Shimano XTR Trail Drivetrain - Review

Jun 10, 2015
by Mike Levy  
We've had our hands on Shimano's eleven-speed XTR Trail group long enough to run it through everything from some extremely sloppy winter conditions, to the dust and rocks of Arizona, and even more countless miles of rowdy singletrack in southwestern British Columbia. The complete group, including the new carbon and aluminum XTR Trail wheelset, has even been installed on two different bikes during that time, a Rocky Mountain Element and Ibis' Ripley, which likely makes it the most well used drivetrain that we currently have in rotation.

The time we've put on the XTR Trail group has given us a clear idea of how it functions over the long haul, but let's first take a look at the details. Below is RC's take on the technical talking points of the XTR Trail drivetrain from the group's introduction back in April, and you can read the ride impressions farther down the page.



Shimano’s Gearing Philosophy

We were given a fresh explanation of Shimano’s drivetrain doctrine at the XTR product launch last April, with Shimano explaining that they divide the available gear ratios into two groups: “Driving gears” and “Challenge gears.” Driving gears, in the case of a two ring or three ring drivetrain, are in the middle range of the cassette when the rider is in the big chainring. Challenge gears are for the steepest climbs, when the rider is forced to select the smaller chainrings and to use the larger three cogs of the cassette.

Shimano professes that the smooth, 10 RPM jumps between shifts generated by its Rhythm Step, 11 by 40 tooth cassette, optimize the efficiency of the driving gears that we use most often for both climbing and pedalling on the flats. While the closer gear ratios of Shimano’s XTR cassette provide smaller steps between most of the gearing range, they obviously cannot attain the higher top and bottom gears of SRAM’s XX1 10 by 42 cassette. To achieve a competitive spread, Shimano “strongly suggests” that XTR customers choose its two ring crankset option.

Here is the closest comparison between a Shimano XTR two ring drivetrain and SRAM’s single ring setup:

Shimano 28 x 38 tooth chain rings: Lowest gear 28/40 = 1.42:1 ratio. Highest gear 38/11 = 1:3.45 ratio. (22 gear selections)

SRAM 30 tooth chain ring: Lowest gear 30/42 = 1.4:1 ratio. Highest gear 30/10 = 1:3 ratio. (11 gear selections)






What the above chart demonstrates is how Shimano’s close-ratio two ring option provides a nearly identical gearing spread compared to a SRAM XX1 single ring drivetrain. By switching to a 28 tooth chainring, the SRAM drivetrain can also match Shimano’s 26 x 36 option, but Shimano also offers a third, 24 x 34 option for its two ring crankset that provides XTR customers an even lower gear than SRAM can match (Shimano: Lowest gear 24/40 = 1.66:1 vs SRAM: Lowest gear 28/42 – 1.5:1). The direct comparison makes it clear that Shimano’s choice for trail gearing is a two ring transmission, and it competes directly with SRAM’s single ring offerings.



XTR Trail Crankset

The XTR Trail cranks are cold forged like last year’s and lack the bonded left-side crank-arm of its cross-country brother. The Q-factor is also ten millimeters wider (168mm) than the Race cranks. They are configurable in one, two or three ring combinations, with gearing ranges limited to 30, 32, 34 and 36 teeth for a single ring option; 24 x 34, 26 x 36 and 28 x 38 for the two ring option; and the triple ring option will only be available in 22 x 30 x 40-tooth combination. The two ring crankset that's reviewed below retails for $599.99 USD and weighs 652 grams, while the triple ring goes for $629.99 and the single for $399.99 USD. Bottom brackets range from $39.99 to $59.99 USD depending on what you need.


Shimano XTR Trail review test





XTR Cassette

Shimano’s 2015 XTR ensemble hinges upon its long-awaited eleven-speed cassette. Shimano says that the jumps between each gear were carefully selected to be close to ten RPM - a feature that Shimano calls “Rhythm Step” gearing. The actual cog numbers are: 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40 teeth. Shimano makes the 40 tooth cog from aluminum and the rest of the cassette cogs are made of titanium. The cogs are grouped on aluminum spiders in similar fashion to previous XTR cassettes. If you want a preview on how the gearing is spaced, the first seven steps are the same as Shimano’s ten-speed 11 by 36 cassettes, with the addition of the final 27, 31, 35 and 40 tooth sprockets. Great news for all is that the 326 gram XTR eleven-speed cassettes will fit on all ten-speed Shimano compatible freehubs, which is something that SRAM can't say. Previous XTR rear derailleurs, chains and right-hand shift levers, however, will not work with the new group. The XTR cassette retails for $349.99 USD.




XTR Chain

XTR requires a special, eleven-speed chain that goes for $59.99 USD, and like its predecessors, the links are profiled asymmetrically to boost shifting performance. Sil-Tec, a slippery nickel plating, is used to keep the chain running smoothly in all weather, and beyond its microscopically thinner width, the HG-11 chain is further lightened by hollow pins.




XTR Front Derailleur

Shimano has consistently offered the best shifting front derailleurs, but that hasn't stopped them from coming up with ways to have them shift even better. Shimano took advantage of the new XTR’s smaller chain ring options and shortened the length of the front derailleur cage, then developed a top-mounted “Side Swing” mechanism that eliminates the old school derailleur’s bird’s nest of cables and lever arms that made a mess of the area behind the seat tube. Both improvements address nagging tire clearance issues that 29er designers faced when attempting to shorten the bike’s chain stays. All two ring front derailleurs retail for $99.99 USD, while the triple version costs $119.99 USD.


Shimano XTR Front derailleur 2015


Unlike previous Shimano front changers, the new XTR cage has fewer tricky bends and twists to coax the chain from sprocket to sprocket, relying more on brute stiffness to get the job done, and the cage is also designed to compensate for three degrees of rear suspension travel. Two separate derailleurs are offered, one for two ring and another for three ring setups, and both clamp type and direct mount options are available. For 2015, only the FD 9025 model changer will offer a conventional cable routing. The new FD 9000 XTR changer will be easy to spot because it requires a novel down tube-routed housing that feeds to the front side of the mechanism, and we expect to see some zip-ties on bikes that were designed before the new XTR components were released to manufacturers.




XTR Rear Derailleur

The 2015 XTR rear derailleur is essentially an entirely new model, with its parallelogram slant being reduced and the cage and upper pulley offset so the derailleur will better track the steeper angle formed by the wide-range eleven-speed cassette. Quicker shifting is said to be accomplished by extending the derailleur’s body about 10mm farther forward, so that the upper pulley leads the chain into the next shift. The Shadow Plus clutch has also been reconfigured with an external hex key adjustment, and the outer cage is carbon fiber. Adjustments have extended ranges to make the new derailleur more adaptable to various frame designs and, presumably, to allow it to adapt to future eleven-speed cassettes with different gear ratios - we test fit it with OneUp's new 45 tooth cog and it clears without any issues. Both the medium and long cage options retail for $239.99 USD, with the medium cage weighing 217 grams on our scale.



Shimano XTR 2015


Shift Levers

Shimano redesigned their XTR shifters with a longer cable take-up lever and a broader cable release lever that resembles Saint levers. The release lever can double shift if necessary - a feature that was added to facilitate faster shifting for single ring drivetrains. The internals have also been altered to offer a more crisp feel and tactile shift feedback, which Shimano refers to as “Vivid indexing” action. Cosmetically, the XTR shifters appear somewhat similar to last year’s when they are on the bike, except for the addition of a textured carbon fiber release lever, and like previous XTR, they are I-Spec II compatible, so they can be directly mounted to the brake levers. A set of 229 gram XTR shifters with standard mounting costs $234.99, and there's a $10 up-charge if you want to go with the cleaner I-Spec II mounting. Individual left and right shifters are available for $119.99 USD.





Riding Shimano's XTR Drivetrain



Front Shifting

It wasn't that long ago that almost every mountain bike had either two or three chain rings and, as many of you likely remember, moving the chain from one to another was sorta reminiscent of accidentally dropping from fourth to first in an old car - there was a lot of banging, scraping, and wondering just what the hell was going on down there. Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad, but Shimano's latest front derailleur and chain ring designs make it seem like it was. And yes, I'm well aware that there's going to be a load of comments below going on about two rings versus one, but I'd love it if we could all forget about that banter for just a second and take a moment to appreciate just how fast and precise Shimano has been able to make their front shifting.

Shimano 2015 XTR review test
Those who do choose to run multiple rings with their XTR drivetrain are in for a treat, with the front derailleur able to move the chain up to the large chain ring extremely quickly, even when the rider is still on the gas; the whole operation feels solid and leaves no questions. I love the simplicity of a single chain ring system, and I'd likely go that route on my own bike, even with the XTR cassette's narrower 11 - 40 spread compared to what SRAM offers, but anyone who's going to run more than one chain ring can do no better than what Shimano is offering for 2015.

Chain retention was also on point, at least for a two ring setup that obviously can't take advantage of the added security that a narrow / wide tooth shape brings. That means that while I did have the chain drop from the large to the small ring a handful of times, especially when I was in the smaller cogs and chain tension was lower, it never did jump off to the outside of the big ring. The rear derailleur's clutch certainly feels to be a touch stiffer than what SRAM offers, enough so that I could feel it tugging on the chain when riding my bike on pavement (but not on the trail) and activating the suspension, and that clearly helps matters.





Rear Shifting

I know that most people reading this want me to do one thing and only one thing: compare the shift action between XTR and XX1, and make a clear choice as to which one is better. Unfortunately (or not), that's a bit like me trying to tell you that pizza is better than a hamburger - both taste great, and it just comes down to preference. The XTR and XX1 groups both shift sublimely and will leave a rider asking for nothing so long as they're both setup correctly. That said, the shift feel is different between the two, enough so that it'd be easy to tell them apart in a blind test. The thumb paddle of the XTR shifter has less throw to it before it makes things happen downstairs, although we're talking about a very negligible difference, and I'd also say that it feels a touch less 'kachug-y' than what the XX1 shifter offers.

Shimano XTR Trail review test
Another difference is that the XTR thumb paddle can move the chain over four cogs through its entire arc, while SRAM goes over five. I honestly never noticed that last point on the trail, although one could argue that SRAM's shifting allows the rider to grab one easier gear should they blow a corner or come up to an unexpected and steep climb. The effort required to move the XTR shifter's thumb paddle through its arc doesn't feel like it rises the more you push it, which is a change from years past, although I'm also of the opinion that that point might be moot once you have a few thousand rainy and muddy miles on the shift cable and housing.

One area where Shimano does have a clear advantage over SRAM is when it comes down to shifting to a harder gear out back, with Shimano's Multi-Release design allowing you to grab two smaller cogs instead of just a single cog per click as SRAM offers. This is handy when cresting a rise into a quick downhill section, or anywhere else where speeds go up in a short amount of time.

The speed at which the chain is moved across the cogs feels equal between XX1 and XTR, which isn't a surprise when you take into account that both employ eleven cogs that are squeezed into about the same slice of real estate. There is no clear winner in this department, and any rider fortunate enough to have either group is going to be stoked on what they offer.




Gearing Range

There was quite the hoopla when Shimano released the specs for their new eleven-speed drivetrain, with most of it centered around the fact that it uses an 11 - 40 tooth cassette that doesn't offer the range of SRAM's 10 - 42 offering. With single ring setups becoming the norm in many locations (but not all), it's easy to question Shimano's logic, especially because the Japanese giant surely could have come up with something to equal their competition. But they didn't, and not because they couldn't, but because they believe that the tighter jumps between the 11 and 40 tooth cogs on their cassette make more sense, and that two ring drivetrains also make sense for a lot of riders and terrain. To be honest, the former felt invisible to me when on the trail, even when riding XTR back to back against XX1, and the two chain ring setup did make the tighter range cassette a non-issue. Also, being able to cross-gear from the big chain ring to the large cog as required, and without any nasty chain rub on the front derailleur, made for one less thing to worry about in that I didn't have to use the front shifter nearly as much as you might think.


Shimano XTR Trail review test


What won't be invisible to the average rider who's using a single ring is the two tooth difference between the easiest gear on a SRAM cassette and the 40 tooth cog on the XTR block. Single ring riders take note that both the top and bottom ends are a bit more limiting when using an XTR cassette with a single chain ring, but that obviously wasn't an issue with my two ring test drivetrain. The upside is that your wheel doesn't require the XD freehub body that makes the 10 - 42 SRAM cassette a possibility. I suspect that we'll be seeing a lot of companies choosing to spec their bike's with Shimano's recently released 11 - 42 XT cassette that offers a wider range than XTR and a decent cost savings.

It's also worth mentioning that while there are aftermarket companies offering single ring solutions for the proprietary 70-degree, four-bolt pattern of the XTR cranks, you won't be able to bolt up a spider-less chain ring like you can with SRAM's drive side crank.




Ergonomics

SRAM has long held the crown when it comes to adjustment and positioning options on the handlebar, and that's still the case when talking about the standard XTR shifter mounts, but the I-Spec II system does offer multiple setup choices that allow the rider to tinker until they get it exactly right for their hands. It also makes for a clean looking cockpit, with the slim mount taking up next to no room. One detail that seems small but is actually pretty nice on the trail is the heavy texturing of the two-way release paddle, which is more noticeable than you'd assume, but the small divots in the carbon thumb levers seem to do about as much good as nipples on a man.

A hiccup that I'd like to see improved is how difficult it is to flip the rear derailleur's clutch lever between the on and off settings. It's a minor thing, no doubt, but I did find it pretty difficult to move, especially is the heat of the moment when you're trying to change a flat tire quickly.


Shimano XTR Trail review test
Shimano XTR Trail review test




Reliability

I ran the XTR drivetrain on two bikes, a Rocky Mountain Element and an Ibis Ripley, and found reliability to be solid in most regards. I never needed to add tension (which you can now do externally) to the clutch hidden inside of the XTR rear derailleur, and it's currently straight and moving the chain across the cogs just as well as it did prior to being dragged against rocks and smashed into the ground. Its carbon outer cage is also still going strong, despite some obvious heavy contact with pointy things, but the threaded-in pin that keeps the cage from being wound completely around the parallelogram took leave long ago, which means that the cage is now free to rotate back past its stop when the chain isn't installed.

I'm satisfied with the group's long term reliability, with the exception of a few notable issues... I did manage to break the XTR chain twice, but the second instance was admittedly my fault. The first break looked a lot like the typical peeling of the outer plate away from the pin, and it wasn't at the joint where the supplied pin was used to install the chain. Still, these things happen, so I wasn't too bothered until I realized that I didn't have another joining pin (or aftermarket master link) tucked away inside my bag. That meant that I had to remove the damaged section of chain and re-join it using one of the factory installed pins. That's a no-no in eleven-speed land, which is a bit of a bummer as I feel like you shouldn't need one of their tiny joining pins every time you need to put the chain back together. Yes, I realize Shimano says this design makes for the strongest possible joint, which I don't doubt, but it's also about as user friendly as having to kill and slice up your own cow every time you want a nice steak. To be fair, I should also note that I've broken eleven-speed chains from SRAM and KMC, as have many other riders, so I don't hold the XTR chain's first failure against the group.


Shimano XTR Trail review test


I also had some issues with Shimano's BB92 bottom bracket, although it wearing out to the point of rattling in a few months was less of a headache than trying to remove the cups from the frame. The composite BB92 cups do make sense in that they're a lot less likely to creak and groan, and they probably also allow for a small degree of self-alignment if required, but they're not nearly as user-friendly to remove as more robust aluminum cups are. I know, the right tools for the job and all that, but it'd be nice if they were a little less prone to damage if and when a rider needs to pop them out. Also, the last time I went to remove the crankset, the drive side bearing pulled right out of the cup and was nearly one with the spindle. Cue much swearing and a hammer going for a short flight.




Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesShimano is going to have an uphill battle trying to talk the average trail rider into a two or three chain ring drivetrain - my non-racer body would still prefer a single ring setup, despite being surrounded by steep climbs and tall mountains - but those who do decide to go that route will be rewarded with the best shifting front derailleur that's ever been conceived. That said, this isn't a single ring versus double ring comparison, but rather a review of Shimano's latest XTR drivetrain, which, as probably shouldn't come as a surprise, performs extremely well. And while I do have a few reliability concerns, which is odd when talking about Shimano, there is absolutely nothing to complain about when it comes to shift action. - Mike Levy



258 Comments

  • + 92
 Save yourself a few bucks and beers. Go SLX/XT combo and you'll be more then fine.

XTR is still a amazing piece of equipement..
  • + 20
 all slx, xt cassette with 40t = more cash = winning!
  • + 7
 And use the money to buy a KMC or Rohloff chain instead, every time I've thought 'Can a Shimano chain really be that bad' and tried it again I might as well have knitted a chain from spaghetti for how long it lasted before snapping it. Words don't describe how much I hate Shimano chains. Oh. Maybe they just did.
  • + 6
 mmmm I haven't broken a XTR chain since a long time, that is, since I stopped using their idiotic connectors and bought chain link from KMC. You can't insert links though, shorten it once and right. Once you break it, throw it into the bin. I never had such problems with 9sp chains which is weird since the plate thickness remained the same. And I ride on quite hard gear ratios with low cadence
  • + 2
 Yes exactly...in fact that's been my experience with every 9-speed-or-thinner chain i've ever used, Shimano, KMC, or SRAM. I started using quicklinks/speedlinks over a decade ago and have stuck with that ever since. You are far better off adding chain using another quicklink than trying to do it the "right" way by inserting a spare pin. I've never had a quicklinked chain break. NEVER.
  • + 1
 9 speed chains were definitely easier to work on. Haven't gone 11 yet, but I also bought aftermarket quicklinks when I realized 10speed chains weren't coming with them anymore. Never had one fall off or apart either. I use the Wipperman quicklinks though, as I feel like they're more secure & easier to remove once you get the knack.
  • + 5
 I have been also advised by my trusted, bullsht-hating, dead honest wizard-mechanic to always use top of the line chains as they are stronger and wear out slower.
  • - 2
 Use cheap chains and replace often. Chainrings and cogs last longer.
  • + 10
 Agree - here's an article from Art's Cyclery, comparing different Shimano models and giving you the straightforward answer on where to spend/save your money on a 10 speed system:

reviews.mtbr.com/shimano-components-where-to-spend-your-money/2

To sum it all up the best bang-for-the-buck 10-speed XTR build would be:
Rear shifter: XTR
Front shifter: SLX or Deore
Front Derailleur: XTR
Rear Derailleur: SLX
Cassette: XT
Crank: SLX
Chain: XTR
Brakes: SLX
  • + 5
 SLXTR And yes those parts would work much better with mt tight wallet.
  • + 2
 If it's Shimano, you know its good. Enough said.
  • + 2
 No downvote from me.
  • + 1
 But why spend so much on chains if they need to be frequently replaced? I know for a fact in the SRAM 9 speed chains the only difference from the 951 to the high-end 991 is that the 991 is a bit more corrosion resistant, with no performance benefit or weight loss.
  • + 6
 Deore brakes are good, right ? I have them, and they work superb for me, but how do they compare to other brakes?
  • + 2
 I would prefer slx derailleur and XTR shifter, nothing like the feel of a nice shifter.
  • + 0
 so I am trying out a Sram X1 drive train this season and so far am not loving or hating it. BUT, the chain is a piece of crap. I have had to straighten links bend the edges back down to flush multiple times now. Im at the point I check it after every ride. Now I know some of you may think "well jack ass learn to shift". If I was your normal pedal masher ID say thats a valid point. How ever I feel I am a very competent Shifter. I have used Shimano chains and shifting most of my life and have never had any issues with any of there chains. The edges of a shimano chain have never started peeling away from the pins, and under normal use work nearly flawlessly. As for quick links.....Im biting my tongue, covering my mouth and all around at a loss. These pieces are with out a doubt the worst way to ever connect your chain together. When a quick link chain breaks( And it will) it almost always happens at the worn out quick link. I say that carefully. New quick links aren't horrible, they do there job, but after a few months of riding become lose and fall apart. Im sure Mr Levy is a decent shifter, and mechanic. I question why, when he says he doesn't care for having to use a shimano pin each time he breaks his chain. If the chain is installed correctly from the start, with a proper pin, they work very well. if you are doing a trail side repair and don't have a pin, well carry at least one. I guess what Im getting at whats the difference between using a quick link as a repair or a chain pin? If the chain requires some thing specific to work at top form why not just do that.

To be fair I am a shimano fan boy. I am giving sram a go after nearly 15 years of just watching it from the side lines. It shifts. It gets to the gear I want to be in. its loud, its clunky, but feels solid. Comparing it to my 1 up converted xt drive train, which is quiet, smooth and thus far has never damaged a chain. Its a bit of a let down. I do like the wider range of gears. 11 to 9 teeth doesn't seem like much but being spun out on my favourite Down hill and knowing some one else on Strava is going faster then me just hurts.
  • + 1
 I'm running 3 different manufacturers on my bike for my groupset. SRAM, Shimano and Magura. All came stock. No issues. I don't ride at a high enough level to warrant the need for near perfect shifting. I don't even know which parts are which make. I think my shifters are Shimano, possibly SRAM. Brakes are definitely Magura. Quality of the ride i.e. frame, stem length and suspension setup is what I focus on. You can't go wrong with groupset choice anymore, SRAM and Shimano will out live their warranty, you'll forever be splitting hairs. But as always IF you can afford it, fucken buy the best and rub it in our faces at how angelic like you're shifting is.
  • + 6
 Is it just me or is ext more ugly than slx or xt.
  • + 1
 Sorry xtr
  • + 2
 Perfect shifting can be already obtained on Deore. You *just* need a personal mechanic. Just like with suspension, you can have as many knobs as you like and it's worth it only if you can set it up right and maintain it. You know the stereotype about people buying CCDB and setting it up *exactly* as they want... I see people on XTR and XX with skipping gears or chain dropping from cassette onto spoke side...
  • + 3
 @bookem13 I have used quicklinks/speedlinks on every chain i've had, and on every chain i've installed (friends bikes and such) for the last 15 years. Not one has had ANY kind of issue. I still have two chains that are roughly EIGHT YEARS OLD and going strong with their original quicklinks. The only two chain breaks i've ever had have been chains that came on factory bikes and were not touched by me. That's a pretty strong testimony.

I'm definitely more fond of Shimano, but i'm not against SRAM by any means. I've stuck with Shimano basically on price. Shimano shifts smoother, looks and feels better, but most importantly IT'S CHEAPER. I haven't encountered any significant issue with SRAM's drivetrains, it's just that the shifting feels "cheap" in comparison to Shimano. Oh and Shimano has Multi-release, which is pretty frikin handy.
  • + 1
 ^^^ likewise. I've not used a chain without a quicklink since the 90s either, & never had a problem, often I'd replace a chain & use the same quicklink from the old chain. Even used a 9 speed quicklink when I first converted to 10 speed because I didn't realize SRAM wasn't making them anymore. It was loose side to side, but worked, & I ran it that way for a few months. tWhile I prefer the Wipperman quicklinks with their offset engagement, I've used SRAM & KMC without issue as well. It's worth noting that Specialized's chain repair headset topcap thingamabob uses quicklinks: if they were really so unreliable, they'd probably include something else instead.

Also, Multi-release is almost mandatory for 10 speeds, as I find myself changing 2 cogs more often than one, & I expect that to be no less true on 11 speed. Which is why I'll be running XT01 as my 11 speed drivetrain choice, though I'm leaning towards waiting for 11 speed saint, so that I can go with that shifter: the 10 speed saint shifter is the best of the lot between XTR, XT, & Saint. I can wait.
  • + 46
 It must be difficult to describe the shift action, but weirdly "kachung-y"... made perfect sense! Cheers Mr Levy!
  • + 2
 So true!
  • + 11
 Must shift nice, with the chain installed the wrong way on the test bike.
  • + 2
 Heh. Looks like it was re-installed incorrectly after breaking. Oops...
  • + 1
 @elrick that isn't a CN-HG900-11 chain (XTR 11v chain)

ep1.pinkbike.org/p6pb11790333/p5pb11790333.jpg
  • + 5
 ^shimano nerds...^ lol
  • + 29
 Looks like I'll be sticking with my hacked together XT system with the 42T extender and 16T swapout. At least until SRAM 1x is affordable. Shame, always liked Shimano drive train gear.
  • + 5
 I'm with you buddy, flawless shifting and happy with hacked shimanos xt 11-42.
  • + 2
 @ sourmix.You can get the new XT Mech, Cassette, and Shifter for the cost of the baseline SRAM 1x11 cassette man, have a look at some of the German websites.
  • + 1
 @sourmix I assume you saw the media release of GX awhile back. Now we just need that to come to market!
  • + 6
 I think I just hear a yahoo from OneUp's boardroom...
  • + 11
 M8000 is going to be an instant king when it's fully available. You'll be able to do wide-range 1x11 for $300-400. Game over. GX will be well-priced too, but it's a step down from XT and requires an XD driver. Considering that this price range is the home of the vast majority of riders (who have to really scrape together even the relatively-modest $400 required), upgrading to an XD driver will likely mean a new wheelset, or at least a rear rebuild. XT is bolt-on.

M8000 plus OneUp's 45t ring looks to finally be enough range along with a reasonable enough price to get me to drop the front derailleur on my primary bike. I'm trying out the expanded 1x10 on my spare bike now, but I already know that it's not going to be enough range for my primary bike.
  • + 1
 I'm likely to pair a XT shifter & derailleur with a SRAM cassette when I go 11 speed, but I'm not in any hurry, as the expander setup has been great. I might wait for 11 speed saint for the shifter, since that was the way to go with 10 speed, more robust, better paddles, but at XT weight.
  • + 6
 groghunter... but it is the SRAM 11sp cassettes that break wallets and marriages, the rest comes at a price comparable to Shimano.
  • + 2
 @TheRaven the vast majority of sales are on complete bikes, as such whether it uses XD driver or Sram/Shimano 9/10/11 speed isn't a factor in the decision. Most people don't upgrade their drivetrain through the life of the bike, the pinkbike community is not typical of people who buy bikes.
  • + 1
 XT 11 speed & XG-1150 cassettes are within about $30 of each other on chain reaction, which we all know generally has better Shimano pricing than SRAM. I think MSRP they're within $10, IIRC. www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/sram-xg-1150-11sp-cassette/rp-prod135801 www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/shimano-xt-m8000-11-speed-cassette/rp-prod135828

I figure if you're willing to spend $90 for an expander cog, $30 shouldn't phase you to get an even wider range. I'll probably step up to the XG-1180 for about $180, though.
  • + 5
 www.pinkbike.com/photo/12230459

I stopped using CRC after they messed up 4th order, which contained only 2 items... and since they prices started including CRC racing team... Deutchland ich leibe dich!
  • + 1
 Then use wiggle, or merlin, or bikeparts.de, since they all seem to have similar pricing. I've actually had really good luck with Chainreaction, & how fast they get orders to the US if you pay $6 for rush is truly silly. My last order beat one from California made on the same day, by 2 days. ordered on friday, got my stuff on monday, which was a holiday, even. I live in a state that shares a border with cali, FFS.

My point is more that there's comparable cassette pricing between shimano & sram now, though you can certainly make a weight argument. I'll take the improved range over the weight reduction, personally, or like I said, spend about $50 more to get more range at a more comparable weight.
  • - 2
 @Patrick9-32 Absolutely, so expanding (heh) on that - lets say your an OEM spec'ing a new bike. The level you are building for is XT or X1. The X1 group is $650, the XT group is $400. However, you need the XD driver for X1 which means you need a compatible wheelset, which is going to be $500 to start. XT can use any wheelset, so you can spec a reliable-but-cheap $250 wheelset instead. You just saved $500 in parts cost, which translates to $800-$1000 retail (or if your company sucks, alot more profit on that bike).

XT will bring 1x11 to a much cheaper bike than even GX could.
  • + 1
 @aks2017 yeah, looks like GX is the way forward if Shimano won't give us the range we need. Maybe end of the year once this set all wears out I can justify it.
  • + 2
 @groghunter yeah I also have had great experiences with Chainreaction, but Merlin has been my overall favorite. Seeing as they currently have the M9000 cassette $50 cheaper than CRC, I would expect similiar with M8000. Their prices tend to actually be worse than CRC on SRAM gear though.

A couple points about the price comparison though - GX is a step down from XT so it's really not a true comparison, and you have to factor in at least $80 for the XD driver (the one for my wheelset is $130), and, that's assuming you have a convertible wheelset. So it can get alot more expensive very quickly, whereas XT is bolt-on for anyone. You could actually do XT with OneUp's 45t expander for a price comparable to stock GX (and you'd still end up with XT as opposed to heavier GX, if that matters).
  • + 1
 Here is what I don't get- why can't a 3rd party make a cassette or cassette adapter that uses a 10t on a traditional (non-xd) hub? A 10t cog could be integrated in the locking collar (or whatever its called) that tightens down the whole cassette assembly onto the hub. There is plenty of room. If Hope or Wolftooh could make a 42-10t ten-speed cassette for under $200 it would be magical.
  • + 2
 hacked slx cassette ok too!
  • + 4
 also--it seems strange when people are willing to spend so much on a crankset. good god...a waste of $ for almost zero functional difference. get an oem shimano slx triple, a narrow wide chainring, one up extender and call it a freaking day already.
  • + 4
 @hamncheez The reason they don't do that will be consistent fitment. It might work for some frames and derailleurs but it would not work for most frames and derailleurs, the 10 tooth cog would have to be further out than the current position of the smallest cassette sprocket (10 teeth won't fit on the body) this would mean it would foul on some frames and some derailleurs wouldn't be able to shift far enough to shift cleanly onto it. Also shifting cleanly would be hard to make happen with a sprocket which could be in any orientation fixed to a thread and it would lock itself onto the freehub with pedalling force to the point where new cassette time would be new wheel time.
  • + 1
 @Patrick9-32 Ah, forgot about self-locking onto the hub. I was going to say maybe reverse thread it (like a left pedal) but that would require a new hub, which at that point might as well be an XD
  • + 1
 @TheRaven we had this conversation before, & I stilll hold to the fact that GX makes it profitable to make a cheap XD hub, whereas nobody wanted to put expensive XX1 parts on a cheap hub before, so cheap XD options will start showing up in the next 12 months, starting with 2016 bikes specced with GX.
  • + 1
 yes but XT cassette of, hypothetically, higher quality is still cheaper than XD...
  • + 1
 I'm more than willing to pay $50 bucks more for a wider range, comparable weight. How much does a RAD cage & a expander cog cost?
  • + 1
 XT will come in 11-42, one tooth less on the low end won't turn you into Mark Weir. Rad cage is not necessary, mid cage Deore/SLX/XT/XTR works great, 42t expander + 16t costs like 90 bucks
  • + 1
 @groghunter I absolutely agree that XD WILL make it down the price spectrum, as it is definitely here to stay. However, that's just an opinion we share, and not yet reality. It's also, at best, a year or so off. So for now, XT will be the way to go.

@EVERYONE stop comparing GX to XT as they are NOT comparable. By next year when (I believe) cheaper XD wheelsets start popping up, SLX will be available and will be much cheaper than XT. THAT'S GX's concern...not XT.

Group for group, Shimano is cheaper than SRAM, even when you ignore the wheelset issue. The reality right now is that M8000 is by a longshot the cheapest way for someone on any 10-speed drivetrain to get into 1x11, largely thanks to the extra cost of the XD driver. By the time this changes (IF it changes), XT will have a gigantic head start in the market and a lead that will be tough to surmount. It's hard for me to see, from a business standpoint, how XD was a smart choice (or at least making it necessary for 1x11 SRAM drivetrains). It has put SRAM at a competitive disadvantage from the start. A disadvantage that is now going to become painfully apparent. All of this for one very controversial tooth.

Though SRAM could simply drop their prices, and everyone would win. Consider me high on the skeptical list for that though.
  • + 1
 If XD is any close to 10sp X7 then I am staying away from it. X7 was at price point of XT and it was nowhere close SLX quality. Both x7 and x9 shifter were utter sht of alivio level. It should be called X5 at best. Shimano did have issues as well: their 10sp cages on Zee/SLX/XT were worthless, slight bend at the bottom and chain was hopping off the pulley. SLX/XT shifters have no sealing what so ever from the bottom, you can see bearing from underneath. Then I heard that you can't put 11s cassette on some 10sp freehubs - anyone knows if that's true?

My 10sp cassette is almost worn out, so is chain of course, then my 3 year old x9 rear mech is a mess, so the only thing keeping me by 10sp is the X0 shifter. Prices of Shimano 11sp stuff is almos on par with 10sp stuff. I think I will change to 11sp XT as soon as my 10sp SLX cassette is done.
  • + 1
 ^^^this. Like the praxis that levy and co talk about elsewhere on this thread.
  • + 1
 @TheRaven I'm not sure how you can figure Shimano has a head start on 11 speed mountain drive trains in any way, since SRAM has been making 11-speed for quite a few years. Odds are, there will be more 11 speed SRAM drivetrains out there than 11-speed Shimano ones even a year from now, just due to how many bikes SRAM has sold with XX1 & X01 in the last few years.

@WAKIdesigns 11t to 10t is a bigger gear jump than 36t to 42t(9% vs 6%, IIRC) It allows me to drop a chainring size, & I'm more inclined to do it that way than run a 45t cog.
  • - 1
 GX and XT are not comparable, true, because you need a FRONT DERAILLEUR for XT! On the demo bikes I've ridden with 10-42 its all the range I need for 95% of Utah trails. 11-42 is a gear or two too small a range. Its a compromise. Now an XT on a sram GX cassette, theres an idea I'm willing to try.
  • + 2
 @groghunter I wasn't referring to a head start in 11-speed drivetrains. I was referring to overall sales. X01/XX1 appear on the upper echelon of bikes, bikes that account for less than 10% of bike sales in total. XT will very quickly be able to catch up and surpass even years of X01/XX1 sales because it will be spec-able on a much higher percentage of the total bikes sold (probably 5x or more). Remember that as you move down the price scale, sales increase exponentially. SRAM's 1x has not been able to touch this market, as even GX can just barely scrape into the top end of it due to the wheelset cost, but XT will land squarely in the middle of it.

@hamncheez I'm happy for you that SRAM's 1x range is sufficient. However for the majority of riders, it is not. I'm trying 1x10 with OneUp's 42t on my secondary bike, but I already know that it's going to be an unacceptable compromise. I just want to see how it goes and if my riding adapts to make it do-able. As for my primary trail bike, 24/36 on the low end and 38/11 on the top is JUST enough. I might be able to give up a gear on the top if I was forced, but absolutely NOT on the bottom.
  • + 2
 @groghunter - yes it is also a jump in 1 chain wear and 2 efficiency in terms of raw number of teeth and increase in suspension bobbing. The only plus you are getting is ground clearance. I don't see many trails masters on trails and even if they were there they'd have a bashring. Pick your game Big Grin
  • + 3
 @TheRaven Have you ridden a 10-42? With a 32t front ring, it gives you about the same bottom gearing as an older 2x10 and you can top out at around 34 miles an hour. Hell, in this article it even says "Shimano’s close-ratio two ring option provides a nearly identical gearing spread compared to a SRAM XX1 single ring". The Sram 11 speed approach is plenty for nearly every rider out there, unless you're on a glorified CX bike and need shimanos closer spacing.
  • + 2
 I'm going by the numbers...like I said in another post in these comments, when I can get the XT cassette and 45t expander, that MIGHT be enough to make me give it a try. If I preserve my existing low gear by going with a 32t front ring, I lose my two highest gears. With my current 2x, I still find myself missing another gear or two up top every now and then, but I can live with it. I don't know how losing two more top gears will affect my riding. But i'm a tech guy by trade, so i'm all for new ideas and ways of doing things. So i'll probably give that a try when it's all available.

However having said that, the 11-45 cassette is basically the BARE MINIMUM for me. Other than "just because", I don't really see the justification for someone like me to go to 1x...the weight savings is minimal, and simplicity is debatable as I have zero issues with my front mech now. At this point I prefer the peace of mind of that extra range over the very very slight weight savings of 1x.

EDIT - oh and one more thing, there's no M/F-ing way i'm paying MORE for 1x than I paid for 2x. I'M DROPPING COMPONENTS FOR A REASON!!!
  • + 28
 We have distinction between XTR Trail and XTR Race groups. Shouldn't there be XTR Fireroad?
  • + 1
 Just made my day :-D
  • + 5
 XTR Ice cream parlor.
  • + 3
 XTR Commuter
  • + 12
 Zee Troll
  • + 12
 XTR Dentist. Loadsa carbon. So much infact that it weighs a tad more than SLX
  • + 7
 XTR Race *is* XTR fire road.
  • + 4
 Xperience Transport Roads
  • + 4
 XTR Dentist is that $1000 Yumeya "hop-up" kit www.coloradocyclist.com/shimano-xtr-yumeya-total-upgrade-kit
  • + 16
 They already have XTR Fire-Road, but they call it Dura-Ace.
  • + 1
 Surprised to see the lack of an XTR Enduro Wink or is it that XX1 thing?
  • + 2
 Yeah, it's got an italian name, though... I believe it's pronounced Durachi, but it's spelled Dura-Ace
  • + 9
 Durachi chain and Rachi Fachi crankset. Bueno.
  • + 13
 Well written and thorough article. It has confirmed my belief that Shimano designing a front derailleur to shift well is akin to Magura improving the rim brake by designing a hydraulically actuated version. Soon nobody will care but in the mean time, nice work!
  • + 2
 comment of the day
  • + 12
 Sram 1x11 all the way. Why anyone would waste their money on this 2x 3x set is beyond me. Considering they have just brought out an XT 1x11 proper set up makes this redunant.
  • + 39
 Why would anyone waste their money on an overpriced single ring setup? I mean, come on - almost 300$ for a cassette... this is just plain stupid.
  • - 3
 true, but when GX comes out...
  • - 1
 Err..check your figures their latest 1x11 from sram have come down in price considerably!!
  • + 11
 Confused...why would anyone "waste their money" on a CHEAPER drivetrain with MORE range? Yeah, tough one.
  • + 1
 Its not cheaper!!! Check the Sram range. Also the new XT is a better group set all day long....oh and thats cheaper!
  • + 2
 How is it not cheaper? X01/XX1 is $900 from the best online discounters, whereas M9000 can be had for $600 from same.

Also, whether XT is better is debateable. If you are looking for max cassette range, then the XT cassette is BETTER, true. If you are looking for the best price for 1x11, then XT is king, true. However, if weight is your biggest concern and price isn't that big of a deal, then XTR wins hands-down. And if you are one of those guys but want more range - just use the XT cassette with your XTR setup, or throw in a 45t expander. EVERY ONE of these options is cheaper than X01/XX1.
  • + 1
 Sorry, have to update my price - M9000 is just over $700 from online shops. I came up with $716.
  • + 1
 @TheRaven you can get a 19% discount on the final price if you're buying from outside Europe (19% is the German TAX)

So you need to divide the price by 1.19 to get the final price.

Here you have a list of good sellers.

www.dtgv.de/nationale-studien/online-fahrradshops-test-von-preisen-angebot-und-service.html
  • - 2
 X1 and GX!!!!
  • + 1
 @Matt76 those groups don't compete with XTR, they are mid-range offerings...and not to mention still more expensive than M8000.
  • + 2
 You Sram fanboys kill me. Having a front derailleur is suuuuuch f'ing hardship. It adds sooooo much weight and complexity to the bike. In 20 years of riding, I've had exactly 0.0 issues with my Shimano fronts. Get your heads out of the magazines you tools.
  • + 0
 @SlodownU
*you fools
  • - 1
 Oh god raven you are totally missing the point. I would take the X1 (which I own and has been flawless) over the out of date XTR all day long!
  • + 2
 SlowdownU I have been running single ring for nearly 10 years!!! I saw the light many years ago!! No magazines needed!!
  • + 2
 So then what is the point? That you prefer SRAM? Why are you even in this conversation?
  • + 0
 Ok......I'm bored now!!
  • + 2
 Bored? Go ride your bike and stop complaining. People are entitled to opinions, but not force their own on others. Enjoy your bike however you like it!
  • + 11
 I hate to say it, but Di2 is the way to go for Mr. Megabucks. Gives you perfect shifts, no cables and related wear, and a single shift function. But for all-mountain and more, it's SRAM 1x11 all the way. Here's hoping XT 1x11 doesn't suck!
  • + 11
 I'll be riding XT 1x11 M8000 tomorrow at the Shimano Dealer Demo Show, I'll let you know Wink
  • + 1
 Disagree. Remembering to have to charge lights AND your drivetrain in the depths of winter is a recipe for disaster. Or any time of year really. Electronics can stay away from my bike.
  • + 4
 I understand your feeling towards Di2 @sam264

But just remember that the Di2 Battery lasts over 3,000 Km For most people that'll mean you'll only need to charge it a couple of times a year.
  • + 0
 I still wouldn't feel particularly good about it! It's still battery powered. Aside from cable mess, what real benefits does it offer over a traditional (well set-up and maintained) cable-operated system?
  • + 0
 Sam - Shimano ain't Lucas electronics!
  • + 7
 Hmm - "feels a touch less 'kachug-y' than" has to be my favorite comparison in a review ever. What are the units by which you measure kachug-y-ness (or is that kachuginess)?

XTR is seriously expensive and sophisticated kit. So is XX1. This is a small part of the market - it's really the bling crowd and dedicated racers who'll go for this. One or two steps down in either manufacturer's range still gets you amazing shifting, reliability, and pretty amazingly low weight. And these guys push each other - also good for all of us. But the thing I'm most stoked about is that they approach things a little differently. Shimano, with its emphasis on making front derailleurs not suck, has just allowed people to get insane range and nicely stepped gearing at a much lower hassle factor. Good for them. SRAM has focused on simplicity and 1x-ing all the things. Good for them. So then Shimano has played the simplicity game, too - and for a wee range payoff (11 instead of 10 tooth small cog), you now get to keep your standard hub driver and go 1x11 with XT. And they both keep pushing this stuff into lower end groups.

Frankly, this is pretty good stuff. I'm stoked. A couple years ago, on the bikes most of us buy ($2.5-3.5k trail bikes), you ended up with OK 2x10 drivetrains, some sort of mix of X7 or X9 or SLX. Now those bikes are already starting to show up with 1x11, and that will get more and more common. Same thing seems to happen with brakes - SLX brakes these days are amazing, and SRAM's finally build decent mid-market brakes not constantly needing a bleed as well.

I know we all love to bitch about how bikes are too damn expensive these days. But unlike the larger economy, there seems to be real trickle down in mountain biking. And as a result, you can walk into your LBS and buy a trail bike around $3k that doesn't really require you to upgrade parts.
  • + 4
 The title of this article should have been: "Shimano XTR Trail vs SRAM XX1" otherwise I cannot understand why the system is continuously bench-marked
against the competition, (or is it the other way around)?
This is an XTR, there is nowhere else to go, you've reached the top already.
  • + 8
 Comparing the product to its direct competition is a very useful way to review it for people who are in the market. A review which said "It works really well, but it should for the price" wouldn't be very useful to people making decisions.
  • + 4
 Absolutely love the look and feel and function of XTR group.
I bought XTR Trail brakes last summer to replace my Hopes. Such incredible refinement, modulation and power. And crazy easy to bleed.
I was so happy with then I switched my drivetrain from SRAM to XTR. I'm 100% sold.
  • + 4
 2x10 (side pull front), preferably in XT flavor - after all, I have to kit out more than one bike. Recently tried Di2 XTR on a friend's bike; utterly amazing, thinking I'll put it on my current preferred ride, it's THAT good.
  • + 3
 @pinkbike "Shimano makes the 40 tooth cog from aluminum and the rest of the cassette cogs are made of titanium."

That isn't totally true, the cassettes use a multi-spider structure with two clusters built on a carbon spider and two clusters with aluminum spiders. There are six titanium (19-21-24-27-31-35), one aluminum (40), and four steel (11-13-15-17) cogs.

*In fact, it is possible to tell the difference by the different colors on the cassette
  • + 3
 My main complaint with Shimano Drivtrains is and has been for some time the excessive amount of redundant gears. Every time I ride a bike with a Shimano drivetrain I find myself shifting constantly. Sure closely spaced gears make for buttery smooth shifting but it takes longer to get to the gear I need. Even on my Sram 1x11 I find myself double tapping in both directions to get to the right gear. With Shimano I have to go through 3-4 gears to achieve the same thing. I can't think of the last I wanted more gears between the gears I already have. If anything I could use less. Long days some times have me wishing I had a lower gear than 32-42. Enough of this nonsense!
I want a proper gearbox. I don't want more gears. I don't need smoother shifting. I defiantly don't need want two front rings. Why shift twice as much? With no benifit other than smooth shifting? What a waste of time and r&d
Shimano/SRAM/Box and everyone else building derailuers please put some serious time into a gearbox. That would be a game changer. You all make great dérailleurs. Not one of you makes a great gearbox. No I don't want a geared hub either. A gearbox in the frame at the BB 8-12 gears. Same spread as my XX1 32/10-42 but with one lower gear. Yes you can make the spread between gears wider. I think stronger riders can handle a wider spread with less gears.
  • + 4
 And yet the praxis wide range 10 speed cassette now gives the same gearing as this.... Minus one obviously but it's mostly the big and little cogs that matter. And for only 130 bucks!
  • + 7
 I actually have one of those Praxis cassettes on the go right now. Good stuff, and review will happen soon.
  • + 1
 Sweet, it seems such a good idea. I don't really want 11 gears, that seems like it's just adding more grams to my wheel via something I didn't need.
  • + 1
 The only problem with this (and believe me, I really like the Praxis cassette, if it were 11-42 i'd have one on order already) is that M8000 is going to be cheaper, and expandable to 45t. So it's going to be short lived.
  • + 6
 2x is still the norm in places where people do tech climbs as opposed to shuttling or fire road climbs.
  • + 2
 Not everywhere... I live in Colorado and we have plenty of big hills (and not so many fire roads and shuttles). Sram 1x11 is super popular.
  • + 0
 Dunno mate, here in the Peaks most everyone I ride with is on a 1x drivetrain. Typical rides are 2500 to 3500 feet of climbing and descending over 15-30 miles. The climbs can be bad ass and the descents rough as eating nails. I'd argue that 2x is better for fireroads and XC as you can use a narrow cassette, smaller ratio jumps and still have a wide range giving you your perfect cadence.
  • + 0
 I live in Denver, and we have some super tech, long/steep climbs. I'm rocking a 1x10, just get in better shape! Wink
  • + 1
 Just last weekend one of the guys I've ridden with once did almost 80 off-road miles, with 14k vert (climbs @ 20%+ grades), with a 1x drivetrain. Protip: the bike's not holding you back.
  • + 2
 XTR is refined, smooth, light and crips. It feels like it gently lifts the chain and places it into the chosen cog even under a lot of torque. I also think it looks stunning. X0 is reassuring heavy and feels very mechanical. Not quite as refined as XTR but still very good. I have both on my bikes. XTR witn an 10-42 Cassette is the best option in my opinion. But the reality is neither is better, they are just different, and the best is down to personal preference.
  • + 5
 DO what a lot of folks are doing. Shimano shifter and rear derailleur with a SRAM 11sp cassette. All the range with Shimano shifting!!!
  • + 3
 That's what I'm running. XXTR. Shifts perfectly.
Also running XSaint on my DH bike. 7sp Sram DH cassette with 10sp Saint shifter/mech.
  • + 3
 As much as I like SRAM, I have a dislike for their shifting. Every once in a while I actually try to do a index shifting on it. 1x11 XT can't come soon enough.
  • + 2
 I've also run an XX1 cassette and shifter paired with an XTR rear derailleur. It worked well, but I could never get it to 100% like I could do with a pure XX1 or pure XTR setup within a few minutes of tinkering. It was always just a touch slow, like 95% of the way there but not quite.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy try playing with the b Tension screw, XTR is very sensitive to it. And are the cables clean and tidy?
  • + 1
 @Jhou I do! Best of both worlds in my opinion
  • + 2
 "The direct comparison makes it clear that Shimano’s choice for trail gearing is a two ring transmission, and it competes directly with SRAM’s single ring offerings."

Why would you want 2 front chain rings, an extra shifter, and extra derailleur, cabling/housing, and more chain length? If you can achieve the same low/top end gearing with a single front ring? I don't see how that "competes" with SRAMs 1x methodology at all. Sorry.
  • + 4
 If you can show me how to get the same range I have now (24/38 FC, 11-36 CS) with my 2x by switching to ANY 1x, I will switch right now. I have enough money in my full XTR bike to sell it all and afford at least X1, if not X01. So please, show me...hell if you can get within ONE GEAR i'll do it.

Seriously, i'm not joking...as far as I know there is NO way to attain the full range I have now with a 1x setup. If you know a trick that I don't, please share it. I'm not running 2x because I love complexity. I'm doing it because it's the simplest drivetrain that I can find that gives me the minimum range I need.
  • + 1
 You honestly find yourself spinning out in your top gear with that setup?
  • + 1
 SRAM xx1 with a schlumpf drive
  • + 2
 @sam264 I do...I did last night in fact. It's funny what's normal to me (and has been for the last 20 years) seems so crazy to others. I noticed right away when I got my m980 groupset setup on my old bike that the 38/11 combo was noticeably limiting on the trails I was used to riding armed with a 44/11 top, however I adapted to it for the most part, and only find myself wishing for another gear or two up top for very short sprints on a handful of my regular trails. I'll deal. But the original 26t granny ring on the stock m980 crankset was DEFINITELY too big for the climbs i'm used to. So I switched to a 24t granny and that took care of the climbing issue. But i'm really apprehensive about giving up any more top gears as I just got past the ones I lost going from 3x to 2x.
  • + 2
 I actually prefer my Shimano 2X over a "wide" 1x only because my AM Bike weighs 32lbs. At the XTR level though, most bikes will be down in the 27lb range at which point it makes a lot less sense to run a 2X. As for the 3X, I'd be very curious to see how many they actually end up selling. Who is that even intended for?
  • + 2
 I've run both, my current build on a Spitfire (32ish lbs) is Shimano 2x10. My biggest gripe with EVERY 1x setup I've ridden is the terrible chain line. I live in the mountains and climb steep, technical terrain which occasionally requires that you back pedal or stutter step to make moves. With the 1X's the chain line was so bad it would yank the chain off the top few gears if you did this. Botching a technical move because the chain jumped off the cassette is f*cking infuriating. The bad chain line just made for a really loud drive train too.
  • + 1
 @Satanslittlehelper That's super interesting actually. I get that a lot on my CX bike, but it doesn't have a clutch and it's only in the small front ring, so it's gotta be a chain tension thing. Were you using a clutch RD with good chain length? I ran 1x10 on my FS XC bike and never dropped a chain. I do a lot of pedal kicks to get through rocky stuff, but I also have a short cage with clutch. I like it for the trails around me, but when I ride somewhere with big climbs and descents it's a pretty big compromise in gearing.
  • + 1
 The last bike of mine was a full XX1 build, so yes it was a clutch rear D and the chain length was correct. I actually found the effect worse with the clutch on. To be clear I don't mean the chain came off the cassette, but was pulled from the largest gear down the cassette to a smaller one. Once the shifter / derailleur and chain position no longer match, no dice until you soft pedal it to allow it to line up again. I demo'd a pivot with the XTR 11 set up 1x and the first thing I did was try to back pedal in the top of the cassette, same result. Tried it on a few friends bikes, same thing. I've heard you can do a few things to get a better chain line, like running triple cranks which give you different chain ring positions and of course different frame designs will have a better chain line than others. Personally I'll stick with my XTR 2x10 with MRP 2x guide, full range of gears, silent operation and between the clutch D and chain guide it's pretty much impossible to drop the chain.
  • + 1
 Wow, so maybe it has to do with the closer spacing on 11 speed then? Tried it last night and I couldn't replicate it on my 1x10 (triple crank, short cage RD), but maybe I'm just lucky. I think if you used a 3x crank and some washers to push the ring over towards the low gears you could maybe fix it (like you said). Take a bad chainline in the high gears where you're less likely to do the kick move, and hopefully resolve it in the climbing gears.

Kinda surprised we don't hear more about this problem when you can replicate it on so many setups. Do people just not climb tech stuff much?
  • + 1
 At this point, I can't see any reason to go 3X, except for maybe touring, where you need super low gearing to keep a heavy load moving and don't want to spin out when it's fast and smooth. Even then, I'd probably consider a 2X with a wide range cassette over going 3X.
  • + 1
 Oh I wasn't saying to go 3X, I was saying to use a 3X crank so that you could use the middle ring mounting position to mount a 1x, but use shims to push the 1x ring left, towards the low gears. It would improve the chainline and (hopefully) prevent the problem he was having.
  • + 1
 bkm303 - I was responding to the initial comment from So Diezl350. Funny... I'm actually using a 3X crank set up 1X – no shims, but interesting idea.
  • + 2
 Oh, gotcha. I could see some touring people springing for the 3X. Yeah you could get a big range with 2x and a wide cassette, but I don't think tourers would like the big intervals. I know a lot of them ride mtb triples with road cassettes, or the narrow range mtb cassettes. Back when I used to bike with heavy loads (groceries mostly) I remember the jumps on a mtb cassette just crushing my momentum. Ended up running a 12-27 with a mtb triple.
  • + 1
 Just thought I'd chime in with my original logic that while I do see a purpose for 3x systems, I don't see one for the xtr groupset. And yes, 3x cranksets are better candidates for 1x conversions, but since there's a dedicated 1x xtr crank already, it's redundant. As for the sram 1x 10-42 gear train, I too have read that a lot of people have chain slipping off of tall gears issues when back pedalling. I'm not sure this is necessarily a chain line issue as a 2x will inherently have a worse chain line when cross geared, and I can crossgear my 2x xt and back pedal no problem
  • + 2
 Electric XTR rides REALLY nice. I'd pooh-pooh'd the concept before trying it. I'm convinced on the quality of it, just not the price. Furthermore I'm still not convinced 2x is even needed unless you're going to log many miles on flat roads, or have super bad knees.
  • + 2
 anyone know yet if XTR/XT 980/780-series front shifters can operate the new 9000/8000-series front derailleurs? The front mech seems to be the most improved part in the new groups, so if that's all I'd need to buy to try it out I might stick with 2x a little longer.
  • + 2
 I wonder when Pinkbike Reviewers will start acknowledging anti-squat improvements when using a smaller chainring and pedal kickback improvements when using a larger chainring. And generally talking about the suspension in less of a simpleton way, now that's it is an integral part of biking.
  • + 1
 doesn't that depend on your suspension design? (e.g. Evil Revolt designed around a 34t - or 36t, I forget - chainring, and I'm guessing their AM bikes are similar)
  • + 1
 99% of the time, the chainring size has a suspension related improvement (like AS and PKB). When frame companies say that the frame is designed around ## tooth chain rings, it's what they deem as the best compromise between the forementioned suspension characteristics (AS and PKB)
  • + 1
 On certain suspension designs, going bigger on chainring size improves both anti-squat and decreases kickback. I have never in my life experienced pedal kickback, even though for 5 years I had been riding first gen long travel VPP bike (Nomad), that was supposed to be one of the worst in that dept. As much as your muscle structure allows, Pedal harder, spin less.
  • + 1
 Why are we talking about the small percentage of bikes and trying to tell others how to bike? My point is that there isn't consideration of the effects on suspension performance when discussing the benefits of a 2X setup. Pedal hard, spin fast.
  • + 5
 Crankset chainring mount design looks like stock tourney or suntour on bikes for 300-400 bucks
  • + 1
 So I've ridden the xtr (albeit with xx1 cassette and cranks) and pure xx1. New xtr rear shifting is a beautiful iteration of shimano shifting, incredibly light action, but with beautiful feedback. I do occasionally overshift with the xx1 shifter when riding in anger which I feel is less of an issue with the xtr particularly because of multirelease or whatever they call it.

I wouldn't run an 11-40 though, nor would I run 11-42@10spd. Yes, going to a 10t cog is expensive, but the gearing range is superb.
  • + 1
 One thing about the rear mech I didn't like was using a tiny (1.5mm or 2mm, can't remember which) allen key to adjust the limit screws. It's fiddly, it's easy to round as the bolts are alloy, and really unnecessary = what was wrong with a screwdriver?
  • + 1
 Reasons I like xtr more than sram:
-no expensiive narrow wide pulley wheels to replace if one should break
-no special freehub body to mount cassette. (I know its for the 10T cog but come on, %99 of us just want the easier climbing gear
-longer lasting
-shifter grabs 2 downshifts with one push if rider chooses (love this and use it all the time)
-a few friends have race face sixc cranks and ring with xtr derailleur/shifter/cassette/chain and works amazing so there's your single ring solution

Basically I hate proprietary crap and shimano seems to still be a basic drivetrain system which is ideal for the average weekend warrior.
  • + 6
 I know it's like beating a dead horse but that 10t rear cog allows you to run at least 2 teeth lower front ring, thus making the climbing gear even easier if say both rear granny gears are 42 tooth.
  • + 2
 Yeah but like he said, most guys just need the low gear and that's fully attainable without the need for one extra tooth that necessitates a $250 cassette and $80 freehub (or $500 wheelset).

I like SRAMs spirit in creating the 10t, but the cost FAR FAR FAR outweighs the benefit. FAR.
  • + 1
 @TheRaven one word, GX. Can't wait for my GX cassette and XT 11 speed rear D and shifter to ship!
  • + 2
 @theraven exactly! Next year when people have the choice of running sram 11 speed or xt 11 speed my bet is xt will be the common choice. I can't think of many people that would buy sram purely for the 10t. I know there are those people out there but from a business perspective Shimano has it figured out.
  • + 1
 less chain swinging in top gear bud & less movement required for the mech.
  • + 2
 the 10t cog does increase the range substantially, but I can't imagine being unhappy with a 45-11 shimano/one-up rear cassette, which is probably the route I would go, if I had to bastardize a bike myself - particularly my current one. otherwise, anything that comes OE next year should be pretty damned good.
  • + 5
 Just make an XTR internal rear hub and be done with it.
  • + 2
 What he said
  • + 4
 Does anyone else find it a little ironic that there is a SRAM ad at the top of the article
  • + 3
 I run slx 1x9. my gears shift well. My bike rides great. I'm having a blast on it. I love watching other people buy expensive groupsets. Go ahead!
  • + 4
 Although, everytime I've delayed keeping up with the times and bled my current system dry (Vs to discs, post to dropper, 3x9 to 1x10, retention system to N/W...) I've always thought... why in fark have I wasted all that time when I could have made noticeable improvements to my ride!
  • + 1
 ^^^ If you can get a low enough gear for the climbs you ride at your trails, and keep a 34 chainring, then this is truly great way to go. It's enough, it works very well, its well priced, its durable and easy to repair/replace if necessary. I like this soution.
  • + 1
 I'm talking about the SLX comment
  • + 1
 Nothing said about the new wheels freehub. Shimano designs them with the pawls facing inward which creates a weaker design. Had to replace my slx freehub every 6 months because they couldn't withstand the torque. Ok I'm a heavy guy at about 95kg, so I went to something better...

Hope Pro 2, still running strong on my 26, but the new bike (with dt-swiss m spline) is failing at the freehub (sigh) and these new shimano wheels look tempting...

Shimano hub + their 40x24 combination... will I have to pop 70€ a year on freehubs again?
  • + 1
 I have about 75 miles on the new XTR group. I have already noticed a few things:

Drivetrain: The clutch is great, the new shifter feels superb, and with the proper break-in period you never have to adjust anything (typical top-tier shimano stuff). But, I have noticed an absurd amount of wear on the largest aluminum cog - I started to notice it after my first couple short (10-15 mile) rides. Strange that all the other cogs are still crisp and are made out of the some other material, yet the only one seeing serious wear in such a short amount of time is the one made of a different material. All i can ask is: Why Shimano, Why?(please note cassette pictures in Levy's review) Also, I have noticed a large amount of stretch in the chain(keep in mind I have about 75 miles total on the bike). Maybe it has something to do with the wear on the cassette? And Finally: Gear ratios are totally off. Granny may almost be there, but let's talk about spinning out on flat hardpack... It's the rockies, and although getting a long flat section is rare, I should be allowed to crank through flats to keep up with other riders, but I don't even come close (and I look really stupid spinning out at 2/3rds their speed)... And as far as going on even the slightest downhill, don't even bother changing gears or pedaling because it doesn't even matter, you will just end up hurting yourself (just keep it in a good pedal-kick gear for those switchbacks/techy stuff)

Drivetrain Side-Note: PLEASE Do something about the finish on the crank arms. (read in sarcastic whiney voice): "I have completely worn off the precious xtr logo, through all the fancy chrome finish, down to raw metal on the crank arms, with nothing but my shoes, just riding along..." But seriously - My shoes have a full grain leather upper and should not be wearing the crank down to raw metal within a couple rides... Period.

Brakes: the brakes are superb with consistency, feedback, and stopping power regardless of the situation (on longer downhill course they got a bit squishy near the end, but that's to be expected), but can you change something about the cheap mounting screws that hold the calipers to the frame/fork? Why should I have to have a mess of wires hanging from my screw heads in order to keep them from unthreading themselves? They are also very soft screws and easy to strip (not saying I stripped mine but I can feel that they are very close - and that is following torque-specs with a brand new Williams bit set). On a happier note... I was able to cut my cable lengths and get the bike through its' break-in period without having to bleed either brake, and they are still as amazing as if they were fresh out of the box.

So my bottom line: Shimano claims that they have XTR Trail for the 'trail rider', but I would never recommend this drivetrain to anyone other than a hardcore racer, and even then - how soon will something have to be replaced?
  • + 1
 Gripshift anyone?!

That's why I buy SRAM gears. I have tried to go trigger shifter but Gripshift just works better for me. Shimano makes better crank and BB combo so in the front I run SLX cranks with a Blackspire narrow wide and a proper bashguard. You can't fit a bash guard on a SRAM 11 speed crank, you are stuck with using a taco. I don't understand people who are die hard fanboys of one company. Pick the best tech from whoever happens to be making it.
  • + 1
 Good article but you lost me at "... I did drop my chain...". I've been drop-free since race face put out its first batches and don't plan to look back. Better yet, I haven't seen the need to adjust, maintain or clean a 2x system.
  • + 3
 Pinkbike doesn't proof their articles obviously... several mistakes in every article.

"...26 x 36 option, but Shimano also offers a third, 26 x 36 option"
  • + 1
 I don't really get the point in a wider range cassette if you are not dropping the front ring. I run 2x10 and have never once thought I need more range on my cassette. Now when I go to 1x range will be a key component of the system.
  • + 4
 I think I had that same crankset 15 years ago
  • + 5
 i love XTR. that's all.
  • + 2
 Take the best of both worlds... XX1 cassette, XX1 wide narrow chainring with XTR shifter & derailleur = pizza & hamburger
  • + 3
 That's the route I went. All good--except the XTR derailleur clutch has failed after a couple of months. On the upside, my old XT derailleur and and a Radr cage is doing the trick nicely in its place.
  • + 2
 you're running an older xt derailleur (10 speed, with radr cage) and 11 speed xtr shifter without issues? food for thought...
  • + 1
 I have a single ring set up, which I really like but one BIG advantage of having a FD is that when the chain does drop, and eventually it does, I can just push it right back on without having to get off the damn bike.
  • + 2
 Being able to push the chain back on VS never having it drop off in the first place is a no brainer to me. Single ring FTW.
  • + 1
 Plus... just grab the chain at the bottom & rewrap it around the chainring is hard how?
  • + 2
 I wouldn't try it while riding!
  • + 1
 I have single chain ring! I love it! With a chain guide and I still drop a chain occasionally, though not frequently. It's just sucks to have to get off the bike and put it back on, plus sometime it gets all jammed up in the guide and it really sux having to wrestle with it.
  • + 2
 I love XTR too madmon. But I think I'd have an emotional moment if I smashed an XTR mech up! Lots of extra £££ for marginal gains. Give me XT any day.
  • + 1
 Shadow+ Deore with XT jockey wheels at a total price of SLX is the bees knees.
  • + 1
 what's the difference in the wheels Waki? I ended switching to some shmancy alu ones with sealed bearings on my zee because the bushings kept getting contaminated & making noise & drag.
  • + 1
 I think xt is where you get the nice ceramic bushings and proper bearing pulleys. As for alloy pulleys, never run them, plastic ones are usually quieter and better lasting
  • + 1
 I am on my second X9 rear mech now and as on the previous one I had to replace the jockey/pulley wheels after a year. I ride in gloop but since I got kids, it happens like once per week so... Wheels on Zee and SLX are crap, replace with XT
  • + 1
 @ride-whenever I'd never tried the alloy ones, so I figured I'd give em a whirl. plus they came in a sweet color. Razz So far, they've been flawless. Makes a different noise, but not an bad one.

Also, do they get ceramic bushes or bearings? your comment leaves me confused.
  • + 2
 I've never had any joy long term with alloy ones. They're nice whilst they're new though.

As for your second comment, the top one is a ceramic bush (allows for lateral slop to improve shifting fidelity, which is why I don't like alloy ones, they're too rigid) and the lower has a sealed bearing :p
  • + 1
 thanks, now I get it. When I went looking for replacement plastic ones, it seemed like all I could find was "dura-ace" & it was indicated as the replacement for every derailleur they made, so I didn't think they made any different kinds. didn't want the same poorly protected bushes that i already had, so I went aftermarket.
  • + 2
 Premiumcuts you are correct. I exploded 3 XTR carbon rear mechs and have been using Saint for 5 years but the rest is XTR except my Saint Cranks. The shifter is where you get the best possible effect not the derailleur as the shifter lays down the law. I would much rather have XTR shift/deore mechs VS deore shifter/XTR mechs. The smooth shifting is directed by the best shifter.
  • + 1
 @madmon - I can report on 10sp XT and XTR shifters, they are similar in action and they are ahead of X0/XX1 in how crispy and precise they feel. They are my favorite right now. Having said that I just want to point out that it is an engineered "Feel", not an actual property making shifting precise. Precise shifting is when chain gets on cogs fast and stays there. That is a matter of setup and maintenance. Good shifter/cable combo is what makes it stay in good shape for longer, but Deore is already good at that. Feel on the lever can give you an indication that it uses more metal parts and bearings. It is still engineered feel just like the feel of car door handle or gearbox lever. There are people working just with that. Mercedes has it dialed, amazing feel when shifting gears, yet their gearboxes still break.

@groghunter - XTs jockey/pulley are worth the money. Dura Ace won't fit I think.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns While what you say about deore shifters is true, I feel like the higher end ones stay precise longer: I think the cheaper ones tend to lose accuracy quicker. I've tried all the 10 speed variants, & I think Saint is the king of feel: the extra weight over XTR all went into making it a better feeling shifter IMO, & I'm more than willing to take the slight weight penalty over XTR, which I'd never spend the cash on anyway.

On the jockey wheels, I think it depends on the speeds: 9 speed DA was 12t jockey, but I think 10 speed & above went to down 11t. Not worried enough about it to go look though, thanks for the info, I'll look at XT ones when/if I burn up these alloy ones.
  • + 3
 I like the definition 'kachug-y'. I know exactly what it means Smile
  • + 2
 did you use SGS or GS when trying the 45 tooth cog??? thank you for the review
  • + 0
 What could possibly be the advantage for the spider arms being spaced like that on those cranks? Other than one being stuck buying Shimano replacement rings for the foreseeable future?
  • + 3
 That's the advantage they're after (though wolftooth & one-up make rings for them now.)
  • + 2
 Mixing those neat RaceFace cranksets with XTR and XT rear mechs will likely be all of my future drivetrains.
  • + 2
 Is it possible to run the SRAM 11 speed cassette with a Shimano11 speed rear mech?
  • + 3
 The products are durable Shimano, Sram not!
  • + 3
 an XTR cassette will last longer than the SRAM one. The smallest cog will last more than 10% longer on an XTR cassette, 1: because it has 10% more teeth, 2: because of better chainline in a 2x setup for the smallest 3 cogs when you're in big ring.
  • + 2
 XTR must be awesome, but i'm happy with my SLX, thats enough for me.
  • + 2
 Meh!.. Front mech "$"#€%
The Future isnt what it used to be
  • + 9
 The future is with single speed and steroids
  • + 2
 I'm so willing to go back to 2x or 3x. NOT.
  • + 1
 You're not the only rider in the world you know? There are plenty of other riders that prefer the 2x drivetrain cause they climb more shit than you
  • + 1
 @carfreak2000: I agree with you. But I was talking about myself. Also, FYI, pleople who climb a lot of shit tend to not need a 2x.
  • + 1
 @cherouvim Well here in the Philippines many still ride 2X due to the fact that many still pedal 2 or 7 km of highway road to the nearest trail, 1X is kinda slow on the highway.
  • + 1
 30 or 32 x 11-36 seems to do the job for a lot of people. We do 5-10km of uphill asphalt road as well to enter the trails.
  • + 2
 God that crank is hideous
  • + 2
 you are not wrong.
  • + 1
 I would choose xtr over sram
  • + 2
 that crank is hideous
  • + 1
 XT deore is pretty much just as good as XTR
  • + 1
 The genius of SRAM is to have made a 10-42 cassette.
  • + 0
 I love my new XTR too, Broke a shifter internally though dropping into a DH track.
  • + 1
 XT ALL THE WAY BABY! BUT WITH SRAM PC1051 CHAIN
  • + 1
 I know I'm dyslexic but where's the part about the wheel set?
  • + 1
 Don't panic.... The link wasn't showing up, I'll now return to fixing my SRAM drivetrain..
  • + 1
 It would probably work better if you oiled the chain.
  • + 1
 that's some expensive shit
  • - 1
 with the new XT, XTR is only worth it if you're going DI2, but must be good to have bragging rights over a titanium cassette.
  • + 1
 I had an xtr cassette once...came in a box of used parts. I wiped that sucker off with a rag and sold it on craigslist for stupid money...bought me a set of XT brakes. So, yeah, titanium cassettes are awesome!
  • + 3
 It's funny when people who can't afford or who never tried XTR comment about how good it is.

It's more than just the number of gears dude... it's fit, finish, aesthetics, feel, and weight (if you care about weight). XTR shifters are in a completely different league from any other Shimano model.

That said, I'll never run an XTR cassette unless it's the only Shimano option for something I want (like 11spd at the end of last year)
  • - 1
 It's also funny when people reply to the wrong thread with condescending drivel.
  • + 1
 @Alias530 Agreed, NOTHING on this planet can compare to the XTR shifters. Conversely, there is just no justification for the price of the XTR cassette. Same can really be said for ANY SRAM 11-speed cassette though.
  • + 2
 @ecologist what wrong thread? I was directing my comment at YOU and ashyjay
  • + 1
 @TheRaven Yeah, I have an XTR 11spd cassette right now, but only because it was the only 11spd option at the time I bought it. I'd have gone with XT had it been available, but XTR shifters for sure and sometimes derailleurs are what I go for. The XTR cassette has a lot of the weight savings for the groupset as a whole, but 3x the price for a wear item doesn't sit well with me.
  • + 1
 @Alias530 - ah, well that makes your comment even more asinine and confusing then. Neither of us said anything about the number of gears, or really said anything at all about "how good it is." I certainly didn't. These topics are discussed in another thread here so I gave you the benefit of the doubt and figured you were responding to comments made elsewhere. Neither did we state our income level or experience with XTR. So that leaves you coming on here making assumptions and an irrelevant "response" out of your own bias and bigotry. So you have some bike parts, get over yourself.
  • + 1
 @ecologist well sure his comments were not put in the nicest way. But it seems to hard to me to not see where he's coming from. It's not that i'm surprised, this being an internet forum and all, but there are far to many "kids" here commenting on stuff they've never used, and in many cases will never be able to afford.

"XTR sucksorzz OMG XX1 all the wayzzz" is the kind of thing you hear way too much around here, and it's generally spoken by "kids" probably still running hacked deore/LX 1x9 drivetrains or a triple crankset with an aftermarket bash guard on the third ring position. Same goes for the Pike/CCDB hype, all perpetuated by guys who probably don't have their suspension set up correctly anyway. The guys like me and Alias who actually have or have used these components, and know how to actually set them up, sit quietly shaking our heads. But sometimes we feel compelled to speak up.

That's where the saying "the more they talk, the less they know" comes from.

My primary bike is full XTR, but that's because I can afford the best so I buy the best. It definitely doesn't make me a better rider. If you can't afford it, just buy something cheaper. There are piles of great options in everyone's price range. Hell a full Deore groupset with hydro discs can be had for $250 brand new, and it's a great setup. No need to try to justify your actions by putting down more expensive gear.
  • + 1
 @ecologist - you said "I had an xtr cassette once" which directly relates to my comment about people never trying it.

And ashyjay said "only worth it if you're going DI2". I was pointing out there are benefits to regular XTR over XT. This isn't rocket science Smile
  • + 1
 I was making a tongue-in-cheek boast about the "benefits" of the cassette. It's strange to be having this conversation when we're all in agreement regarding the only part specified. I have ridden bikes with XTR cassettes and agree that for a wear item, the benefit doesn't justify the upcharge.

I say "bias" because you cite "fit, finish, aesthetics, feel, and weight" as benefits of XTR, but of those, only weight is a practical benefit if, as you say, you care about weight. Some people also don't care as much as you or I about about fit, finish, aesthetics, and feel, so really that's all pretty subjective (as "worth" always is). My main point is that as annoying as the "kids" might be, it's just as petty to point out differences in available resources (economic or otherwise). Sure, if a person has never used a part you don't want their opinion on how well it works, but really, what is gained by adding that they aren't smart or experienced enough to set it up properly, or can't afford it now and never will, or whatever? Especially if it turns out that they can actually afford it, or they have used it and still don't think it's worth it. I say nothing. Just makes you look a bit elitist and puts them on the defensive. Sure, it's the internet, but let's use it better.
  • + 1
 How is feel not a benefit? XTR shifters feel better than XT. Isn't that why people wear cashmere over cotton, for feel?
  • + 1
 I said it's not a "practical benefit" as in it's not a functional improvement (like longevity, serviceability, added features, etc.). @WAKIdesigns has some good comments on shifter "feel" in one of the threads above this one. Don't get me wrong here, I really like XTR stuff. All the reasons you mentioned are totally valid and I agree with you pretty much 100 percent on XTR.
  • + 2
 Feel is subjective. I personally cannot find any difference in feel between XT780 and XTR980 shifters, that is worth writing home about. I would write about feel difference between Deore and XT. I love 9sp X0 yet I know two mechanics and good riders who hate it. They liked smooth French cheese inside late 9sp Shimano shifters and spring made of Gouda in their late 9sp derailleurs. You can like Kashmir as well, I am fine with it but I prefer a sledge hammer when I am shifting while riding through rough terrain.
  • + 1
 Haha! I just rode late 9sp LX/XT for a lap tonight and hated that cheese...what's there to like!? Nothing!..there's nothing there. Couldn't even feel the lever against my thumb, but somehow it got easier to pedal. Was that one gear or three? Does it even go three? I have no idea. Oh well, who wants their shifter to make a "click" when they've got all the noise of that chain slapping about because that Gouda went all fondu on 'em?
  • + 1
 I've always wanted a 350 dollar cassette
  • + 1
 how are the slx brakes?
  • + 6
 great
  • + 3
 Best brakes... if u look the price/quality u get
  • - 2
 SRAM: 1x11 for everybody. Shimano: $120 front derailleurs. At least somebody is paying attention.
  • + 4
 [quote]SRAM: 1x11 for every rich fire-road rider. Shimano: drivetrain you can afford and actually use on real trails.[/quote]

Fixed for you. Oh and I disagree on who's paying attention vs. who's profiting on fads.
  • + 1
 Have you compared the prices of the two companies cassettes? The one who you seem to think is more economical will sell you one cassette for the price that the other will give you an entire rear mech.

Sure, shimano is trying to push front deraileurs to make money, but SRAM is guilty of a whole lot more.
  • + 0
 I'm refering to SRAM's new GX1 group that was shown here in April: www.pinkbike.com/news/sram-gx-11-speed-drivetrain-first-look.html

MSRP on the GX1 cassette is $144. That's less than an SLX cassette and expander cog that tons of people are using now.

The GX1 rear derailleur is even less at $115.

If anything should be a fad in mountain biking, it should be the front derailleur.
  • + 2
 @sniggled By definition, fads can't be around for 100 years, like the front derailleur has been.

GX Cassette ($130) - www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/sram-xg-1150-11sp-cassette/rp-prod135801

SLX Cassette ($30) - www.merlincycles.com/shimano-slx-hg81-10-speed-cassette-49512.html

Add the $90 expander set for a $120 final price. So as you can see, the GX cassette IS NOT cheaper. However, to me that's an unfair comparison as the GX cassette is an 11-speed unit and that particular SLX cassette is 10-speed. You also forgot to include the XD driver that the SLX cassette does not require.

But, even forgetting that, the M8000 cassette is going to go for around $80 at the super-discount online retailers (like Merlin), so despite being a step up from GX, and not requiring the $80 XD driver (AGAIN assuming you have a convertible wheelset), the XT cassette will STILL be cheaper.

Oh, and the current SLX derailleur, even adding in the RADr cage that you should probably use for an expanded cassette, is still about $30 cheaper than the GX rear derailleur. The M8000 XT derailleur will sell for about $60 online, so yeah...not even close.

Hint to SRAM fanboys - you may want to leave out prices in these arguments, because you aren't going to swing anyone's opinion with them.
  • + 2
 That isn't even considering that low-end SRAM stuff is not nearly as nice as SLX. Before all of this 1x stuff it seemed like the comparisons between shimano and SRAM went like this..
XTR=XX
XT=XO
SLX= X9
Deore=X7/X5
It is astounding to me how so many people would rather have a low end SRAM groupo than a mid level SLX groupo. Bike manufacturers know that people want the 1x11 so they are making sacrifices elsewhere on their OEM builds to be able to put these groups on their bikes. Personally, I would prefer to have an SLX group and a better fork on my bike than GX and a lower end fork for the same money. Obviously the newer technology is what people want, but Shimano stuff isn't "old", especially with OneUp's add on components.

Now the XT 1x11, now that will change the game... I can't wait!
  • + 2
 @HaydenBeck now there are two different comparisons...

If we are comparing quality and features...

XTR=XX1/X01
XT=XX1/X01
SLX=XX1/X01
Deore=oh that's for kids bikes

If we are comparing prices...

XTR=GX
XT=GX
SLX=What's that?
Deore=I told you that's for kid's bikes!
  • + 0
 F Ders need to die.
  • + 1
 You know not all riders are comfortable riding 1X11 at the moment. There are a lot of people today that actually need the FD.
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