Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (24).JPG
Editorial: Does The Future Have Fewer Gears pt IV

The Only Drivetrain That Matters

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Jul 6, 2020
Reading time

SRAMano v. ShiRAMno

Did you know that the best drivetrain you can buy is a SRAM AXS 12spd shifter and derailleur combined with a Shimano XTR 12spd chain, cassette, and ring? It'll power crisply through any up & downshifts under full power! Never back off before pushing the trigger again.

No, no! the best drivetrain you can buy is a Shimano XTR 12spd shifter and derailleur combined with an XX1 cassette, a few PC-XX1 chains, and Wolf Tooth stainless steel ring. With the Shadow-derailleur tucked away, the shifter that gets better with age, a bombproof cassette and chainring, and a rotation of chains, the drivetrain will outlast most bikes!

Oh, you already saw both those setups on the back of 'Limited Edition' TRD Pro Tacoma 4x4s at the local trailhead this week? Something more exotic perhaps? How about a truly Teutonic belt-drive gearbox setup from Nicolai to really differentiate your drive system from the pack?

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (1).JPG

The feel & finish jump from Shimano Deore to the SLX & XT groupsets used to be massive. With M6100 the out-of-the-box difference is much less dramatic.

All very cool, but the truth is the real battle in the mountain bike drivetrain wars, which SRAM has been dominating for a few years now, is much further down the pyramid. As exotically lustable and amazingly shiftable as those drivetrains could be, most mountain bikers are sporting drivetrains with Deore, SX, SLX, and NX monikers. GX and XT are a stretch goal. X01, XX1, XTR, and AXS - with their 380 USD+ cassettes - are elite-level products.

To put it in further perspective, the new Deore M6100 12spd drivetrain is about 300 USD. That's cranks, chainring, 10-51t cassette, chain, derailleur, and shifter. For a direct comparison, a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain runs an extra +75 USD (375 USD) and has a significantly more plastic-toy feel than what the new Deore delivers. On the trail, there's nothing wrong with a fresh NX Eagle groupset but it pales in performance compared to going up one step to their GX Eagle drivetrain (545 USD) never mind SRAM's higher-end options.

Where a fresh Deore M6100 drivetrain distinguishes itself is in that showroom feel. A bike that's fully min-maxed with great tires, good suspension & brakes, and a budget drivetrain isn't going to feel compromised. And product managers, doing spec for bikes, absolutely know this to be true.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

The Box Two 9 speed 11-50t cassette is heavier and a couple bucks more than a Deore 12 speed 10-51t. The group saves 30 USD compared to M6100.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

The 10-51t M6100 cassette takes up most of the real estate in this massive box. It's crazy to think back to what 11-36t cassettes came in.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

It's not light, but it has all the gears. Interestingly, Deore just has the one, 10-51t, cassette option. It's a jump up to SLX for those of us who'd rather a 10-45t.

It was just starting to look like more competition - MicroShift, TRP, Box - was coming to the world of balancing budget and performance in drivetrains. Now, there are monopolistic alarm bells ringing as a lot of bike companies are going all-in on Deore 12spd for 2021 despite it being no secret in the industry that SRAM is currently much easier to deal with as a supplier. I don't think it's a stretch to imagine almost every full suspension mountain bike under 4K coming with a basic SRAM Eagle build was a huge driver for their bottom line as they battled to stay ahead of a company collecting over 4x their annual revenue.

But the benign-sounding M6100 isn't just here to thoroughly thrash the competition. There are various predictions of sororicide as Shimano SLX is crushed between the storied legacy and slight performance boost of Shimano XT and the rising capabilities at a lower cost of Deore. Cost v. performance there isn't anything to save it from either of its Shimano 12spd sisters.

Disruptive Deore M6100 12spd

For the record, if you sent me to the candy store, with a basket to bring back any drivetrain I wanted, on your dime, for my own bike, it sure as hell wouldn't be Shimano Deore. I love min-maxing but I'm not a complete tool. Shimano XTR shifter & derailleur, SRAM XX1 cassette, and chain, Wolf Tooth stainless ring on a Cane Creek eeWings Ti crankset. I could spend your money like a fiend.

When it's my own bucks I'm burning, whether I have the cash or not, I'm a little more nuanced. For years I ran SLX drivetrains with SRAM cassettes and an XTR shifter. Actually, both my 9spd and 10spd XTR shifters still work as good as new and the 10spd is still in regular use. Lately, it's been mainly a combination of S' with SRAM, Shimano, and SunRace all represented and of course some time on a Box Two 9spd setup.

However, ask me what drivetrain I want to test right now and there are only two answers. Either a magical mix of Deore 10spd and 11spd built around the M4100 11-46t 10spd cassette or this very 12spd setup. Might as well have a front seat for the drivetrain apocalypse, and my first impressions of M6100 lead me to believe this isn't, very sadly, an extinction-level event.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (11).JPG

I'm getting used to spinning the 170mm cranks Shimano sent. With my low gear at 32x51t I have plenty of help. I would still choose 175mm cranks personally.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (12).JPG

These FC-M6120-1 cranks use a 55mm chainline made possible by a longer spindle and this rubber spacer. My frame would just clear FC-M6100-1 cranks with a 52mm chainline and that would be WAY better in my high torque gears.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (9).JPG

In addition to requiring me to buy another tool to remove and mount their chainring, I'm still pissed about this Perplexing Plastic update to a tool Shimano invented in the first place.

I'm really hoping Shimano doesn't go with the 'crate motor' model that SRAM has used to sell complete drivetrains. I was previously a Shimano crank evangelist but between needing to buy yet another tool to swap chainrings and my excellent experience with the Race Face Aeffect R Cinch crankset, I'll take the Race Face. Cinch uses a tool I, and most of my friends who are home wrenches, already have owned for years and there is a plethora of aftermarket ring options. Race Face makes a Shimano 12spd chainring, so compatibility is not an issue.

This segues into the most interesting performance aspect of the Deore M6100 drivetrain, which apparently I'm the only person in the world who is nonplussed about. Shifting is absolutely slower than the latest XTR and XT, and the lack of Multi Release is immediately noticeable (even my Alfine shifter has it), but M6100 will power through any shift under any load just as well as its more expensive siblings.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (23).JPG

Don't mention ze chainline! The chain is tight, and quiet, for now, but it's early days. I would personally run a crankset with a more inboard ring for an optimized chainline in the gears I torque the hardest.

This drivetrain isn't mine so I've been treating it like someone else's Ferrari, and the ability to push through a shift under full load going around a steep switchback is novel and disgusting. Disgusting. I actually can't wait to see the next edition of Di2. Presumably wireless‽

When we were testing the ThunderVOLT I hit the shifter more than once when I shouldn't have and where a cable drivetrain allows you to take back bad decisions, the XTR Di2 would motor through shifts in the worst moments. Under heavy loads, this new Deore drivetrain handles those bad shifts better than Di2 did.

But make no mistake, they're still bad shifts. Whether the drivetrain can pull them off, or not, shifting up or down under these loads, especially in the lower gears under the heaviest torque, are going to contribute to faster drivetrain wear. Personally, I would give up this feature to decouple myself from having to run a specific chainring and Shimano chain.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (5).JPG

Appearance wise, only XTR distinguishes itself substantially as a high-end product compared to M6100. Deore v. SLX v. XT the cosmetic upgrades are much more subtle.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (13).JPG

If you have a Shimano clutch rear derailleur and haven't played with the clutch tension you've done yourself a disservice. Pull out that 2mm hex key and experiment with more & less resistance.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (14).JPG

I back them off to closer match SRAM's out of the box resistance and then add resistance as the system wears. This is my best balance of quiet & light-enough shifting.

Out of the boxes, the Deore drivetrain is every bit as quiet as its higher-end siblings, but looking at the chainline, and knowing the torque I'll be putting down in the two lowest gears mated with a 32t chainring, I imagine things are going to get much, much, louder as the chain wears from the massive side loads. Add that to some chainring wear and things tend to get sloppy-jalopy pretty damn quick.

It's early days, delayed by needing to sort a Micro Spline (MS) driver, but I'll have a full review in the future once I have enough hours on the Deore drivetrain to really speak to its durability compared to spending more money. To date, my only real hesitation is the aforementioned lack of Multi Release. A couple of rides in and there are four-to-five cogs that I regularly use - a couple for spinning up steep climbs, a couple for pumping down the variety of trails I ride, and the 10t when I'm coasting down the hill when I ride from home - and it's a lot of clicking the button to bust through all twelve ratios.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (17).JPG

[aside] This way too short stroke-and-lever dropper remote may be the single crappiest product Shimano has ever made. I'd ride Boundary in their dumb SPD-Sandals rocking Dual Control, BioPace, and 'Resin Only' rotors before I'd put this back on my bike. Don't buy one. [/aside]

Speaking of the 10t. If I had one wish it's that the Shimano engineers would have listened to their better angels and stuck with an 11t small cog and Hyperglide-type cassettes that have been predominant for 30-years.

I really don't get the 10t to begin with. Other than making the math easier as if non-nerds care about the exact % of gear range they have, I wonder if there is honestly anyone pedaling 10-51t who wouldn't be just as happy pedaling 11-51t with the added advantages of the legacy freehub design.

I wonder if Shimano has taken a page out of SRAM's book by widely licensing the MS freehub design while at the same time preventing other companies from making a buck by manufacturing compatible cassettes. Paging e13, as silly as I think their 9t cog is, to produce a pinch-bolt cassette for MS.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (6).JPG

What percentage of the cost of a Deore shifter is cardboard and shipping? I get standard box sizes and etc but the fact I could easily fit four of these shifters in this box is silly beans.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM.JPG

The cleanest version of I-Spec yet with a really substantial side-to-side range, but what is this now, four different editions? Hopefully I-Spec EV can stick around for a while.

Shimano Deore 12spd NSMB AndrewM (19).JPG

The extra little feet outboard on the brake lever, to deal with flex-issues, make me giggle a bit but the new system is a drastic improvement. [spoiler alert] wandering bite point is still a thing; do you really care? [/spoiler alert]

As a student, and fan, of the evolution of SRAM since running Gripshift in the 90's, I'm excited to see how they respond to this new Deore drivetrain. If there was ever any doubt, upping Shimano by a tooth was never going to cut it and I can only imagine the OE sales hit that SX and NX drivetrains are taking compared to an alternate reality where Shimano's bounce back ended at SLX.

If it isn't obvious, I'm pretty happy to have been trusted with testing Shimano's most important drivetrain since SRAM released Eagle in 2016. Anyone can predict that the next version of XTR, XX1, AXS, Di2, and etc will be amazing but Deore represents the real volume of sales and the experience at this more entry-level helps determine many riders' drivetrain loyalties for years, and in some cases, decades to come.

I'm also keen to see what brands bring to bear combining Deore drivetrains with the best budget brakes, good suspension, and current-geometry aluminum frames. I'm predicting a wave of sleeper bikes that can outride holdover carbon machines two, three, and four times their cost.

Check out Shimano Deore M6100 and check back for a full review once I've ridden it into the ground.

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Comments

dorkweed
+1 Andrew Major
dorkweed  - July 6, 2020, 5:41 a.m.

1) maddening they made another standard (at least two, right?) for the BB cups...

2) regarding chainline, do you have a spacer between the DS BB cup and frame? Could you shave a mm off that? I’m not sure I’ve seen BB spacers of varying width but it seems like there might be demand.

Reply

scoleman
0
SColeman  - July 6, 2020, 6:54 a.m.

The smaller BB cups have been a thing for years, and Shimano has always included the plastic adapter ring with a new BB - afaik, they haven't made an updated tool.

Pretty sure they're including the DM chainring tool with new cranksets as well.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 8:56 a.m.

I did not receive a new DM tool in the box. Maybe that’s a thing with XTR as it has been in the past.

The plastic adapter is crap. Shimano can’t even explain why they change cup size from the standard they invented.

Reply

dorkweed
+1 Andrew Major
dorkweed  - July 6, 2020, 8:59 a.m.

And if you buy a complete bike you won’t get the bb tool and are left scrambling.

Andrew - could you mod chainline with reduced spacers?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 9:15 a.m.

Short answer no. Have to have even width in the system for the non-drive arm to interface properly. I could move spacers to the non-drive side certainly - adjusting chainline by offsetting crank position - but that’s weird. 

In a perfect world I’d have the shorter spindle crankset. But I get why Shimano sent this one - it will fit everything.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
+2 Andrew Major twk
Tjaard Breeuwer  - July 6, 2020, 7:01 p.m.

Since I run 11 speed, I get a better chain line by using non-boost chainrings. 

This is why I love NSMB! Calling it the way it is in the real world: where do you spend the most time? Where do you put out the most power? Where do you care most about drivetrain efficiency? In the biggest cogs! Optimize for that!

Heinous
+1 Andrew Major
Heinous  - July 6, 2020, 9:48 p.m.

One possibility here is to get a CAMO spider with a non boost offset... I did this a while ago for a different combo and have been smirking to myself every now and then ever since.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 10:32 p.m.

CAMO combined with a Stainless Wolf Tooth ring has been an awesome experience for me. So much so that I run the setup on both my mountain bikes* and my cargo bike. 

I've run the rings on e13, FSA (Cannondale), and RaceFace cranks.

*Running Deore right now but post review I'll go back to it.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 10:37 p.m.

Just checked at there is not currently a Wolf Tooth Camo spider for Shimano direct mount. 

They do make their Shimano 12-Spd compatible rings for Camo (D-S ST) but not in stainless steel.

scoleman
+1 Andrew Major
SColeman  - July 6, 2020, 9:23 a.m.

Complete bikes that I built up at the shop definitely came with the adapter.  Some shops are bad about remembering to include the odds and ends like that with their bikes though.  And if you do lose it or don't receive one, any shop has a billion of them rattling around.

Reply

scoleman
+1 Andrew Major
SColeman  - July 6, 2020, 9:21 a.m.

The DM tool may just be an XTR thing - to be fair, the only references I found to it were in reviews of XTR when it came out.

I've personally never had an issue with the adapter.  My understanding of why they reduced the size was for clearance purposes.  It started as a road thing - I think with 9000-series DA/6800-series Ultegra - and they standardized it across the whole range a few years later.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Tjaard Breeuwer twk
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 9:36 a.m.

When I wrote ‘Perplexing Plastic’ a few people brought up clearance but the actual radius difference is so minuscule I can’t see any application where it would make a difference. Especially with most carbon road bikes being Pressfit.

I would almost believe it was strictly a cosmetic upgrade but that seems rather un-Shimano. Moment of weakness?

Someone I know who works for/with Shimano told me the smaller cups let them improve bearing durability and sealing but again looking at the minor change in diameter and the fact Shimano builds bearings that seems laughable. Certainly they couldn’t back that information up.

Anyways, I know shops all have a metal tool(s) to work on these BBs and no one else cares but change for change sake bugs the hell out of me and I’m not buying yet another BB tool so I’m going to keep ranting about it. I keep it to a caption so folks can breeze through if they’re tired of my curmudgeonly persnicketness.

Reply

nouseforaname
+1 Andrew Major
Nouseforaname  - July 7, 2020, 2:22 p.m.

The tool came with my SLX crank bought (via LBS) direct from Shimano. Being Shimano, I bet that they offer cranks to distros both with and without the tool, if the distro wants to save a buck. I know that the tool did not come with a friends SLX crank.

Andrew - I wonder if the move the to the smaller bearing for OB BB was to use the same bearing that they are using for PF BB? I too recall there being a line about how going smaller reduced drag and increased the lifespan due to the smaller bearing face.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 twk
Andrew Major  - July 8, 2020, 12:18 a.m.

Interesting. These cranks came straight from Shimano. 

If it were a case of changing the BSA BB to use the same bearing as the PF BB that would almost make sense since Shimano was a massive pusher of the PF standard. Still kills me that they couldn't make all the work with a standard (tools and sizes) they straight up invented.

I just contrast that with Race Face. When (pre-Easton, pre-Fox) Race Face released their external BB crankset they used the same tool as Shimano for BB installation despite the face they could have sold plenty of tools if they came up with their own.

When Race Face released their 30mm BB cranksets their BSA option used the same tool as the very first 30mm BSA BB (pre-SRAM Zipp Vuma) where they could have sold plenty of tools if they came up with their own. 

When Race Face released their CINCH system they used an existing BB tool for the Cinch collar where they could have sold plenty of tools if they came up with their own. 

I mean, now that I really look at it the fact Shimano couldn't dig into their back catalogue and find an existing tool to install their direct mount ring is almost as mind-boggling as their perplexing plastic. 

And for the record, I hold everyone to account. The number of proprietary BSA tool for 30mm spindle BBs and it makes me choke a bit. Absolute credit, again, to Race Face for just using the first 30mm BSA tool on the market.

Tjaardbreeuwer
+1 Andrew Major
Tjaard Breeuwer  - July 6, 2020, 6:57 p.m.

I bought a cheap Shimano BB the other day. Took me a while to figure out what the plastic thing was. Why is it plastic? Why isn’t the bottom bracket the same size as the others?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 7:11 p.m.

Questions still long unanswered. But my five-year-old mechanic knows the plastic adapter is garbage and I’m not buying a new tool so it’s a bit of an impasse that isn’t going away around here.

Reply

Heinous
+1 Andrew Major
Heinous  - July 6, 2020, 9:46 p.m.

They did explain that a while back for XTR, claiming that the main source of drag they could eliminate was the seals, but to do that meant smaller seals, therefore smaller bearing and smaller cups to put  them in. That explains (maybe) the smaller cups for DA and XTR, but doesn't explain why the ditched the old standard entirely to intro a second one.  Those plastic adapters are nasty.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 10:29 p.m.

Do you remember where you read that? Would love to check it out. I have failed at acquiring even that level of an explanation.

Reply

velocipedestrian
+2 Andrew Major twk
Velocipedestrian  - July 7, 2020, 12:48 a.m.

Less drag, therefore smaller bearings is an argument only a racer would use.

Gross.

Reply

jyoucha
+2 Nouseforaname Andrew Major
jyoucha  - July 8, 2020, 7:55 a.m.

Shimano has been including the chainring lockring tool with M9100, 8100 and 7100 series cranks, but will eventually stop including it. I haven't unboxed an M6100 crank, but would be surprised if it was included, due to the cost of the crank being so low already. Small bonus, the chainring tool will also work on XT and Ultegra threaded bottom brackets, but the original tool for those bottom brackets does not work for the lockring because they do not fit over a 24mm spindle.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 13, 2020, 10:44 a.m.

Great info; thanks!

Reply

doug-m
0
Doug M.  - July 20, 2020, 7:42 a.m.

Maddening, indeed. Park Tool has stepped in to make dedicated aluminum tools for the new landscape of Shimano 16-notch cup sizes:

  • BBT-49.2 for 39mm OD (XTR BB93)
  • BBT-59.2 for 41mm OD (XT BB-MT800)
  • BBT-69.2 for 44mm OD (the good old near-universal size we all liked)

Reply

Vikb
+3 goose8 Andrew Major John Small
Vik Banerjee  - July 6, 2020, 6:02 a.m.

I have two new drivetrains sitting on my desk waiting to go on. Both basically Shimano XT 11 speed with RF cranks. I hope the drivetrain wars keep making these parts cheaper as they get less and less popular with most people. I like how easy they are to get in my hands, the price and the function.

Every time I read an excellent drivetrain related article like this I get tempted to really optimize my setup by picking the absolute best parts in each category and combining them into the Death Star of drivetrains without the pesky fatal flaw that a single X-Wing can exploit....then I realize I am no Resistance Fighter and I've forgotten what was the best combo and I grab an XT 11 speed cassette, derailleur and shifter...throw it in my cart and feel guilty about what a great deal it is and the fact I didn't buy it at my LBS.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Tjaard Breeuwer twk
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 9:03 a.m.

Been a SunRace fan a while but pretty excited to try Deore 4100 11-45t 10spd.

At home the bikes we own have 11spd Shimano clutch derailleurs mates to 10spd shifters. It’s my favourite overall setup. 

As a nerd the top end stuff is freakin’ sweet but personally hard to justify as older stuff, and never budget stuff, is so good.

Reply

tdmsurfguy
0
tdmsurfguy  - July 7, 2020, 9:10 a.m.

I really like this idea for my 9 year old daughters bike. Shimano’s Deore seems like a great kids option for those kiddos how love to shift reckless abandon.

Reply

twk
0
twk  - July 8, 2020, 6:14 a.m.

So if Deore RD-M6000 is officially compatible with an 11-42, and can fit an 11-46 sunrace cassette just fine on a full suspension bike... I have to wonder whether we'll get 11-50 10spd cassettes from sunrace now...

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 8, 2020, 8:01 a.m.

They already make 11-50t 9-Speed and 11-51t 10-Speed. Lots of interesting stuff going down at the SunRace site.

Reply

UFO
+1 Andrew Major
UFO  - July 11, 2020, 9:44 p.m.

The 4100 11-46 cassette is a non starter for me as it offers nothing over the Sunrace 11-46 10sp options. It has the same goofy 37-46 jump as the 11sp XT and SLX cassettes. 

If Shimano had brought HG+ down to the 11sp and 10sp groups, that would certainly warrant a try from me despite that goofy jump.  Conversely, if Shimano used the first 10 cogs of the 11sp 11-51 cassette (11-13-15-18-21-24-28-33-39-45), I would also consider consider sacrificing 1t on there low end to see if the shifting would be smoother than the Sunrace option. I've found the HG500 11-42 cassette a slightly smoother operator than the Sunrace equivalent, but the Sunrace is perfectly serviceable.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 13, 2020, 10:51 a.m.

It's so bizarre to me how hungry folks are for HG+ ... it seems like everyone I (derisively) mention the disgusting high load shift-ability to is totally gung ho for it.

The Alfine 11spd hub on my cargo bike retired itself and I'm trying to decide what to do for a regular drivetrain and it's the one application that HG+ makes a lot of sense since it's not really possible to push through the wrong gear with a ~350lb system weight.

On a mountain bike just back off the pedals a bit, or push through the gear, or stand until it's a more optimum point to shift? As amazing as the HG+ (even at the Deore level) punches through bad shifts, they're still bad shifts that are going to be way harder on the drivetrain.

I also prefer the jumps on the SunRace and have had no issues with their 9spd, 10spd, and 11spd cassettes.

Reply

alexdi
+3 JT Andrew Major Mammal
Alex D  - July 6, 2020, 7:30 a.m.

> the ability to push through a shift under full load going around a steep switchback is novel and disgusting. Disgusting.

Right? Shimano's cost and reliability aside, this feature propels them above everyone else. I may try to cut a few grams with a third-party crankset (there are already Shimano-compatible rings from a few vendors), but the ass-end of my next ride will be all Shimano.

I wouldn't cast too much side-eye on 12S chains. Manufacturing improvements apparently more than compensate for any loss in material.

https://cyclingtips.com/2019/12/the-best-bicycle-chain-durability-and-efficiency-tested/#8-9-10-11-12-speed

> For everyone asking when they didn't adopt XD, firstly, it's no good for e-bikes and equally deflating it's a SRAM standard.

You can't make a stamped cassette with XD. That's the real problem. On engineering-- I'm 2/2 in having XX1 cassettes welded to freehubs (despite anti-seize in one and grease in the other), so I'm not sold on that either.

Reply

jt
+2 Andrew Major twk
JT  - July 6, 2020, 8:06 a.m.

Pert near nailed it. MS with it's trapezoidal rather than square splines supporting near every cog on the cassette is an improvement on the HG interface. That alone makes it cost effective when producing cassettes at all pricepoints while getting rid of the only real downside to HG freehubs: the galling the inevitably occurs when the loose cogs cut into the freehub body on alloy freehub bodies.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 9:12 a.m.

It will be interesting to see wear comparison and in real life once more of the less expensive cassettes are out (reduced tolerances) but our of the box it’s a nice fit.

Not seeing non-HG #1fg cogs yet but if they do wear better that will be a thing.

Reply

chris
+1 Andrew Major
Chris  - July 6, 2020, 7:36 a.m.

"XD, firstly, it's no good for e-bikes"

Curious as to why you state this?  Plenty of XD spec on E bikes, including my Commencal MY 18 with over 6500 miles on it now with zero issues.

In fact on the topic of E bike compatibility, this Deore is the first Shimano cassette with all steel cogs which is a huge factor in service life.  Aluminum cogs have no place in a drivetrain.  Steel chainring, all steel cassette like this Deore or GX, monitor chain stretch and replace proactively and a drivetrain will last thousands of miles.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 9:09 a.m.

Interesting, when SRAM’s EX1 came out it was explained to me that XD interface couldn’t handle the torque load from the motors (limited splined interface) and then when SRAM expanded all the lines to ebikes (adding the single-clock shifters) they stuck with HG 11t+ initially. 

Thanks for sharing this! Will edit and look into it again.

Reply

rigidjunkie
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
Allen Lloyd  - July 6, 2020, 7:39 a.m.

Why does SLX exist?  Is there a need for more than:

XTR - top spec for racers and people who burn money, replace every year.

XT - XTR performance with added weight and lower price, replace every 1.5 years.

Deore - 90% of XTR / XT performance with more weight, lower price, and life expectancy of Yoda.

If Shiftmano stopped making the other options how much cheaper could the remaining ones be?

Reply

mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - July 7, 2020, 7:32 a.m.

So I could replace my crap NX components with something quality/affordable before Deore came out?

Reply

UFO
+1 Andrew Major
UFO  - July 11, 2020, 10:29 p.m.

SLX does seem like it has been given the squeeze.  Traditionally,  SLX has been the proper entry level offroad group,  whereas Deore served to be a top end recreational group that could transition casual riders into more regular offroad riding. 

I guess Shimano could have called the Deore 12sp group here SLX and eliminated the current actual SLX, and keep there Deore branding for 'lesser' 11sp and 10sp groups. 

But I do still see a place for current SLX as it stands. XTR is the race group, XT is the high end group for mortals, SLX is the solid mid end,  and Deore remains entry level, all at 12sp.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 13, 2020, 10:53 a.m.

It's just hard not to imagine that Shimano could streamline their manufacturing and produce a slightly better (materials) Deore groupset and slightly cheaper (split the difference) XT groupset and be able to better support those lines if they dropped SLX. 

A Deore 12spd drivetrain with an XT shifter and cassette is probably a better package than a complete SLX kit for the same money anyways.

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Jotegir
+2 Andrew Major twk
Lu Kz  - July 6, 2020, 7:41 a.m.

Although I have plenty of my own opinions (and setups) about the SRAMano drivetrain, I'm just stoked that a whole lot more of the OEM market is going to be taken by deore/slx rather than the cancer that is SX and to a lesser extent NX. I swear, they invented SX to capture the OEM market and then upsell GX derailleurs when the plastic body of the SX derailleur inevitably snaps along the fixing bolt.

Furthermore, SRAM also managed to be even more cancerous with the entry level SX BB and crank being octalink EDIT: Powerspline. I know we had this conversation a few months ago surrounding Rocky's new Growler 40, but since then as there have been sooooooo many people riding these SX systems on various $1600-2400 (CAD) bikes, we've seen a ton of people grenade pretty damn new cranksets. Half of them expect warranty (which SRAM doesn't give a fuck about), and the other half are willing to upgrade so they can ride their bike... except everything is sold out. It's extremely hard to find threaded DUB or Hollowtech II BB's to get these folks rolling. 

I'm not really sure what the solution is. We've started locktite-ing the crank fixing bolts when these bikes are getting built, but I think really people who ride hard need to be checking them every time they ride. Since it's always new riders taking these bikes out for a spin, that's not realistic. 

Oh. What a rant that ended up being. Stupid SRAM.

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alexdi
+1 Lu Kz
Alex D  - July 6, 2020, 8:29 a.m.

SX definitely isn't Octalink, that'd really be hilarious. It's Powerspline, SRAM's ancient alternative. Good call on the threadlocker. I'd wager loose bolts are the most common failure mode after badly seated arms.

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Jotegir
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Lu Kz  - July 6, 2020, 8:45 a.m.

You're right, I get the three confused and was faiiirlly sure it wasn't Shimano Octalink this morning but my no-coffee brain couldn't possibly find the term 'powerspline'.

Arms can be seated perfectly. The standard just sucks ass for modern, proper use.

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Jotegir
0
Lu Kz  - July 6, 2020, 8:45 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

AndrewMajor
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 9:21 a.m.

Powerspline is awful and should be killed with fire; however, there is an SX DUB crankset as well which is totally fine, so Powerspline spec is at least as much on the product team of a bike brand as it is on SRAM.

I’ve had an NX derailleur kill itself horrendously (on a commuter bike) but I also have ridden them off road with totally acceptable results a number of times. With a GX shifter they even feel decently high performance. The bones are there and I’m hoping to see SRAM clap back with a ‘more metal’ (or tougher resin) upgrade.

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mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - July 6, 2020, 9:39 a.m.

I'd be interested to hear your opinion on whether the NX cranks/BB are running the same interface, and perhaps susceptible to the same issues. If it's more due to crank material than design, perhaps it's less of a worry with NX? 

My cranks are the only NX component that I've been completely satisfied with on my new bike. Everything else is boarder-line crap.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Mammal
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 9:48 a.m.

NX is a DUB crank; they’re totally fine. 

I would buy a Aeffect R for my own custom build on a budget but I wouldn’t swap out the NX DUB if my bike came with them. Not notably stiff, strong, or light - they’re a budget product afterall - but totally rideable.

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mammal
0
Mammal  - July 6, 2020, 9:58 a.m.

Good info, thanks. I knew it was DUB, but didn't know how that differed from the SX interface, I understand now. I've never really been one who's hard on cranks, but I do ride them pretty hard. Haven't noticed a stiffness issue, so I'll probably be OK.

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AndrewMajor
+2 Mammal Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 10:01 a.m.

It gets confusing because there’s an SX DUB and SX Powerspline. Powerspline is garbage and that’s usually what someone’s referring to when they say SX cranks are garbage!

I suspect you’ll have a long happy life from NX DUB.

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mammal
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
Mammal  - July 6, 2020, 9:34 a.m.

As someone who bought an NX-level bike in late January, I'm SOOOOO happy I made that choice when I did, as the bike world is now sold-out. That said, it's my first Sram experience in many many years, and I was sorely disappointed in the NX derailleur (no clutch after a month) and Guide-T brakes (just... Bad). I promptly dropped cake on Saint Brakes and an SLX derailleur, to take care of my issues. Then comes Deore 12spd, and I'm positive I would have been more than satisfied with that spec on my bike instead of the NX crap.

Again, very happy I pulled the trigger because of the industry/global circumstances, but there will be a whole lot of happy campers buying value-heavy bikes in 2021.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 9:45 a.m.

Again going back to Product Teams making product team decisions, but if I was SRAM I would take a page out of Magura’s playbook. The Code is a great brake system. Just offer the Code.

If you need a ‘trail’ option make some Juicy-7 calipers and sell a version with those on the back called a ‘Code Trail.’

The fact that folks are replacing new SRAM brakes with Shimano strictly comes down to the product manager as I’d bet a beer you would prefer Codes over Shimano 4-Piston.

Re. NX. I had one eat itself on my commuter. SRAM was wicked fast with a no-questions warranty through my local shop. If you kept the derailleur it’s worth sending it in for a consideration if it’s just a dead clutch.

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mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - July 6, 2020, 10:07 a.m.

More great info.

The Saint brake choice also came down to all 4 of my household brake sets currently using mineral oil (at least the most commonly used ones). I'm sure I'd be happy with Codes, as I've heard nothing but good, but sticking with mineral for now. I do love my saints.

Re: NX derailleur... I considered whining for warranty, but anticipated a poor result, so never bothered. I will contact the shop soon, maybe they can do something about it, and I can promptly sell it to someone else who has the same issue;)

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 10:27 p.m.

If you don't want to keep it, there is someone out there with an SX derailleur who would be happy to upgrade.

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agleck7
0
Agleck7  - July 7, 2020, 4:17 a.m.

I think the brake you just described is the Guide RE. I’m running it and it’s excellent

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - July 7, 2020, 7:16 a.m.

Guide RE is Code calipers with Guide levers? I haven’t ridden them. More comparable to Code or Guide?

I meant just having a Code a la Magura (MT 5 / 7) and then  and then having a Code 2-Piston that could be mixed/matched into a “Trail Brake” or XC brake. No Level, No Guide.

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agleck7
+1 Andrew Major
Agleck7  - July 7, 2020, 7:31 a.m.

Ahh I see. Yeah that would be cool, assuming a two piston Code would be good :).

Yeah, Guide RE is Code calipers with Guide lever.  I've never actually ridden Guides, but they feel similar to my OG Codes.

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nickbb10
+1 Andrew Major
Nick Black  - July 6, 2020, 10:05 a.m.

I've had nothing but problems with shimano 12spd. 2 failed xt freehubs(both creaked, one fell apart, the other locked on), 3 xt shifters broke(plus my buddy has had 2 xtr's break) due to tiny spring coming unraveled and letting the pawl flop around. Not to mention the two clutch mechanisms that corroded out before I figured out they came pretty much ungreased from the factory... Shimano has warrantied it all, no questions asked. But god damn, they need to get their quality control together!

The chain, cassette, and chainring are great. Although the chain still falls off the 51t if you back pedal once things get a little worn. My cranks came with the DM tool, actually really like the it. Nice sturdy bit of steel.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 10:28 a.m.

Haven’t heard anything about shifters but have certainly heard many rumblings about derailleurs.

The Deore seems well-lubed inside (different Shimano owned factories I know) but will obviously cover it in the full review if it doesn’t meet expectations. Out of the box it seems as nicely put together as my 11spd XT.

What level cranks re. coming with a tool? These Deores definitely did not include a tool.

In terms of backpedaling, what chainline are you running? 55? Certainly something I’ll be watching for as things wear.

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nickbb10
+1 Andrew Major
Nick Black  - July 6, 2020, 10:44 a.m.

I'm shocked about the rate the shifter's have been breaking on me, first last 3mo, second 2mo, third 1mo. All have failed in exactly the same way, same small spring every time. Wish I was a watchmaker so I could replace it. my 11spd xtr is 5yrs old and still perfect. actually have gone back to my 11spd xt/xtr w/sram cassette because I can't deal with all this stuff breaking.

Cranks are the non series mt900. seriously light at 495g without chainring. chainline is 52mm. have the same problem with the backpeadaling on 11spd shimano cassettes too. Odd the deore does use a fixed spider and utilize the bolts holding the chainring together, you'd think that'd be cheaper.

pictures of shifter failure:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Qka69S05DbToTwF9bWW67AE5qGyLyiqg?usp=sharing

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skooks
0
Skooks  - July 6, 2020, 3:02 p.m.

That doesn't sound good. Looks like I will be (happily) running my trusty XT 11-speed for a while yet.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 7:18 p.m.

Thanks; interesting.

Also interesting with the cranks. No chain dripping with the 55 chainline in 51t ring thus far.

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nickbb10
+1 Andrew Major
Nick Black  - July 6, 2020, 8:26 p.m.

Didn't start falling off when backpedaling until ~75% through the first chain, or roughly 60 hr of use. My guess is that the alloy deforms and once the chain stretches, things just don't line up quite right. Have this problem w/ 11 spd shimano cassettes too, but only under high rpm backpedaling in a stand. with the 12spd it falls off after a half turn of the cranks when resetting on tech climb sessioning, super annoying.

The chain life is excellent in my experience. Get 40-60hrs out of 11spd chains(to 0.5% stretch), regardless of brand or price point. new slx 12spd chains last me 70-90hrs! At the end of the winter I was at the point of just running the cassette into the ground because the new chain skipped on the 2 alloy cogs(so stupid, make them steel!) and was well over 160hrs and still hadn't reach 0.75% wear. Then I had my second freehub die and switched back to 11spd. currently using an slx 12spd chain on that with great success. Started a forum a while back on the freehub debacle a while back if your interested in the juicy details. Posts #1 and #30 have the problem statement and resolution respectively.

https://forums.mtbr.com/wheels-tires/multiple-xt-m8100-hub-failures-1139315.html

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 10:26 p.m.

Appreciate the information on the backpedaling!

The only Shimano hubs I've ridden in the last decade are the non-series cheapies that come on budget bikes (e.g. MT400) and I'm happy to keep it that way.

At the XTR level, if there's any drag to be saved over an Industry Nine Hydra (never mind the bonus of 0.52° engagement v. whatever) then I'd love to see the tools they use to calculate that. There's certainly no reason beyond potential efficiencies to go XTR. 

Below XTR, I don't know anyone who wouldn't (potentially) give up a tiny bit of wattage (comparing fresh systems) to ditch cartridge bearings for a cup-and-cone setup. I mean, I'm sure that guy is out there enjoying a potent IPA and tuning his cones right now but... as much as I love weird and sometimes contrary bicycle stuff and working on my bike I can't bring myself to that level of bizarre.

nickbb10
0
Nick Black  - July 7, 2020, 9:16 a.m.

No problem! I go for shimano hubs for 2 reasons; price and serviceability. With the m8000 xt hubs I could literally buy 3 sets (f/r) for less than a pair of 350's. I've also been wrenching on bikes since I was about 12, including many happy hours (haha) servicing ancient, unsealed cup and cone hubs with worn out threading. Suffice to say I find the new cup and cone hubs to be stupid easy to adjust in comparison. A 30 min job 2-3 times a year. Have +10k miles on my xt m8000 hubset (I'm an ultra endurance kinda guy, with a tendency to hit the double blacks on the HT on the way home...) and only just replaced the freehub body. Original cup and cone bearings still going strong, unfortunately cartridge bearings can't compete with that sort of service life. Based on this, sorely disappointed in the new design.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 7, 2020, 9:55 a.m.

Interesting take. I jumped on the King hub bandwagon years ago - actually have long been touting the idea that a rear hub is a key upgrade spot - and once they break in I think there are solid value and performance arguments no matter the initial price. Definitely different math for someone doing all their own work.

stinhambo
+1 Andrew Major
Steven Hambleton  - July 6, 2020, 11:19 p.m.

You might as well go a mix of Deore derailleur, chainset, brakes and chain with an XT cassette and shifter. I don't see where SLX fits in between.

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syncro
+1 twk Greg Bly Greg Hamill
Mark  - July 7, 2020, 4:35 a.m.

Reading all this kinda makes me happy I'm still running 9 speed and a front deraileur on my climbing bike so worries about chain lines and whatnot aren't a concern. It all works well, gets me up and down the mtn with a smile and doesn't cost an arm and leg to service. Does anybody else ever wonder that we're technifying ourselves to death for performace  gains that really don't make riding that much better?

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AndrewMajor
+1 twk
Andrew Major  - July 7, 2020, 7:27 a.m.

Not clear on the context of your comment v. Shimano’s new budget drivetrain.

I think most people would associate 1x drivetrains with significantly better suspension bikes overall (much simpler to build a good suspension bike around a fixed ring size) and significantly quieter drivetrains and now that the range is huge even my friends who most lamented the death of the front derailleur have moved on.

Certainly this Deore drivetrain ($300 USD complete with cranks) is the best shifting budget drivetrain I’ve ridden and maybe that’s a vote for progress. The shifting under load makes it easier to ride. But it’s still just an evolution of an indexed shifter pulling a cable - maybe in terms of “technifying ourselves to death” your comment would be more at home in a thread about Di2, Live Wire, AXS, or e~bikes?

The exit door from the drivetrain wars is always propped open for those that want out: single speeding.

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syncro
+1 twk
Mark  - July 7, 2020, 12:50 p.m.

You sort of hit it yourself in a couple spots in the article, 10T cog being one. The new Deore drivetrain is a decent price considering competition and what you get, but for comparison I spent $375 CDN (under $300 USD) for a complete 10spd SLX groupset last year - well 18 months?  Anyway, when I made that jump to 1x it wasn't any sort of revelation or epiphany. The only complaint I had was running 32x42 as the lowest gear but that was only because I hadn't been riding for a while which was my fault, not the gear. A few weeks of regular pedaling and it didn't matter. Maybe it's also that 50+ just seems excessive considering when 1x really first started nearly 20 years ago there were more than a few people riding around on 32x36 as the lowest gear. But I digress.

If one is in need of replacing their drivetrain or building up a new frame I agree this is a good option. My lament has probably more to do with some of the other points you hit on (e.g. BB tool) and being overtired and unable to sleep when I read this than anything else. Cheers

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gmtfd
+2 Andrew Major twk
gmtfd  - July 7, 2020, 7:34 a.m.

I'm running the new Deore M5120 10/11-speed rear mech with a SunRace CSMX3 10-speed 11-46 cassette. Shift quality is much better than the XT M786 + Goatlink I was using before, not perfect but I think my mech hanger may be bent. I would probably have gone for an XT M8000 mech if the new Deore stuff hadn't come out - I know you've had good luck with the M8000 / SunRace combination Andrew. The fact the M5120 exists seems (to me) to conclusively prove that Shimano 10-speed and 11-speed rear derailleurs use the same shift ratio. Anyone have any thoughts?

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AndrewMajor
+1 twk
Andrew Major  - July 7, 2020, 9:49 a.m.

Shimano 10/11 is so close that if it isn’t exact then it’s splitting hairs in a way that doesn’t matter to anyone (including Shimano). 

In my house we’ve been on a 10/11 mix for a few years now and certainly nothing but happy with it. Shimano knows I’m really eager to test a magic min-maxing mix of Deore 10spd & 11spd (10spd 11-45t cassette / 11spd Clutch derailleur) to see how it compares to M6100.

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earleb
+1 Andrew Major
earle.b  - July 7, 2020, 11:25 a.m.

The 11-46 10spd cassette, budget but not cheap rear derailleur, xtr shifter, and the non series low key mt-900 cranks. Will a 12spd ring work with the 10spd chain? 

You get enough spread in the 10spd cassette, all steel no pre-mature wear in the bigger gears. 10spd is going to be lighter than 11 or 12. Rear derailleur that works well but doesn't break the bank when you destroy it on a rock.

The non-series cranks are just new XT but I like the low key branding better. The 24mm Shimano series gives up a touch in weight to the 30mm axle systems but it's a better system. Quality bearings, a steel on steel interface between axle and bearing and simple pre-load. 

XTR shifter because they usually just feel better than XT. 

Min to the max. 

I was really un-happy with the shift feel on the move from 10spd to 11spd XT. The 11spd XT just felt heavy and clunky. Currently on full GX Eagle and it's just okay, it's been durable. I have an new 11spd Sram mix of GX and X1 ready to go on the next build, bought before the latest Shimano stuff was available an I have XD driver on the current wheelset.

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twk
+1 Andrew Major
twk  - July 8, 2020, 6:41 a.m.

To add another voice to the choir:

I've been running a 10spd saint shifter, deore m6000 mech, race face aeffect cranks with a steel ring and a CSMX3 with great results, acceptable price and who knows how many miles now. Seeing buddies constantly have issues with repurposed coke cans stamped into derailleur-shaped objects on 4k$+ bikes really bugs me.

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nickbb10
0
Nick Black  - July 9, 2020, 8:52 p.m.

an 11spd chain works fine with the 12spd ring, can't see why a 10spd chain would be any different. the major difference with the 12spd rings is the "wide" tooth is narrower than standard to fit the 12spd shimano QL, which is a tiny bit narrower internally than sram. That being said I used a shimano chain on a sram x sync 2 ring with only a little extra noise in the granny.

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gmtfd
0
gmtfd  - July 17, 2020, 12:47 a.m.

An update for the benefit of anyone else who is thinking of trying this: it turned out my mech hanger was bent. With a new hanger installed shifting is great. One thing to watch out for though: this mech (and other new wide-range Shimano mechs, it looks like) has a cage which is not straight, but bends / tilts slightly outwards, presumably to help with chainline in the 46T. I was really puzzled until I figured that out.

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ScaredySquirrel
0
ScaredySquirrel  - July 9, 2020, 2:26 p.m.

Does anyone know if there's any difference between the new Deore M6100 12 SP derailleur and the new M5100 11 SP derailleur other than the 12 speed having more potential range?

With the new Deore 51T 11 speed cassette I'm thinking of ditching SRAM 12 SP (NX/GX not fun) and reviving my trusty old 11SP XTR shifter to go 11 SP Deore but I might buy the 6100 12SP derailleur for future insurance and because it's currently available.

Anyone see any flies in this ointment?

12SP/11SP chainrings seem to be the same so I could keep my existing SRAM GX crank/chainring (the only parts that seem to work effectively).

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 13, 2020, 10:55 a.m.

Shimano 10spd and 11spd are interchangeable (derailleurs/shifters). Shimano 12spd is not inter-compatible with Shimano 10spd and 11spd (but may be inter-compatible with SRAM 12spd).

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prairiedirt
0
prairiedirt  - July 9, 2020, 8:32 p.m.

I'm one of those weird (lucky?) people that basically never has problems with drive trains, other than X9 mech that died in a crash.

Bike 1:  Complete 12 speed NX from cranks to cassette.  1 year old, shifts perfectly.

Bike 2:  10 speed GX mech, X9 shifter, 11-36 SRAM cassette, Raceface Turbine, 4 years old, shifts perfectly

Bike 3: FRANKENTRAIN.  11 speed XT shifter, SLX GS mech, Sunrace 11-42, SRAM PCX1 chain, RF Turbine, shifts perfectly.

The old 10 speed SRAM is the crispest though.  It feels almost instant.  I really want to try new Shimano with HG+, but I just have no reason to until I smash something.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 13, 2020, 10:59 a.m.

For most folks I know - whatever the drivetrain brand - the $/KM here on the North Shore is pretty obscene for year-round multi-day mountain bikers. The weather, steep twisty punchy climbs, and technical descents all conspire to end drivetrains pretty quick.

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