the difference between both is somewhere around 0.03). I haven't tried this on a 3x10 or 2x10 setup, where crossing the chain might put some more stress. I just know that for a 1x10 setup, all 10spds work perfectly Smile
  • + 1
 I can vouch for this as I did this on my 1x9 AM rig too. X9 9speed shifter, XT 11-34 9spd cog and Zee RD. No mods needed. Worked great and had no problems when I raced it last December.
  • + 1
 Thanks for reply, I read that the ratios are ever so slightly different. Really tempted now. Have you had any problems with indexing?
  • + 2
 Nope none, got it working even faster than my previous X0 setup Big Grin
  • + 1
 I'm confused, Shimano's actuation ratio is around 2, and SRAM's is around 1, so I don't understand why your setup works good.... To be investigated...
  • + 1
 so doing this!
  • + 1
 Shimano changed their actuation ratio in the 10speed set up, but its not exactly the same as SRAM...
  • - 2
 The deraillur only moves as much as the shifter will let it, so if you use it with an x9 it will move as the shifter tells it to (9 stops) and if you use a ten speed shifter it will move ten, makes sense to me. Will have to try this, I want a clutch one!
  • + 2
 If you want the shifting to match up perfectly you can mod the ratio very easily with a 1/4inch square washer. It sandwiches in between the cable and the derailleur. You'll need a slightly longer bolt to accept the thickness of the washer. This gets the shifting near perfect. What Ploutre suggested is close but this will get you the rest of the way there. I'll upload some pics to my profile. I run it on all my bikes now. Big thanks to the man on MTBR who clued me in to this mod.

I forgot to add that the washer has a slot filed into it to accept the cable and keep everything lined up. This is important. The actual thickness to the bottom of the groove is .236". A hair less than 1/4"
  • - 1
 I agree that the new XT stuff leaves something to be desired. The solid black crankset looks like ass and will start showing a nice big shoe wear mark once I break it in. I splurged for the XTR shifters with side-to-side adjustment on the mount and am very happy with them. I do really like the XT rear derailleur mainly because of the clutch. The ZEE and XT derailleur seem redundant but I'll hold any judgement til I try one. I am very happy with all the options us MTBers are getting these days!
  • - 16
 .236" is a hair MORE than a 1/4"

Interesting theory though, might try this whole clutch on 9spd setup
  • + 2
 10 speed shimano DynaSys's actuation ratio (used on the 10 speed Deore, SLX, XT, XTR, Saint and Zee) is virtually identical to the SRAM ESP 1:1 ratio used on their 8/9 speed drivetrains over the past decade (from their original ESP models thru the X5 to X.0 groups), the difference is so minor that you'd need to shift 12 or 13 gears at the spacing of a 10 speed cassette before you'd notice any hesitation in the shifts. This has been known on the mtbr drivetrain forum for nearly a year now.

@t1000 the "2:1" ratio of shimano referred to derailleurs up to 9 speeds on the mtb side and the road derailleurs (all except the 7 & 8 speed DuraAce models) only. When they brought out the 10 speed MTB groups, they called it Dyna-Sys and changed the ratios. The ten-speed mountain shifters/derailleurs as a result are not compatible with their 10-speed road units (though the chains, cassettes, chainring spacing, and front derailleur cages are).
  • + 11
 really? .25 =1/4"
  • - 1
 this is quite interesting. i wanted a quieter setup on my XC bike so I was contemplating on replacing the rear mech on my XC bike that has a 2009 XT rear mech and XT DCL shifter with a something that has a clutch like the newer ones but my rear mech and shifter has 9-speeds and the newer mechs have 10-speed so i thought it was going to be a problem. would i regret using a zee with the setup that i have?
  • + 1
 Is it going to work with a 9spd SLX shifter? I'll be speccing a Zee mech on my DH bike soon and 10spd is overkill for me. Plus, 9spd chains and cassettes are cheaper.
  • + 2
 Just to be super clear the mod I described above works with 10spd mountain Shimano derailleurs and 9spd Sram shifters. Take your pick of the rest of the 9spd drivetrain(chain, cassette, front der., chainrings). You could read for days over on MTBR about compatibility of other combinations.
  • - 3
 Idiot. .25=1/4
  • + 5
 Once more for the learning impaired...

10 speed shimano DYNA SYS rear shifters and derailleurs... = virtually identical ratio to SRAM ESP/1:1 9speed shifters and derailleurs.

9 speed shimano shifters are NOT compatible with any derailleurs except 9 (or lower) speed shimano mtb derailleurs, and all the shimano road derailleurs except for the 7 & 8 speed DuraAce ones (which you're unlikely to encounter anyway).
  • + 1
 Does it matter is you use the DH or FR version of the ZEE rear derailleur with a SRAM 9spd shifter?
  • + 6
 One more major benefit to putting the zee derailleur with a sram 9 speed shifter is you can build a 9 spd cassette with a 11-36. It has the clearance. I won't be replacing my sram x0 shifters any time soon. This makes me very happy. A little over $100 and I can have a clutch shortcage shifter.

now if only I had $100
  • + 3
 no stock on FR ZEE rear mechs, on CRC. Huh, wonder how many people just ordered one?
  • + 4
 It was early, before coffee, so yes math fail. No need to call me an idiot prick
  • + 0
 deeeight, thanks for clearing that up. so im stuck with my current setup then.
  • + 1
 I've got the Zee mech sitting in a bag at home with an x9 shifter. I had a look at the mech and the cable locknut is twisted a bit. It looks like putting a 6mm washer under it will not take it 6mm further from the cable stop, as it will be woving 6mm further out diagonally. Still, I can't wait to give it a try on my new bike.

Has anyone actually got cable pull measurements for a sram 9sp shifter and a zee mech over a 9sp cassette? A lot of what I've read on the internet about this mod seems to say it will get decent shifting, but not perfect.
  • + 1
 I'm getting near perfect shifting with the spacer. Without the spacer the pull is off enough that the shifting is good in some gears but not all. You may see a video below of someone testing some combinations without the spacer. The cursory test in the stand sounds ok but i suspect under load it's going to be off enough to get some skipping in some of the gears. Thats what I've found anyway. Also, without the spacer the window for adjustment to align the gearing is very small at best. Just give the spacer a try. The investment in the mod is minimal and reversible.
  • + 1
 @JWICK....were you able to pick up the spacer at your local hardware store?
  • + 1
 a stack of washers might do it I bet.
  • + 2
 I actually started with a stack of washers to give it a try first. Unfortunatley the washers rotate quite a bit when tightening and make for a finicky setup. The spacer is just a square brass nut. I have a few left over from a ladder rack kit. The brass is easy to work with simple hand files, won't rust and doesn't hurt that it matches the shimano gold accents.
  • + 1
 I just picked up an S-Works stumpy FSR. I have XTR 3x9 but I am interested I. Moving to a 1x9 for enduro racing. Does anyone know if the XTR cranks can convert to a 1x system or do I need new cranks? Would the RaceFace Turbine chain rings work on the XTR crankset? Eventually I would like to move to 1x10
  • + 1
 I think it should feasibly work, I've done it with other cranksets, but to get the spacing and chainline right you may have to gring off the granny tabs.
  • + 1
 Basically use the spacer to your crank to line up the chain ring to the 5th rear cog. no need for anything special.
  • + 1
 cue the Shimano guy hurling in bucket....................................and..........................................go
  • + 3
 @Steveperry it will definitely work without any problems. You might just need to get some BB spacers of varying thickness to get it spot on, and maybe some washers to fit on your chainring bolts if they are the long ones. You can use a coin, such as a 1 Euro Cent coin, with a 9mm hole if you can't find any in a shop.

As for Shimano guy hurling in a bucket..............................and...................................go

It's not about sex its about trust, and they should be releasing Zee and Saint with 6 or 7 speeds if they want us to trust them again. Until that day, there will be more and more people jumping on the shimano clutch mech/sram 9sp shifter bandwagon.
  • + 4
 how bout a 9 speed clutch?
  • + 1
 ...that's not complicated enough. I'd rather spend hours ransacking a 10 speed item. too easy man.
  • + 1
 It's a long shot man but do you know if the ratio differences would be greater of less noticeable on a scram 8sp set up? Cheers.
[Reply]
  • + 7
 In my opinion, clutch mechs have put gear-box bikes back another 10 years at least before they offer any advantage. They are a massive tick against a previously unsolved problem. And making them at such a decent price only helps them. Its also actually the only real advantage to upgrading from 9 to 10 speed
  • + 1
 Sorry meant to give you +props!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 I just ordered Zee mech few minutes ago and then saw this article and was hoping they wouldn't find anything wrong with it :-)

Just one question. Do you guys think XT shifter will perform better then Zee one? Zee has the appeal of same groupset, but if XT would be much better, I would go with that one
  • + 3
 I ran a Zee shifter for a while before i crashed and broke it. I then replaced it with an XT shifter and I like the XT shifter wayyyy better. The Zee shifter feels really cheap and plasticy and is a large chunk on your bars. The longer thumb lever is nice but I haven't missed it since I went back to the XT shifter. Plus I like the metal XT lever better. I think everything just feels a lot smoother with it. Worth the extra money for sure.
  • + 3
 Yeah, getting a nicer pair of shifters makes such an improvement. I had the old XT ones, 2 generations old now, then upgraded to XTR and wow the difference was ridiculous! So more expensive shifters makes a difference for sure.
  • + 2
 Get the xt. That's how I had mine set up with my zee. Zee shifter is massive and hideous.
  • + 1
 The XT shifter is quite difficult to find and buy if you want only right one. Specially the i-spec version which would I prefer because I'm running XT brakes
  • + 2
 I have a Zee derailleur, and bought the Saint shifter for it - longer lever, double row of bearings etc. It's an amazing combo, I've never had such good shifting before. ever.
  • + 1
 Saint shifter is what I run. Better release, nicer feel. When shopping for da interwebz deals, price difference is not big. RH only, obviously.
  • + 2
 A big difference besides quality, between Zee and XT shifters, is the ability to do double upshifts. Zee can only do 1 at a time like SLX. With 10 cogs, you may sometimes find yourself needing to get into a bigger gear in quite a hurry.
  • + 2
 Thanks all of you for you opinions. I actually manage to get only the right XT i-spec shifter in my local bikeshop. Its almost double the price of Zee, but I think it will be worthy.
  • + 1
 Order it online. Difference is like $10 where I shop (and Saint was cheaper than Zee in a local store).
  • + 1
 The latest 10sp XT shifter does upshift nice, I'd say better than 10sp X0 on my other bike. Downshifting is a bit whatever. Quality of finish is shit even with Ispec, almost all shifter is made out of plastic and you can see internals from the bottom - that is a WTF. It is way worse what I am used to after 10 years on XTR M950 and XT 850. If you ask me, sith shifters and rear mech go either SLX or XTR
  • + 1
 Just a quick thought, does this mean I could use my supply of old 9spd SRAM mechs with a 10spd shimano shifter for ghetto 10spd
  • + 1
 You can use SRAM 9sp shifter and 9sp cassete with 10sp Shimano deraillers (it works as is, but to be perfect you need a spacer at cable attachment). So you can use nice clutch Zee on 9sp cassette. Other way around does not work as well as 9sp derailleur is not as friendly to 10sp chain. I have heard too much float on upper pulley for good shifting. Do not know that for a fact - did not try.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Has anyone noticed that the X-9 Type 2 is at the same price point and hasn't gotten nearly as much media coverage?! Who else wants to hear more about SRAM other than just their new XX1?! you know the drivetrain that no normal person can afford... Razz
[Reply]
  • + 3
 My clutch failed after just 2 months. Madison weren't prepared to replace unless it was sent back for inspection, even though it was found by dealer that the tensioning bolt inside the derailleur had undone. (remove the cover with the ZEE logo on and get inside) We got it running and it lasted about another 6 rides before same problem. I have ended up making the adjustment again which is simple enough and seems to work. Having looked at the inner workings can't help but feel this problem will happen on all Zee derailleurs. I ride pretty hard on the bike on some rough and rocky descents and I can only put it down to vibration. Other than that the initial set up with a Saint 10 speed shifter was superb. Also there is a flimsy seal under the plastic cover obviously to prevent dirt ingress, not doing its' job. I don't jetwash bike but was glad I could see problem as I have since packed a bit of grease on that seal. I would recommend anyone with a ZEE (even if it is working) if they want to look after it and potentially stop any crap getting in the workings bit to occasionally put a thin layer of grease around the joint of that plastic casing. Would like to hear if anyone else had problems or if it is worth me paying the extra for a SAINT when ZEE eventually goes back on warranty claim.
  • + 7
 i take it that the adjuster is threaded, this may be a silly thing to ask but can you not put lock tight on it?
  • + 1
 Yes that is what I was planning next. (although I expect that will invalidate my warranty) I expect the small bolt will come out although fiddly, although it might be possible to dab some on it with a small pick or someting. From the set up I've seen that is the only solution to keep that bolt from working loose.
  • + 1
 cant see how it would invalidate warrenty, just dip a needle in the locktight, tiny drip on to the start of the threads (as long as bolt does not pass through other side of threads) then wind in, that way its very discreet and as its such a small amount you can remove it Wink . Hopefully it sorts it out and you dont need to cleaim for it, good luck
  • + 4
 vinylmatt88, not to get into too deep of a technical discussion here, there's a lot in the post. Here's our best shot!

Saint and Zee share mechanism, so there is no ‘upgrade’ where this bit is concerned. Only XTR has a different structure, the tension bolt mech is basically the same. We think it might be a specific issue with his mech.

The bolt comes from the factory with two anti-loosening features, the screw is coated with thread lock and the black plastic block is threaded for an interference fit (nyloc concept), so it requires force to unthread the bolt from the block, vibration is not enough. So re-applying thread locker is approved and suggested. It is possible, but unlikely that his RD was somehow delivered without the plastic block or that it fell off the first time. But when the screw falls out, the block should remain attached, since the bolt can be removed from the cam mechanism without the block even half unthreaded

The effectiveness of both anti-loosening features is tied to the quality of the femle threads in the cam unit. It is possible to damage these threads if the mechanism is over-tightened. We have seen riders choose to “crank it up” because they want maximum stability, but the mechanism is not designed for excessive torque. This is the most likely issue with his RD – damaged threads. Adjusting the tension while the cam is engaged could also lead to damaged threads. The assumption is that tension is ‘off’ during adjustment. The service instructions explain that, but good to put out here.

NOTE: Short cage RDs have a different torque setting requirement than Trail RDs, if following the XC adjustment you will, in fact, over tension this bolt so this is the key message.

Here's a link with some of the images and docs we described. shimano.box.com/s/6l81eu0gp7xi5xjf7w8m
give our customer service guys a shout our shoot us a message if you have more questions!
  • + 2
 errr well there goes my discreet locktight theory haha Smile
  • + 1
 I could have sworn mine did not have the "switch stabilizer"tool. I looked for it specifically when I removed the cover. Does it only come with the Saint?
  • + 1
 Thanks Shimano. Don't quite understand all of it but good of you to put the post up. I'll take a look at the docs.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 I have a ZEE rear mech and shifter fitted to my Spesh Enduro.While i have only really done XC since i got it in December and have only done 280km it has never missed a beat...Love it! The Zee handles a 10spd with ease and is crisp and very tough....It has no right to be still working after some of the stuff it has hit.
  • + 3
 ZEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE !!!!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 So true about the toughness of this mech - mine got a few good whacks racing at SuperEnduro in Finale - I saw LOADS of torn off mechs that weekend. Mine has scuffs and gouges, but still shifts perfectly. And in an Enduro race, getting to the end, even if not 100% perfect, is absolutely critical.

I wouldn't even consider running anything else now. Got Zee on both my Enduro bikes and am about to fit it on my 1x10 hardtail as well. Huge kudos to Shimano for making a groupset that just works. No stupid materials or crazy made up anacronyms, no flash machining for the sake of it, just functional, reliable and bombproof kit that p*sses on the competition.
[Reply]
  • + 7
 I have it, I forget it, I love that.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 As nice as the shimano stuff shifts, I'm just not a personal fan of their shifter ergonomics. SRAM's thumb-thumb system just feels better to me, so as long as they keep that, I'll be running SRAM stuff for the most part. That said, the shimano stuff does have slightly smoother shifting, whereas SRAM feels more mechanical. Like...comparing Shimano to F1-style paddle shifters and SRAM to a non-sequential gearbox. In terms of feel. Zee is a silly name, but looks like good stuff! Big Grin
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I have one of these too and it works great with my 1x6 set up on my tr250. Some people might not know this, but you can adjust the tension of the shadow+. Remove the 3 small allen head screws for the cap and you get access to the tensioner screw. I found the stock tension to be a little weak, so just a sight turn of the screw and it was perfect. Oh and CRC has them for 68$ CAD plus 10$ shipping. You can't go wrong.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I will ask this again and again:
When will internal gearing become standard?????
Over 100 year old technology on modern bikes. Why???
I´ve been riding internal geared bikes since 2006 and I will never ever go back to "ordinary" gears.
Even if it´s heavier.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I used to run saint 1x9 and look to upgrade to 1x10 and tried the zee. I've been using it for about a season now and it works great for me! I get some chain drop/gear dropr (don't know the right term) sometimes when I use the rapid shifting, but overall it is a great!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Looks nice- haven't used Shimano in YEARS mostly because their shifting was so light. I couldn't feel it. But I hear the new stuff has a more defined shift click feel to it while still being smooth. A couple of friends love it. This mech looks tight too- SHORT CAGE rules.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 For all those who want to test 8 and 9 speed compatibility between Shimano Dyna Sys ( 10 speed mtb stuff ) and SRAM ESP ( 8 and 9 speed SRAM stuff )

www.pinkbike.com/video/295847
www.pinkbike.com/video/295848 - as I am writing it, this one is still beig converted, should be available shortly )
[Reply]
  • + 1
 zee is good. But i've bought saint 2.5 years ago and still riding it Smile
It has loooooots of dents, better say scars. Once my chain broken and hit into the spokes....and its still working) SO if zee will be as reliable as saint it wont be needed to buy a new one after one-year-riding. After killing X0 and a few x9: saint became a treasure!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Concerning that non-standard mounting for Hone and the first generation Saint, does anyone have any experience with them and can comment? What was good about that style? I know they were mounted via the special axle which required the special hub.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i bought one before this came out. i read this, was totally stoked on the new zee. went for a ride that very same day, then bent the zee in the least likely place. now i have to wait a week to ride my bike untill i get a new mech.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 A word of warning from my experiences with the Saint mech: If you have a lot of chain growth in your suspension design (i.e high single pivots like an Orange and such) You will need to run the Freeride version (or the adapter in my case) even to have it work on a close ratio cassette. There isn't much tension on the cage until it gets swung forward quite a bit (unlike the old Sram mechs that have mad amounts of tension) so even if you turn the B screw in all the way you still won't get sufficient tension in the 11 or 12 tooth cog because you have to run your chain so long. My bike has quite a bit of growth and in order to both keep tension on the chain in the small cog and run the close ratio set up, I have to limit my biggest cog to a 19t...fortunately I usually run a 12-19 six speed set up. I would have to run it in the freeride mode just to get it to work on the max 25t on my Ultegra cassette... just a heads up.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 well a rock flicked up at the bottom of a gnarly rocky dh in the peak district near hope this mornin an smashed my 2 months old zee rear mech clean off my bike an bent my mech hanger too.not happy.about the size of a brick the rock was so im gutted.at least these zee mechs are cheap enough to replace! coz i cant find the bits to try an fix it myselfs it shattered loool
[Reply]
  • + 1
 am i correct in thinking that when you shift up a gear it is just pushing against the clutch? which just works by friction against the pivot? so when you shift up, it just has a heavy feel to it because it is pushing against that friction? that was a little redundant but i think it got my point across ok. if anyone knows whether i am right or wrong in thinking this please inform me so. thanks!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 been on one ride on my freeride marin wolf ridge with zee 36t and xt 11-36 cassette and matching zee shifter in crazy snow conditions but i cant fault it one bit...and everythin paid for and fitted for less than 200 quid...happy days
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Since shadow+ (clutch) was not going to be released in affordable 9 speed sets like SLX, I went for ZEE. 10 cogs has not been problem nor has it brought any improvement over 9 speed SLX, though I do like the short cage on 32 - 32/11 config on my Reign X. Derailleur & shifter have been working nice and smooth past 4 months. The "release" lever is actually really useful everytime you wanna play with drivetrain or remove your rearwheel. Seems like a sturdy piece of machinery too and I expect it to last quite a bit of time. Will recommend ZEE to anyone with single-ring crankset.
  • + 1
 The new SLX rear mech on my 2013 Reign 1 has the clutch, and it works a treat Smile Just moved from 9 to 10 speed for the first time and agree shifting is not that different, but the clutch? oh so quiet!
  • + 1
 What does a "clutch" shifter mean? I'm lost
  • + 2
 means the jockey wheels on your mech don't bounce around as much which is why chain slap is caused the clutch system puts extra tension on the jockey wheels stopping them bouncing around and eliminating or reducing chain slap and creating a quieter ride you will notice the difference allot
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Not to start a SRAM vs Shimano war, but I'm looking to put a clutch derailleur on it. Anyone ridden both the SRAMs (X9/XO) or the Shimano (Saint/ZEE) and can give an honest comparison of the two clutch systems. Ive ridden the non clutch versions of all these but was curious about the actual performance of each brands "clutch" since they are designed quite differently.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Bought one to put on my TR250 to replace the too valuable and vulnerable XTR carbon which it came with. Mated with a Saint shifter the performance is faultless. Short cage DH version is working fine (just) with an 12-30 10 speed road cassette and a fine tuned chain length. Clutch system eliminates all the slap.
Works perfectly and cheap enough (almost) to be disposable - Recommended.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Can shimano 10 speed rear mech's still be used with shimano 10 speed road cassettes?
  • + 1
 Technically they are not. None of Shimano's mtn stuff is compatible with road stuff however it will work fine I run the M820 Saint with an Ultegra cassette and Ultegra chain and have no issues.
  • + 1
 should work fine but you should get the close ratio one
  • + 2
 yes. yes and sram 10 speed cassetts
  • + 1
 I'm running Zee rear mech and Zee shifter with Shimano HG94 chain with Shimano Tigra 11-25T all brand new. everything seems to be ok apart when i took my bike in snow on last weekend the chain starts skipping on low gears 8-9-10. when i clean cassette and chain from snow everything was back to normal
  • + 1
 had it on a test bike with Ultegra 10-speed cassette, worked without trouble. I think, it was the FR specific one, not sure though.
  • + 1
 Yes - as said above all Shimano 10sp cassettes road or MTB (and Sram for that matter) are the same spacing.
As an extra bit of info - 10sp Shimano road shifters have a different pull ratio so would not work with a 10sp Shimano rear MTB mech and same goes for Shimano 10sp MTB shifters won't work with Shimano 10sp road mechs. Shame really as all the 9sp stuff used to be interchangeable between road and MTB.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 why did you compare zee to xt?
they are not on the same technological level. xt has both paralelogram pieces made of aluminium, zee has just one and the other one is stamped steel.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Have been running the xt shofter+zee mech combo round town for a while and agree it's pretty sweet.... gonna take alot of convincing to peel me away from this combo. Very nice.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Been running a Zee derailleur for a while. Works great but the clutch mech is very bulky and prone to impact. Already wrecked 3 of them. Sram works just as well but much less bulky.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I love my zee setup on the DH rig, its super smooth and amazingly quiet. I have it paired with the zee shifter as well. would like to try the brakes out for sure, but now you can find the older xt's for almost nothing.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 THANK YOU SHIMANO I LOVE MY ZEE SHIFTER AND MECH Big Grin Just in time for my first true dh build!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Glad to see the xt soft shifting is eliminated on this new derailleur. That problem was why I went with X9. It looks like Shimano has finally come up with a good challange for SRAM's X9.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 To me SLX was the best thing Shimano has ever released, pretty much every songle component of that group has no match when you think of its incredible mixture of: quality/reliability/price/weight/aesthetics. Zee seems to be great as well on that front. I bought a nearly complete XT grouppo and just can't express my disappointment - avoid every single component.

Shimano deserves a big, big credit for Zee and SLX. SRAM might be beating it by a hair on higher groups X0 vs XTR but they have a long way to go with X7 and some parts of X9.
  • + 1
 whats wrong with the XT?
  • - 4
 I meant the latest XT group. The quality of finish looks really cheap, if there was no XT on it, I would think it is at best Deore. SLX looks way more like a quality product. Then there are issues like crank arms are heavier than SLX. Shifters are almost all from plastic and you can see the internal mechanism from the bottom - Saving on seals or it is better so the water can pour out? Then unlike previous versions, the bar mount lacks possibility to mount them inward or outward. Brakes? That shiny chrome-like plastic reservoir cover, caliper looking like you mounted it wrong way and lever size - good luck to people with big hands. Only good thing is that they are easier to bleed. Stock Organic pads are crap in wet just they've always been.

To sum up, I see not a single quality or functionality positive over SLX (but a tiny little weight saving), no improvement over previous version (save clutch) actualy a step backwards comparing to XT vomponents I owned in the past.

I have the 2012 SLX with shadow+ and it is both solid and great looking, I dare to say it looks better than XTR.
  • - 1
 SLX is considerably cheaper than XT
  • + 1
 Interesting opinion Waki. To me SLX is completely worthless for an enthusiast that has actually ridden good components. Fit and finish looks good, however it's some of the slowest shifting I've seen. Even with Dri-slide on the cables and a perfect tune, it's awful. So bad in fact that my girlfriend had it on her bike, and I switched it over to X9 and she couldn't be happier. New XT is much faster and much more accurate shifting. The new XT brakes? Incredible power and even some modulation to boot. XT to XTR may not be that much different, however SLX is much different in a negative way in comparison to XT. SLX brakes are not bad for some basic XC which it was intended for though.
  • - 2
 Dave I tried every drive train but X5, XX and XX1 as a base for my opinion. Nothing beats 9sp X0-X0 in my opinion, then XTR 950. What went a bit under radar is that when clitch is engaged, shofting gets really sluggish both on Shimano and on Sram.
  • + 2
 Waki, had to prop you on that one... well because someone most likely neg. propped you because you are Waki. Haha. I couldn't agree more, it doesn't get any better than 9 speed XO-XO in my opinion. I'm running Saint cranks and brakes on my DH bike and 9 speed XO-XO (XO from 2008 ), and it shifts amazing never had any troubles. I did ride a DH rig with new Saint der. and shifter at Windrock, TN race#1 this last weekend and it felt nice, but not as good as my old XO. Close, but no cigar. I hear that Saint shifts better in the rough, but I'm not shifting there anyways.
  • + 2
 A thing is, my wife hates hard shifts like X0-X0, she likes it to be soft, barely felt, like Shimano from few years back. Same with freehub bodies, Shimano and no else, then brakes - they better make no sound... WOMEN!
  • + 1
 I don't notice any sluggishness on my RD-M786 when clutch is engaged. Lever actuation at the shifter is a little heavier, but I prefer this as it feels more positive. Foot feedback re: derailleur action also prefers the clutch on, everything feels just flawless.
  • + 1
 I notice on mine, there is a clear difference between clutch on/off, my friend says the same about his SRAM X9 type2. Quite honestly I'd like Shimano to go back to spring tensions from 2000, like XTR 950. Clutch is nice, but cheesy feel stays with softish spring on paraleogram. I love SRAM for hard springs (unless I have to take the wheel off)
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I love the Zee components but am kind if annoyed how they pressure you into buying 10 speed in order to take advantage of the clutch chain stabilizer. I suppose that is business though!
  • + 2
 Read Ploutre's thread on this page about 9 spd shifter/10 speed derailleur compatibility. Might be a money-saving option for you
[Reply]
  • + 1
 why would you compare a xt long cage and short cage zee for weight comparison purposes? compare it with the sram same cage length equivalent or at least the same cage length xt one!
As for the clutch, no thanks
  • + 1
 Why no clutch dear?
  • + 3
 because it doesnt make a difference to the noise of his bike because he's going too slow for it to make any noise
[Reply]
  • + 0
 So is it just me that had a problem getting the right chain length running a 36-11T cassette? The derailler is stretched to the max in the 36T cog and barely any chain tension in the 11T cog. You have to get chain length just right, there is no margin for error. I personally think the cage is too short on the FR (wide range) version.
  • + 0
 I agree - snapped mine in half (cage and mech body) up a muddy dartmoor climb running a 1 x 10, 11 to 36 set up. switched to a medium xt which seems loads better - stick to max 34 tooth on freeride zee and reckon it'll be fine,. go to 36 and ur asking for trouble when its sloppy trail time (i.e. 9 months of year in UK!!Wink
  • + 1
 I don't confirm this at all. I've just installed the 10 speed FR version on 11-36 and the chain length was easy to get right on both ends. If I want I can even remove 2 more links (1 pair) from the chain and get a bit more tension on the 11 and max tension on the 36. Note though that you need to take into account chain growth when the suspension is into its travel (that is for frame designs which do have chain growth).
[Reply]
  • + 1
 How did they get all those gouges in it? I've had my rear mech for almost a year, fall every once in a while and have never had any damage like that...Hmmm :?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Mine tends to bang a lot on the frame. Is this normal? I would much rather a silent ride instead of the super loud banging against the frame.
  • + 1
 I had this problem to start, but sorted it with a bit of extra back tension,
  • + 1
 Adjust the clutch. I believe there is a Tech Tuesday about how to do this.
  • + 1
 You can adjust the tension by removing the 3 allen screws from the cap, and gaining access to the tensioner.
  • + 1
 Try adjusting the B-tension screw.
[Reply]
  • - 1
 I'm sorry these mechs are shit i went through 2 in 2 days in whistler if you ride a downhill bike don't bother you might as well through your money in the street. And the new 10 speed sram are no better hope they sort out the cable problems i was going through a cable every day.
  • + 3
 Man, what are people doing to break rear mechs?! I've never broken one, and I ride some of the gnarliest trails around.
  • + 1
 Same experience. Clutch mechanism is very bulky.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 If I showed u a photo of mine after the first run at hamsterley, took a little knock and the two pivot pins snapped stay away save more and buy a saint
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I also picked up Zee brakes and Rear Mech this season, they work perfectly well. Solid products, Still wondering why we dont have lightweight reliable IG hubs for MTB yet??
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I can only hope that it works better than the brakes. I've installed two sets on bikes and they feel like mush right out of the box.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 why are they all of a sudden called mech's instead of derailleurs?
  • + 2
 Easier to spell?
  • + 1
 apparently its a Euro thing...
  • + 2
 We drink a lot of beer over here so derailleur is a mouth full and a waste of good drinking time, mech is just easier as mechanism is also a waste of valuable drinking time and their is no alternative like 'derail' so..... Cheers me old fruits! Wink
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Seems to work really well on a 1x10 ( 11-36 casette) but do you think the cage is to short for a 2x10 (11-36 casette) ?????
[Reply]
  • + 2
 YEAH SHIMANO FIGHT BACK BABY WOOO
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Uuups...shimano did it again...affortable parts you can actually use for quite a while ! Thanks shimano !
[Reply]
  • + 1
 sounds like it has clutch issues.Still worth it. my x9 doesn't have a clutch and works fine.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Nice- I got the ZEE brakes they are sooooo good. Can't wait to get the other components!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Am I the only one that thinks the name of this groupo is weak? I think shimano did everything right on all of it except the name. WTF is ZEE
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'm running the short cage version on my Niner EMD XC bike with 1x10 setup and 11-36 cassette. That is really a great mech!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 did some already used a Zee rear mech (fr) with a sram xx 11-36 casette?
works it properly?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Its only $25 cheaper than shadow plus.
So for enduro/trail bike..shadow or zee?
2x10
[Reply]
  • + 1
 10 speed only? so i cant put it on my 9 speed saint group? wow shimano..wow...
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Running a Zee rear mech on a 2x10 no problems.
  • + 1
 Could you please describe you setup a little bit more? What cassette, chain rings up front etc.?
I´m very interested, because I´m not sure if I stay with 1x10 and if there is possibility to run 2x10 with Zee mech, that would be awesome.
  • + 1
 Running 32x24 on the front and 11-36 cassette on the rear. I don't get the last 4 gears (11-12-14-16) when in granny gear.
Well, i do but the mech dosen't add any chain tension as its fully back, and TBH I dont use those gears. On a full sus with 190mm rear travel.
  • + 1
 what u think a zee with 11-36 casette and 2x10 24x36 plateau
  • + 1
 It would work, but you only get a couple of gears when your on the 24t.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i use the zee with deore xt brakes and shifters, never let me down
[Reply]
  • + 1
 EVERYONE BUY IT, IT IS THE GREATEST DER EVER!!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Saint light? Or saint, heavy??
  • - 4
 bit heavier
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Can you use the fr version with 2x10 or is it 1x specific?
  • + 2
 the FR version has 25 capacity. Soo 1x10 (with a MTB cassette) or 2x10 (with a road cassette and two larger chain-rings upfront), but for 2x10 the SLX medium would be the best go. Consider ZEE a SLX shot version, same internals, same price.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I was hoping to see something on how well the clutch worked.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Im running a zee shifter and derailer on my dhr and love it! Great value
[Reply]
  • - 1
 my clutch's already broken.... what will i do???
  • + 10
 Replace it.
  • - 1
 How did that happen?
  • + 1
 i really dont know dude. it just dont work anymore. i bought it last September. damn, can these be fixed??
  • + 1
 Same happened to one of my mates, think he had to send it back
  • + 1
 Shimano's clutch can be dialed in (unlike SRAM) for how much resistance you get. And it can be replaced. Just try to tighten it up.
  • + 1
 just open the clutch, and get the tension right
[Reply]
  • - 1
 hope i can fix my zee mech.
[Reply]
  • - 3
 here's my spare have it....
  • + 2
 Looks great, next time I smash my rear mech, I will get the Zee :-)
[Reply]
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