Shimano has all-new 1x Deore XT & Deore LinkGlide mountain bike drivetrains that promise three times the durability of regular XT for higher load applications. They even come in both 1x 10-speed & 11-speed options. But with completely new cassette shaping, cog spacing & cable pulls, the new LinkGlide gear is somewhat confusingly not backwards compatible with the current Shimano HyperGlide(+) components we’ve been riding on for years. So is the extra durability worth the trouble…

Shimano Deore & XT add 3x more durable LinkGlide drivetrain

Shimano says to say hello to LinkGlide, and say goodbye to drivetrain wear and tear. OK, not goodbye really. But with claimed 3x longer cassette durability, LinkGlide aims to increase the mileage you get out of your drivetrain, and cut down on degradation of performance over time.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, XT or Deore

c. Shimano

Developed to be robust but smooth, the new Shimano Deore & XT LinkGlide groups were developed to increase drivetrain durability for cycling disciplines that are already hard on components, but where a bit of extra weight wasn’t a huge concern, like e-bikes, leisure mountain bikes, commuter bikes, trekking bikes, and bikepacking or adventure bikes.

An alternative to the lightweight, race-focused HyperGlide+ mountain bike groups (the latest HG+ XTR, XT & SLX), LinkGlide groups look set to expand of solid performance for the masses.

But why? And what’s the benefit?

Shimano’s big selling point behind LinkGlide is the increased durability. And while a major justification of the extra strength of the new drivetrain components is to withstand the harder life of e-bikes and new riders shifting under load, it does also mean that anyone who pedals a regular bike with a new XT or Deore LinkGlide setup should get a drivetrain that lasts a claimed three times as long – especially said to be more durable in muddy conditions.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, new drivetrain

And in a world of squeezing ever-more gears into the same space in the interest of smoother cadence shifts and wider gear ratios, it’s kind of refreshing to talk about fewer gears, but longer-lasting performance. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m also still anxiously awaiting 12-speed wireless Di2 for both road and mountain bikes!)

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, gravel e-bikes

Shimano says LinkGlide is for any rider that would choose reliability & low-maintenance over the quicker shifting & lower weight of HyperGlide+.

What’s really different? What’s new? Tech details

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, new cassettes

The secrets to making the drivetrain last longer essentially comes down almost entirely to the two new LinkGlide cassettes. First, the individual steel cogs simply start life as thicker plates. Those thicker cog bases under each tooth can resist much higher loads. They get stamped & finished with more complex tooth profiling that Shimano says results in good chain retention & quick shifts.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, new shift ramps

Plus, overhauled shift ramps & gates deliver smoother shifts & smoother pedaling, with less “shifting shock” compared to the older HG design (no mention of the newer HG+.)

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, new cog spacing

Those new thicker cogs also get new wider 10 & 11-speed spacing. They still fit on standard Shimano HG freehub bodies, but it’s not the same-old 10sp or 11sp spacing. With new spacing must also come new derailleurs & shifters.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, derailleurs

The 1x only rear derailleurs use a revised linear cable pull that is said to be more tolerant of wear, but include the standard low-profile Shadow RD+ design and Chain Stabilizing tech clutches of the light HG+ groups. The accompanying 2-Way Release, Rapidfire Plus shifters come in 10 or 11-speed LinkGlide variants, with I-Spec EV (11sp only) or regular band clamps

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, chain

There is also a new affordable LinkGlide chain, but any Shimano 11sp chain will work, and all are e-bike-rated.

LinkGlide cross-compatibility, but no backward compatibility

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, XT LG derailleur

Shimano LinkGlide will first come in Deore XT & Deore levels as Shimano says these are the biggest sellers, the most popular across multiple disciplines including eMTB & e-bikes. More LinkGlide components are likely to follow, and are internally interchangeable/compatible with one another LinkGlide-labelled component.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, Deore rear derailleur

In fact, it seems the new linear cable pull means either shifter will work with either derailleur, the shifter determining how many gear shifts you get.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, LG logo

Shimano LinkGlide, LG logo

That stylized LG LinkGlide logo is especially important. The new Shimano Deore LinkGlide 1×10 & Deore XT LinkGlide 1×11 are NOT cross-compatible with any other existing Shimano 10-speed or 11-speed drivetrains.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, upgrade kit

minimum LinkGlide upgrade kit

If you want to upgrade to a longer-wearing LinkGlide setup, you’ll need new matching LG-labelled shifter, rear derailleur & cassette to make it work (plus the new chain which is optional).

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, Filip Scholliers

Shimano MTB product manager Filip Scholliers

According to Shimano MTB product manager Filip Scholliers, “HYPERGLIDE+ technology still offers competitive cyclists a lightweight drivetrain with our quickest shifting, whereas LINKGLIDE is an extra option for increased durability. Or to put it another way, HYPERGLIDE+ is made for fast and LINKGLIDE is made to last.

Shimano Deore & XT LinkGlide – Pricing, options & availability

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, zoom

As for individual Shimano LinkGlide component pricing, it looks to be generally in line with other recent XT & Deore releases. Although, the more durable LinkGlide generally seems to get one less gear for the same price at each level.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, cassettes

Shimano Deore LinkGlide 11-43T 10sp (left) & Deore XT LinkGlide 11-50T 11sp (right)

Just the one $23 / 30€ Deore chain (CN-LG500) is offered specifically for the new setups, but you can also still use any other 10 or 11-speed chain with the rest of the new Shimano LinkGlide components. Only Deore-level LinkGlide cassettes are offered in either the 10sp, 634g 11-43T (CS-LG600-10) for $62 / 65€, or the 11sp, 780g 11-50T (CS-LG600-11) for $98 / 108€.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, Deore 1x10

2021 Shimano Deore LinkGlide 1x10sp

The Deore 10s shifter (SL-M5130-R) sells for $34 / 46€, to be paired to the Deore 1×10 GS rear derailleur (RD-M5130) for $55 / 60€.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, XT 1x11

2021 Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide 1x11sp

The XT 11s shifter (SL-M8130-R) sells for $67 / 75€, paired to the XT 1×11 SGS rear derailleur (RD-M8130) for $122 / 124€.

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset, riding

Shimano Deore XT LinkGlide drivetrain is 3x more durable, new LG MTB long-wearing mountain bike groupset,

Actual consumer availability dates vary between the individual LinkGlide XT & Deore components, but Shimano says mountain bikers should start seeing LinkGlide pop up in bike shops from August and into September when everything is expected to be widely available. Complete bikes with OEM XT & Deore LinkGlide groupsets should also start popping up in late summer 2021.

bike.Shimano.com

36 comments

  1. Nuuk on

    This is sorely needed for many bikes that are ridden in poor weather, for example fatbikes. Hopefully there will be a more diverse selection of compatible components than previously. For example with hg+ compliant chainrings there’s barely any options for anything smaller than 30t

    Reply
  2. dude guy on

    lol. wider spacing but no increased chain thickness? wtf? Like what I really care about on my e bike is the chain not snapping. Thanks.

    Reply
  3. Seraph on

    Wait wait wait, it’s not cross-compatible with any existing 10 or 11-speed Shimano stuff? Wow, way to further alienate your existing customers!

    Reply
  4. Crash Bandicoot on

    Yikes. When I initially saw these new cassettes I thought that Shimano finally launched a 12 speed cassette that would fit onto a normal HG freehub body but looks like that is a no go and I’m stuck with the chinesium ones that have served me well. No interchangeability with current standards is a shart IMO and I’m a died in the wool Shimano guy.

    Reply
  5. Heffer on

    Couldn’t they have kept the same cable pull and just changed lever ratio in the rear derailleur? I get it, they wanted more cable pull like SRAM… Would be nice if they use the same cable pull as SRAM, so we can mix

    Reply
  6. jasonmiles31 on

    Are the 10sp and the 11sp cassettes the same except the 50t is removed? Looks like the 43t on the 10sp still has the mounting holes for the 50. $36 is a lot of coin for an extra cog.

    Reply
  7. Dylan Sutton on

    So it works with a regular 11sp chain, but the shifters, derailleur and cassette aren’t interchangeable with any other existing 10sp or 11sp group due to different cable pull and cassette spacing? Go burn in hell Shimano!
    This might be fine for OEMs speccing full drivetrains and pushing them out the door, but for anyone wanting to maintain a household worth of bikes over the long haul it’s a complete PITA. While I’ve bought a couple of complete bikes specced with SRAM, I’ve bought many more Shimano drivetrains, both on complete bikes and after-market, and always leaned heavily towards preferring Shimano…no more, I’m out.

    Reply
    • bielas on

      I am sure this is intended for OEM level “only”, it is 1X system so basically made for new e-bikes assembled in factory, not for aftermarket sales. They last 3X more, so they are thought to be assemble in new e-bikes and never to be replaced, just the chain every few years (chain is backwards compatible). Perfect for the e-bike consumer that is not into bike tech and repairs, and just want to commute, go shopping or ride casually.
      If you need a Deore or XT 10 or 11 speed parts (or 12 speed) and you like to buy aftermarket parts and swap them yourself, then you already have those in the market

      Reply
    • typevertigo on

      @Dylan Sutton
      You’re free to buy other non-LinkGlide Shimano drivetrains. Having options is nice. It’s not as if Shimano is forcing this down your throat at gunpoint.

      Reply
  8. Al on

    Why are people such whingers does someone have your arm behind your back making you buy the more durable groupo ? the cost of cassettes adds up over time so the cost should balance out and the HG+ is easy to buy so whats the problem ? I,d be happy for my drivetrain to last 3 times longer

    Reply
    • Dylan Sutton on

      As one of the whingers, I’d like to point out that:
      1) none of us were complaining about options for extra durability.
      2) the extra durability in no way requires any of the changes which remove compatibility.
      —The cogs could be made thicker without altering the spacing in any way.
      —Even if they did change the spacing, this could have been accommodated by changing only the derailleur, (without altering the cable pull of the shifter) OR only the shifter cable pull (without changing the derailleur.

      The lack of compatibility is a money grab, pure and simple.

      Reply
  9. HM on

    I totally agree with you Al. People who moan about new standards and lack of cross compatibility just don’t get it.
    It’s not done to screw you over it’s how things evolve.
    If every new component had to be backwards and cross compatible I can’t see how the designers & engineers could fit the 10,11&12 speed transmissions we all enjoy on good old 7speed hubs held between a 135mm QR dropout.
    You don’t have to buy this stuff if you don’t want to. Just be happy there is choice out there and product is evolving all the time to enhance your enjoyment of the sport.
    Rant over : )

    Reply
    • Dylan Sutton on

      @HM I can’t tell if you’re being facetious, or don’t know that you actually _can_ fit a 12sp cassette on an HG driver body mounted on a 135 OLD hub. You can’t fit a 10 tooth cog on an HG driver, but there are plenty of 11-52 12 speed options out there, e.g. SRAM PG 1230.

      Reply
      • gonebikingmad on

        Not wishing to nit pick but HM did say 7 speed hubs, you can only fit 7 speed cassettes to 7 speed freehubs, it was when they went to 8 speed where it got bigger by exactly one cog where it then stuck at that width give or take a mm or 2 choosing to go narrower every time there after.

        Reply
  10. golbiker110 on

    I can see myself investing into this group if reliability claims are even 50% true, but it absolutely needs more cassette options. Eleven cogs with 11-46 range already gives barely acceptable gear ratio jumps, can’t imagine worsening it even further.

    Reply
  11. ATBScott on

    I have had crap results with the previous vintage Shimano XT cassette durability. But the easy solution for me was Sunrace. Better gear selections with an 11-46 and those things last. I don’t ride that hard or that much, and was burning through XT cassettes in a few months (chain still showing as barely worn) the teeth on the larger cogs were deforming and causing roughness and chain skipping. After two cassettes (and of course putting a new chain on when I did the swap) in 9 months with less than 500 miles of good weather riding, I put on a Sunrace and didn’t change the chain. Now, 16 months/1200 miles later, still have the same drivetrain and it’s running like butter. I’ll put on a new chain before the summer starts, but the cassette teeth still look like they are barely ridden! Shimano should learn a lesson here. I get HUGE miles from their road cassettes and chains (8k plus or minus on Dura Ace). What is the problem with the MTB stuff? FWIW, I am a former pro mechanic who is pretty A/R about keeping my bike clean and adjusted and check chain length every few rides.

    Reply
    • Al on

      Hi thanks for sharing about Sunrace cassettes , longevity is good . I have a mix of bikes with different wheel sizes spacing etc not much of it interchangeable easily 3 different crank spacings available boost boost + and boost ++ boost wheel spacing is another variable seatpost sizing as well and rotor size can vary both diameter and thickness . So the idea of standardization is a bit unrealistic . Just buy the parts you need for the bikes you have I can,t share wheels between bikes easily so that is not a problem for me ,so the drivetrain on one bike is just for that bike alone which alleviates it having to fit anything else . The xt lg is just an option
      if you want it buy it if you don,t ,don,t . Just get out and have fun on your bike .

      Reply
  12. AJ on

    damn that product manager should give that group of sh*t a new name.
    look at BB30 confusing term that still exist until now when brand new ‘original’ BB30 crankset almost imposibble to obtain.
    BB30 long axle? BB30 short axle? WTF?!
    it makes buyer avoid everything about BB30 and almost all bicycle brand doesn’t want to use that term for spec related.
    Shimano will be falling out of competitor if they don’t think about small detail like this.
    XT Hyperglide? XT Linkglide? WTF?!

    altough i really appreciate their motive. looks like they want to separate or add column for their product. something like high-end racy drivetrain and high-end durable drivetrain.

    anxiously waiting for 1x durable road drivetrain here from shimano.
    oh, and post mount brake caliper for roadies please.
    dura ace or at least ultegra level brake caliper in post mount will be great addition.

    Reply
  13. Dylan Sutton on

    @typervertigo, how many bikes do you maintain in your household, and how long have you been doing it for? Between my wife, kids and myself we currently have 9 bikes, varying from 30 years old to 2 months old, running 9,10,11 and 12 speed drivetrains. Until now, all 10 and 11 speed bikes were compatible with any brand’s 10 or 11 speed spacing, and the shimano 10 or 11 speed MTBs were compatible with any other shimano 10 or 11 speed MTB part on the market, whether Deore or XTR.
    Shimano IS forcing a problem down my throat, because suddenly there are new 10 and 11 speed cassette spacings, and new 10 and 11 speed derailleurs and shifters with different cable pull. And the only way to tell them apart is a tiny meaningless graphic on the part, which you can guarantee most people won’t have in the photo when they are selling that part second-hand.

    Reply
  14. gonebikingmad on

    WOW, some people getting very outraged at this, let’s take a deep breath and look at it again without the red mist shall we.
    Shimano has decided that E-Bikes and the growing cargo bike market requires a heavier duty drivetrain, this would make sense as the torque applied is going to be much more than a lightweight XC/Trail bike.
    They have stepped back to 10 and 11 speed to utilise a stronger chain one would assume.
    Because it fits HG freehubs they have suggested that it would also work with riders that want super durable drivetrain but would require changing the mech and shifter, this seems to be the bit that’s firing people up, this has been made for new builds but can be made to work on older bikes so that’s good right?
    You decide to build your next bike and run parts into the ground then you might well spec this, or you are not planning on replacing your bike so continue to buy parts as before, nothing to see here kind of thing.

    Lastly, the name, I agree with many others that whilst its a great idea to make this super duty drivetrain but they should have given it a different name, like an all new groupset, Deore TS, ‘Tough Stuff’ possibly, but they know what they are doing and have their reasons, it’s not like they are new to making groupsets. My guess is it’s all to do with bike specing, does a bike company want to equip the bike with Shimano Deore XT cranks and brakes then fit Deore TS for the gears? you know that they make or certainly did in the recent past make touring/trekking groupsets called Deore XT, the front hub could have been spec’d as a dynamo, didn’t hear outrage then so what’s the big deal with them making a more appropriate drivetrain for the heavy bikes.

    One more thing, check out the other review on Bikerumor about the Shimano cargobike ebike motor and larger disc rotors, this drivetrain would be used on such bikes and if you were a user of those bikes you would applaud Shimano on making more heavy duty drive train.

    Reply
  15. Joe Murray on

    The main benefit IMHO is the much smoother shifting. Yes lower shock, yet inward shifting is possible under much higher torque.

    Reply
  16. Alan on

    I was all ready to be outraged by the different cog spacing…but thicker cogs, same chain…the spacing will be wider. 10 speed started out fitting the cassette, and 11 speed overhanging into the spoke zone with a 40+ cog – looks like the thicker cogs here is making a 10 speed as wide as usual 11 speed, and 11 speed as wide as usual 12 speed.

    Off out now riding my bike fitted with shimano’s super cheap e-bike 4-piston calipers, and not complaining really.

    Reply
  17. Shafty on

    The lack of compatibility isn’t so bad now, but it might be inconvenient finding replacement parts. The low end road groups have that problem now. They’re all matched, so when you need a new RD, there’s no alternate available, and the stock unit is months out. With this ebike group, it’s not quite so bad as it’s 1x, but you still need to replace all 3 parts if you break/bend a RD and can’t find the single compatible option.

    Funny how they worry about longterm shifting performance while most ebikes come with kinked Jagwire housing. Maybe it will have a longer cable pull and mitigate that somewhat.

    Reply

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