Shimano didn't exactly rush into the world of single ring, eleven-speed drivetrains, likely due to the fact that they've spent so many years refining their front derailleurs, but the demand continues to grow, especially in North America. For that reason, when the news arrived that the XT M8000 group would be available in a single ring option based around an 11-speed, 11-42 cassette, loyal Shimano fans who'd been reluctant to jump ship and dive into the world of SRAM breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Shimano XT M8000 Details
• 11-speed, 11-42 or 11-40 tooth cassette
• 1x11, 2x11, and 3x11 crank options
• Textured shift levers
• Redesigned rear derailleur with externally adjustable clutch
• Price (1x crankset, cassette, derailleur, shifter, chain): $424.94 USD
The focus of this test is on the 1x configuration of the M8000 drivetrain, which uses Shimano's new chainring design to provide chain retention, in conjunction with the clutch-equipped derailleur. Before going over the results of five months of hard use, let's take a closer look at the components that make up the group. Cassette:
There are two cassettes available in the M8000 group, one with an 11-40 tooth range that can be used for both single and multiple ring setups, and the other with an 11-42 tooth spread that's meant to be used with one ring up front. Both cassettes work with a standard freehub body, which means there's no need to factor in the cost of a new driver when calculating the price of upgrading from 9 or 10 speeds to 11. The 42 (or 40) tooth sprocket is constructed from aluminum, and the remaining cogs are constructed from steel for increased durability. There are two sets of three sprockets joined to aluminum spiders, and then five individual cogs. The CS-M800 11-42 cassette has the following gearing: 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-28-32-37-42. Total weight is 430 grams, with a retail price of $89.99 USD Derailleur:
Compared to its predecessor, the XT rear derailleur's slant angle has been reduced, which helps keep the upper pulley wheel close to the cassette across the entire gear range. The clutch mechanism, which can be enabled and disabled with the flip of the grey lever at the top of the derailleur's parallelogram, is now externally adjustable with a 2mm hex key, a feature that allows riders to easily fine tune the amount of retention to their liking. For instance, cross-country riders on smoother terrain may prefer to reduce the tension in order to have a lighter feel at the shift lever, while riders on rougher trails may run it tighter in order to increase the amount of chain retention and reduce chain slap. MSRP for the derailleur is $82.99, and it weighs 280 grams. Shifter:
Shimano's shifters have always been renowned for their ergonomics, and the latest version doesn't disappoint. A number of the features were first seen in the XTR gruppo, and from the dimples on the thumb paddle used to shift up through the gears to the vertical ridges on the lever used to shift down the cassette, it's clear that some serious thought went into the little details. It's possible to move the derailleur through four gears with one push of the forward lever, and to drop down up to two gears at a time with the smaller rear lever.
Our test shifter came equipped with a gear indicator that I made use of a grand total of zero times, but Shimano does offer the shifter with the indicator already removed, an option I'd imagine most riders who are going the 1x route will choose. Cranks:
The main talking point about Shimano's latest Hollowtech II crankset is the chainring itself. Constructed from plated steel and held on a carbon body, the ring uses what Shimano call 'Dynamic Chain Engagement' (DCE), rather than using an alternating narrow / wide tooth pattern. The DCE tooth shape supposedly results in a 150% increase in chain retention. The teeth have a relatively square profile, with a deep channel between each tooth. Cranksets that can accept direct mount chainrings are becoming more common, but Shimano chose to go with a 4 bolt, 96mm BCD layout, which means that a 30 tooth chainring is the smallest possible option.
The outer diameter of the M8000's external bottom bracket cups has been reduced, which means that they require a different tool than the previous version for installation and removal. It's a slight inconvenience, but there is an inexpensive plastic adaptor available, the same one that's used for XTR bottom brackets, which means riders shouldn't have to buy a completely new tool.
On the Trail
The M8000's shifting performance lived up to expectations; it's crisp and precise, quickly and smoothly moving the chain up or down the cassette as needed without any harsh jumps between gears. The XT shift lever can only shift four gears up the cassette at a time compared to SRAM's five, but when it comes time to shift to a harder gear, Shimano has the advantage, allowing riders to drop down two gears with one push of the lever. I never found myself wishing I could grab more than four gears, even when faced with a sudden, steep uphill, but I regularly took advantage of the ability to drop down two gears in order to achieve the speed or cadence I wanted. It does feel like it takes slightly more force to move the XT lever through its travel compared to a SRAM shifter, but it's a very slight difference. The battle of SRAM vs. Shimano for drivetrain domination is a heated one, but when it comes to shifting accuracy and feel, both companies offer performance that leaves little to be desired.
I ran the XT crankset without a chainguide for the first month or so of the test period and didn't suffer any dropped chains, even when pinballing down some of the rougher and steeper trails in the Whistler Valley. Of course, given how many light and simple chainguide options currently on the market there's no harm in running one, although it's certainly not a requirement.
As far as durability goes, the M8000 upholds XT's reputation of being a set-and-forget drivetrain, and it's required minimal attention since the day it was installed. The steel chainring isn't showing and signs of premature wear despite being exposed to everything from dust to mud to snow, and the derailleur itself is still going strong. The same goes for the bottom bracket, which is still spinning smoothly even after all of those aforementioned nasty trail conditions. Issues
I found that backpedaling with the chain in the largest, 42 tooth sprocket causes it to jump down two or three gears, an occurrence that's most noticeable when adjusting the shifting with the bike in a stand. Because it takes more than a half revolution of the cranks for this to occur, I didn't notice it out on the trail (I rarely find myself backpedaling more than that, especially in the easiest gear), but since everyone has different riding styles, it's worth a mention.
The only other issue I can see arising isn't related to the construction or function of the drivetrain - it's the fact that the 11-42 cassette doesn't offer the same range as SRAM's 10-42 tooth options.
For many riders (myself included) this is a fairly minor point. The terrain I frequent tends to be steep going up and down, which means I'm more concerned about having an easy enough gear to get to the top of a brutal climb without my head exploding, not setting a new land speed record spinning my way to the trailhead.
That being said, I do know that there are riders who want the range that a 10-42 cassette offers, but prefer Shimano's shifter and derailleur. The solution? Run a SRAM cassette, and get the best of both worlds. Of course, this does require having an XD-driver equipped wheel, and neither company is going to fully endorse this practice, but it works just fine, without any noticeable decrease in shifting performance. Pinkbike's Take:
|We've finally reached a point where 1x11 drivetrains have become relatively affordable, a welcome development for riders who had been put off by the high price of upgrading. The question will inevitably arise as to which is better, Shimano or SRAM, but the truth is, one isn't drastically superior to the other - both offer excellent functionality and durability, although at the moment Shimano has the edge when it comes to pricing.|
All told, aside from slight ergonomic differences, plus the fact that SRAM's drivetrain requires a different driver body, and Shimano's doesn't offer as wide of a gear range, at the end of the day, it comes down personal preference. That's not as satisfying of an answer as declaring that X is better than Y, but it's also a sign of how good today's drivetrains have become, something that benefits all of us out on the trail. - Mike Kazimer
Visit the high-res gallery for more images from this review
If you have time to match cadence to more then 8 gears your trails suck. Leave it to roadies.
I'm that guy! Though dunno if 35 counts as old. I have been rocking 8speeds since the 90s. Just finished putting on a brand new 8speed sram cassette 11-30 which I added a 34T from another 8 speed 11-34 shimano cassette to get 12-34 (smaller gap between cogs). Not a fan of pie sized cassettes that weigh more than my 8 speed cassette! I run a 30T front for climbing and 32T for the bikepark.
A full drive train for under 500$
What would the Sram X1 cost? three times as much or four times as much?
Cassette works on a normal hub. Bonus!
And this looks good!
Super crisp shifting and quiet running and the chain doesn't fall off when back pedaling.
Top shelf shifter, inexpensive to replace solid derailleur, wide range & light cassette, smooth quiet braking, and a durable light chain.
As for value, XT wins hands down. You can add a GX cassette and XD driver (assuming your hub is compatible) and still come out cheaper than going all GX, all while having better components.
Boost spacing, Sram X1 cassette, XT der. and shifter, 48 and 51mm offset ring but if needed I'll buy a 49mm. That should be okay?
@AaGro do you have boost spacing? And do you know your ring's offset? Do you think the shimano cassette makes the chain fall off?
The problem is people are stupid - we just go and buy whatever, constantly being attacked with new, 'cheaper but better' stuff, and no one is even questioning whether we really need all of that NEW.
What we are not being told is the result of our stupidity, but essentially we are slowly killing our home, the Earth, turning it into massive garbage dump.
Hold on before you click another 'buy'. Think twice, learn how to re-use and recycle.
No boost spacing. Hell! I'm still running a trail bike with 26" wheels. Spacing is meant to be 51mm but I have difficulty accurately measuring this. Sure seems like I'm running it between 49and 50.
I didn't measure the offset either, I just saw it on my rings website! Weird that your chain dont fall off... well I guess I'll see that once it is installed! Thanks anyway!
GX isn't a terrible drivetrain, it simply doesn't compare to M8000 in anything but price.
I'm happy with the 44, but I heard there was an issue with a 9T being so small and some sort of polygon effect (I have no idea what a missing parrot has to do with drive trains)..... Have you had any issues with your 9T?
I prefer Shimano shifting but they go down with the quality with each release. Their last quality highlight was the 980 crankset but still... almost as expensive as RF Next SL...
It's a completely subjective argument, but i'm firmly in the stance that XTR holds the "quality feel" crown. I'm not going to stake the claim that that alone makes it better. It really does come down to what kind of feel is most important to you.
Anyone else tried a 9-44 or 10-44?
Compare XTR mechanical with XX1.
If he was comparing xt to some lower end sram then fine, but he is saying it stacks up well against their top end stuff.
Reliability. Far far better price. Lack of needing to go and buy a xd driver.
There you go, there are 3 reasons already that are better than weight. If a groupset costing 5 times more than xt isn't lighter by default anyway I'd be offended. The fact that it is 5 times the cost of xt and doesn't have shimanos reliability, doesn't have cheap replacement part costs, and still needs an xd driver bought . . . Then what exactly does it offer for all that money to justify it?
Other than weight of course.
So tell me again that the only thing better is weight.
Also, did I actually say xt was 'better' than xx1? Show me where I said overall it is better please. I'll wait. . . . . I didn't. I said it stacks up incredibly well considering it costs 5 times less, and is universally known to be more reliable and long lasting than sram gears based on basically any review as well, over the course of Shimanos history. And if lightweight cassettes are the best as you seem to think, why did my Sunrace 11-42t cassette that is lighter than xt cost less than xt?! And will certainly not be as reliable I can tell you now. So is lightweight and expensive the be all and end all or not? Your argument seem to suggest it is?
Again though, looking at your post, you start on weight, bring it up in the middle and then the end too . . . As a means to justify a 5 times price hike.
Then you mention racing.... Well, if you are talking racing now for some reason, why are you so concerned about xt stacking up? A 'racer' wouldn't dream of using xt would they . . . .
See, now you are the one doing what you complained about with the other guy, you are comparing a sram top end 'race' product with a 'bottom end' shimano product and trying to convince me the sram is 'better' . . . why? All I did was say xt stacks up incredibly well to xx1 taking into account all the areas xt has advantages. Price, reliability, replacement parts cost, no xd driver (some wheels have them, some don't so it is still an expense).
Also, as well as cost of parts (the most prohibitive aspect of mountain biking for the vast majority), I mentioned reliability of shimano products (as evidenced in basically any review of them of course). Price, and therefore ease of getting replacements parts as well. And the lack of needing an xd driver (you saying some wheelsets come with it so ignore that is hilarious. Because all it means is a lot do . . . . And a lot also don't come with it, meaning it is an expense people have to consider).
So, that is more than just 'cost' as you seem to think I said.
The fact you can't see that xt stacks up incredibly well with a groupset that costs 5 times as much is probably the funniest thing I will read today. But, a 22 year old who knows no better than what sram have told him is probably not the best judge of what 'value' really is.
Again, my Sunrace cassette is lighter than xt . . . . So is it better?! Get a grip. Lighter does not automatically equal better, even in the 'race' world. A key factor along with many others? Of course. But it does not mean better.
my point was in my position, father of two kids, wife doesn't work outside the house, living in a resort town because i love the mountians, and have a bike addiction its a no brainer to me to go with a 11 speed group on my alu framed smuggler that weighs 29lbs that doesn't make me go broke and can still afford milk and cereal.
im not trying to compare volkswagons to audis.. but my life style favors the vw and love everything (reliability and cost) like @mgolder was trying to bring out..
XT M8000 Cassette 435g
GX Cassette 395g
@nobble - having ridden XX1 and M9000, I disagree. There's no noticeable difference in suspension performance from my experience. I would imagine that if you are riding a lightweight XC machine with a 700g rear wheel, and switch from a 9-speed XTR cassette to the M8000 cassette, you might notice a difference. But I highly doubt you are riding a 22lb Epic. I bet, like me, you are riding a 30lb AM bike with a 1000g rear wheel and 800g+ tire. Switching from an M8000 to a GX cassette for us is a 2% change in weight, and that's at the axle, not on the end of a 11-13" leverage arm like a tire's weight would be.
The difference would be less noticeable on a bike with less travel. When the wheel moves farther it becomes more noticeable. Tire/wheel weight have the same effect for suspension tracking because they all rotate about the axle.
The difference is significant regardless of if you want to admit it or not.
So, much closer to the 2% difference The Raven mentions.
Also, to the guy above. So, as long as you pay less than retail for xx1 it is all fine? You do realise that you can also still get xt or any other groupset for far less than retail too? Meaning the price difference maintains.
And, as has always been the point of this . . . If you can clearly say you believe that xx1 is actually 5 times better than xt, to justify the price difference, then, well, I still wouldn't believe you because it would be nonsense of course. Nobody said one was better than the other, well apart form the other guy earlier.
It was all about justification of price versus overall value. And shimano do win there.
@k2rider - XX1 is certainly superior to XT, no question. Di2 is a completely different experience and really doesn't belong in this conversation. Its a preview of the future of bike drivetrains.
I'm used to the price thing...I don't even notice the "sale" anymore...I just compare what it's going to cost me at different sellers.
"A bicycle is just circles turning circles. It's the human motor that makes it elegant"
- a bad crank design that looks like shit after 5 months of use (!)
- a need for a new bb tool
- a 10% less gear ratio (yeah that's 10% big-not 1 tooth small)
- an almost half kilogram cassette (yes it's cheap, but damn that's heavy!)
- an uncomfortable pcd specced crank
- an ugly crank (ok, that's a little personal)
As far as i'm concerned, i wouldn't compare this group to the X1, not even the GX.. I have to be fair and say that it's a good attempt to make affordable drivetrain with characteristics that move to the direction of sram's offerings, but come on people. In terms of quality and performance, we know that xt comes a little lower that X9..!
It's ok, i can stand some neg props
Really? OK. When you've finished throwing money away, let me a tenner?
Don't know why you're getting neg propped. You have a totally valid point. Those xd drivers are realllyyy expensive. Especially if you have a 10 speed Chris king. The 10 tooth is cool and all but I don't believe it's worth that upgrade
And what happens if I want to keep my existing wheels?
was ~230 for kmc chain, absoluteBlack oval chainring, 11-42 xt cassette, gx derailleur, and gx shifter.
not too bad since it blows my old Zee out of the water
You're thinking about it like a car, shifting up is shifting into "harder" gears.
Neither is really wrong, per se.
I have no doubt that there are guys who use their 42t alot more than I do, but we're still talking about a very limited number of riders when you look at the big picture.
I ride a transition patrol with fourier 42t rear and 30t atomracing front. When I replaced the chain which is still useful to new one, new chain poped up and 30t got sucked on the chain ring after 1 year use.
I guess 2x10 set up saves much money and provides much wider and practical gear ratio.
Don't get me wrong, I still laugh at the guys who complain about a sub 100g difference in drivetrain weight while riding their 2000g wheelset and 1200g tires.
I'm currently running 1x10 (XT derailleur) and it would be sooo much cheaper to change just the cassette to go from my 11-36 to a 11-42 rather than this 1x11 XT : Sunrace MX3 11-42 is 85€ and 390g.
I'm ok with having bigger jumps between gears, but I would like to know if you lose shifting performance or durability with these 10sp wide range cassettes?
BTW, Shimano if you made your own 11-42 10 speed cassette, I would buy it.
I can't wait for the Sunrace cassette to wear out so I can get something decent on that bike. I will likely save a few more bucks for another XT M8000 setup.
It's good, but its not great.
I wouldn't say they were shady, I suppose it depends if you care about improving the wealth of ****s.
Shimano have done this before, made a new BCD "standard", only to ditch it some years later. Trying to find chainrings for my '98 XTR cranks on my commuter is really hard!
If Shimano had offered a 11-42 XT cassette in 10 speed, I wouldn't have even consider 11s. The M8000 rear derailleur works with Shimano 10s shifters. Unfortunately the aftermarket 10s 11-42 are lacking compared to the XT M8000 cassette. My 10s 11-42 wolf tooth /rad cage setup had no backpedalling issues but didn't shift as well as the XT 11s.re
If it's an "aftermarket" drivetrain, like the SLX 1x10 I installed on my Knolly you will need to play with the BB or shim the chain ring to get a perfect line.
I hacksawed some washers and squeezed them in with extra long chain ring bolts and now my drivetrain backpedals flawlessly on every gear.
My setup also got better with time; a new chain isn't as flexible as an old worn one so the 1x liked to be broken in a little.
I looked at it as I am deciding to sell or keep a GX Eagle drivetrain on a fat bike, or go 2x11 or 2x9.
I have 1 other fat bike a Felt DD70 which came with a 22-32-44 x 11-36 Deore/Alivio 9 speed drive train.
This drive train is super robust and has a giant range. With the Jumbo Jim's being a fast fat bike tyre being in the 44t chainring out of the saddle, cruising along on tarmac I enjoy the 44t.
Main point about Deore/Alivio 9 speed is how tough it is.
3 times I have mashed the RD, and straightened it on the trail by hand, and it works fine. Thats amazing.
The quality of the shifting is excellent and 9 speed is so easy to setup and stays tuned with nice big spaces between cogs.
The GX Eagle on the other hand is extremely sensitive to misalignment. When it works its tremendous. Slick changing, back pedalling on the 50t, huge range.
But I'm on my second RD in 800 miles, and its been in shops 3 times to be realigned.
(just learned that the bearings in the hub must be tight, any play will have a negative impact on shifting on the 36t-42t-50t).
I can imagine the 2x or 1x 11 Shimano XT must be a great drivetrain,
but I am seriously impressed with Deore/Alivio 9 speed. Its extremely cheap too. Probably go 9 speed 22-36 x 11-36 which is good on a fat bike.
I'm gonna go console my clumsiness with some fried chicken.
There is NO price comparison between Shimano and SRAM. SRAM is more expensive across the board, period. Which one is better is subjective.
The problem is that the majority of the world is still riding cup and cone hubs that are not convertible. Sure someone upgrading their drivetrain may have planned on new wheels anyway, or they may be spec'ing a new build. But in the context of the common man, riding his 5+ year-old bike, who just managed to scrounge up a couple hundred dollars and is trying to budget the rest of the cash he needs for a new drivetrain, XT is so much more attainable than even GX...let alone X1.
But again, which is better is completely subjective. Larger chainrings reduce ground clearance, but since in 99% of cases we are talking about a 30T vs 32T chainring, it's exactly the same non-factor as the fact that smaller chainrings wear faster (and wear chains faster). Both are such a small distinction as to be nearly inconsequential. Also being forgotten here is the effect that the GX and X1 pinned cassettes have on shifting. Small difference, but about the same small difference that 100g makes mounted on a 1100g rear wheel with a 1200g tire mounted on it. All these minor points we are arguing are silly. Price and preference are far more important.
This is completely forgetting the XD issue. So i'm still not seeing it.
Wow no brainer
So I'll be spinning along up the slope, probably at about 75-80 rpm and then come to a ledge/rock climb at which point I'll spin up to say 100 to pick up a bit of momentum and pop up the ledge at which point I find myself in a 15% upslope rock garden where I'll hit my cranks if I don't ratchet. And yes, I'm usually stopped and track standing at this point, but can keep going/get started again (sometimes) if I'm in my granny and can rachet to the right spot.
That being said, it really is just one or two locations I ride, i'm only ratcheting a 1/4 to an 1/8th of a turn, and my chain doesn't fall off anyway, but, theoretically at least, I can see it being an issue for people who are way above my skill level riding super steep technical terrain.
I love the pricing of the new XT stuff. Awesome.
It was tested on russian local forums.
Can probably climb with it too.
We're now left with Quality, Price, and Looks. Quality: XT internals are miles superior. Price: XT is cheaper. Looks: I guess an anodized cassette milled from a single piece of aluminum is cool, SRAM gets this one.
Your choice of drivetrain is just that: Your choice. It's my job to recommend people an upgrade or replacement that will last them as long as possible, and perform at or above the level they're expecting. If you walked in to replace a bashed X01 derailleur, I wouldn't try to convince you otherwise. You seem to know what you're looking for and I'd simply grab one from the back. Shimano has proven to me that it is at least the most consistent choice for most riders, and thats what really matters.
My job is to recommend to people the best choice for any intended purpose, thus I usually recommend SRAM for 1x11 and 1x10 drivetrains, as they offer superior shifting, light weight componentry, and aesthetics to boot.