Shimano introduces a new drivetrain technology today, Linkglide. It’s designed not to be the lightest weight but to prioritise durability and shift performance. It also represents something of a fork in the road for the brand’s drivetrains. There will still be Hyperglide+, and this will remain the lightweight fast shifting performance range, while Linkglide will sit alongside their current offerings, as opposed to replacing them.
Shimano claims that their testing shows that Linkglide cassettes are 300% more durable than prior Hyperglide cassettes, and three times less degradation to the cassette should mean fewer chain skips, more mileage, and better shifting long into the cassette’s lifespan.
Linkglide will be available in either 10 speed Deore (RD-M5130-SGS) or 11 speed Deore XT (RD-M8130-SGS).
Before we all celebrate too quickly, there is one small catch - the Linkglide technology, while introduced in Deore 1x10 or XT 1x11 speed as a highly durable option, is not cross compatible or retrofittable with current drivetrains due to different gear pitches. All Linkglide components will feature a logo to differentiate them from their stablemates.
A CS-LG600-11 11-50T XT cassette, pictured, weighs 780g. The CS-LG600-10 11-43T Deore cassette is slightly lighter at 634g.
The teeth of Linkglide cassettes are made from plated steel with a new shape to reduce wear and tear. The teeth feature a thicker and more robust construction to prevent wear in the areas that experience the most degradation over time. Linkglide cassette teeth are also taller and stronger towards the tips to prevent chain skipping and tooth deformation, even as the miles add up. Sprockets 11T, 13T, 15T of the cassettes are replaceable.
The Linkglide cassettes also feature a new shifting gate design and position, enabling the chain to move smoothly across the sprockets. These gates aim to reduce pedal shock or jumps during shifting, providing better pedaling fluidity and smoother pedaling performance.
The SL-M8130-R XT shifter; the SL-M5130-R Deore shifter is available with an optional shift window.
Two new shifters, again Deore and XT, are available. The XT has multiple clamping options whereas the Deore makes do with a simple band. The shifters use a different pull ratio to the rest of Shimano's range so are not compatible with non-Linkglide systems. They are, however, somewhat interchangeable with each other thanks to a linear pull ratio. That means an 11 speed shifter will work on a 10 speed derailleur.
Linkglide cassettes are compatible with standard HG freehubs. To accompany the new Linkglide cassettes, there are also new Deore XT and Deore derailleurs and shifters. The derailleurs feature Shimano’s Shadow RD+ low profile design and clutch mechanism.
All Linkglide drivetrains use a common chain design, regardless of the number of cogs on the cassette. Existing 11-speed Shimano chains are compatible with Linkglide drivetrains. It’s perhaps also worth noting that all Shimano 11-speed chains are currently e-bike rated or e-bike designed and that whilst the gear pitch changes on Linkglide cassettes, the required chain pitch does not.