Remember when the first XTR came out? It was XT with an R, for Race. That group was designed for racing, and it still is. If they have to make a decision about whether or not to add a feature, they’re going to err on the side of being for the racer. With 2011’s M985 XTR, they split into Race and Trail editions, which carried through 2014’s M9000 group. Now, with the explosion of enduro, it’s all about racing and making the bike go as fast as possible, regardless of how you ride.

Getting more speed can come from many places. Faster shifts, reduced friction, more predictable controls, and performance that lives up to expectations at every corner of the bike.

This meant the controls needed to be intuitive, but also ergonomic. A lot of attention was paid to how it fit into your cockpit, keeping everything within reach so that you can keep a solid grip on the bar, even while shifting. Or dropping your seat post.

Requirements for a modern mountain bike were 1x chainrings up front, wide range cassettes in the back. Those were the minimums, but that was only the start. Some design features were mandated by the need to shift across a massive cassette. Others were new ideas that they only recently developed the manufacturing capabilities to execute on.

We have all of the tech details, but first:

  • Yes, it’s 12 speed. And 11 speed.
  • Yes, it has wider range than SRAM Eagle. Or not.
  • Yes, they had to redesign the freehub body.
  • And yes, they now have direct mount rings.

Here’s how (and why) they did it…

XTR M9100 Cassette & HYPERGLIDE+

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 cassette and chain tech details

At the heart of the new group’s improved performance are the cassette, chain, and cranks. Together, they are largely responsible for what Shimano is calling a total revolution in drivetrain performance.

In 1976, Shimano debuted Uniglide, simply angling some of the otherwise flat stamped teeth. By 1988, Hyperglide came along with CAD shift ramps so the chain could engage the next larger cog before it’s fully left the cog it’s on. Hyperglide only works moving from a smaller cog to a larger cog. Which is why you get smooth shifts going up to a larger cog, but you hear that clunk-clunk-clunk as you go down-down-down.

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 cassette and chain tech details with explanation of what is Shimano Hyperglide+

Follow the blue curve and you’ll see the new Hyperglide+ ramps that help the chain pre-engage with the next smaller cog.

Until now. For MY2019, XTR M91000 introduces Hyperglide+ to finally offer Hyperglide shifting in both directions. No more chunky drops under hard accelerations. What’s the benefit? Shock-free shifting that’s 1/3 faster. For racers, that’s fractions of a second per shift during a finish line sprint, without the abrupt clunk-clunk-clunks that can disrupt your cadence. And you can keep pedaling throughout the shift without needing to ease up.

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 cassette and chain tech details

Beam Spider construction holds the top eight cogs, of which the middle 5 are titanium, and the top three are aluminum with a tough surface treatment making them more durable. The lower cluster has four steel cogs. Add that up and yes, you get 12 speeds.

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 cassette and chain tech details

The gear options they came out with are based on racer feedback. Specifically, professional EWS racers’ feedback. Shimano asked racers whether they wanted the widest possible range, or improved gear steps. The initial response was 64% for range, and 36% for ideal steps. Once they drilled down and asked more specific questions, it turned out that about a third of the racers said an 11-46 or 10-45 offered all the range they needed. Why? Because depending on the course, some racers simply sized their 1x chainring up or down, which when paired with a tighter range cassette, gave them smoother transitions without really losing much range.

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 cassette and chain tech details

Ask XC racers the same thing and they voted 68% to 32% in favor of the widest range. Which makes sense because they want a high top end for sprints, and a low gear so they don’t blow out their legs on the climbs. Still, Shimano says just over 1/3 ended up saying the 11-46 or 10-45 options were enough. Which means not everyone really wanted the now common 500% range. The point is that not everyone wants or needs the same thing, so they’ll have options:

  • 10-51 12-speed Wide Range
  • 10-45 12-speed Rhythm Step
  • 10-45 11-speed lightweight spec

The latter is the same as the Wide Range 12-speed cassette, except with the 51-tooth cog removed. The spider is built the same at its base, though, so you won’t need any spacers or anything to put the 11-speed cassette on your 12-speed hub. Each one is a dedicated cassette, you can’t just throw the 51-tooth back on there for easy days. Cog spacing is the same on all of them, and the new 12-speed shifters will work with all three options.

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 cassette and chain tech details

How much lighter is the 11-speed setup? Shimano says it’s 57g for the 51-tooth cog, and the chain can be 6 links shorter (~20g savings), and you can run a shorter cage derailleur to save another 3g. So, about 80g savings. Other benefits of running the cassettes with the smaller top cog means you can run the shorter RD cage, which provides less chain slap, better chain retention and better ground clearance.

And that 51-tooth cog, is it there just to outdo SRAM? No, they say it’s about maintaining the right rhythm of gear steps, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

2019 XTR HG+ Chain

Shimano XTR M9000 chain with dynamic chain engagement

The HG+ chain is designed specifically to work with the new chainrings, and officially it will work only on Shimano chainrings. Why? Because it uses a new “Dynamic Chain Engagement+”  design. Because the DCE+ tooth profiles are new, this new chain won’t fit properly onto older Shimano chainrings, and they caution that it likely won’t settle down far enough for proper engagement on other third party chainrings, either (before you freak out, keep reading).

Shimano XTR M9000 chain with dynamic chain engagement

Arrows point to the extended chamfer on the inner link plates. Click to enlarge, we also shaded the two on the left in blue to better highlight the new shaping.

With narrow-wide chainrings now standard equipment, Shimano saw room for improvement in the way the chain engaged with those alternating tooth profiles. The interface between the chain and the chainring is different on narrow teeth and wide teeth. The chain’s inner link plates are extended to improve their fit around the wide teeth, which reduces vibrations.

Now, because the majority of the contact between the chain and the teeth is happening on the inner link plates, the wider space between the outer links isn’t fully utilized. In effect, the chain’s interior is narrower, so the chainline is held more tightly in the center. Not only do they say this helps keep everything feeling smoother, but it also reduces drivetrain noise by 4db.

Shimano XTR M9000 chain with dynamic chain engagement

Chains will now come with a quick link connector only, no more reinforced pins.

Most of this shaping work is meant to improve the interface with the chainring, but it also plays a small role in Hyperglide+ performance. As such, it is a directional chain, the logos need to be facing outward.

Chromizing surface treatment is used on the inner link plates and pins to make it tougher while still offering the friction reduction properties of the Sil-Tec coating they’ve been using (and that will still be used on the outer link plates). Chain is a bit narrower, but tested durability is the same as the M9000 group’s chain thanks to the Chromizing process, and spacing between cogs is bit narrower, too. They didn’t have official width numbers at the launch event, but we’ll update if they provide them.

XTR M9000 Cranksets & Chainrings

2019 Shimano XTR M9000 crankset and direct mount chainrings

Yes, they have finally moved to Direct Mount chainrings. And thanks to the new HG+ chain design, they say they can run a 52mm chainline on all bikes, Boost or not (52mm is a standard Boost spacing). The arms themselves are a refinement of previous models that are a bit lighter and stiffer, and they’ll come in two Q-Factor options (162mm and 168mm). They’re not designated specifically as Race or Trail any more, but expect to find the wider Q-Factor (M9120-1) on more enduro-ish bikes, and the narrower one on XC and Marathon bikes.

2019 Shimano XTR M9000 crankset and direct mount chainrings 2019 Shimano XTR M9000 crankset and direct mount chainrings

Look for 30/32/34/36/38 tooth count options on the 1x chainrings. Doubles are still available, only in a 38/28 combo, using a direct mount large ring with a bolt-on small ring. This means you can easily swap between single and double setups if you want, however it will only work with the 10-45 cassettes.

So, why would you want a double? Here’s how it breaks down:

  • 2x: 28/45 (0.622) on the double is similar to 30/51 (0.589) single for easy spinning.
  • 2x: 38/10 (3.800) is the other extreme for downhill hammering, and this can be replicated with a 1x setup.
  • 1x: 30/51 (0.589) gets you close to the same easy gear as the double.
  • 1x: 38/51 (0.740) is the easiest you’ll get with the biggest 1x chainring.
  • 1x: 32/10 (3.200) provides a good middle ground for most riders and saves a lot of weight.

It all adds up to a little more than 600% range out of the 2x, where the max is a 510% range from the 1x. Which is the equivalent of getting about two extra shifts at one end of the cassette. Who needs this? Multi day epic racers that want as many options as possible when they’re riding themselves into the pain cave day in and day out. Or bike packers. Or whoever, because you can spend your money however you want. Don’t judge. That said, 100% of OE spec coming to  North America is 10-51 12-speed 1x.

2019 Shimano XTR M9000 crankset and direct mount chainrings

The chainrings use a lock ring that uses a standard Shimano BB tool interface, however it’s very thin. So, they’ll offer a tool slides over the 24mm spindle, aligning it perfectly with the lock ring, so even though the ring is thin, the interface is tight and secure. Yes, they’re sticking with the 24mm spindle, no 30mm spindle options are coming.

2019 Shimano XTR M9000 crankset and direct mount chainrings

Gone is the pinch bolt design with that plastic preload bolt. Now, it bolts onto the spindle the same way Race Face, FSA, SRAM, etc. cranks do. A new preload ring is finger adjustable, with holes to stick an allen key in for extra leverage.

2019 Shimano XTR M9000 crankset and direct mount chainrings

Now, about that proprietary chain/chainring interface: We’ve heard Pivot will be offering the group on the new Mach 429 Trail, which is a Super Boost bike that needs a wider chainline. Shimano isn’t offering a crankset or chainring with that chainline, so they’re spec’ing Race Face 1x chainring flipped to adjust the chainline outward. Chris Cocalis isn’t one to compromise performance, so our hunch is this is a solution for bikes needing an alternate chainline.

XTR M9100 Rear Hub & Scylence Freehub

2019 shimano xtr m9100 rear hub with micro spline and scylence freehub mechanism eliminates the noise while coasting

There’s a LOT going on with the new XTR M9100 rear hub. First, the new Micro Spline freehub body is their solution to fitting a 10-tooth cog. Why not use the XD Driver Body? Two reasons. Functionally, XD requires a one-piece cassette, which isn’t something Shimano is going to do. And, let’s be real, because XD is SRAM’s design.

They’ll come in straight pull and standard flange options, in 28 and 32 hole counts. They say the straight pull design is within a gram of a DT Swiss 240 hubset.

The scallops on the driveside flange are there to save weight, but also to help the non-drive spokes clear it when pushing them through to build your wheel. There will also be a Wide Flange hub option made specifically for the 11-speed cassette that pushes the driveside flange out 4.7mm more than normal, taking up the space where that 51-tooth cog would have been. Basically it’s Boost hub spacing with Super Boost wheel stiffness thanks to more balanced spoke tension from side to side – but without room for the 12th cog.

2019 shimano xtr m9100 rear hub with micro spline and scylence freehub mechanism eliminates the noise while coasting

2019 shimano xtr m9100 rear hub with micro spline and scylence freehub mechanism eliminates the noise while coasting

With the need to truncate the freehub shell’s width to fit the 10-tooth cog hanging off the end, they had the opportunity for a clean slate. Micro Drive is the result, and refers to the smaller and more numerous splines. The new design allows them to use aluminum without fear of it being gouged by the cassette, which saves weight.

internal diagram of Shimano Scylence freehub drive mechanism

Inside the hub is their all-new Scylence drive mechanism. We knew this was coming when we found patent drawings a couple years ago, and all of our predictions have proved true. The Scylence works like this: When pedaling, the angled slots on the freehub shell (blue) pull the two yellow ratchet ring into the green one, which is fixed into the hub shell. Opposing teeth on the two ratchet rings engage, and your pedaling efforts drive the wheel forward.

When you’re coasting The spring behind the yellow ratchet pulls it back, away from the green one, so there is virtually no contact between them. This means virtually no friction, and virtually no noise. In fact, they’re claiming a whopping 40db decrease in hub noise. Meaning you can hear your tires on the ground, upping your Spidey sense for traction.

Because the “engagement” comes from the splines rather than pawls and teeth, it measures at an effective 7.6º engagement, but there’s 360º of actual engagement when the two rings come together. They say the driving force is 30% more rigid than standard systems, and it’s strong enough for e-bike use, so expect it to show up there in the future.

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 front hubs and non-series M900 Scylence mountain bike hubs

Scylence is only for the new XTR drivetrain for this year, but will also be available on the non-series MT900 hubs, too, for more price conscious OEM builds. These don’t get the same weight saving measures or high polish finish, and will come in 28-hole, Boost spacing only, where XTR hubs will have both standard and Boost options.

Will XTR M91000 work with 3rd Party hubs?

Yes, but it’ll be limited at first. DT Swiss was a development partner, in a sense. Shimano worked with them to ensure the Micro Spline shape could work on DT’s modular hub design in terms of freehub body length and inside diameters clearing various axle options and end caps. Plus, admittedly, Shimano’s mountain bike hubs and wheels sales are much lower than DT’s. So they needed some popular aftermarket wheels to be available to help spread adoption and OE spec of the new XTR group. At launch, you should be able to find DT Swiss hubs with Micro Spline or order a Micro Spline freehub body to swap onto your existing wheels. Supposedly, DT Swiss will have a Micro Spline Super Boost Plus hub soon that will allow Pivot and other bikes to run the new XTR group.

Why no more XTR mountain bike wheels?

Shimano is focusing on their strengths, which is hubs, not rims. So they’re offering their hubs for OEM spec to be laced to other rims. DT Swiss is also a licensed partner, so they’ll also have Micro Spline compatible hubs that have DT’s modular construction. So you’ll see wheels on bikes spec’d with this new XTR coming with either DT or Shimano hubs, but they could be laced to any number of rims. Already have a nice set of wheels with DT Swiss hubs? No worries, the Micro Spline FH body can be retrofitted to existing DT hubs.

XTR M9100 Derailleurs

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 rear derailleur tech details

Yes, plural. They’ll still offer a front derailleur to work with that double chainring setup. But the real news is on the rear derailleur. The parallelogram and movement is all new, required to work across the massive range of the 10-51 cassette. They say it’s quieter, aids chain retention, and improves drive efficiency by reducing the chain tension when in the bigger cogs. That should mean faster, smoother shifting feel at the lever. Two versions are offered:

  • GS Type – 45T max cog size, but has 28mm better ground clearance
  • SGS Type – 51 max cog size, can also worth with the 10-45 cassettes

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 rear derailleur tech details 2019 Shimano XTR M9100 rear derailleur tech details

The shorter cage doesn’t really save that much weight, but it does reduce chain movement because it’s reducing the lever arm length that the chain has to work with. 13-tooth pulley wheels add a bit more chain wrap, which helps them keep the cage a little shorter on both versions. There’s also a M9120 SGS RD with revised parallelogram and pulley wheel placements that’s made for the 2x drivetrain and has a max 45-tooth limit. As such, it will always get paired with the 10-45 12-speed cassette.

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 rear derailleur tech details

On the bottom is a convenient clutch tension adjustment port, covered with a rubber seal. Just reach your allen wrench in there and customize the tension to your liking.

The front derailleur will come in D, E, and M mounts, all using the SideSwing routing. They can adapt between 48.8mm and 51.8mm chain lines to work with Boost and non-Boost bikes.

Shimano XTR CD800 Chain Guide

Technically, the new Shimano chain guide is not an XTR part, but it’s color matched and is as clever as anything else in the group. Offered, in D (high), E (low), and ISCG05 mounts, one bolt handles height and chainline adjustments. When loose, slide it up or down, and a bezel on the back can be turned to adjust chainline. Tighten the single bolt and it locks both movements into position.

XTR M9100 Shifter Levers & Dropper Remote

xtr m9100 shifter levers

To make you faster, they wanted the shifters to offer quicker lever access with more room to move your thumb between the two levers. The layout redesign claimed to offer 20% quicker lever access time, and new internals require 35% less force to shift (versus M9000) thanks to updated cable pull ratio and spring tension at the derailleur.

It can shift up to four gears in a single push, but the indents are more pronounced. The first click is lighter than the second, though, so it’s easy to get just a single shift without accidentally over shifting. The silver setting screw on the bottom of the rear shifter adjusts between 11- and 12-speed shifting, letting it work with any of the cassette options.

For the 2x, there’s a new Mono Lever that requires only a single lever (on the left side of the bar). Push it once to shift to the big ring, then push it again to release and have it drop down to the small ring. Simple, but what’s even more ingenious is that it can also be used on the new Fox “push to unlock” suspension parts as a fork or shock remote.

Both front and rear shifters will come with a standard round bar clamp or the new I-SpecEV. Sorry, it’s not backward compatible with regular I-Spec, because the position on the bar is different to accommodate the new brake lever design (keep reading). But, you can run the new brakes with older shifters if you use Clamp-on shifters instead of I-Spec.

XTR shimano dropper seatpost remote lever

What’s equally ingenious is their new dropper post remote that mimics Shimano’s shift lever, but not the one you’d expect. Where most every dropper remote replaces the position and feel of the main thumb paddle, Shimano decided to place it where the release lever is, so you don’t have to pull your thumb back as far to use it. It’s far more ergonomic. It has 7mm of cable pull and clamps the cable at the lever so it should work with most any mechanical dropper

XTR M9100 Disc Brakes

Functionally, the new master cylinder is much the same. But it has a new brake lever structure that rests the end of the master cylinder body against the handlebar. That, combined with a wider clamp band, creates a much stiffer, more direct lever feel. The clamp is much farther inboard, too, making room for different remote levers or even a small bell (we’ll have on-the-bike pics coming in a separate post).

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 Race and Trail hydraulic disc brakes for mountain bikes

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 Race and Trail hydraulic disc brakes for mountain bikes

The 2-piston Race Brakes are 26g lighter than the M9000 system. It uses a magnesium lever body and carbon blade, but with an aluminum caliper, so it’s stiffer. They say magnesium’s stiffness can change with temperature, so this new one should have more predictable performance.

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 Race and Trail hydraulic disc brakes for mountain bikes

It also gets a new inline hose fitting rather than a banjo, saving a few grams, and it sits inboard. The brake pad is slightly smaller, using the road flat mount brake pad, to save just a couple extra grams. But it won’t fit the finned pads because those won’t clear the bleed port.

Brakes ship with either resin or metal pads, depending on what the OE specs for their bikes, or what you order. In North America, Shimano USA mainly stocks metal finned (when available) pads for MTB and resin for road. And that choice of pad can affect retail price up to $20 per wheel.

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 Race and Trail hydraulic disc brakes for mountain bikes

The new 4-piston Enduro Brakes offer higher power, quicker brake engagement with shorter free stroke. They stick with a banjo connection, but also move the routing to the inside of the caliper. It gets an alloy lever and caliper. The lever uses their Servo Wave tech with a tool-free reach adjustment.

2019 Shimano XTR M9100 Race and Trail hydraulic disc brakes for mountain bikes

It gets a new finned brake pad, which will be compatible with all of their other 4-piston brakes. This one looks a little sleeker, and it gets tighter tolerances between the caliper body for less rattle. The fins look small, but they say they cool just as well as the other designs.

2019 Shimano XTR brake rotors

New rotors will come in 140/160/180/203 diameters and have one design for both “race” and “enduro”, but they have size specific designs that cater to the likely use. Smaller rotors that are typically used for XC get lighter, and bigger rotors for enduro get better cooling. The carrier is lighter than before, and they’ll be Centerlock only. They also get the heat dissipating paint from the Dura-Ace rotors.

XTR M9100 Pedals

The new PD-M9100 XC pedal is wider edge to edge for better stability, and it has improved mud shedding. Like the two Q-Factor options on the cranks, you have width options here, too. Look for 52 and 55 mm axles to help you fine tune your fit.
For XC racers, the short spindle option allows them to bring their Q-Factor back down a bit now that the cranks use a wider Q-factor.

The PD-M9120 Trail Pedal gets even wider than XC plus and adds the platform’s extra length.

New 12-speed Chain Tools

With all of these changes, Shimano recommends a narrower chain tool (TL-CN35 or TL-CN29) and a new chain whip that handles the slightly narrower cog spacing better. A direct-mount chainring lock ring tool will with the cranks for at least the first year, but it’s the same interface as their BB tool… it’s just that you might have a hard time getting a standard BB wrench into the backside of the spider.

Stay tuned for on-the-bike photos, weights, pricing and more in a separate post!


    • Surly Will on

      No doubt Chris King and I9 are also POd. Yet another standard. No word but my bet is Shimano made their 12 speed with different spacing so you can’t use a Microspline wheel with SRAM shifters.

  1. D-con on

    Sold! This all looks great and I’ve been excited to upgrade for this summer.
    [calls shop]
    September?! Eagle it is.

    • Matt on

      That was my first thought. I got the XT version of Di2 on my rig last year because I just love how it works the same in whatever weather and hate dealing with replacing cables if they get contaminated with dirt, etc. But, it would have been awesome if Shimano somehow released a kit to upgrade the current wired version to wireless so you don’t have to deal with the prospect of a Di2 wire getting severed by a stick or something on the trail. Seems like Shimano missed the boat for a huge opportunity there.

  2. boom on

    Is there an official ETA? Not like we can wholeheartedly rely on that.
    Maybe I’ll start taking bets now. What’s everyone’s vote until you can actually buy this? 6 months from now, or more like 9?

  3. Flatbiller on

    Can’t understand why XTR rotors aren’t offered in 6-bolt.

    And what Pivot is doing with the RaceFace rings…imagine BMW using Ford seats because “they happen to fit better.” Is it any wonder the bike industry still feels like it’s run by granola-eating hippies?

    • Colin M on

      the bike industry is run by the marketing staff that changes their opinion every other season, not hippies. It isn’t run by engineers either.

  4. Perp on

    Your blue curve on the Hyperglide+ cassette photo shows the path of the chain shifting to a lower (larger or easier gear). The path for shifting to a higher (smaller) gear is the opposite.
    Also, Shimano had a version of Hyperglide+ several years ago on their mid-range groups called IG (Interactive Glide, I think). Worked quite well.
    Overall VERY impressed with the tech in the new XTR.

    • TheKaiser on

      While reading all of these new XTR articles I keep thinking “Why does noone remember IG”. Its crazy, it seems even Shimano has forgotten it, or else they didn’t want to complicate their sales story by educating these journos in that bit of history.

      IG was one of those rare innovations that was performance oriented yet wasn’t introduced at the top of the range. It would be great to hear Shimano’s account of why they dropped it, and what is different/better about this new design. I recall seeing it on 95′ or 96′ model year bikes with STX parts, but I can’t recall when they phased it out.

      • Dee Eight on

        Because it was only available on the STX groups, it didn’t actually sell that well. The cassettes used a different manufacturing method as well which made them lighter for a 7 speed cassette than shimano’s previous 7 speed cassettes, and as light as the 8 speed XTR cassettes of a similar range. But they required a specific IG spec chain to benefit from the extra ramps on the cogs and the market really wasn’t embracing the idea of a different chain spec at the time, and when it came to aftermarket replacement part sales, most consumers just replaced their IG cassettes and chains with HG spec ones instead. Deore LX and above never got the IG treatment and Alivio or below also never got them. Essentially it was an experiment which failed ultimately due to lack of sales, same as their silent clutch hubs did.

  5. OriginalMarkV on

    It would be cool if the cog-to-cog spacing of the cassette was the same SRAM Eagle, but that’s probably too much for consumers to expect of this industry…

  6. Frustrated in California on

    As a small manufacturer of high end bikes, how am I supposed to sell anything but Sram until this comes out in a year, if Shimano uses the same (non)rollout strategy of their last groups? Their ETAs are always pipe dreams.

    Shimano shooting themselves, their vendors, and their end users in the foot again. Thanks, fellas.

    • Marc L on

      I sympathize and honestly have no idea what I’d do in your shoes. It seems like the only viable option is to double down on Eagle, and even that could be impacted as people wait and see.

      There’s so much to like here- both 12s cassettes, the brakes (hopefully), quiet/efficient/light hubs, and even the aesthetics. And I would have a hard time not pulling the trigger were it available or close. But a wobbly ‘fall’ target? They’re not doing anyone any favors.

      I’m not going to pretend to know the thought process behind Shimano’s timing but if I were a retailer or OEM it would hard in darker moments not to see it as an attempt to kneecap SRAM’s selling season at the expense of -or at best without regard for- bike brands and shops. They’re probably trying to preempt leaks more than anything else, but ultimately the effect is similar.

  7. Mark_Landsaat on

    Love the way it looks, and I’m sure it will work great as well.

    However, XTR hubs or DT Swiss hubs as the only two options available to build compatible wheels? That seems like a big mistake to me. If you want to run anything other than Shimano or DT wheels, you can’t use XTR.

  8. Tim on

    The Scylence hubs sound to be pretty awesome. I remember when the only aftermarket hub options really were King and DT Swiss, and loudness was touted as a feature. Ramped downshifting is pretty awesome, too. Can’t wait till this stuff trickles down a bit into XT.

    • Surly Will on

      Good to see Shimano copping to their pawl hubs being bad. This hub appears to be a cross between Chris King and DT Swiss.

      • i on

        except for the silent freecoaster feature… meaning it’s basically nothing like king or DT. By that logic, isn’t every other hub on the market basically a copy of the older Shimano design?

    • Mike on

      Ha ha, so true. Doesn’t matter what my shifters are, all my cassettes and chains are Shimano. Full Red groupo you say?… except the cassettes and chain.

  9. tech9 on


    Thanks for all the info. You answered a lot of questions. Any mention about xtr di2 and this 12 speed group or new di2 12sp?

    Bout time shimano freaking finally caught up to sram in the mtb world. They still rule road, but man they just would not accept 1x. This is great. Love all of the new stuff.

    • Tyler Benedict on

      A new XTR Di2 is at least a year off, and I asked why. The answer is that the current XTR Di2 is really good, and this new mechanical XTR is amazing, so they have to do something even more amazing to justify an upgrade to a new XTR Di2. Insert your own pipe dreams of power-sensing or terrain mapped shifting via GPS, and other “crazy” ideas and it’s likely they’re actually considering the possibilities…they just won’t talk about them publicly.

      • Colin M on

        Racers think they need technology like this…and then they get passed by a singlespeeder wearing hi-top Vans in a race….and hopefully they realize they pissed away $10k on a bicycle.

        • JBikes on

          I don’t understand why someone that rides and maybe races at a “fit recreational” cat 4 or even cat 5 level cares when a dedicated or younger cat 2 passes them on whatever.

          By the numbers most high end bikes aren’t raced in a serious fashion. Who cares. I’m sure the owners get enjoyment even if not the fastest person out there. Their enjoyment and slowness does not make you any slower

          • Colin M on

            I’ve never seen a person on a $10k race bike on a casual ride. I’ve never seen XTR Di2 on a bike other than a race bike. Follow me?

            • Eggs Benedict a.k.a Darth Baller on

              No, I don’t. I would definitely consider XTR Di2 on my MTB and I have no intention of racing it.

              • James on

                I have XTR Di2 on a bike that has never and probably will never be raced. I have a high end bike because I want to have a high end bike. I like having nice stuff and I don’t mind saving up and buying it. Has nothing to do with my speed, I would be the same speed on a much less expensive bike. I have raced everything from bmx, xc, enduro, cx, dh and road at every level including pro and I know it is all in the rider.

            • John on

              I have a sort of hybrid 1x XTR Di2 with SRAM 10-42 cassette and SRAM chainset on my gravelbike that cost less than 1/2 of $10K to build and I have zero interest in racing it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            • Bazz on

              I’ve seen plenty of weekend warrior business exec type riders on Di 2 XTR. They have to have something to brag about to each other.

              • JBikes on

                Imagine you start a career, are successful in it, and someone agrees to pay you a relatively high wage. You have more money than you really need and looooove bikes (maybe not a ton of time to ride, but still bikes are your passion).
                Will you buy XTR to brag or maybe just because you like it? Maybe those exec know its not needed over XT, but an extra couple grand in the scheme of things isn’t hurting them.

                Strange, people will drop an extra $2k on a car option and nobody will say anything. Do that on a bike that provides enjoyment in one’s passion and everyone becomes a sansculottes

                • Crash Bandicoot on

                  Hit the nail on the head. How many people spend an extra 20+ grand on a pick up trucks whose utility they use a handful of times per year when a normal sedan would suffice their needs? By the logic of many of the commenters here nothing above SLX should be made because the only riders who would benefit from better kit would be getting paid to ride it and getting it for free.

      • Jo on

        “Insert your own pipe dreams of power-sensing or terrain mapped shifting via GPS,”

        Oh. God. Please. No. : )

        This kit is amazing but I also hope we’re nearing the point where quality, cross-compatibility and simplicity start to come to the fore again. I’d take 10s kit with earlier-gen XTR looks and quality and some ability to use (for ex) bar end shifters, a choice of ring sizes up front with a side-swing FD, etc. This new XTR, though impressive, has close to zero appeal to me.

        To Shimano – maybe think about giving riders more choice back. Less dictating what we can use, or thinking that racing should drive so much of your development. You make superb kit, always have done, but you need to look at the gaping gaps between race MTB and race road bikes and address it. You don’t even make a double chainset that suits all-road touring, something so close to where deer head XT started out.

        Bring back the deer head!

  10. Justin Time on

    I would disagree in saying this changes everything. Its interesting but nothing close to revolutionary, just typical Shimano. This is a well written article but it could be condensed into fewer words saying; “we’re still three years behind SRAM but we’ll never admit it.”
    What could change everything would be some Shimano hydro calipers that don’t overtly leak or gradually weep fluid into the pads. Now that would be something to talk about!!

  11. Andrew on

    I got excited thinking about using this 11spd cassette with my current XTR drivetrain, but then remembered that spacing wont work 🙁

  12. Bryan on

    You absolutely don’t need a one-piece cassette to work on an XD driver. The fact that they have lower end stamped and riveted cassettes confirmed that. New hub internals is super and all but Shimano not adopting the XD fhb interface is 100% nothing but sour grapes.

  13. Ron on

    One of the coolest things about 11 speed was that the Big 3 all used the same cog spacing. I wonder if that is holding true for 12.

  14. hguhu on

    so this is basically shimano eagle.

    it looks great, though, no real point if you already have sram eagle and expensive if you have anything else to replace, so basically only makes sense on new bikes.
    plus they made things incompatible.. but since its shimano no one is going to loudly complain uh 😉

  15. Bogey on

    Looks incredibly good to me. It sure took Shimano a while but they nailed it IMO. They were listening!
    Restricting use to Shimano and DT hubs is an odd decision but they are the best hubs.

  16. Larry Falk on

    A bit of (useless) history: In the mid-90s, Shimano had IG chain and cog technology that improved upon HG’s one-direction shift ramps – IG was bi-directional. STX and STX-RC groups had IG cassettes. It worked great and I’m not sure why they didn’t continue the technology. ???

    • Stephen Poole on

      IG cassettes were heavier and upshifts didn’t happen until the ramps came around, so were slower. More weight, more restrictions on what chains were officially allowed, slower (but perhaps marginally smoother) upshifts so no overall advantage. I passed, as did most others.

      Overall, the new XTR looks good, IMHO. Any word on what crank lengths will be available? That’s the last piece in the fit puzzle.

      • TheKaiser on

        It would be nice to know how these new shift ramps compare to IG though. Like how many more shift points are there per cog, assuming there are some, because otherwise this will suffer the same problems you mention (other than weight). I don’t think that IG had to be heavy either, it was just they introduced it at the mid range on a steel pinned cassette, whereas XTR at that time was already spidered with Ti upper cogs.

      • xcracer on

        Crank length is my question too. Though with q-factor options on cranks & pedals, I’d be surprised if they don’t offer a nice range.

  17. Mark Walton on

    So we binned the 3rd ring on the chainset to “save weight” and now we have 12 speed cassettes the size of dinner plates!

  18. mikeetheviking on

    So Pivot is using a flippable Race Face chainring for the superboost+ models. Does this mean Race Face is making a special spiderless chainring for these new cranks? Or is the crankset using a RF “cinch” type interface?

  19. John on

    That 10-45T cassette also bodes well for a future 1x road/gravel chainset, where a 44T chainring will have comparable range to today’s 50-34T/11-32 compact road chainsets — and lower gearing will just be a matter of a fitting a smaller chainring.

    Related, its great to see Shimano finally putting the large gaps at the small cogs for wide range cassettes (where they belong). Their XT 11-46 cassettes are an abomination.

    • Me on

      It changes freehub body compatibility. YAY! I think that’s about the only thing. I bet the weights on those cassettes can’t touch SRAM.

  20. Luiggi on

    How long till the MC’s piston wears out the bore and the point of engagement changes randomly in those magnesium brake levers? It happens right now to their aluminum ones, because shimano doesn’t anodize the inner surface after machining it. Imagine how going to a softer material will improve it…

    Hint: it won’t.

    • Johnny on

      They don’t anodize those inner surfaces because the varability the anodizing process introduces to bore diameter. Ano is a build process (essentially growing oxide on the surface). The thickness of that oxide can vary wildly based on a number of process inputs (current density, bath titrations, base metal, etc.). You’d be more pissed if you found that every brake you grabbed had a different feel right out of the box or didn’t release after it was pulled. XTR – expect it to wear out. That’s the “R.”

      • Wuffles on

        Which is why the anodizing is followed by a grinding and polishing process. See: Hope, Formula, Trick Stuff, all companies a tiny fraction of Shimano’s size.

        No, Shimano doesn’t anodize for the same reason they build two piece calipers: it’s a lot cheaper. Some of those savings get passed on to the consumer, hence the competitve prices on most Shimano stuff.

        If it’s actual performance you’re looking for… look elsewhere.

        • TheKaiser on

          Yeah, while Johnny is right that it isn’t as simple as just throwing the parts in a bath, clearly others can pull off ano MC bodies, not to mention all of the fork stanchions and shock shafts that need to keep a tolerance with the bushings and seals. It can be done, and not doing it compromises the durability, so it’s a weird oversight on a safety critical part for a company so concerned with reliability in other ways.

          • Johnny on

            The process of grinding an inner ano bored surface to a percision dia is going to add mucho bucks to the price of a part (inside diameters vs outsides diameter makes a big difference in the difficulty and cost of that type of process). I’m guessing that others have developed a process that will allow for one-off adjustment of the piston dia and seals to account for the variation in the anodizing process. In volume neither is super practical (such is the problem with being as large as Shimano).

  21. Tom on

    Adjustable clutch FTW! My Eagle clutch is a bit too gutless for truly rowdy riding. Hoping cog spacing is the same as SRAM, because I’ve got a couple sets of nice wheels, and only one will accept the new driver.

    “Microdrive”?! I Shimano paying Suntour to use that term. Apologies for having been around long enough to remember when the battle was Shimano vs. Suntour, not SRAM.

    Great writeup! Bring on the XT!

    • TheKaiser on

      Yeah, those were the days when Shimano was having to play catch up with another “Big S” company, and was rushing “Compact Drive” to market to keep up with MD.

  22. Chuck Point on

    You can get the whole group set on Chainreaction right now for 47% off, free shipping through DHL to the us.

  23. Fred Gravelly on

    This. Changes. Nothing. I’m gonna keep riding my old mtn bike gear. I do like the direct mount chainrings though

  24. Casey ryback on

    Cool. another i-spec standard that isn’t backwards compatible. Already looking forward to next year’s i-spec that won’t work with this i-spec.

  25. Sander janssen on

    12 speed, eagle has it. direct mount chainring, eagle has it. clean cockpit, eagle has it. So what’s really new here? Just Sram Eagle in a Shimano sause with lots off new standards off course. (direct mount, cassette body, I-spec (changing every so many years))and maybe even the cassette spacing may be different.
    Customer is the big loser here.

  26. MBR on

    So did I read correctly that the [not wide flange version] hubs WILL be available in non-Boost [142 mm] width versions? Being forced to Boost is a show stopper for me…


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