Tucked quietly in between XT and Deore component groups, Shimano’s SLX doesn’t seem designed to attract attention. Nicely made and handsome, it doesn’t necessarily stand out on a bike. Which is a shame- because right there in plain sight are hiding some of the gems of Shimano’s line.
Case in point? The SLX crankset. Hollow forged from aluminum, the FC-M675 wide-range double costs $60 less than the XT and manages to shift nearly as well while weighing 4g less. As an added bonus, the arms’ XTR-inspired machined faces will wear better once heel rub takes hold. Hit the jump to find out even more reasons why the SLX crankset is the pick of the litter…
As much as we want to give Shimano the benefit of the doubt on their gearing combinations, some of us still struggle with their wide-range doubles. While the 26-38 doubles do provide a wide range of gearing–said to be especially suitable for 29ers–the sweet spot for most riding seems to lie at the top end of the 26 and the bottom of the 38. Rather than sitting in a triple’s middle ring for 90% of a given ride, the combination forces much more front shifting than would be necessary with a 34-36t big ring. Racers won’t mind pushing a taller gear, but trail riders may want to consider the FC-M670 triple. Setting ratio preferences aside, it is awfully hard to fault the Shimano rings’ shifting performance.
Stiffness is more than adequate under normal riding conditions: it would take a big rider or exceptionally stiff frame/wheel combination for the SLX cranks to be the weakest link. Even on a wide-bar’d carbon fiber singlespeed, the Shimanos impart no noticeable flex.
Given the fact that the SLX’s chainrings are (at least visually) heftier than the XT double’s, found ourselves wondering if SLXs’ weight would compare even better once rings were removed. Also because we thought that double’s tidy spider would look clean with a single ring, we pulled the FSA SL-K crankset off of our Project 1.2 singlespeed and the chainrings off both- and were surprised to find only a 5g weight difference.
That’s right: Shimano’s mid-range aluminum cranks are every bit as light as some carbon fiber models.
So with SLX, Shimano have a forged aluminum crankset that is handsome, competitively priced, shifts with the best, and is weight-competitive with considerably pricier models. The English and PF92 bottom brackets may not be as free-running as some competitors’- but they do seem to last considerably longer. It’s hard to see the price/performance ratio getting any better than this: the FC-M670 and -M675 are the smart shopper’s pick.