Shimano XTR 2003 Shifter

3.95/5 (42 Reviews)
Weight : 442 grams

Product Description

One of the most exciting new functions of the redesigned XTR off-road racing group is seen in the new Dual Control Lever. This lever represents the first of a new generation of shifting systems. It lets you shift gears up or down, from various hand positions, allowing the rider to focus on the trail.

-V-brake and Disc Brake versions available

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Reviews 1 - 15 (42 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:3
Submitted by CHUN YU Ng a Cross Country Rider from Honolulu,Hawaii

Date Reviewed: March 20, 2008

Strengths:    light,strong and easy to shift

Weaknesses:    this product is very carefully to use the small tools to change the gear cable

Bottom Line:   

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   hong kong

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Purchased At:   none

Similar Products Used:   None

Bike Setup:   None

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Amrit Bhatia a Cross Country Rider from Wales, UK

Date Reviewed: July 9, 2007

Strengths:    Crisp, strong, reliable, genuinely easy to use.

Weaknesses:    Expensive replacement parts, expensive.

Bottom Line:   
I must have been one of the youngest to ever use this at the mere age of 14! Got a stonking bargain on the bike and used all the money I had in the world and pleaded to get the bike.. which I used, and achieved a lot on. The XTR dual shifters were my first shifters on a "real" bike, and Im sticking with them.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Afan Argoed

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Bike Setup:   Scott RC team issue, Full xtr, Cmax Sl's, Ritchey WCS throughout, Egg beater triple Ti, Slr saddle.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Pablo a Cross Country Rider from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Date Reviewed: April 6, 2006

Strengths:    Ultra high performance, ease for shifting, completely intuitive, very very durable, maintenance free, light, beautiful, flawless.

Weaknesses:    Pricy if bought retail.

Bottom Line:   
I waited quite a long time to write this review because one aspect I was really unsure about was their durability.

The shifting is wonderfull. I am not going to lie that it takes a few rides to get used to them before getting the full advantage of their potential. When I mean getting used to is only to move the lever, not to the rapid rise derailleur that is extremely intuitive and you'll use with no problem as soon as you jump on the bike. After a few kms using these they are a breeze. Shifting comes effortlesly. Shifting while braking is easier than ever. Even when fast shifting is requiered, it is not a problem. Basically they are fast, accurate and effortless.

Going back to durability. When I first saw the dual controls I thought: One good smack on these things and they'll rip apart. I was totally wrong. I've had several crashes and they only get scratched. Rapidfires used to get broken optical gear displays, bent levers and broken parts. I guess that these are so resistant first because they are tough, but mostly because the lever can move in three directions and the body in one. So basically they move out of impact.

They work very well specially in long epic rides and energy demanding races because of how good they work and how effortless shifting and braking is.

The rapidrise is the logic way a derailleur should be and makes you wonder what was the first derailleur manufacturer thinking. The spring puts the chain over cogs while the only thing you have to spend energy in is in putting it down. However, the main advantage is that when you do downshifts is because you need a stronger gear, so you are putting a lot of strength on the pedals. In a normal derailleur, you'll hear your chain jump and struggle if you change while this load is applied, in a rapid rise this does not happen because the spring provides a precise linear force to change the gear substituting the tired and unaccurate hand.

If you have the money to pay for this get them. Even the lx work like a dream. The xtr and xt have now a newer more ergonomic whith less front shifter lever travel version(apparently weak handed people couldn't shift before, this new versions solve that). However, be open minded and give yourself a couple of weeks before you start critizising them. Shifting just came to a new level of performance and comfort with these.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $160.00

Purchased At:   ebay

Similar Products Used:   Sram x9, xo, shimano xtr, xt, lx rapidfires, shimano xt and lx dual control levers.

Bike Setup:   Zenith Saga Team Easton Scandium frame. All 960 xtr with 965 wheelset. Easton ec70 post, ea70 stem and ec70 bar. shimano 959 pedals,

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tele Tubby a Cross Country Rider from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Date Reviewed: July 8, 2005

Strengths:    smooth, crisp shifts every time. light weight. less handlebar "clutter". light brake action, easy changes, one/two fingers for any actions needed.

Weaknesses:    can only downshift 3 gears at a time. for my level of riding this is not a real weakness. lever travel for FD shifts is long.

Bottom Line:   
i KNOW this is a 2003 XTR review b-u-t...there is no review for the 2004 product. i upgraded to dual control 965 shifters, calipers & center-lock rotors for $311. i was worried about damage to my expensive upgrade in crashes. bar-ends may assist. i also have the clamps tightened just enough to hold the units in place ie. if i lift the bike by a unit it will rotate. i think the multidirectional movement inherent in the lever may also offer some resistance to breakage. i have had several crashes, including an endo over a large woodstack where the bike problems with either unit. with the rapid rise RD and the very slick FD, i am so far extremely satisfied with its performance. it was very easy to set up from the box and get the FD & RD working perfectly. the indexing is spot-on. the cables are very slick and have thus far stayed free of gunge. even the thumb lever, although unnecessary, works nicely.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   anything without BMX's!

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $311.00

Purchased At:   eBay (where else!)

Similar Products Used:   shimano alivio, shimano LX, but neither were dual control

Bike Setup:   mongoose pro, zero-G3. full xtr, rockshox psylo SL front, SID SL rear.

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by bub a Cross Country Rider from denver, co

Date Reviewed: February 24, 2005

Strengths:    Light, ergonomic, single finger use

Weaknesses:    Durability is a big question. The lever distance adjustment screw requires a 2mm Allen wrench making it easy to strip. Once it's stripped, it's impossible to adjust. Plastic covering has a tendancy to break, scratch, come off during endos. Therefore, probably not the best for free-riding.

Bottom Line:   
Yes, these babies are a little fragile and are a bit pricey, but I won't be going back to triggers. I really like having the shifting and braking in one place and only having to use one finger for all of it. This makes shifting and braking much more comfortable, and as far as I'm concerned, more efficient. I rarely have a problem with inadvertent braking during shifting. I'll bet 5 years from now this dual lever technology will be standard for XC.

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Favorite Trail:   singletrack

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $200.00

Purchased At:   Ebay

Similar Products Used:   Shimano triggers

Bike Setup:   Hammerhead 100x with full XTR

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by TX-Racer a Racer from Dallas, Tx, USA

Date Reviewed: December 12, 2004

Strengths:    Good marketing project for some exec at Shimano? Way to get that promotion Bob!

Weaknesses:    Improved on nothing (fixed no flaw in the previous design). Slower shifting. Awkward shifting when out of the normal in saddle riding position. Cost is way too high especially considering the low performance. Weigh more than every other high end alternative. Inferior to every other medium and high end shifter. Generally lowered the Shimano quality bar. Steep learning curve especially for beginers.

Bottom Line:   
I am a semi-pro racer. I am not a weekend warrior at all. I ride mostly to train for racing. When riding offroad I ride a variety of conditions but mostly rocky/sandy techinical stuff.

First the good news, XTR dual control is better than exactly one shifter I have tried and that is the XT dual control shifter. They rank about even with the Shimano Deore shifters. That is not a typo. I did not forget the "XT" or "XTR" after the "Deore", the shifters are right at "Deore" level in terms of PERFORMANCE only. Now if you consider the coolness factor then that is different.

The learning curve for dual-control is very steep. I adjusted to them in two rides. I let a relative beginer ride my hardtail with these and they never got it right and basically ended up walking every technical section. : "They don't make sense"

Yes, rapid rise does work as do the dual control levers. In fact rapid rise probably works better with the dual control levers than with the old trigger shifters.


They are strictly designed to cut competitors out of the market. Nothing more. They resolve no issues with the previous designs and introduce several problems in functionality, weight and compatability.

The shifting feels slow. Hitting the lever resulted in a delay. I had two mechanics that work at two differnt shops check the setup, both said it was perfect for XTR. Shifting was just slower than other non-rapid-rise-non-dual-control setups. Tried a friends bike with this same setup who abosolutely loves these things and his felt worse (he had a bit more cable housing than I run). At any rate, switching to X.9 triggers with X.0 rear deraileur on the same cable housing resulted in flawless shifting.

Another problem is that you have to release the bar MORE on dual-control levers than non-dual control. You would think it would be the opposite and maybe this is not the right description of the problem but you have fewer fingers wrapped around the bar when shifting with these than with triggers. Triggers are always one finger at a time. Even when you have to use the thumb you are usually going uphill so you are pulling against your fingers anyway. With the XTR units you have to release your grip to hit the lever (unless you use the add-on trigger thingy).

With SRAM and old XTR triggers I could count miss-shifts in "miss-shifts per ride" with Dual Control levers you count "miss-shifts per mile". It isn't always a feel or action problem either, frequently the units just can't respond the way they need to leaving you in limbo for about half a second. In time you can adapt so that you will shift just a bit earlier to minimize the significance but slow shifting is still slow shifting. I would rather have precise, fast, complete shifts when I hit the trigger or lever. The net net is that even if you have adapted to the shifters well you will frequently wind up facing a formidable technical section in the wrong gear and having to release your grip to hit the lever. Good luck on that.

I found absolutely no reasons to run these unless you are being paid to do so. They are slow, they are heavy, they flat out do NOT work as well as any other shifter . Even if you run XTR wheels with the center-lock disc (also solves no known issues but causes compatabilty problems and weighs more) you can do better with old XT hydraulic levers and SRAM X.9/X.0 setup.

Man, I really hate to trash a component like this but honestly these things are just too expensive not to be the cat's meow. They do look cool but if they didnt say Shimano XTR on them then everyone here would be dogging them. They just dont work that well.

Does anyone really like these things more than SRAM X.9 triggers for performance reasons? (of those who have actually used both)

Value is very low because the functionality just isnt "pro caliber" enough to warrant the price tag.

Overall is also very low because they are noticeably inferior to everything else on the market.

Also note that these are more expensive than everything else on the market in their price range.

Who should buy? Probably nobody but I guess if you trails are pretty smooth you arent out of the saddle much then you could argue the coolness factor exceeds the performance and functionality problems.

Who should not buy? If you ride technical terrain or you are a racer you should look for something else.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Purchased At:   NA

Similar Products Used:   XTR Rapidfire, XT Rapidfire, Deore Rapidfire, SRAM X.0 Twist, Some really old Gripshift, SRAM X.9 Trigger Shifters

Bike Setup:   Scalpel and a couple of different hartails. All setup as race bikes.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by marco righetti a Weekend Warrior from hamilton,scotland, UK

Date Reviewed: June 27, 2004

Strengths:    great gear/disc brake combo,it took me about a week to get used to them

Weaknesses:    none so far

Bottom Line:   
i prefare using the old xtr rear mech ie the non rapid rise as i like pushing the lever down to go to a small gear ie bigger cassette ring especially when you come tearing round a corner to be met by an abrupt climb (you can shift many gears in one go)
i've had no accidental gear shift when braking.
i like being able to use the same fingers to shift and brake,i think this is advantageous.
btw i love xtr disc brakes!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   glentress forest, peebles,scotland UK

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Similar Products Used:   pre 03 xtr

Bike Setup:   trek fuel

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:2
Submitted by MrXC a Cross Country Rider from Washington, DC, USA

Date Reviewed: May 26, 2004

Strengths:    Nice concept, smoothest shifting system to smaller rear cogs.

Weaknesses:    Front shifting is virtually impossible. Tough to click from small cog to large cog, defeating the purpose of rapid rise.

Bottom Line:   
I was very excited to try Shimano's new integrated system. I've been a fan of rapid rise since it was introduced and liked the concept of not having to move my hands or fingers off the levers.

Unfortunately after trying them I was very disappointed. In the rear the system worked very well for shifting from larger cogs to smaller cogs, very smooth and after a couple of minutes I stopped accidently activating the brakes. Shifting to a larger cog, on the otherhand, was a chore. The recommended "split finger" positioning didn't work well for shifting multiple gears at a time and I found that I had to move 2 fingers under the lever to shift with any speed. Even still, it took too long to shift through the whole cog during rapid transitions, IMO defeating the purpose of rapid rise.

In front the system is absolute crap. You have to push the lever way too far to go from the small cog to middle that I stopped shifting - except when it decided that I should. Also, when I shifted the whole drivetrain regularly jammed up. I've never seen that happen before.

The only reason the system is getting a 1 is because I do like the concept, maybe with further R&D? Until then thank god for SRAM!

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Favorite Trail:   Gambrill State Park/GWNF

Duration Product Used:   Tested or demo'ed only

Purchased At:   Demo'ed

Similar Products Used:   gripshift w/ XTR rapid rise, traditional rapid fire, thumbies, SS drivetrain

Bike Setup:   Test bike: 2004 Cannondale Scalpel Team

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Phil from USA NC

Date Reviewed: April 6, 2004

Strengths:    they look cool I dont know anyone else that has em

Weaknesses:    i dont think they are very well made. already have covers falling off stuff is getting lose.. pay for the XTR not for quality (IMHO).

Bottom Line:   
keep with the rapid fire let them work out the bugs in the dual control stuff. I wish I woulda waited untill I got mine, they might be good for a race bike but i wouldnt reccoemend them to a person that rides everyday. o well maybe I can get them warrantied. probally not those fawk shimano.

' I hope the shimano people read this

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   lots

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $275.00

Purchased At:   jensonusa

Similar Products Used:   XTR rapid fire

Bike Setup:   XTR Klein attitude

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Burnie Leach a Cross Country Rider from Arvada

Date Reviewed: April 3, 2004

Strengths:    ergonomics, maybe?

Weaknesses:    You can only shift one gear at a time. Pretty lame.

Bottom Line:   
I am amazed that not a single person in this review forum has mentioned the most crucial flaw with these shifters. Often on the trail, or in a race, you come around a turn and there is an unexpected steep ascent. In such an event it is absolutely necessary that you be able to go from your highest gear to your lowest gear as quickly as possible. With this new XTR design, you can only downshift one gear at time. That is a critical flaw in the design when compared to gripshift where one simple twist will cycle through the entire cassette. Even the old rapid fire designs could cycle through 3 to 4 gears with one push of the thumb lever. I don't know what shimano was thinking when they came up with such an impractical mechanism. My advice to shimano,leave Dura Ace shifters on the road bikes. With the necessity to rapidly cycle through a cassette on unpredictable terrain, these shifters have no place on a mountain bike.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   belcher hill

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Purchased At:   demo

Similar Products Used:   grip shift, XT rapid fire, old school XT thumb mount.

Bike Setup:   trek 9.8, full XTR, Rock Shox world cup, crossmax wheels, chris king etc...

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by loco a Cross Country Rider from Spain

Date Reviewed: March 8, 2004

Strengths:    Excellent performance, XTR level:smooth ,yet, precise.
Great ergonomics.
Clean handlebar setup.

Weaknesses:    Non maintenance friendly:
The tiny bolts holding the cover are not hold in place when unscrewed,so are easily lost(I remember older XTR pods had a ring holding the bolts with the cover when unscrewed)
Left shifter pulls the cable end with a slotted hinge, which is very nice for easy replacement and housing/cable maintenance, but the barrel adjustment is not slotted(?) The right shifter has neither cable end nor barrel adjustment slots so you have to pass the full length cable through that tiny hole and through the whole housing.
Can´t fit Gore ride on housings with the indicators!
About durability? Time will tell...

Bottom Line:   
Great shifters !
If you´re a Shimano fan and want something new regarding ergonomics at a xtr precision and performance level ,get them !I removed the "transition" lever before installing them.
Who said you can´t brake and shift at the same time?
Large leverage gives an effortless shifting action.
They´re not so expensive! afterall, you´re getting a set of XTR shifters and XTR brake levers at once.Similar price to the "old" ones.
I wouldn´t but I have to give "only" four chillis for the tricky cover fittings, the incompatibility with Gore housings of the indicators and the not-hold-in-place bolts.If they solve this they´ll be perfect!

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $320.00

Purchased At:   LBS

Similar Products Used:   Older xtr pods, xt pods, lx, deore..but none really similar!

Bike Setup:   Hardtail mix: deore crankarms with upgraded xt rings. Xt derailleur,xtr960 rear der, gore cables and housings, xt casette, foam grips

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Marcus75 a Weekend Warrior from LA, CALI

Date Reviewed: December 11, 2003

Strengths:    Unique design, love the shift reader on the wire. Short learning curve. On the fly shifting because of the effortless levers. Durable

Weaknesses:    The thumb shifter could be little longer. You can accidentally shift gears because the lever is very sensative.

Bottom Line:   
These came with my enduro pro and its the best shifters that I used. I got used to these in no time, in fact after the demo ride in the shop I got the hang of it. Although I had a problem reaching for the thumb shifters at first. I just had to position my hands inward to fix this problem. Love the shift reader on the wire because its out in front of you. The shifting is very effertless, only need to apply little preasure to shift gears. But you can accidently shift gears because the levers are so sensative.

As far as durability these are solid! Survived several major accidents where the shifters got pretty beaten up with only surface damage.

I would recommend these for any cross country riders, racers and for people who likes to shift a lot because of the effortless shifting.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Local Mountains

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Purchased At:   LBS

Similar Products Used:   LX on my old ass bike.

Bike Setup:   Specialized Enduro Pro w/ Time Z Pedals, Answer Protaper Carbon Handlebar and continential survival pro tire on rear.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by emil a Cross Country Rider from berkeley

Date Reviewed: November 11, 2003

Strengths:    you get to a point with these shifters where you
don't notice changing gears

Weaknesses:    takes some getting used to.

Bottom Line:   
i found these frustrating at first, but now i think they're
the best thing since modrern plumbing.
i was having trouble shifting to a lower gear, while
breaking. the trick is to push up with your thumb on
the underside of the break lever.
even if the situation is dicy,and your breaking really
hard, you'll find it easy to do.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   sound of music

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Similar Products Used:   rapid fire,sram

Bike Setup:   blur, xtr,crossmax disc.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tim XCrider a Racer from UK

Date Reviewed: October 26, 2003

Strengths:    ergonomics
three way articulation has saved these from any damage after a few falls

Weaknesses:    have'nt found any

Bottom Line:   
These shifters work extremely well.
In terms of performance they are not really better than the M950 pods they replace and should'nt be as it's the same internals packaged differently.

However the ergonomic are astounding!! I can downshift from anywhere on the bar and with Rapid rise my pinky can perform this function without dislocation.
The integration route with the brakes is a no brainer and as far asI'm concerned a perfect match.
Having tried other brake systems the XTR 's can match those so why would I want somehing else.
these shifters coupled tot he rapid rise deraileur or low normal as it is called now is perfection.

Great product Shimano. the shifter and cranks are the pick of the bunch.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   betws-y-coed

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Similar Products Used:   SRAM Gripshift, Shimano XT RapidFire+,

Bike Setup:   Cannondale F3000SL with full XTR groupset

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Nick Evans a Racer from Surrey, UK

Date Reviewed: September 29, 2003

Strengths:    Everything

Weaknesses:    nowt

Bottom Line:   
These are fantastic. I never even tried the trigger levers, having used friends ones i just took them straight off, and haven't looked back. People's complaints about Rapid Rise rear mechs have nothing to do with the shifter, Shimano dont make you use one, i still use an 02 rear mech, and its perfect, every shift, and thats in all the British sand and general s**t we get! I feel they're less likely to get smashed than the old ones, if you clout the brake lever, it can pivot out the way after all! I've ridden about 1000 miles on these, including racing the British National Points Series races (NORBA equivilent) and haven't once made an accidental shift. As for price, they are actually only $20 more than the combined 02 XTR STI levers for the V-brake versions (British retail prices) which isnt that bad when the v-brakes have gone up by $15, and the product is 100% identical! There really is no reason not to get these, go out and buy them, buy them now!

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $250.00

Purchased At:   Beyond Mountain Bikes

Similar Products Used:   Every group of Rapid Fire shifters, SRAM trigger and Grip Shifters

Bike Setup:   Trek 9.8, 03 XTR, SID World Cup, Crossmax UST, carbon everything

Reviews 1 - 15 (42 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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