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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So with the new shimano 12-speed option going with xt shifter and rear derailleur is the same price, more or less, as xtr shifter and slx derailleur.

But what combination would give better shifting? I don't care about the weight. Only care about shifting quality.

All xtr would be too expensive.

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XT vs SLX derailleur really will more than likely be negligible difference.
I personally spend my money on best shifter and cassette I can afford, then cable (some say they don't notice any difference, I've noticed a bit of a difference between "cheap" cable/housing sets n better ones), then chain, then derailleur last.
I'll admit I haven't run Shimano in a while, but last time I did was an XT shifter and cassette with an SLX derailleur

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I am a Shimano only guy, but haven't even moved to 11spd yet, but did setup a few 11spd drivetrains and XT was damn stiff to shift on those 11spd setups. They say that they've "improved" the shifting on the new 12spd stuff, but all depends on how/what you like. For me on 10spd, XT is nice to shift coupled with XT RD and XTR shifter is just a little nicer. If you can maybe get to try out the feel somehow, that is what would make the decision for me, for the shifter, don't think the RD makes as big difference as the shifter and good cable.
 

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In regards to XT or SLX... I think for most riders, if SLX and XT derailleurs are tuned and maintained, differences are negligible. Have been for me, anyway. But... where I've personally noticed a difference is durability. My experience is SLX isn't as tough and has worn out sooner over time. In a couple of extreme examples, I've had an SLX derailleur wear out (get sloppy/loose beyond repair) in two seasons, versus I have a 2003 XC bike that still has it's original XT derailleur going strong with 1,000's of miles on it. Again, these are two extreme examples.

Another personal durability observation is when derailleurs get banged up (like, on rocks, etc.). Never really had an XT suffer shifting issues when getting bumped. Have had SLX's require some in field bending. Not a scientifically controlled test though.... every bump is different.

In regards to XTR... had a couple of XTR derailleurs over the years. For whatever reason, both needed too much tuning to keep shifting tight. Like, in every few rides. Not sure why. I know it's probably not common, but because of my experience, I've just stuck to XT.

Lastly though, like Flushing Shadow, my OCD (or CDO, in order like it should be) tendencies would push me to all XT (or whichever level) for consistency.
 

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I personally spend my money on best shifter...I can afford
This is definitely my preference. I honestly haven't noticed a shift quality difference between different cassettes. IME, the difference with cassettes tends to be weight, durability, and cost. Though I've used a couple XTR cassettes over the years (10spd and the current 12spd), XT has been mostly my preference for balancing those factors. With the current 12spd, I'd have to think a little harder about XT vs. SLX on the cassette, considering that the pricing and weights on those are now known.

Now that the range from XTR to SLX is all now available in 12spd, I'd say that my preference would look a lot like Schulze's. Certainly, when it comes time to start replacing XTR bits (I bought mine a couple of months ago, and XTR was the only option), I'll be taking a lot of the less expensive replacement options unless the durability on this XTR cassette is really worth it. I doubt it'll be 3x as durable as SLX, though.

One thing worth noting is that I'm using the 10-45 cassette with the M9100 GS cage rear derailleur. I specifically wanted the GS cage because it's less prone to catching on trailside debris. I noticed that none of the other Shimano 12spd groups offer the GS cage. Even though the 10-45 cassette is available from each group, all of the derailleurs from XT or SLX are SGS (they're just 1x or 2x variants).
 

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One thing worth noting is that I'm using the 10-45 cassette with the M9100 GS cage rear derailleur. I specifically wanted the GS cage because it's less prone to catching on trailside debris. I noticed that none of the other Shimano 12spd groups offer the GS cage. Even though the 10-45 cassette is available from each group, all of the derailleurs from XT or SLX are SGS (they're just 1x or 2x variants).
Wow! Good catch...I didn't notice the lack of a GS cage ( which I agree keeps the RD out of trail junk)

I haven't seen the SLX12 RD....but historically, SLX have pulleys with bushings while XT and XTR have smoother bearing pulleys. It's a minor difference, but depending on conditions you ride in....
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A lot of good things to consider came up here.
Considering the cassette, xt has two aluminium cogs while slx has only one so I guess durability is better on slx but is slightly heavier..

I guess I just go with the xtr shifter and then just mostly slx stuff. The short derailleur cage would be nice though, but is it enough for the 10-51 cassette?

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The short derailleur cage would be nice though, but is it enough for the 10-51 cassette?
No. The GS cage will only work as a 1x on the 10-45 cassette. To use the 10-51, you have to use the SGS cage.

IME, few riders need or will actually use the full range of a 10-50 Eagle or 10-51 Shimano cassette. Was talking to a riding buddy of mine about this last night (and he's a stronger rider than I am). He has Eagle and doesn't use the whole cassette most of the time. The only time he's actually used the 10t cog (w/32t chainring) was on a steep, paved downhill where he clocked his speed at 44mph.

I'm on a 30t chainring right now and I don't think it's optimal for me. I can climb just about anything at 30x45 when I'm fresh, but after I've been riding for awhile and I'm tired, it's not quite low enough. I also almost never use the 10t. So I figure a 28t chainring is probably about right for me. So far, nobody makes a 28t chainring that fits my cranks (Turbine CINCH direct mount) and the Shimano XTR quick link BS. I'd have to switch to Eagle quick links to use the existing rings. Which, I could do...and I'm tempted to do. But I already have a spare XTR quick link that would basically become unusable, and I'd have to buy a spare Eagle quick link to replace it. I'm not sure why Wolftooth didn't make anything smaller than a 30t, and I dunno what's taking Race Face so long to release their own HG+ compatible rings.
 

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I'm on a 30t chainring right now and I don't think it's optimal for me. I can climb just about anything at 30x45 when I'm fresh, but after I've been riding for awhile and I'm tired, it's not quite low enough. I also almost never use the 10t. So I figure a 28t chainring is probably about right for me. So far, nobody makes a 28t chainring that fits my cranks (Turbine CINCH direct mount) and the Shimano XTR quick link BS.
Question...which bottom bracket you use? I know strange question, but I had an e.13 bb originally with my Next SL cranks n recently changed to Wheels Mfg. Definitely notice the difference...might just help a tad.

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Question...which bottom bracket you use? I know strange question, but I had an e.13 bb originally with my Next SL cranks n recently changed to Wheels Mfg. Definitely notice the difference...might just help a tad.

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bb shell on my frame is threaded. I'm using a RWC bb. Very nice. I9 Hydra hubs, so pretty low drag there, too. Climbing is just my weak point and there's a good bit of it where I ride. 100ft/mi is bare minimum. Average is probably 150ft/mi, but you can go well north of 200ft/mi if you want to. This is also ride average, which includes the downhills and the low grade stuff down in the valley bottoms.
 

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bb shell on my frame is threaded. I'm using a RWC bb. Very nice. I9 Hydra hubs, so pretty low drag there, too. Climbing is just my weak point and there's a good bit of it where I ride. 100ft/mi is bare minimum. Average is probably 150ft/mi, but you can go well north of 200ft/mi if you want to. This is also ride average, which includes the downhills and the low grade stuff down in the valley bottoms.
Threaded here too. Hadn't tried RWC. No doubt that hub is low drag....that's top shelf stuff. I know what ya mean about climbing being a weakness...kinda same here. I ride this one trail "The Hill" near where I live...you'd never think a 40-50 ft hill could kick your ass so badly

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Maybe not a popular opinion, but I'm never buying XTR shifters again. They do nothing for actual shift quality. I went from deore to XTR shifters on my last bike with no other changes, and shifting quality was identical.

I consider shift quality how fast the rear derailleur will lift the chain to the next gear and be fully engaged. Changing shifter groups do nothing for this. Sure, some are more "positive" feeling or have less take up, but when it gets time to physically pulling cable and moving the chain, the xtr shifters dont do anything special.

If you want to talk about shift feel, xtr often feels smoother. But feel doesn't get you into the next cog. Doesnt keep the chain from skipping along a cog mid shift. Doesnt stop chain slap. Doesnt seem to actually do anything for drivetrain performance. It just feels crisper on your finger while its doing the same thing all the other shifters do.

I think shimano chains on a shimano cassette has incredible shift quality. It doesnt hunt or walk across the cog tops, it just gets in gear. A full XTR group with a cheap chain or off brand chain doesnt shift as quickly or positively as an XT (or better) chain on a shimano cassette.

Often XT derailleurs and shifters are priced so close to slx that its worth stepping up for vanities sake alone (its made a little better too), but the jump to XTR is often close to triple the price. I think the derailleurs are nicer, but if im probably going to smash it into a rock anyway, it becomes a hard sell.

The XTR cassette is insanely lighter. The cranks are an amazing combo of strength and weight. If you're throwing money at a part, go for those!
 

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I'm running an XT derailleur and XTR shifter. I had an XT shifter and it was just way too stiff. I was able to find a good deal on a "take off" XTR shifter...and at least to me...it shifts much better than the XT.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
IME, few riders need or will actually use the full range of a 10-50 Eagle or 10-51 Shimano cassette.
This is probably true for me as well! I run 11-46t now with a 34t chainring and I don't miss any range, so 10-45t would probably do it!

Actually I miss my 10-speed xt shifter with zee derailleur and 11-36t cassette. Shift quality was amazing and the short cage never hit anything. Only problem is the range.

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I'm listening now to the lastest edition of the BikeRadar podast. Interesting points are:

The best mechanical shifter is the XTR (even better than SRAM)
When comparing XT to SLX, they'd take the XT shifter and SLX for everything else

Here's an interesting quote from PinkBike re: chains

"The main difference between the three 12-speed mountain bike chains that Shimano offers has to do with the surface treatment, and whether or not the pins are hollow. An XTR chain the gets highest end finish along with hollow pins, and should be the strongest, lightest, and most durable option. XT and SLX chains are the same weight and strength, but the XT has a different surface treatment that should give it a slightly longer lifespan vs. SLX. According to Nick Murdick, if you were going to only have one XTR part on your bike, choosing the chain is the way to go."

It's interesting that he says this, I wonder how longevity vs price compares... I usually use high-end chains, but if i was on a budget, I'm not sure that spending e.g. 1.5x to 2x the price of an SLX chain on an XTR would make sense...unless the faster wear of the cheaper chain reduced the service life of the cassette and chainring..but I don't think it would unless the chain was run beyond it's service life.

FYI: Nick is the relevant Shimano Product Manager.
 
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