Shimano have overhauled the SLX groupset for 2013, with the updated components benefitting significantly from trickle-down technology previously found on the XTR and Deore XT groups.
SLX has long struck a fine balance between performance and value and that looks set to continue in 2013, with the most notable upgrade on the Shadow Plus M675 rear derailleur.
So what's new? The XTR Shadow rear mech was introduced in 2011 with a clutch mechanism to elimate chain slap and that technology makes its way into the new SLX rear mech. A switch at the pulley cage increases the spring tension, particuarly handy for aggressive riders on rough terrain. "The result is smooth and silent performance," say Shimano. Understand? No? Well, the chaps over at Dirt, one of Bikemagic's sister sites, have created this handy video to run you through it. A clutch-free Shadow version of the M675 will also be available.
Three Dyna-Sys chainset options will be available - a 42/32/24T triple, or either a 40/28T or 38/26T double - plus a 38/24T double with a wider ratio, while the two-way shifters have a new ergonomic design, and the brakes now have three-layer Ice Technologies rotors (160, 180 and 203mm) and OEM pads as standard.
Anything else? The front mech has been redesigned for 29ers, creating more rear wheel clearance by removing the cable pinch bolt. This will also feature on Shimano's XT and XTR groupsets.
The SLX groupset will start to become available from May, although some compontents will not be in the shops until later in the year.
New mountain bike wheels
The MT66 is an all-round cross-country wheel with 19mm wide rims, available in a 26 and 29-inch spec. So first the 29er option; it has 24 spokes at the front and 28 at the rear which Shimano say will make for a stiffer ride and better weight balance. Claimed weights are 945g for the front and 1080g for the rear. The 26-inch wheels both have 24 spokes, with the front wheel tipping the scales at 840g and the rear at 985g.
For more aggressive trail riding, the MT68 wheelset has 21m wide rims and 24 spokes front and rear. The front wheel has a 15mm axle and weighs 910g and the rear wheel has a 12mm quick release axle and weighs 1050g.
The MT66 wheels will be available from June, while the MT68 hoops will be available a month earlier, in May.