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Best Value of the Year Winner


Which product gave riders the most mileage for their money in 2016? It wasn’t easy making that decision. We narrowed the nominees down to two revolutionary apps and Shimano's XT, single-ring drivetrain.

So, which product took home the prize?







It’s hard to argue with anything that won’t cost you one thin dime and we’ve got two smartphone apps here that are not only free, but also truly groundbreaking. So, why are we picking XT M8000 1x drivetrain as the best value of 2016? Because it performs as well as groups costing twice as much and it takes a hell of a beating.

The original list price on this XT group was $424.94, but you can easily snatch it up for a bit more than $300 these days. Let’s put that in context - the whole damn group--shifter, rear derailleur, cassette, crankset, bottom bracket, chainring and chain - costs less than a single, ultra-swank crankset. Hell, there are cassettes that cost that much…

The only real reason to spend more on a drivetrain these days is to get maximum range. While XT is no shrinking violet on that score (it’s now also offered with an 11-46 tooth cassette option), SRAM’s 10-50 tooth Eagle groups are the undisputed kings of gear range.

But when it comes to bang for your buck? You can’t beat XT. It’s a hell of a value and that’s why it’s our winner for 2016. Every editor on staff has ridden the piss out of this stuff and we are, to a rider, impressed by what Osaka achieved with this group. Shimano was years late to the one-by game, but they delivered big with this group.
Shimano XT M8000 review


Pinkbike’s Take:
bigquotesXT is showing up on loads of bikes these days and there's a good reason for that: it is easy on the wallet, sure, but it is also an absolute workhorse, sticker price be damned. Dollar for dollar, you can't do better. - Vernon Felton



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137 Comments

  • 279 5
 Justice has been done
  • 75 13
 Slow clap
  • 51 0
 @WAKIdesigns: pinkbike might be in SRAM's naughty list this christmas however.....
  • 15 0
 I'm pretty much just happy if whatever shifters and derailleur I'm running are indexed properly
  • 14 1
 Truf... not as blingy or flashy as xtr or eagle but is solid and gets the job done with extra cash for a better components elsewhere. I tried to rationalize spec'ing out a new build I'm working on with eagle but the extra ~$700 vs an xt/xtr combo is ridiculous on my future trail bike. For the "average" trail rider xt is the standard.
  • 13 1
 @monstertiki: XT is the standard but you should considere the SLX, it is more cheaper and does not wheight a lot
  • 5 14
flag sellcrackcocainetofundhobby (Dec 5, 2016 at 15:38) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: quiet cough at the back of room as tumble weed drifts by
  • 23 1
 SRAM needs to get their heads out of their butts with their cassette prices.
  • 11 11
 @jfyfe: you should checkout how they are made before saying theyre too expensive. SRAM 11-speed cassettes are milled from 1 block of steel. So much work involved. Theyre damn expensive yes but there's a reason
  • 3 0
 Agreed, with the caveat that the absolute best value was riding the bike this year that I bought last year.
  • 9 1
 I think the Giant Contact dropper post should have won "The Best Value" award
  • 6 0
 @dwojo: after jfjye watches video, edit: SRAM should get their heads out of their butts when it comes to manufacturing practices.
  • 8 2
 Shimano really is the best. Reliable and you truly do get your money's worth. I've seen so many top of the line Sram components fail, one friend replaced his broken sram derailleur with a budget shimano unit from an old bike hanging in his garage and the budget shimano derailleur is still serving him after 3 years of hard riding.
  • 6 0
 @dwojo: And that helps me ride how?
  • 2 0
 @yerbikesux: How coincidental is it that I'm listening to that very track right now? Hadn't listened to "... And Justice" for a long time. It was eery reading that a few seconds after it played.
  • 3 0
 @jfyfe:
Aftermarket cassettes will kick their as, don't worry... Wink
  • 2 0
 @yerbikesux: I see what you did there.
  • 65 1
 Holy crap! An award on PB that finally totally agree with!
  • 5 0
 Yep XT earns the praise, kudos. Now if this was, say- an untested incredibly high priced carbon frame that was ugly enough to knock a dog off a meat wagon- you might understand if not everyone jumped on the dutch-rudder train.
  • 7 0
 Damn was really pushing for stickers... Only a couple of dollars a pack for hours of fun!
  • 31 1
 XT has been all killer no filler for years. No big surprises here apart from the fact, that at over 30 years old, it's still the groupo that all others are judged by. That, itself, is pretty incredible.
  • 3 7
flag leog (Dec 6, 2016 at 1:29) (Below Threshold)
 Current generation XT RD IS really bad quality in terms of taking a beating.
Destroyed one with a small tree branch, broke in the cage, and also broke in the main body which is guess what plastic!
Picked up an SLX 11speed and the difference is chaotic in terms of durability. Yes it's heavier (50grams) but it's worth it.
The main body is metal instead of plastic, and the cage is a lot stronger due to different metals probably.

The XT cage can be bent with slight pressure where the SLX needs 10times the force to bent it.

If you are not a totaly weight weenie and need a piece of mind go SLX RD.
  • 4 0
 @leog: I bent a Saint RD 'just riding along' in the summer. I guess I was unlucky but I believe XT, plastic, metal or whatever material they use is still that point where race tech quality marries perfectly with durability and consumer reach.

I guess you were unlucky too, but XT and SLX are, IMO, miles apart. In the same vein if you're that concerned then why bother with SLX at all, just go with Deore. But I guess we all have a level to which we feel it will affect both ours and the bikes performance.

If we admit it, 99% of us on this forum don't need anything more than Deore but we still go and buy XT, XTR, Saint etc. because above all the gloss and marketing, when you use it you realise it just works.

I can honestly say I've never had a better pairing than that of an XT shifter and a Saint RD. And so I replaced my Saint mech with another. Yeah, I run the risk of the same thing happening again, hurting my wallet, but that's the price I'm willing to pay as the last time I used a Zee mech it just didn't 'feel' right.
  • 28 4
 Can anybody on here here honestly say they have felt performance benefits from using a group set higher than XT or X1?
I have a GX/NX mix on my bike and sure the lever is a little plastic-ey but it shifts flawlessly.
  • 10 0
 In the past, yes. But now, I'm pretty pleased with the XT / Saint combo I'm running. Shifts really well.
  • 4 1
 Depends on the parts. XT vs XTR FDs have a big tangible difference, as do shifters. RDS and casette the difference is in weight. My GX shifter also feels like crap compared to my x1. X1, x01 and xx1 feel super similar
  • 19 6
 XT shifter and SLX rear mech. As soon as pulleys get worn out, replace with XT pulleys. I have XTR and quality is ridiculously low. The plastic clutch lever is a joke. Then the prices of X01 and XX1 rear mechs are an even bigger joke... not to mention the biggest joke of them all, that is the price of Eagle chains.
  • 12 2
 It really depends on what level you're riding at. Your average rider, and most avid or experienced riders will feel little performance difference between low-mid, mid, and high-mid groupset levels, provided they're adjusted well. If you move up 2 steps, yes, the difference is noticable. But going NX->GX or, say SLX -> XT, less so. But here's where stuff matters. Quality durability. Not only do higher end components work better, but (there are exceptions of course, like with ultra-boutique mega-light stupid, but beautiful parts) they tend to retain that quality of working better for longer amounts of time.

For me personally, I've ridden bikes with parts all over the map, and when stuff is adjusted well, it all works nicely, but when you own the bike and ride it day after day, the differences really do become apparent, primarily in shifters, which really are the heart of your drivetrain because they control everything. NX is fine, and it works, but if you ride it compared with X1 or X01 there is a distinct feeling of "it doesn't work as well as it could be". So if you're someone who is used to high tier stuff, and you drop down to low-mid tier stuff, the difference is gigantic and all the little quirks become more apparent to you as a rider.

But in all honesty, for dependable, workhorse compoments that will do everything you want day in and day out and not complain, mid -> mid-high level is where you want to aim. XT/SLX, X1 or X1/GX. Putting it all back into perspective, all you really "need" to ride your bike is an SS setup, tires, and no suspension. EVERYTHING else is just a bonus.
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: +1 on that xtr clutch lever. I had my clutch rebuilt 4x in one year and still dropped chains and chewed up my pretty little chainstay. I'm back on SRAM even though I'd prefer to be on Shimano with a tucked in (shadow) RD. But my sram setup shifts flawlessly, never drops chains, and the roller bearing clutch is so much better than shimano's friction clutch. Shifting is so much lighter and I would assume less drag as you pedal. Definitely less drag when you spin the pedals backwards while off the bike.
  • 8 1
 GX/NX feels no where near X1,
  • 3 0
 I mean I run a lot of saint or zee level stuff because i like not having a shred of doubt over reliability. Still run an xt derailleur.
  • 7 0
 Yeah i agree. On a trail bike thats gonna be given a hard time its the ultimate group cost to performance. XTR is very nice but i honestly think its for xc race. The weight saving is marginal (not sure exactly ) and the performance very similar. When your counting grams for a race performance advantage then yeah go for the best there is but for me XT is awsome. Having said that ive got m8000 xt group and grabbed a xtr m9000 shifter from a mate for cheap and it definitely shifted better! On a side note on my xc carbon hardtail i have full xtr and find it shifts so much smoother without the clutch on with a tiny one up chainguide for chain drop. Clutch is good but it definitely affects shifting quality. Horses for courses i guess.
  • 2 0
 When I bought my DH bike back in last february, it came with an x5 shifter and x7 derailleur, all in 9 spd. I was baffled by how well that worked for some pretty entry level shifter/derailleur !

That said I went from an X01 setup on the trail bike to a XT 11spd setup (well just derailleur/shifter, I kept the SRAM cassette) and it's pretty good.
  • 9 0
 I have zee shifter and derailleurs on all three bikes their bullet proof and cost effective
  • 3 2
 @Spykr: False
  • 5 2
 Better shifting doesn't make you a faster rider. Good enough is the target, and SLX/XT hits the bullseye.

Nice suspension and light/strong wheels is where the money saved can be spent.
  • 3 0
 @thoe: i have had issues with zee derailleurs in the past with an 11-36 spread on a full suspension bike. but you can mod around it.
  • 2 0
 @slowrider73: not only shift quality but suspension too.
Disconnect your shock and then cycle the suspension with and without the clutch on.
  • 10 9
 The most important but with every single bike component is setup. If Slx/Zee or X1 gears don't shift precisely then it is 100% riders fault. Some kooks use the argument that XX1 and XTR require less readjustment - really? So you don't even want to bother to turn the barrell at the shifter to readjust the tension of a stretched cable? Go fk yourself you twat seeking excuses to purchase affirmation of your life choices.
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: This! I have for years stuck by the adage that middle-class gear and a little more maintenance at home will more than make up the difference of more expensive gear. Can't say how many buddies bitch about shift performance and precision with frayed out 3 year old cables.
  • 2 0
 Yes, the XT on my full sus is incredible, but whenever I get on that after riding my Stanton with XTR the XT just feels sluggish in comparison... Then I get to work and start indexing a bike with the new SLX and can really feel the difference. It's the same with the brakes, XTR took a while to bed in and to begin with the XT ones felt so much nicer, now XTR are all bedded in it's light and day between the two. Sadly there are parts where they skimp out, like the plastic clutch lever, for that price it really should be better. But performance-wise I can feel the difference for sure. Also, for benchmarking, they're both fully enclosed cables from shifter to mech, both using the same jagwire inner an outer.
  • 5 0
 @The-Sober-Fox: haven't tried the 11sp XT but 10sp XT is totally on par with my 11sp XTR. Also, your XTR just cannot be quicker.

Having said that my favorite shifter/der combo is 10sp X0/X9 type 2. The best shifter rear mech feel of all times, in my books, goes to 9sp X0 sfiter/der combo. That thing was crispy and brutal. Kling klang klong! Loved it!
  • 1 0
 @DMal: but it makes you a better racer. Races are decided by .10 of a second or less.
  • 3 0
 @MX298: yes it matters indeed. As long as you are in the position to win or lose by a tenth of a second... until then, get your mind off the gear and practice & spin.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: when the pulleys are worn replace with $2.00 aliexpress jockey wheels - anodised in any colour you want and have sealed bearings
  • 2 0
 My previous bike had a 2x10 X9 setup. When the RD died from running into a branch that stuck into the trail, I turned that into 1x10 with a clutch SLX RD. Thought that was just amazing. When shopping for my current bike, I then demoed a bunch of stuff, and all the demo bikes were higher-end builds, so I got to ride 1x11 XX1 and X01, and 2x10 XT and XTR. They all seemed significantly quite a bit nicer than my SLX setup. Ended up with 1x11 X1 on my current bike - and found it to be not too far removed from those. Shimano and SRAM both seem to have their relative strengths and weaknesses, but damn, it's hard to find fault with any of their stuff from SLX/GX level upward, and once you get to XT/X1, holy shit, are they ever so refined.

And if you ever want to get whiplash, think about how crappy drivetrains were only about a decade ago in comparison to what we have now. I'm sure there'll be a bunch of gearbox agitators on this thread - but the steady evolution and refinement of the standard drivetrain is pretty stunning.
  • 2 1
 XTR shifts faster and smoother. But I'm totally fine with my XT.
  • 1 0
 @adrennan: Same, but I suspect it's down to the specific bike and suspension design; in my case a 2010 Spec Stumpy running 11-36. I tend to snap a fair few shifter cables (even after filing smooth the clamp edges etc) and have trashed the clutch on my last Zee. I guess the chain growth/movement on this frame cycling through full compression puts a lot of stress on the derailleur... But the Zee shifts perfect, is silent, short cage and outta the way, and best of all it's cheap as. So I run 'em to destruction then just replace the entire thing, stripping the old one for parts when needed (pulleys, cage etc). It'll still take several years to cost me as much as a higher end mech Smile
  • 3 0
 @leopaul: how can it shift faster and smoother? Same cable pull rate, same time for the chain to jump from one cog to another depending on how fast you pedal. All you can experience is a different lever feel while climbing up the fireroad.
  • 1 1
 @potatomasher: i do lots of masturbation related ugly things but I could never respect myself if I ever ordered anything from Aliexpress. Buying LB rims was as far as I could have gone.
  • 1 0
 @adrennan: Has worked fine on all my full suspension bikes might want to have someone else take a look at it
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: it's just my experience. but that might as well be a problem with my amateur xt setup against a professional xtr setup
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: my Spider-Man brand narrow wide chain ring from AliExpress cost $20 and is virtually identical to a race face chainring, and so far is holding up better then my previous blackspire ring. Even if it only lasts half as long it's still worth it when it's only 1/5th of the price.
  • 1 0
 @potatomasher: it has nothing to do with status. It has to do with work ethics and environmental care which I doubt that companies from AliExpress have, otherwise where would the low price come from? I will not moralize here, I can just say that there are no miracles.
  • 15 1
 Well that's nice I just found my Christmas present and it was a Shimano xt m8000 groupset. Thanks mom and sorry I found it early
  • 3 0
 I put the whole setup on an amazon wishlist, that's the way to no so subtly hint to our family.
  • 10 0
 I'd unbox and install everything......then put the old components back in the new box!!!!
  • 2 0
 I am so sorry if m8000 breaks are included
  • 1 0
 the same thing is on top of my wishlist
  • 10 1
 Not like the had much of an option here. Nothing can compare for this price point. Go xt!
  • 10 0
 No hates, no puns, where am I??
  • 18 0
 eXTraordinary, isn't it?
  • 11 1
 @karoliusz: that's a valuable shift in the right direction.
  • 14 1
 I adeore puns
  • 8 0
 Maybe we should wait for some input from zee Germans.
  • 3 1
 I'm desperately trying to think of something, but I'm just shifting around in my seat clutching at straws
  • 3 0
 @metaam: It's not about the speed, it's about the range. No one expects 42 or 46 good pun, just 11 or so good options.
  • 2 0
 Praise the Saints, didn't think this could ever happen
  • 1 0
 The latest XT may not be the best drivetrain out there but it the best of two eagles
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: SRAM just ain't my cup of XT
  • 10 4
 In case you dont know, you can get a YT Jeffsy for 1500e right now... A bike that will most likely outperform any mid-range bike from 3 years ago...
  • 5 0
 Best value award goes to Pinkbike, awesome videos, reviews and articles. Hours of fun on the comments section, a great place to buy/sell gear. And all for FREE. Amazing value in my book.
  • 8 1
 el taquito taco truck's post ride menu gets my vote
  • 2 1
 XT still is and always has been the gold standard of how bicycle gears should shift. You simply cant go wrong. but sram shifters are much smoother and the x1 or better groups change gear faster and with less of a hiccup than shimano (Its mostly in the cassette). If you value weight and sports car performance go sram. if you value utter reliability and cost vs function, slx/xt is the way to go.
  • 3 0
 Best Value of the Year Winner*

*When being sold by Chain Reaction below local bike shop COST, not even allowing them to be close to competitive...
  • 1 0
 THANK YOU! I was wondering if I was gonna have to speak up. At $425 that's still what cost on it is. Whatever though, I will not be a grumpy mechanic on my day off.
  • 4 1
 The only issue it has is dropping the chain down the cassette if you back pedal while in the 40 or 42.
  • 1 0
 This. makes hike-a-bike pretty annoying.
  • 2 0
 Just wait until you try it (or the new SLX) with a SunRace 11-46T cassette like Orbea are stocking a lot of bikes with, it's worse than the stock cassette chain drop!!
  • 2 0
 @The-Sober-Fox: I'm planning on buying a 1x11 XT with 46 at the rear. Is it that bad? I do have a chain guide
  • 2 0
 @leopaul: just don't pedal backwards in the easiest few gears. Otherwise, it's great!
  • 2 0
 @iamamodel: it is an issue re-starting on a steep climb.
  • 2 0
 @ReformedRoadie: I hate it, my XT 11-42 cassette drop chain when backpedalling on the 42t cog already after quarter of a back pedal, and chain is 3 cogs down with half pedal stroke. People mitigate it by moving the chainring to the inside using spacers, but I have a nice and shiny Hope crankset with spiderless chainring so I can't fix it this way. But as far as I know, the 2017 XT and XTR cassettes have this issue fixed a bit. My buddies Sram cassette drops the chain while backpedalling too but he has to do at least one full spin of the cranks.
  • 1 0
 XT 8000 prevails, it knows the way home if you don't. The new Shimano cable sets are really nice so stick wth them and use the short front cable on your seatpost......Sramano ftw!
  • 2 0
 All Shimano is best value when buying it online. Does anyone actually pay anything but wholesale pricing on shimano products?
  • 3 2
 XT seemed cheap until you snapped a rear D off about once a month riding 4" skinnies 8ft off the ground.
Kinda glad those days are gone.
  • 3 0
 they're not
  • 2 0
 @kbonesddeuce: Our local "city park" bulldozed the whole North shore shabangabang about 8 years back. twas a sad day.
  • 2 0
 @preach: bummer! It's definitely hard to find time to build these days
  • 1 0
 @kbonesddeuce: Dude no doubt...and I mean dirt jumps, drops, skinnies and all...this culture of litigation we have in the USA makes for some dull riding sometimes.
  • 3 0
 PB on point on this one? No impeachment needed here Smile
  • 2 0
 SLX maybe? Okay the shifter of XT feels a bit nicer, and the double-upshift is also very nice.
  • 3 0
 What a relief to read after the ARBR Saker debacle!
  • 2 0
 I'm running SLX rear derail and XT Shifter combo for next level super value!
  • 2 0
 slx m7000 for me ... but my old slx hasn't give any sign of wear or failure
  • 1 0
 Totally agree. I have a 14 year old XT group on my hard tail and besides 2BBs and having to change cables regularly, I never had an issue. Flawless!
  • 3 2
 XT wins by default. The two sweetest words in the English language....de! fault!
  • 2 0
 Where did you saw it at 300$? Chain Reaction list it at 487.
  • 2 0
 This. No way the groupset with cranks was ever $300.
  • 1 0
 It's listed on chain reaction for $329 USD right now.
  • 1 0
 @jaredpbt: sorry, I meant, as pictured above, with the crankset.
  • 1 0
 @oldkonafreeride: The price includes a crankset! Plus a chain, so it's even more than what's in the picture.
In fact, I paid $299 in July when I bought the groupset for my bike. The only thing lacking is the bottom bracket, which I paid $19 for. If you're building a bike, there is no better deal to be had.
  • 2 1
 SRAM is going to be pissed. Their GX is the only "competitor" and it's not even close. XT is f*cking awesome.
  • 1 0
 Can't believe that none of the commencal bulges made it into the list.. didn't buy one but killer value for money
  • 1 0
 Maybe shimano has finally recovered from that TURRIBUL STI shifter option they tried in the 2000s.
  • 1 1
 I prefer XTR shifter, SRAM X1/X01 cassette and SLX everything else. The cranks look so much better than XT.
  • 3 0
 I'm just riding an XT with Race Face cranks
  • 1 0
 I was annoyed at having to spend £40 on a cassette
  • 1 0
 what's with shimano's move to non-square bolt patterns?
  • 1 0
 Hard to argue with XT M8000... but SRAM makes some pretty cool stuff
  • 3 4
 XT lacks a 10T, which is a no win game. Can't run a 28T chainring or have to use a 11-46 cassette with rubbish gear spacing.
  • 8 2
 The 10t is next to useless anyway. The xt 11-42t cassette is all you need
  • 2 0
 @rrsport: makes a difference if you're running anything less than a 32T
  • 2 0
 @KiwiXC: can't you run the 32T with a 50t or so extender in the back?
  • 3 0
 @KiwiXC - My gawd... 28t with 42t rear? What are you, a hamster?
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