Shimano didn’t waste anytime updating both their XT and XTR groups. Reissued in 2010 with Dynasys and 2×10, IceTech and directional chains, both groups aren’t exactly aging. But, for 2012, both will see improvements.
XTR gets the new Shadow Plus rear derailleur, which claims to all but eliminate chain slap and dropped chains…which means a quieter, more flawless ride. XT gets a far more drastic update, adding a 2×10 option and borrowing a lot of the brake technology from XTR to virtually create a whole new group. In the video above, Shimano’s Bicycle Components Project Manager Matt Robertson runs through the changes, and we’ve got lots of pics and details after the break…
Inside the new XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur is a locking cam gear that holds the lower pulley cage in place. The effect is considerably more resistance to the cage pulling forward, even when pushing on it manually with more force than a bouncing suspension is likely to generate on bumpy trails or big drops. The gold switch should be turned downward (off) to remove the wheel and adjust the shifting, but for riding, it should remain on. As it rotates upward, a graduated cam pushes the silver band closed, clamping down on the ratchet gear and holding it in place (spiky looking silver/black round thing in pic at top left).
The assembly adds a bit of weight, but nothing that trail/all-mountain riders should balk at for the potential gains in performance, quiet and keeping the chain where it’s supposed to be. I played around with it on the demo bikes and it does add some resistance to the downshift (thumb lever), but most people should acclimate to it quickly. It should be available in June, and we’ll have some test samples in around then for a full review.
2012 XT GROUP UPDATES
For the full tech rundown on changes to the 2012 XT group and studio photos, check out this post. I had some eyes-on time at the Ibis bikes launch and snapped these to help show the differences in real world lighting.
The new angular crankarms are definitely better looking than the 2011 and earlier models.
The XT brakes benefit from trickle down tech pretty darn quickly. The air-cooled brakepads and dual-layer rotors should give them performance on par with the amazing new XTR brakes for less coin.
The plunger (dark part at bottom, right of spring) pushes past the reservoir to close the system and activate the brakes. The dark part at the top is the vacuum bladder that compensates for any fluid expansion.