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 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.