Shimano Saint Prototype - Pietermaritzburg World Cup

Mar 14, 2012 at 0:10
Mar 14, 2012
by Mike Levy  
 
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The first round of the World Cup series in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, is likely going to be ground zero for a number of new, prototype bikes and parts that will be put to the test under the world's best riders. Included on that list is Trek World Racing's Aaron Gwin, who's Session 9.9 race bike was observed sporting what is clearly a prototype Shimano rear derailleur. Gwin ran away with last year's World Cup overall, taking a record five wins in the process, but besides being incredibly fast and consistent he is also known for providing great feedback about the gear he is using. He was one of the few riders last season who was making use of Shimano's prototype Saint brake calipers, so it made sense when PB photographer Fraser Britton spotted what looks to be a prototype 2013 Saint rear derailleur bolted to his bike. Our questions to Shimano went unanswered, but there is plenty to be learned from the photo below.

Shimano derailleur prototype hand made.
Aaron Gwin's Trek Session 9.9 had this prototype Shimano derailleur, likely a 2013 ten speed Saint unit in testing, attached to it. A Shadow+ friction clutch is hidden underneath the black cover that adds a considerable amount of tension to the derailleur's cage pivot, thereby increasing chain's tautness.

The prototype unit, with its handmade and unfinished appearance, clearly stands out from the current model year Saint derailleur's black and gold colours, but it doesn't take a magnifying glass to see that there is much more going on here. Spot that black cover held in place with three screws directly over where you would normally expect to see the main cage pivot? The not-so-mysterious cover is hiding the derailleur's friction clutch, likely a very similar unit to what is found on the current XTR derailleur, as well as on the upcoming 2013 XT and SLX models. That much is for certain, but what does come as a surprise is the prototype's complete lack of a 'clutch lever' (the anodized gold switch on the Shadow+ XTR derailleur) that would allow the friction mode to be engaged and disengaged. This begins to make more sense when you consider that quick wheel changes, a job that would benefit from disengaging the derailleur's clutch, won't overly concern the majority of downhillers. The prototype derailleur's clutch is still likely to employ an adjustment feature, though, via an internal friction nut that is turned to alter the cage's resistance.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesSo how does the Shadow+ friction clutch work, and why it make sense on a downhill bike? The clutch provides friction in only one direction so the pulley cage can't swing forward until a shift overcomes the clutch pressure - that keeps the chain from becoming slack between the derailleur and the chain ring. This is said to work wonders for keeping chain noise down, as well as lessening the chance of losing a chain over rough trails, on bikes that use a front derailleur, and that may have excess chain slack in certain gear combinations, but it could also make sense on downhill bikes due to their long travel suspension and the speed at which they can cover ground. Chain retention is a fairly dialled art these days, with riders rarely losing a chain with the proper setup, but the added tension provided by the Shadow+ clutch will likely lower the chances of it occurring to close to zero. - Mike Levy

www.shimano.com
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89 Comments

  • + 135
 10speed? who needs that on a DH-Bike?
@Shimano/Sram: Bring back 6/7speed to DH specific groupsets!
  • + 26
 Amen!
  • + 8
 Gah! this always annoys me. You CAN run a set up like this with as many gears as you want (under 10). It's about options. Bot everyone who runs one of these is going to be a DH or 4X racer.
  • + 13
 Your right Jack. But the advantage of a true 6/7 speed set up is the wider, stronger, longer lasting chain and chain wheels. At world cup level I'm sure the weight savings of a noodlely 10sp chain are appreciated. IMO 10sp was a speed too far...
  • + 6
 The advantage of 10sp spaced 6/7 is wider hub flange spacing, taking away the need of getting 150 hub spacing in order to build a wheel stiff enough for DH. But a certain disadvantage is lower reliability. World cup racers can afford it as their mechanics will check and adjust their shifting often. Personaly I can gladly run 1x6(7) speed for trail riding even on a wide range, how about 9-38 cassette for 6-7 speed? When on trail I use 3 cogs for most of the time. I never managed to set up my 10sp so there is no problem in shifting in some area. Either 3rd gear from the bottom or 2nd from the top are giving me pain.

The hope lies in HOPE Smile maybe they will develop derailleurs and shifters in some close future.
  • + 1
 I agree waki but I have had it pointed out to me that transitions would be pretty rough between cogs.
  • + 6
 Looks great - tough and ready for action unlike some previous carnations, on looks alone I would buy it. BUT i use about 3 gears in DH. when trail riding I use about 5. 10 speed is bla bla bla to me, fair play to those that manage to get through that many gears but i simply dont'.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns
I guess you just need to learn to set up your shifting first...
  • + 4
 maybe, but I 've never had probs with setting up a 9 speed.
  • + 3
 Funny thing is I bet he will be in the start box already in around 6th gear and never go any lower then that Smile
But as others say 6/7 speed DH specific would be good , maybe not if you cycle to your trails but this will be a DH product .
I bet they will make some thing like this soon but they need to think of how they are gonna get away with charging 200 pounds for gear range that was around in the 80's
  • + 5
 I got shouted down a lot over the last 2 Years when I said 10 wasn't really better than 9 for most people. Nice to see I was ahead of my time.
  • + 2
 about the weight saving of 10 speed (cause of the chain) compare to 6/7 speed, it's no really true since you have a 10 speed cassette compare to a 6/7 one (lighter). the weight should not change much. On of my friend got a good argument for 10 speed once, i'll take his words :
"i like my first gear, and i like the last one. It just gives me more options between both"
  • + 2
 is it weird that i have an 8 speed on my DH bike? never really thought much of it.
  • + 7
 Tech tuesday should do an article on how to build a 6 speed casette and how to adjust a shifter for it. I hate gears, and 6 would be awesome. 4 usable gears with an overdrive at the end, and a steep hill at the top...Seems simple enough to me.

Also, does anyone notice that in the picture, it looks like he's running a 3 speed? Either that, or that is the tightest ratio 10 speed I've ever seen...how many teeth could possibly be on that last ring? Like 18? it's the size of the axle!
  • + 3
 @anguswyatt:

Not weird at all. I would totally run 8-speed on my dh bike. parts are readily available, and everything is cheaper: chain, cassette, shifter, rear derailleur. Plus, 8-speed cassettes fit on all modern freehub bodies so no need to change wheels, or engineer new ones.
  • + 5
 @ suicidedownhiller Running a 6 speed set up with nine or ten speed components is super easy. All you need is a casette with individual sprockets (like Ultegra), some cassette spacers (usually found in singlespeed set up kits or old cassettes) and some m4 allen key bolts that are longer than your current derailleur limit screws.

- Replace your cassette with the selected sprockets form your new cassette and some SS kit spacers on either side of the rings (this doesn't usually work with an 11 tooth cog depending on the thickness of the spacers)

- Replace your old derailleur limit screws with new M4 allen bolts and limit your derailleur into the extremes of your new smaller ratio cassette.

Just use your standard shifter and derailleur (aside from limit screw mod). I've only ever used this on Shimano set up so I'm not sure if it'd work for SRAM, but I'm sure that there'll be something I've forgotten, so be nice pinkbikers.

And does anyone else notice that there appears to be no lever to engage/disengage the clutch??!!!!1111one
  • + 1
 Bring it back!... please
  • - 2
 10spd is used because the chain has less distance to travel between sprockets that have a tighter ratio, thus meaning quicker more direct shifting. I'm sure even the most accomplished PB mechanic should be able to figure that out.
  • + 4
 Yes, that also means less tolerance when rear mech gets some play after time, and the need of more often and more precise adjustments - we all love to play with the tension screws - don't we? In general 10sp is less precise than 9.

I thought that in MTB, the first thing you would expect from a drive train is the shifting precision and reliability, you do want that gear to be in when pedalling out of corner towards a jump. The only reason why I changed to 10sp was wide range cassette 11-36, but I learned it is just me whining about two teeth less comparing to 9sp 11-34 cassette. Look at SRAM 9sp vs 10sp - which one feels more precise? kling! klang! dong! kling! - 9speed. 10s X7 and X9 are a chinky poo, you need to buy X0 to get 9sp X7 shifting performance.

Let's leave those arguments of quicker shifting and smoother gear ratio transitions to roadies shall we?
  • + 3
 yea Campagnolo has 11sp gruppo
  • + 1
 " I've heard stories of roadies going 11 speed"

awesome...for roadies...!
  • + 2
 10-speed is really used to market new products, so that the cycling economy stays strong.
  • + 3
 At the end of the day dragging chains over cogs side ways to change gears is backwards and archaic..
  • + 1
 ^ fixie hipster right here. totally kidding Wink
  • + 1
 gearbox!!!?
  • + 1
 Yes please!
  • + 16
 Looks pretty interesting, definitely going smaller is going to be a plus, I like the more CNC'ed look going on, wonder if it'll stay that way in production models, but with some color. I'm also really wondering what SRAM has up their sleeve in the field of clutches for the tension.
  • + 1
 I agree, the CNC look with some anodization would make for a great upgrade on any bike... let the color scheme on a bike intensify!
  • + 15
 Doubtful. Shimano has cold forging down to a science, and use it again and again when things go to production.
  • + 2
 www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYYqyml1Ke4

yup they did this last time and probs do this with all their prototypes. Shame really I'm a big fan of the look (like in Thomson and that) but there you go.
  • + 14
 Taking short cage to a whole new level.
  • + 17
 ... the base of it looks like a transformer
  • + 1
 most of them look like transformers lol
  • + 6
 7 speed on DH bike is a more than enough. Shimano should look through this hub on DT ideas which starts at 9 tooth cassette.
  • + 1
 would be sweet!
  • + 3
 6 is better
  • + 2
 Canfield Brothers have a 9t hub that is available now. www.canfieldbrothers.com Call them up, it's not on the web site yet. They also have an MRP G2 28-32t guide that will raise BB clearance to go with it.
  • + 5
 Maybe CNC will remain on the prototype only. I suspect that for production they will use cold forged parts for strenght and lower weight.
  • + 1
 You fogot the price factor Smile
  • + 1
 I didnt, Shimano is a big fish and can afford forging bits for the mid priced range. But i and the most people know that they pay more for the bling, options and weight savings.
  • + 2
 there's talk of the Zee group which is supposed to be below Saint. similar step down from xtr to xt.
  • + 1
 Heard that yeah. Step in the right direction, we all need another buck in the stash right ?
  • + 2
 10-speed on mtb or 11-speed on road bikes are only the way how to take more money from riders! Every honest bike mechanic will agree! The new systems don't hold as long the older does! When I bought new bike with 10-speed drivetrain I changed it immediately for 9-speed and sold the parts!
  • + 1
 I remember a buddy doing the same thing when 9 speed came out!!
  • + 1
 Well what i did 5 years ago...
Bought a 9 speed XTR 12-34 casette.
Cut off the two large sprocets.
Then got a XTR shifter that can shift 2 gears down and 4 up in one push or pull.... and a Saint rear derailleur.

Results:
7 gears 12-27 gearing.
Shifting from 27 to 12 in just 3 clics

On some of the racetracks up here that are between 60 sec to 3 minutes long i have seen improwements in my runs from 0,5sec to a whole second.
  • + 2
 The "calls to Shimano went unanswered", "BUT" they didn't take 5 minutes to paint the thing black so as not to draw so much attention to it?
  • + 3
 Great! But what all Shimano riding normal people want is a short cage SLX copy of that Saint that costs under £40!!
  • + 1
 oh yeah!
  • + 4
 looks like a transformer, id get one!
  • + 1
 Yes looks very robotic.
  • + 2
 10 speed saint should be good, hopefully they bring it out later this year.
  • + 3
 I have heard from multiple sources that there is a good chance it will be released at Sea Otter this year.
  • + 2
 Yep. In fact, I'm guessing this proto is a crude test model that's been used for a while... Sea Otter's only a month away...
  • + 3
 Priceless Tweet from Gwin: @AaronGwin1: Haha C'mon Fraser, watch a fontana race! Been runnin that thing since Nov. Same exact one actuallySmile t.co/6e16ZdMC via @pinkbike
  • + 1
 The next step is to pair it with those cassettes with the 8, 9, and 10t cogs with the stepped freehub bodies and what not.
  • + 1
 its not a saint with out some gold Wink but ye, this looks and sounds like it will be ace!
  • + 1
 Man that thing looks so ghetto because its un-finished... Also looks like some of the screws are a bit rusty!
  • + 3
 SAINT +
  • + 12
 evil - ?
  • + 2
 WANTWANTWANTWANTWANTWANT!
  • + 1
 christ knows how you have a job in the media with your appalling proof reading, sorry but it's just awful.
  • + 1
 It's still too wide. If it's like the XTR it will be pefect!
  • + 1
 Looks like the shimano airlines system!
  • + 1
 friction clutch..what,nice!Drool Salute Drool
  • + 1
 Bring back 8 speed to a DH groupo.
  • + 1
 Sounds good, looks to oldschool tho
  • + 1
 ya that def looks like a rear derailer. not gaudy enough for saint though
  • + 1
 A B-link? That's sooo 2011, darling!
  • + 1
 Looks like an autobot piece!
  • + 1
 Ill take 10.. anodized blue, green and red
  • + 1
 There will be a switch on the production version.
  • + 1
 OK wait....you guys actually have working gears ?
  • + 1
 no rear cable adjust??? i want it
  • + 1
 No mention of the brakes?
  • + 1
 wow CNC? Nice
  • + 1
 TRON Big Grin
  • + 1
 Looks like a transformer
  • + 1
 you sale that prototype?
  • + 1
 Wow me to !!
  • + 1
 Nice! I want
  • + 1
 this is very nice...
  • - 2
 tbh, on a downhill bike everything needs to be robust and strong. I personally see this as another head ache when i hit a tree and pick the bike up afterweards
  • + 2
 maybe gearboxes will take over the dh scene some day, but in the mean time this doesn't look any weaker than any other derailleur t me.
  • + 0
 Check the CNC.............Boss!!!!!!!!!
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