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11-speed has the best surface contact of an existing chain standard, thanks to a better design than previous 8, 9, or 10-speed chains. Shimano could have made a new chain design based on a different spacing but I certainly appreciate that they used an existing size. It gives riders and brand managers a host of options.
LG Cues accomplishes two goals in both significantly improving lower-end drivetrain performance (this is an assumption based on my higher-level LinkGlide experience) and standardizing a whole range of drivetrains (cassette pitch, cable pull, and chain dimensions) from their most basic through cable-actuated XT.
My understanding is that from a bike-spec perspective CUES U4000/U6000 replaces the groups I noted (Altus, Acera, Alivio, Deore HG). Let's follow up when the 2025 bike spec is out.
There is no dork disk or spacer. The 9-speed CUES U4000 derailleur setup only has the high/low range for ~9-cogs. On the other derailleurs, you'll use limit screws as you would currently. I can't speak to this from personal experience but there may be cases where pre-Boost bikes have to use U6000 CUES 10-speed or Deore M5130 10-speed cassettes due to clearance issues since an 11-speed CUES cassette takes up similar space to a 12-speed HG+ cassette (this is also sometimes a case with other 12-speed cassettes on 135/142 wheels).
Shimano has used similar series codes ~ forever. XT has been 8\#\#\# and Deore 5\#\#\# for a while and before that XT was 7\#\# and Deore was 5\#\#. It's sort of strange maybe that CUES 6000 sits below Deore M5130 but Shimano will do Shimano things.
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