While out at the Shimano XT press camp in Tahoe, I had the chance to ride a bike that was equipped with the new XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur. Unfortunately, Shimano wasn’t to the point that all of our bikes could be equipped for a long term test. However, one of Shimano’s employees had his Yeti 575 equipped with the new goods.
Even though I was only able to squeeze in a very short test ride, it’s pretty easy to develop an opinion of the new derailleur fairly quickly.
What did I think? Find out after the break.
The thing that jumped out at me right away, was how quiet the drivetrain becomes while bombing down a hill after the little gold switch is engaged. If silence is golden to you, than that alone is worth the price of admission. Thanks to the plus’s one way clutch, the cage is not allowed to bounce forward like a normal derailleur which should serve to keep the chain tight, and in place on the chain rings. My test ride wasn’t on the craziest trail, but I did get a greater sense of chain security as I intentionally rode poorly to try and drop the chain, and I was surprised at how noticeable the difference was between on and off.
Leading up to the test ride, I had heard rumors and comments that the increased friction on the cage would lead to labored shifting due to the increased tension on the cable. While it is slightly noticeable, I feel many people would be hard pressed to tell the difference in a blind test. For me, the feel at the lever is nowhere near the point to make me not want the Shadow Plus.
Overall, it seemed like an incredibly desirable feature, especially for trail and AM riders who are looking for added chain retention through rough terrain. We should be getting our hands on one for some long term testing, but from my first impression, I’m eager to get one on my bike.