2020 Pinkbike Awards: Component of the Year Winner

Dec 28, 2020
by Mike Levy  


Component of the Year Winner


2020's Component of the Year nominees includes BikeYoke's 213mm-travel Revive 2.0 dropper post, Specialized's wildly light Roval Control SL Team Issue wheels, TRP's e-bike inspired DH-R EVO four-piston stoppers, and this year's winner, Shimano's Deore 12-speed drivetrain that brings impressive performance to a near-entry level pricepoint.







Shimano Deore 12-Speed Drivetrain


Do you know what I'd love to drive around? A white McLaren 720S. And I'd park it inside my Whistler house after picking up a Tim Hortons sandwich with Wagyu beef, naturally. But here in the real world, I drive a sketchy car, live in a tight-fitting basement suite, and eat Tim's sandwiches without any meat in them at all. And if I had to go buy a 12-speed drivetrain tomorrow, it certainly wouldn't be a flashy (and lightweight) XTR system... Unless I had that fancy McLaren, of course.

Instead, Shimano's M6100 Deore drivetrain offers essentially all of XTR's performance for a fraction of the price, and it does it without any of the cheap, plastic-y bits that you might expect to see on a drivetrain that costs around $300 USD. That's right, you can pick up a Deore crankset, derailleur and shifter, and the 10-51 tooth cassette for only $40 USD more than just an XTR derailleur on its own, making it the obvious pick for the Component of the Year.

How does it do it?


The secret is in the sauce. And the shape of the teeth and chain plates.

The Deore cassette and chain employ the same Hyperglide+ technology used on XTR that's designed to allow for smooth shifting under load; it essentially comes down to the shape of the shift ramps on the cassette, the shape of the chain plates, and how those two interact with each other. The result lets you grab a different gear while you're pushing hard on the pedals without it feeling (and sounding) like the drivetrain is tearing itself apart when you're just trying to get to the top of some steep-ass wall. Other drivetrains ask you to ease up when shifting, just as you would in a car with a manual transmission, but it's almost like Hyperglide+ lets you flat-shift under power like a race car's sequential gearbox. That means you can think less about shifting and more about just getting to the top.

Deore isn't perfect - the cranks and cassette are boat anchors, and the shifter is only single-release - but the budget 12-speed drivetrain simply makes too much sense to not recommend.






132 Comments

  • 75 6
 My vote is for the NEW 11 speed Deore. It's getting virtually no press but it's really good and uses the classic HG body. The only difference is that it doesn't have a 10t small cog, you still get a 51t big cog. I actually prefer the actuation of the 11spd Deore vs the 12spd XT that I have. The shifter on the Deore requires much less pressure than the XT.
  • 11 11
 Have you tried the AdventX? I would knock on it because its really hard to find in stock, but thats pretty much the story of any bike component right now. AdventX is lighter, and I prefer the jumps of a 10 speed. The ergonomics of the levers aren't as good, as they have to walk a razors edge between patents...
  • 12 13
 I used a Shimano 12 speed combo last year including an XT shifter, XTR cassette, SLX and XT derailleurs with an XT chain. It was not s good as I had hoped, and I certainly preferred the feel and reliability of the 11 speed XT I had previously. I find the 12 speed to be too stiff and clunky on shifter feel, the clutches are unreliable AF and the gear indexing needs regular tuning. Also the power shifting ability up and down the block touted as revolutionary and game changing, really isn't that noticeable in my opinion. Certainly not game changing.
  • 8 1
 I have found it takes a while for the new 12s shifters to break in. Once they do, they are much smoother
  • 7 0
 Does the new 11 speed have the cassette design that you can shift under load?
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: What kind of patent is there on lever ergonomics ??
"An apparatus (a) that switches gear when a finger presses on it" ?
  • 3 0
 @acali: No, it doesn't get hyperglide+ (shifting under load tech)
  • 4 0
 @jaame: I've had basically exactly the opposite experience. I will agree the clutch issue is lame, but I've talked to Shimano and that is easily fixable. You need to get some roller brake grease in your clutch. It may take a bit of looking around to find it at a shop.
  • 2 7
flag David9180 (Dec 28, 2020 at 9:59) (Below Threshold)
 @acali: yes it has!
``The Shimano CS-M5100 is the suitable cassette for the new DEORE 11-speed group.
The distinctively designed HYPERGLIDE ´´
  • 3 0
 @bookem13: "Roller brake grease" Is there any alternatives that I could find at a hardware store or an auto parts place? I live in the middle of nowhere and hate to wait a week for shipping. Particularly right now, when I actually can ride: One small snow storm and I may have to wait 3-5 months before the best trails are ridable again.
  • 3 1
 @kcy4130: Id try any grease. I'm guessing roller bearing grease is on the thinner side.
  • 1 7
flag theoptimist (Dec 28, 2020 at 10:59) (Below Threshold)
 Carbon Prep - every LBS has single serve packets of it @kcy4130:
  • 5 0
 @JockoJones: Roller bearing and roller brake are not the same thing. A roller brake is the type that commonly used on childrens bikes where backpedaling applies the brake. Hence a roller brake hub has a type of clutch as the brake. Regular wheel bearing grease probably will not work. Clutches need special friction modifiers in their grease/lube. Like a motorcycle with a wet clutch needs transmission oil that is made for clutches. Or a motorcycle with combined engine and transmission oil needs motor oil with the right additives to work with a clutch. Regular engine oil will cause the clutch to not work very well at all. I found that one out the hard way!
  • 8 4
 @phalley: I've got a season and a half on a XT 12 shifter and XTR 12 derailleur on an Orbea Oiz. The shifting was stiff to start with and has never gotten easier, despite changing and lubing cables and housing. The XTR derailleur's clutch lever now flops around without doing anything, and the derailleur cage never aligned perfectly after a minor rock strike. I have no experience with SRAM Eagle, but I have a couple of bikes with SRAM XO and GX 11, the shifting is much lighter and derailleurs sturdier. The GX derailleur on my fat bike looks it had a run-in with a bench grinder, and still shifts perfectly. I will say the Hyperglide+ chain and cassette are great though. I think the perfect combo would be SRAM Eagle shifter and derailleur with Shimano Hyperglide+ cassette and chain.
  • 3 0
 @bde1024: the derailleur cage is carbon on mine and it has a subtle bend to it out of the box designed in?
  • 6 1
 @bde1024: agreed though it’s stiffer than a cock in a brothel
  • 7 0
 @theoptimist: 100% DO NOT USE CARBON PREP IN YOUR CLUTCH!!!
  • 3 0
 @kcy4130: As per Shimano you need to use the Roller Brake Grease. I wouldn't expect proper results from anything else.
  • 5 0
 @Compositepro: the cages are definitely twisted by design - plenty of videos on YouTube attesting to that.

The clutch on my SLX derailleur went to shit after one wet day at Revolution bike park. Rusted to f*ck internally. The problem was not so much the clutch itself but the shaft that the sprags catch on. It’s actually a metal on metal bushing that needs oiling. It’s open to the elements pretty much at the back in the spring recess.

I am going to try GX eagle next I think. I know I will miss the double shift ability of Shimano though.
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: I see. So it needs the the "sticky lube".
  • 1 0
 I have this on my new Mukluk. Its good, not great. I would prefer the 11spd GX on my old fat bike.

The pressure on the shifter is light, maybe too light. There isn't that SRAM "chunk" with each shift, which I like. The other issue I have is a vagueness (not sure that is the right word) on what gear you are in when you do rapid upshifts.
  • 1 0
 @phalley: I second that...I found on roughly my 4th ride my XT system was super smooth. Brand new, on the first ride, I felt I had spent too much for too little but after I gave it a few rides I feel it was a good buy.
  • 5 1
 @bde1024: I can confirm that the very best shifting I’ve ever used is xo1 mech / shifter on the new hg+ xtr cassette and chain. All the benefits of hg+ but with the super light and crisp xo1 feel. Plus the clutch doesn’t blow up after 2 months like my xt did, and then had no stock to warranty it with.
  • 1 0
 @bookem13:
I use Rockshox PM600 military grease instead directly on the clutch and the sealing of the housing.
Works really good and PM600 has way better water resistance than Shimanos grease.

Just my 2 cents
  • 1 0
 I’ve had an 11sp Deore cassette start to come apart at the rivets that connect cogs 1-3 to the spider after about a month’s usage. Got it replaced and will see how the second one goes. Similar also happened to a friend so not a one off.
  • 2 0
 What about 10 speed deore?
  • 2 0
 it's literally the same tech packaged in 11 speed.
  • 1 1
 @tfriesenftr: @jaame: Wondering if a SRAM derailleur will work with the Shimano shifter (keep the double shift), don't really see why not. Was also very seriously looking at swapping in a AXS shifter/derailleur combo. Best of all worlds.
  • 1 0
 @OneTrustMan: I've never heard of PM600. might be fine.
  • 1 0
 @bookem13: The PM stuff is the "official" grease recommended by SRAM-RS for suspension service; it's what you're supposed to load up the air spring shaft and lowers with during a thorough maintenance procedure. Good stuff, and it's called military grease because it's highly water-resistant (cue some Navy SEALs emerging from the depths ready to get down to business). However, it's not exactly super light and thin, which is why a different grease, SRAM Butter (made by Slickoleum, I believe), is recommended for the wiper seal insides themselves. I find SRAM Butter and Park High-Performance Grease to be the best general use greases overall - including for drivetrain work. You can use the latter on many bearings even.
  • 1 0
 @HogtownWheelsmith: Then it won't work in a roller brake/clutch situation
  • 1 0
 @bookem13: Agreed. Would probably do that type of work within a derailleur with one of the lighter greases mentioned. I've used SRAM butter on cables with good results.
  • 2 0
 @Abacall: It won't. They use a different pull ratio.
  • 1 0
 @HogtownWheelsmith:
I have used now for 3 weeks and over 400km in snow, mud and salt water conditions.

Zero problems. The clutch just works smooth and there is no water, or dirt inside.

I will test that further, but so far I'm quite happy how good it works.
  • 2 0
 @acali: 11sp doesn’t officially get HG+ but the spider on the new cassette is apparently identical to the 12sp version (makes sense from a manufacturing/cost point of view) so using a 12sp chain should get you the smooth shifts under load in those gears.
  • 3 0
 @OneTrustMan: Glad to hear it. With respect to our earlier comments, nothing is correct absolutely in many applications. There's often room for improvisation mechanically. Ultimately there's no substitute for proven trail usage - and it sounds like you're establishing exactly that. Have at it.
  • 2 0
 @jaame: yeah I kind of figured I know you can’t bend carbon like that and it stay deformed without breaking so it must have been formed that way to start.
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: Thanks!
  • 1 0
 @Abacall: last time I mixed and matched was with a 9 speed Sram shifter and a Zee 10 speed mech. One had to add a 6 or 7mm spacer between the derailleur and the cable clamp bolt to adjust the pull ratio.
I have not tried it since but I have heard some people say the 12 speed stuff swings both ways.
  • 1 0
 @jaame: why not just get a SRAM mech. Shifter ratios should be compatible. My 11s XTR shifter / X01 mech combo works wonders.
  • 1 0
 @Abacall: yep, it does.
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: They may use a slightly different pull ratio on the paper, but on the trail, they do work well enough together. Both my 10S Deore and 11s XTR shifters are compatible with 11S X01 AND XTR mechs.
  • 54 1
 It boggles the mind why OEM's would continue to slap garbage-grade SX Eagle on bikes when Deore 6100 exists, and actually undercuts SX on price (at least in the aftermarket). There are product managers out there that should be embarrassed by bikes like the Cannondale Scalpel SE2 running SX at a $4k price point.
  • 23 0
 They possibly get further discounts by using full SRAM supplied components - Like RS forks, Truvativ, SRAM brakes, Truvativ parts, dropper post etc.
  • 16 1
 SRAM is incredibly aggressive on OE pricing. Until Shimano can start to compete with that, we will see mostly SX and NX eagle on the budget builds.
  • 9 1
 Availability is a huge factor as well
  • 5 0
 @skywalker268: Ibis switched from NX to Deore on budget builds this year. I'm guessing many others will follow suit.
  • 4 0
 @skywalker268: Shimano all day against SX and NX, however, GX is quite good.
  • 1 3
 @tacklingdummy: Fair enough but GX = SLX. Not on budget builds.
  • 12 3
 @tacklingdummy: until your clutch shits the bed after a year and your drivetrain starts to sound like a skeleton masturbating in a tin box
  • 2 1
 @Upduro: True, but it is an easy fix. Just grease the clutch. The clutch is one of the things that needs to be improved with Shimano derailleurs.
  • 5 0
 @FranklinHaith: SLX and GX used to be on budget builds. They just downgraded even more the last few years while increasing the prices. Ugh.
  • 4 0
 @tacklingdummy: how can I grease the clutch on a GX? I don't think that will help either, it's just that the spring is shit and you can't adjust it, unlike shimano
  • 2 1
 @Upduro: I was talking about Shimano clutch. The Shimano clutch needs to be greased about once a year.
  • 4 0
 @tacklingdummy: that’s a low price to pay for a working clutch imo

Gonna throw GX in the garbage as soon as I can actually get my hands on a full XT set
  • 2 0
 @justanotherusername: They do and its ironic - sram wouldnt exist if they had not sued Shimano for this same illegal tactic a few years ago. Now they have a staff of lawyers blocking innovation in a way Specialized would be proud of. The unrealistic pricing of poorly specced bikes can be directly linked to the cost of sram´s advertising budget Wink
  • 3 0
 @skywalker268: "incredibly aggressive" or "uses lawyers to stifle creativity and smaller drivetrain companies" from pitching for the business. Sorry - not your problem i know, but it erks me.
  • 1 0
 @Upduro: I haven't had any problems with the GX clutch. If you have squeaking problems, it might be the pivots in the GX derailleur. They can squeak when they get a ton of dirt in them. I clean and spray light lubricants on the GX pivots and clutch area and it keeps it quiet and running smooth. The lock mechanism on SRAM derailleurs is very useful as well.
  • 32 0
 Deore groupset with an XT shifter for the win.
  • 2 0
 I'd just get 11-speed XT full drivetrain and that is solid setup. Price is competitive.
  • 2 0
 THIS. Currently running deore derauiler, Slx cassette xt shifter and xtr chain. Amazing combo
  • 3 0
 XTR chain is also well worth the upgrade
  • 5 0
 except the shit cassette and terrible jumps
  • 1 2
 @bmied31: Most shifting jumps can be corrected with adjustments.
  • 5 0
 @ I’m not talking about the movement of the chain, I’m talking about the jumps in cogs. The spacing on Shimano 11-46 11 speed cassettes was really bad.
  • 1 0
 @bmied31: Agreed. But sunrace makes decent cassettes with much nicer jumps.
  • 1 0
 @bmied31: I agree the spacing between gearing is too big. Especially the jump from 37 to 46 is a big jump. I climb a lot. However, I think Shimano makes great cassettes. They shift well, last long, and priced well. I have had many and right now using an XT cassette with a GX shifter. Lol.
  • 18 4
 That's right everyone: big S is back. The other big S best watch themselves.
  • 10 0
 Far too many S's in the bike industry!!
  • 7 1
 I don’t know. Seems both S’s are killing it.
  • 4 0
 @TheR: there is even yet one more historically-unpopular “S” this is killing it right now, but in the trail bike category.
  • 10 0
 Does this make my S look big?
  • 3 0
 @toooldtodieyoung: That’s the one I mean.
  • 2 0
 @TheR: my house bought two of S's bikes this year with S's slx grouppo. One has fork/shock from S's suspension brand. Both are really, really good.
  • 15 3
 Wow, it's NOT sram! And it's on Pinkbike!

Good work Shimano Smile
  • 7 0
 Not so sure about this one - you'll need to send me a groupset so I can evaluate it Smile
  • 7 0
 This makes me even more pumped to get a new bike this week that has an SLX drivetrain. Nice work Shimano!
  • 11 0
 Get an XT shifter. You will regret it...because you won't ever want to upshift one at a time ever again!
  • 3 0
 @Andykmn: ah, okay. Will do - thanks.
  • 4 0
 @Andykmn: I think it comes down to personal preference. I hate the XT shifter and would prefer the SLX. There is less resistance to push the levers and I actually don't like the multiple upshift option.
  • 6 0
 PB Logic: complete drive train with multiple parts “component of the year”
Single front suspension component “look at my forks I’ve got for sale”
  • 1 2
 The crown and stanchions form one fork, the lower sliders and arch unit form another... hey presto, 'forks' plural is indeed correct
  • 4 0
 @ctd07: I really enjoy to eat my pasta with a forks. . .
  • 3 1
 @sunringlerider: technically also correct, however the singular form of the word has become the popular colloquialism over the years.

The same way an mtb fork is called 'forks' by most...
  • 2 1
 @ctd07: I was driving down the road and almost hit a deers, but I swerved to miss it and hit a sheeps. . .
  • 2 0
 @sunringlerider: not colloquialisms... you fail!
  • 1 0
 @sunringlerider: and did you nearly shit your pant?
  • 1 0
 @ColquhounerHooner: no, but I filled my underwear with shit. Or is it my underwears?
  • 7 0
 Came hoping to see deore, not disappointed
  • 7 0
 Good on Shimano....a product for the people!
  • 3 0
 Was a Shimano guy for 25+ years, dirt and road. Now I've got one bike with X01 12 speed and one with XT/XTR 12 speed. Much prefer the shift feel and multi-shift ability of SRAM, and can't detect the much-ballyhoo'd shift-under-load superpowers of Shimano
  • 3 0
 Wish they made a properly spaced slx or xt level 11-46 and/ or11-51 10 and 11 speed cassette. Sadly, any weight reduction seen from going to 1X are pretty much negated with the Deore level boat anchors.
  • 1 0
 Totally agree on this one, quite a remarkable leap in performance for the price. While much of the industry continues to churn out $5k+ bikes and $2k drivetrains and sell based on the reliability, this product shows that high price is not everything. This is the direction things should be going.
  • 1 0
 Just bought my son a bike for Christmas and one of the selling points was the Deore 12spd. Some other considerations had SX and I just didn’t fancy it.
On his Christmas Day test ride out in the street he crashed and scuffed up the derailleur. Happy to say cosmetic damage aside it’s fine, surprised there are not shifting issues. Really does seem like a great product.
  • 1 0
 Quality choice, and an especially smart pick in a year of belt-tightening and making things work for many people out there. I strongly suspect that new Deore 12S drivetrains will be a lot more likely on post-COVID trails than a massive crop of glistening 38s or ZEBs (but congrats to anyone who has managed to invest in the latter - great suspension products). Deore, quite simply, is an item that will make it easier for people to keep after it in 2021 and beyond.
  • 3 0
 Obelisk - learned that bad boy from Command and Conquer with Nod's Obelisk of Light Smile
  • 1 0
 @darkcanuck are you using sp41 housing?
Jaguwire housing makes 12 speed feel terrible. It’s made for 1.1 mm cables not 1.2 and causes a terrible feel on 12 speed Shimano shift levers
  • 1 1
 Muddy ride on mine today. It was pretty good aside from that one time the chain fell down the cassette and was clicking and grinding for 20 pedal strokes or so until it cleared the mud out. Annoying, but only happened the one time. Shifting under full power? Hell no it doesn’t do that in perfect conditions, regardless of full sprint standing up or sitting and grinding up a climb.
  • 14 13
 I'm actually replacing my X0 groupset for this. I guess it's just personal preference but I'll take budget Shimano over SRAM any day.
  • 10 4
 Quite the weight penalty you will be taking. I understand the preference, but I'm waiting until my XO groupset is absolutely toast.
  • 4 4
 @twhart20: Weight, schmeight. Small price to pay here.
  • 4 0
 I'll be doing something similar when my XO drivetrain gets worn enough. Probably go XT, but might mix it up. Will be nice to be able to shift under load (and shift up multiple gears) again.
  • 1 2
 @MtbSince84:

You can run shimano derailleur with sram shifter in 11s real nice. Idk about 12s but probably
  • 1 0
 @getsomesy: See my comment about being able to shift up multiple gears at a time...
  • 3 1
 @getsomesy: No, you can't run shimano/sram together besides the cassette and derailleur. The companies literally post different pull ratios my guy. Cheers!
  • 2 1
 @ehvahn: go ahead and google actuation ratios yourself, you are wrong
  • 2 0
 The new BikeYoke 213 is incredible...the old one was great, but this one is even better. Solid and reliable engineering!
  • 4 4
 I'm just waiting for the new company Sramano to debut their 120 spd, 3 (crank) x 10 (cassette) x 2 (Internal hub) x 2 (Internal crank) drivetrain with adjustable "on the trail" wheel size.
  • 2 0
 It either obelisk or monolith that Mike was trying to determine at the end.
  • 1 0
 This looks like a far superior quality peice of kit than the Sram SX group my bike came standard with. Shimano well ahead of the game for budget group sets.
  • 8 7
 So, Shimano believes in 1x drivetrains. It only took 6+ years. What is their next discovery, wireless shifting?
  • 4 1
 until gx axs arrives.
  • 2 4
 I have been in brand identity crisis recently. What is my pronoun SR or SHI? I have decided to identify as a SHI As I have become Woke to the downshift under power. The double release and non ridiculous top cassette jump have further confirmed my brand identity. As always SHI dragged this out while SR came right out as 12.
  • 2 0
 Have seen a cassette fail. Loose rivets made it into a rattle.
  • 3 1
 deserved :-)
  • 1 0
 Monolith or Asterix & Obelisk maybe?
  • 1 0
 Mike lives in a basement suite? OMG you are one of us!
  • 3 2
 Component of the year award, “Presented by Shimano”
  • 2 0
 who can oval a roval?
  • 1 0
 And yet all you can find are NX equipped bikes
  • 1 2
 Eh but it’s an mtb grouppo gravel is king according to all the look kids over 50
  • 1 0
 Obélisque, @mikelevy.
  • 1 2
 Coming to a bike shop near you... sometime in 2022... maybe.
  • 1 4
 I don't expect to see cheap plasticy bits on a drivetrain that costs 300 dollars, in all fairness.
  • 1 1
 I doesn't SURPRISE me to see cheap plasticy bits, but I definitely expect better.
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