2016 Shimano Deore XT (11-spd) In The Wild

Words Dave Tolnai
Photos Dave Tolnai (unless noted)
Date Oct 27, 2015

I’m not used to being on this level of gear receipt.  Please don’t mistake this for a complaint…but I know I’m on the B team for NSMB gear dispersal. I’m not sure what I’ve done to climb out of basement to this level of Grade A Awesomeness. Brand new XT! Carbon Devinci Spartan!  DVO Diamond! And other goodies.

all_n8000_xt

Technologies – all with their own logos! Welcome to the A Team Dave!

Of course, the purpose of this bike is to be a long term test bed for the New XT. We’ll have a long term review up in a few months. I’ve managed about a dozen rides so far, and things are looking pretty good.

Let’s talk about XT

At first, I was going to paint a metaphor of reviewing the new Deore XT as test driving a Toyota Camry. Common. Relatively affordable. Great stuff, but not anything to get the masses hot and bothered.

But things have changed over the last few years.  Like North American incomes, component spec has polarized. There’s a tremendous amount of focus placed on the super high end, and the lower end has quietly started to kick a bit of ass. XTR is there if cost is no object. SLX is there for affordable performance (and lately I’ve been wondering why anybody would need anything more). You could almost make an argument that we don’t really need XT any more.

Not only that, but the whole gruppo mentality is going out the window. Mix-and-match Shimano/SRAM brake/drivetrain combos are common. There are millions of crank, hub and wheel options. A full XT spec is a pretty rare beast these days.

DevinciSpartanRC_NSMB_KazYamamura-5

One clamp – and it’s narrow and low pro without feeling flimsy. Photo – Kaz Yamamura

So, in a way, it would be easy to not worry too much about the dawn of a new XT. But that would be a mistake. This new XT is breathtaking.

There is a polish to these parts that was absent from past XT gruppos. The crankset is sleek and elegant. The shifters are refined.  The brakes have upped their game. The rear derailleur is somewhat cobbled, but has shed some of the tool-for-a-superhero look of the past. And the wheels…I wouldn’t think that the wheels came from Shimano if “XT” wasn’t plastered all over them. There’s no rubbery/plasticky Shimano-ness to these hubs. The rear buzzes loud and proud. It’s really quite amazing.

IMG_1366

Shimano fittings are some of the best. They never seem to rust and corrode as much as others.

And of course we have the 11 speed, with the 11-42 cassette. It’s not 10-42… but it also doesn’t require an XD driver body. At some point, I will make sure this sucker crams on to an older style hub.

Some early thoughts

Shifter – There’s some really nice texture and feel to the rear paddle. Oddly, they’ve stuck with a plastic trigger. You can’t really see it, but it feels cheap and I want this to be made of metal. As well, there seems to be a distinct difference in feel on the trigger, depending on if you push or pull it. Oddly, it seems to feel better as a SRAM style push than as a Shimano style pull.

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Texture? Yes – but Dave doesn’t like the plastic. Photo – Irmo Keizer / Shimano

Rear Derailleur – About what you’d expect out of a brand new XT derailleur. Solid and practical.

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The clutch is now adjustable – for 11-spd performance.

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These are enough to make Uncle Dave less err… cranky.

Crankset – This is a nice looking crankset and I’m glad Shimano is going back to refined understatement. There’s a lot going on with the chainring and it looks really expensive to replace (US $74.99 to be exact).  We’ll see how their non-narrow/wide chain retention system works. And it feels like they’ve missed a chance for differentiation here – why no odd number toothed rings? (essential with Narrow Wide rings – Ed.)

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Texture on the brake levers as well. Sensus grips for some added flavour.

Brakes – The new version is subtler than the old, and the design is much sleeker, with better integration of the master cylinder. The most noticeable change is the texture to the levers. They feel reminiscent of Straitline lever blades of yore. Oddly, they didn’t give me the finned pad option.

caliper

Apparently Dave was judged unworthy of finned pads.

Pedals – This is my first foray back into the world of clipless in a long, long while. You can tell by my choice of footwear…some circa 2000 Lakes. The 15 year old cleats clipped right in. Things feel great, but I worry about some of the adjustment locations.

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New pedal that looks like the old pedal.

Wheels – The hubs are great, but I’m a bit worried about the rims.  I’ve had quite a few struggles getting the tubeless to work. The initial set-up, completed by Shimano I might add, didn’t work at all. Sealant all over the place. Eventually, I got it so that the pressure will hold for days, but quickly leave me in trouble once I’m heading down the hill. I think I have the problem licked, but we will see. I expected a bit more out of a “factory” tubeless set-up, to be honest.

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Dave doesn’t love dealing with tubeless at the best of times – and things haven’t been going smoothly with XT rims thus far.

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Do you like it noisy? Dave thinks the new mechanism makes a better buzz.

Cassette – What we’re all really concerned about, right?  Can Shimano make an “affordable” 11 speed cassette that fits on a standard shimano freehub? Are there any shortcomings? Why can’t they make a 10 speed 11-42?

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Do you want your 11-spd more toothy? 11-40 or 11-42 but not 10 tooth.

So far, so good. Most of my “complaints” so far are nitpicks. But anything else out of XT would be a surprise.

The most interesting thing for me so far?  Not a single person has noticed that this is the brand new XT yet. Many, many people have stopped to ask me about the fork.

See you in a few months.


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Comments

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Oct. 29, 2015, 7:34 a.m.

Another bonus to the new XT is the single ring is steel.

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D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - Oct. 28, 2015, 11:06 p.m.

The bad news: that XT 11-42 cassette weighs 411 g.

In contrast, the all-steel SRAM XG-1150 is 393 g, their lowest-end 11-speed cassette.

Sure, there's no need for an XD driver with Shimano, but that XT cassette is really damn heavy.

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zigak
0
ZigaK  - Oct. 29, 2015, 1:22 a.m.

There's 18g weight difference and cca 60€ price difference, that sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

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achille
0
Achille  - Nov. 7, 2015, 1:53 a.m.

Oh my god! Those 18g will slow me down waaay too much on the climb!! DMVancouver you're a weight weenie, sorry 'bout that LOL

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Oct. 28, 2015, 7:38 p.m.

I have used a full XX1 drivetrain and I had two complaints. Only able to shift one gear at a time on the up shift and the clutch creaking and needing an overhaul. Otherwise it functioned very well. The new bike came with an XO1 shifter and X1 derailleur. POS derailleur. Seized the clutch, needed to locktite the mounting bolt because it would unwind itself and that little plate that the b tension bolt runs against split. Was going to get an XX1 derailleur but it was cheaper to get an XTR derailleur and 11 speed XTR shifter. So far in a couple three months it works better for me. I put an XT 11-42 cassette on recently too. For whatever reason, the XX1 cassette shifted poorly in one gear with the XTR kit. Now it's all good except Shimano hasn't figured out how the get the chain the stay on the 42 when you back pedal.

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zigak
0
ZigaK  - Oct. 29, 2015, 12:31 a.m.

Does xt cassette fits XD? Or did you have to swap the freewheel body as well?

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Oct. 29, 2015, 7:31 a.m.

Yes I changed the freehub body. I had one already though so that was simple for me. Pretty rare for me to use that ten cog or eleven so I don't miss the higher gearing.

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poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Oct. 29, 2015, 9:16 p.m.

What size of ring are you running? The back pedal issue might be related to the angle up to the 42t.
Can't recall an issue when running 32T and 42t WolfTooth 10spd X.0 non-clutch
Have had issue with full X.0 11spd drivetrain
Both drivetrains were on the same bike using KMC chains

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Oct. 29, 2015, 9:25 p.m.

30 tooth. But the XX1 did not have that issue. It was only when I changed the cassette and chain. I know another rider with the same issue.

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hbelly13
0
Raymond Epstein  - Oct. 28, 2015, 1:26 p.m.

I am sure the new XT is swell. Groundbreaking? Not at all. SRAM and their 1X systems ran away with that over three years ago and now those can be had at any price point. Not to mention that there are plenty of 1X hacks that work extraordinarily well (OneUp, Wolf Tooth and everyone and their brother has a drop-stop ring available). I suppose if a new bike came spec'd with this so be it. Personally, I have nearly two years on a "hacked" SRAM ten speed set up (32t ring up front; 42t cog on a 10 speed cassette, XO shifter/derailleur) that cost a fraction of a new drivetrain. This setup has been bulletproof with nary any shifting problems nor dropped chains. Whatever turns you on.

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Dirk
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Dirk  - Oct. 28, 2015, 1:33 p.m.

Maybe not "groundbreaking" technologically…but Shimano offering 11 speed with a big assed cog in an "affordable" package is important and represents a point where people need to start taking it seriously. It also starts to spell the beginning of the end for hack kits.

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hbelly13
0
Raymond Epstein  - Oct. 28, 2015, 2:55 p.m.

The only thing I take seriously is my lack of seriousness. As far as the hacks go, there are still tons of people with ten speed drivetrains. In addition you can still score 10 speed set ups for far less than most new gruppos and the converted 1X drivetrains work very well. The hacks aren't going away anytime soon.

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typx
0
UnkeeTyTy  - Oct. 28, 2015, 3:43 p.m.

This is the same argument that is used every time new tech starts to become the standard. There is no doubt that hacked drivetrains will be around for a couple more years. But the trickle down effect causing 1×11 to get to a reasonable price point does spell the beginning of the end as Dirk mentioned. Both in an aftermarket and OEM spec sense. I just bought a 2016 Process that came specced with SRAM Gx 1×11. I've used the hacked 1x10s and the Gx definitely works better. The fact that XT 1×11 is not groundbreaking and cause for massive hoopla is, in many ways, indicative of how important it is. Give it the appropriate time for current riders to buy new bikes and 1×10 will disappear.

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jonathan-harris
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Jonathan Harris  - Oct. 28, 2015, 4:15 p.m.

I'd say that Shimano still have SRAM licked when it comes to shift quality. The new XT and XTR are light at the lever but have a much more fluid feel to the throw of the lever. SRAM shifts feel a lot more fragile, though neither have caused any issues shift wise. It's a perceived quality thing.

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powderturns
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Mike  - Oct. 28, 2015, 11:51 a.m.

hmm.. do those shimano rings need to be even numbered? i thought they were all just tall teeth, rather than narrow wide, which would suggest odd number toothed chainrings are possible.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Oct. 28, 2015, 12:49 p.m.

Indeed. From the article "And it feels like they’ve missed a chance for differentiation here – why no odd number toothed rings? (essential with Narrow Wide rings – Ed.)"

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powderturns
0
Mike  - Oct. 28, 2015, 1:37 p.m.

ah - got it. I misinterpreted that… we can probably expect odd toothed rings from one-up or others fairly soon…

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 28, 2015, 3:48 p.m.

Except that everyone else will be making narrow wide rings which can only be even numbered - for good reason. Personally, if I was running Shimano I'd be slapping a narrow wide ring on right away (or once testing was done).

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jonathan-harris
0
Jonathan Harris  - Oct. 28, 2015, 4:12 p.m.

Don't rush to do that, the XTR that was on the Pivot I tested didn't drop a chain once.

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poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Oct. 29, 2015, 9:20 p.m.

Is the spider bolt pattern on the 11spd XT the same as XTR? Or do more aftermarket chainrings need to be created now?

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el_canuck
0
El_canuck  - Oct. 28, 2015, 9:44 a.m.

Why didn't you go with the 2×11? I've just switched from old xt to the new xt and stayed with 2x for now knowing that I could go with the 1×11 if I wasn't happy, but I can't believe how well the front shifts. Nearly as fast as the rear derailleur. It's probably what I'm most impressed and psyched about. The brakes are great, but so were my last ones.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 28, 2015, 11:19 a.m.

Have you ridden 1 by EC? It can be pretty amazing.

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hbelly13
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Raymond Epstein  - Oct. 28, 2015, 3:04 p.m.

^^^Absolutely. One by equals one less thing to futz with. I fell in love with not having a front derailleur even before the wide range cassettes and no drop rings arrived.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 28, 2015, 9:44 p.m.

We have some other Shimano test groups with 2x so we will be talking about that front derailleur and how it works.

However, since XT represented their first 11-42, we wanted to test that along with the 1x option. Most trail/all-mountain riders prefer 1x (I think it's pretty safe to say that) and consequently want to hear about how Shimano's first viable 1x effort performs.

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el_canuck
0
El_canuck  - Oct. 28, 2015, 10:24 p.m.

Great, I understand and see both sides (and look forward to the other reviews). But I think there's a lot of clicking going on with the right hand with just the cassette to select from. Since the front changes so well, why not have more (and faster) options at your fingertips? - especially with more high and low gearing overall. I had problems with losing my chain with the old xt on fast rough trails - so that will determine where I end up with the new xt. Keep up the good work. Seems pretty rough - Devinci, DVO…, ouch.

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morgan-taylor
0
Morgan Taylor  - Oct. 31, 2015, 8:32 a.m.

Fear not the loss of left hand dexterity, for we have dropper posts!

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Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - Oct. 28, 2015, 8:49 a.m.

Sweet god. What is with Shimano and their fascination with gear indicators! If you need to know what gear number you're in, you shouldn't be riding Acera, not XT.

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jonathan-harris
0
Jonathan Harris  - Oct. 28, 2015, 4:11 p.m.

They are removeable, I just think that no one has the dust covers to replace the indicators yet!

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rvoi
0
rvoi  - Oct. 28, 2015, 6:58 p.m.

Previous generations have the dust caps tucked under the indicators. Remove one and see if it's there?

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Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - Oct. 28, 2015, 10:10 p.m.

I had them on my 9-speed XT shifters and just put duct tape over the holes to keep the trail crap out.

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blackbird
0
tw  - Oct. 28, 2015, 8:19 a.m.

Xtr shifter and derailleur(s).
Xt crank, cassette, rings and chain…..brakes.

This combo gives in my view the best combo of performance and durability in the previous gen stuff. Will use the same for the new gen.

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poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Oct. 28, 2015, 12:36 p.m.

I'd go XTR trigger
KMC X11SL chain
XT crank, cassette (11-42), ring, rear mech.
Brakes I could go either way on Saint, XTR Trail or XT.

In fact I likely will run this on my next build if I ever get there.
I'm waiting on the Saint clipless pedals now…

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mitch-mason
0
Mitch Mason  - Oct. 28, 2015, 7:36 a.m.

Iv been running the XT derailer and cassette with xtr shifter and crank bros(narrow wide) front chain ring for a month now, and people also seam not to care about it being the new XT 1×11 setup either.

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earleb
0
earle.b  - Oct. 27, 2015, 11:04 p.m.

What mechanic lets that bike out of the stand with those bloody Avid CPS washers? Get the right length bolts dammit.

Reply

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