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.


  1. wonder if there would be any ill effects of the shadow plus and a chain guide (LG-1+). Some frames (VPP2), you can’t clock the chain guide up and this seems like it would help with the chain slapping around on the DH…thinking out loud…

  2. @Jc, no run the same chain length as normal. Being able to turn the clutch off also allows for easy wheel removal.

    @gillis, it would depend. If you are riding an All Mountain bike that doesn’t have the ability to run an MRP XCG or similar, for chain drop protection, it could be very useful. But, like most things Shimano, I would expect it to trickle down to XT in a year or so if it catches on.

  3. got to ride one the other day, they are freakin sweet. apparently the saint rear derailleurs will have this technology soon.

  4. Shimano did extensive testing with a 1×10 setup with no guard on the front & never had the chain drop.

    Worth it.

What do you think?