Shimano Deore XT goes 11-speed with new M8000 groupset - Bike Magic

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Shimano Deore XT goes 11-speed with new M8000 groupset

Component manufacturer trickles down XTR tech to Shimano Deore XT groupset

It wasn’t that long ago that Shimano launched its range-topping XTR 11-speed groupset, but it has now followed it up with the new Deore XT M8000 groupset, which also goes to 11-speed and offers a new wide range cassette and single ring 1x option. Unlike XTR’s electronic Di2 version, this new XT is only mechanical.

Wide range cassettes and 1x groupsets have proven popular for rival groupset manufacturer SRAM, and Shimano looks to be attempting to regain some lost ground in the trail and enduro bike market with this updated groupset.

Key to the new groupset is a massive 11-42t cassette which, unlike SRAM’s specific XD freehub body, will fit onto an existing wheel. This new cassette is designed specifically to be married to the new single ring chainset – there’s an 11-40t cassette for double and triple chainring setups. Yes, Shimano XT is offered with a choice of three chainsets, single, double and triple.

The new 1×11 single ring chainset, a first for Shimano XT, will be available with a choice of 30, 32 or 34t chainrings. SRAM has its X-sync narrow/wide chainring design, Shimano has developed ‘Dynamic Chain Engagement’ a tall hooked tooth profile different to the more popular narrow/wide designs, but with the same intention of providing adequate chain retention to avoid chain derailment.

Double ring chainset options include 34-24t, 36-26t and 38-28t, and just one triple chainset, 22-32-40t. The bottom brackets, compatible with all the chainsets, feature smaller bearings and improved sealing to reduce friction, borrowed from XTR and Dura-Ace, the company’s top-end road bike groupset.

In anticipation of the wider Boost 148 rear axle spacing, and following SRAM’s recent developments, Shimano offers the single and double ring chainsets in a B-Series version with a 3mm offset chainline.

There are updated Shadow Plus rear derailleurs, borrowing developments from XTR to provide a lighter shift action with new external adjustment and new pulley wheels to better accommodate the new wider range cassettes being used across the range. There are now no regular Shadow (non-clutch) rear mechs in the range, it’s Shadow Plus all the way.

For 2x and 3x setups, the front derailleur has been redesigned with plenty of options to suit different frame designs, including a new Side-Swing model that is claimed to offer increased rear tyre clearance, which will be a boon for some 29er and full suspension frames where space in this area can be extremely tight.

With the addition of the extra sprocket on the cassette, there are new RapidFire shifters. They feature the same Multi-Release design, so you can pull or pull the levers to change gear, but revamped internals are said to reduce the shift effort. That change, along the the new rear mechs, should mean for some extremely light action shifting.

The hydraulic brakes have been overhauled and gone are the previous Race and Trail versions, replaced by a single M8000 model. The lever and master cylinder has been reshaped to be more ergonomic and to take up less space on the handlebar, and with some handlebars cluttered up with lockout and dropper post levers, this will be appreciated.

Those are the key groupset changes. But that’s not all, Shimano has also taken time to develop new wheels and pedals. The new M8000 wheels come in a Race or Trail version, with 24 and 20mm wide rims respectively and both featuring aluminium rims that are tubeless-ready, and available in the three wheelsizes – there’s no 26in option. Both wheelsets are compatible with all the different axle standards, but the Trail rear wheel only comes with a 142x12mm axle, while the Race wheel can be that or 135 QR.

Shimano’s XT clipless pedal, a popular model for price and weight reasons, have an increased platform width for both the Race and Trail models, the later is a full 3.3mm wider than the previous version. Shimano has also lowered the platform height too, so the shoe is closer to the pedal axle by 0.5mm.

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