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Shimano Unveils Lighter MTB Groups

Published April 19, 2008

MONTEREY, CA (BRAIN)—Shimano had a busy Sea Otter with the launch of two new mountain bike groups, a 29er wheelset and E-Thru 15-millimeter hubs.

Saint, Shimano’s freeride and downhill racing group, has also been redesigned since its introduction.

“We focused on taking some weight off the group without affecting its durability. For example, developing a Saint Shadow rear derailleur that’s much lighter than the previous Saint axle-mounted derailleur, but given its tucked-in design it should prove more durable,” said Devin Walton, Shimano’s public relations manager. The Saint Shadow derailleur saves 100 grams over the old design.

The new crankset—in single, double and triple options—is two times stiffer than a Deore XT crank and still lighter than the first generation Saint. The single and double cranks feature a honeycomb-style bashguard. The double offers new wide-range 22 by 36 gearing.

“The double’s chainrings are a much better ratio than before and we designed a new front derailleur just for this gearing range. We also increased mounting options for the front derailleur to work with more suspension designs. It now comes in band clamp, E-Type bottom bracket and a new braze-on style,” Walton said.

To accommodate riders who like tight cog runs to 21 teeth, and those that use 34-tooth cassettes, the Saint rear derailleur has two settings to select cassette range.

Saint gets four-piston calipers, which Shimano estimates will slow freeriders 50 percent faster than the old calipers. And the different size pistons provide better feedback and modulation.

Shimano’s mid-range SLX group takes over from Deore LX—which remains in the line. In Europe, Deore LX is the defacto group for trekking bikes, while in North America it is a mountain bike group. In creating SLX, Shimano developed a group comparable to Deore LX without having to consider trekking bike users.

SLX has a Shadow rear derailleur that is 45 grams lighter than Deore LX, and the shifters are two-way release like XT. It also gets the wide range double crank like Saint, and a honeycomb bashguard. And it gets a SLX version of the double chainring front derailleur.

Shimano also showed its range of E-Thru 15-millimeter quick-release front hubs in XTR, XT and a generic hub for multi-group use that target all-mountain use. The hubs are designed on a 100-millimeter over locknut dimension and feature a 15-millimeter axle that has a quick-release operation similar to that of a standard skewer.

Wheelsets with the E-Thru hubs are about 300 grams lighter than the 20-millimeter system, yet the front end is almost as stiff.

Shimano also debuted its first 29er product, the WH-MT75 wheelset. The tubeless-compatible wheelset has a 23.5-millimeter wide rim and features most of the XT wheel design, including its 24 spokes front and rear. At 1,850 grams a pair, the big hoops are not super light.

“Given the way 29er riding is evolving, we wanted to keep it durable. You may see OEM bikes with the wheels as soon as this summer,” Walton said.

—Matt Wiebe

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