Almost a year ago, Shimano came out swinging with the launch of the XT and SLX 12-speed group sets, music to the ears of Shimano fans and people looking for an alternative to SRAM's 12-speed options.
The trickle down continues, and now they're releasing the new Deore 12-speed which takes inspiration from the higher tier XTR, XT and SLX parts while delivering an even lower price point. Not content with offering only one options, and with Shimano's love for product codes, the Deore name has accompanying 11 and 10-speed group sets which retain many of the same features but in even more value-focussed packages.
Additionally, there are some other updates to the rest of the Shimano line-up for 2021 with added crank set options, flat mount brake callipers plus bigger e-bike batteries to round out a very brain melting product launch.
Deore M6100 12-Speed
The Deore M6100 group set is the 12-speed option and uses the 10-51 tooth cassette range with the Micro Spline freehub, Hyperglide+ shifting technology, I-Spec EV shifter mount option and direct mount chainrings. That list of technologies means that the Deore group set shares the same standards with the higher SLX, XT and XTR group sets, so opens up the possibility of mixing and matching between component levels, allowing you to spend your money where you'd get the biggest bang for your buck.Crank Set
The Deore 12-speed crank sets are single-ring only and use Shimano’s direct mount chain rings, available in 30 and 32-tooth options. Chainrings and spider are again a split affair with the spider being aluminum and the ring being steel to drop the cost. Being the same spider-less fitment means you can also run chainrings from the SLX, XT or XTR range.
The cranks are a two-piece construction - Shimano definitely know a thing or two about creating well engineered aluminium crank sets, and are available in 170 and 175mm lengths.
There are also three different chain line options available, 52mm, 55mm and 56.5mm with accompanying 172mm, 178mm and 181mm Q-factors to provide options for non-Boost (142mm), Boost (148mm) and Super Boost (157mm) rear hub spacing. Weight for the 170mm cranks with a 32 tooth ring is 778 grams.Chains and Cassettes
The Deore 12-speed chain and cassette use Shimano's Hyperglide+ technology to have better shifting up and down the cassette under load. The 12-speed chain uses the same design ideas as its more expensive variants to match the shapes on cassette and chainring to ensure smooth shifting while having good chain retention.
The cassette still uses the Micro Spline freehub to allow to the smallest 10-tooth cog, but now sees all the cogs made from steel, with only the 10-51 tooth option available at Deore level. You could mix and match with the SLX or XT 10-45 tooth cassettes if you were after a smaller range. The cassette runs a following gear progression: 10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-33-39-45-51, which is the exact same as XT and SLX. It weigh in at 593 grams.
Once again, it's only in the use of Shimano cassettes and chains where you'll benefit from that Hyperglide+ shifting. You can run other manufacturers' chains, but you would lose that full-system crispness from the use of a full Shimano setup.Shifters and Derailleurs
The 12-speed Deore derailleur is one-by only and there's only one option for cage length for accommodating the max 51-tooth cassette, with the familiar clutch mechanism and larger jockey wheels as the higher tier derailleurs.
Unfortunately, the shifters don't have the rubberised paddle that's seen on XT and XTR, but look wise they fit exactly the same outline and share many of the same reatures found on the higher tier shifters, like 2-way release feature that allows you to either push or pull to drop down one gear. Multi-release shifting, which gives riders the option of dropping two gears down the casette with one lever push, is only available on XT and XTR level shifters.
The mount options are the same too, with I-Spec EV for mounting direct to Shimano compatible brake levers, or the standard band clamp with a slim clamp for help in finding the right position on the bars. For Deore there is the optional gear display too.Brakes
Two and four-piston options are available, using the same lever for both. The lever has been designed to have a quicker bite engagement with a shorter free stroke. Lever reach is adjustable with a hex key and the familiar design with the extra lever support is there to stiffen up the lever and give a better feel when pulling on it.
Both caliper options now have in-board hose routing for a cleaner cable routing on the inside of the rear triangle tubes but with fixed hoses. Calipers are compatible with Ice Tech brake pads and rotors and either resin or metallic pads can be used. Hubs & Dropper Lever
Rounding out the Deore 12-speed group set are a pair of non-series, value priced hubs and dropper lever. The 12-speed hubs use their Micro Spline freehub and for the first time use cartridge bearings. Internally there's a pawl style freehub design and there are width options for Boost and non-Boost spacing on forks and frames.
The dropper lever uses either I-Spec EV for mounting to Shimano brake levers or a band clamp mount and can be used with all cable actuated dropper posts.Prices & Availability
Deore M6100 parts are available immediately and pricewise look to be either on par or a bit cheaper, depending on the component, than SRAM SX options while having a slightly bigger gear range.
Deore M5100 11-Speed & M4100 10-Speed
The additional M5100 and M4100 Deore options see the value-oriented components coming in 11 and 10-speed drivetrains. There are further options for single and double chainrings within the two levels.
The 1x 11-speed crank set has 30 or 32-tooth options and options for boost and non-boost. The 11-51 tooth or 11-42 tooth cassettes work with Shimano's standard HG freehub and the dedicated 11-speed rear derailleur works for up to 51-tooth cassettes and uses the same clutch mechanism as the 12-speed Deore derailleur. The shifters have the same 2-way release and mount with I-Spec EV or band clamp fitment and feature the optional gear display too. The 11-speed group uses the 12-speed M6100 brakes giving the same two or four piston options and use of Ice Tech pads and rotors
The 10-speed Deore M4100 uses the same 1x crank set as 11-speed group, while also seeing its own dedicated double chainring crank option. M4100 uses two smaller cassettes with 11-46 and 11-42 teeth options that use the standard HG freehub fitment. There's some mix and match usage of the derailleurs between 11 and 10-speed, but there are options in cage length for both of the 42 or 46-tooth cassette options. Shifters have the same fitment options and 2-way release for changing to harder gears. 10-speed M4100 does see its own non-series brakes, though. Two and four piston options are available again, offering strong performance right down at a value level.
Deore M5100 and M4100 are available in the coming weeks. No hard date available from Shimano just yet and no information on pricing and weights.
Other 2021 MTB and E-Bike Updates
If you've made it this far then congratulations. And if your eyes are still pointing in the same direction then that's a bonus.
2021 sees more crank set options available from Shimano, bringing the total number of 12-speed compatible ones up to 22. 14 1x only and 8 2x options. Amongst these updated crank sets is compatibility with the ever more popular wider 56.5mm chain line required by some bikes to have a touch more space at the critical overlap point on the chain stay between tire and chain ring and give proper alignment to 157mm hubs. These crank set updates are across the board from XTR down through the hierarchy into the non-series cranks and feature such options as narrow 171mm Q-factor XTR options to keep the pedalling stance narrow while benefiting from the widened chainring position.
There are now five complete 12-speed compatible wheel options, all using the Micro Spline freehubs. Starting at XT level, the aluminum rimmed wheels trickle down to the more value focussed levels. 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes are available in boost and non-boost spacing with 28, 32 or 36-hole hubs. The 29" Deore wheelset in boost spacing comes in at 2230g.
For a bit of road bike technology on your mountain bike, Shimano is also making XTR, XT and SLX two piston calipers available in flat mount. The low-profile calipers will likely only be seen on cross-country bikes with the XTR option fitting a max 160mm rotor and the XT and SLX variation fitting up to 180mm with the use of adapters.
Last but not least, Shimano has announced larger capacity, internal and external e-bike batteries. The 630Wh batteries will maintain 60% of their capacity after a hard life of 1000 full charge cycles and the external, large capacity option uses a new battery fitment port. There's also direct mount chainrings available for e-bikes using a 157mm hub spacing, coming in 34 and 36-tooth sizes.
Photos: Sterling Lorencemtb.shimano.com