Shimano’s product line, as reported in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News goes like this…
Two new road groups, Tiagra, which sits below 105 but a little above the old RX-100, and Sora. Tiagra is 18 or 27-speed, no details are given of Sora other than that there is a triple option and that it has a new brake/shift lever design that’s easier to shift from the hoods. Sounds ideal for road fitness.training bikes for MTBers who don’t want to learn how to contort themselves into that leaned-over roadie pretzel thing.
STX-RC replaced by Deore, which shares the same feature set as LX and XT: hollow cranks, 9 speed, forged RapidFire STI levers or separate shifters and brakes, 11 tooth jockey wheels etc. Available in all black or all silver, which might make for some striking looking bikes if manufacturers are allowed to mix them.
XT and LX will have hollow cranks and splined bottom brackets (Deore retains the square taper). The XT and LX splines will not be compatible with XTR, or the patterns used on the road bike cranks. Material differences is the reason given. Someone at Shimano needs a slap for this, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
There are two new pedals. M858 at the top, a light weight XC racing pedal claimed to shed mud better than the old M747 and M646 a lighter version of the Big Red Pedal.
What do we think?
Generally, it all sounds like sensible new toys, but you have to ask what Shimano’s engineers were thinking when they designed the original spline bottom bracket. Shimano *always* filters successful products down the range. Didn’t anyone think ‘Hey we better design this thing so we can use cheaper, less strong materials in a couple of years’? Can you say ‘D’oh’?
Spline bottom brackets are a good idea. We’ve all seen rounded-out square tapers and been bored rigid by arguments about whether or not they should be greased.
A hollow, splined axle sheds a tonne of weight from the component too. But to have two incompatible spline patterns is just dumb. It hurts riders who want to upgrade — nobody is going to put an XTR crankset on an LX equipped bike, but they might go for the XTR bottom bracket when their LX one wears out — and it makes life hard for dealers who have to stock yet more spares options.
Shimano should drop the original spline, at least from its mountain bike range. It’s not a big disaster if road and MTB bottom brackets are incompatible, but the original XTR spline should be orphaned so that at least the whole MTB line is compatible.
Writer, editor, mountain bike bloke
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