Shimano XTR 2011

by Chipps 30

Yep, we can finally talk about the most anticipated product release of the year: Shimano’s 2011 XTR Groupset.

It bears little in common with the groups that went before it – apart from the main theme – which is ‘the best performing, lightest groupset, whatever the money’ – something it appears to have held on to. No, it’s not going to be cheap: the chain will cost £45 and the chainset is £399 – but that’s not the point. XTR has always been (and should always be) the ultimate racers’ groupset – something that will get grown men pressing their noses up against the bike shop window for a glimpse…

What, in brief are the main highlights? Well, for a start, it’s ten-speed, but you probably guessed that bit. It will come in both a 2×10 group (as many people predicted) and also a 3×10 set. This is in keeping with the two different ‘expressions’ we’ll call them of the XTR groupset. There’s a racing group – all 2×10, super light brakes and so on, but there’s also a more trail riding/all mountain set with a different brake setup, wider ranging 3×10 Dyna-Sys crankset and even different, finned brake pads.

There are new XTR SPD pedals: The regular SPD racers’ pedal, but also another pedal which is more of a fixed platform pedal, presumably for the all mountain expression of the group.

But what’s this? A bolt through rear axle? This is the 142.5mm ‘standard’ pioneered by Syntace for the rear ends of all mountain bikes. And here it is with matching XTR hub and big chunky skewer that looks very like the 15mm skewer that you’ll find on a Fox 15mm fork.

Talking of 15mm… Shimano is now making a 15mm XTR bolt-through hub. That rotor might look normal, but we’ll get back to that one as it has a rather interesting little secret…

Here’s the XTR ten-speed cassette with five titanium sprockets and what Shimano call ‘Proper gear combinations’ of
– 11-36T and  11-34T

These may look like nothing more than swanky rotors, but they’re cleverer than that… Although the same thickness as normal rotors, they’re made up of a sandwich of steel on the outer faces with a aluminium core as the sandwich filling. This helps to dissipate heat far better, meaning that the brake runs much cooler.

A 15mm XTR front hub was pretty inevitable, seeing as Shimano has helped Fox pioneer the standard…

An XTR rear bolt-through hub for the 142.5mm x 12mm Syntace frame dimensions. You’ll see a lot more of this style of wheel system in upper mid travel bikes we reckon. (Trek’s 7in travel Scratch comes to mind)

A new XTR pedal – lighter once more… And joined by a rather funky looking platform pedal too…

There will be two versions of the XTR brake too. This one is the stripped bare XC lever. It’s tiny, light and features integral shifter mounts. There’s very little in the way of adjustment, that’s left for the all-mountain version.

It’s a front derailleur. It still hits the chain from the side until it moves. It’ll still set you back £85 though.

The 2×10 XTR chainset. 3mm shorter Q-factor and at least four new ratios. Interestingly, there’s no titanium/carbon inner ring, whereas there is on the 3×10. Ratios will be 40-28T; 42-30T; 44-30T (M985) and 38-26T (M980)

Here’s the rather intriguing platform pedal. It’s not spring loaded like the old 636 DH pedals, and although it offers a bigger platform, the mechanism is still proud of the body so will only really work when you’re clipped in. The jury’s out on this bit…

Here’s the ten speed cassette and shiny XC brake. How can we tell? Because the all mountain version has fins…

Post mount rear brake

The brake lever really is tiny, but super powerful. Shimano reckons the power is up with Saint.

There are new wheels too.

So, about that all-mountain version of the brake. What gives?

Here’s the crazy looking new all mountain brake. The thermoplastic cooling fins are joined on to the brake pads, so that the heat is sucked out of the caliper and dissipated. Combined with the new rotors, the temperature can be up to 150°C lower.

The caliper body is the same, it’s just the brake pads that are different.

Here’s the shifter. A textured thumb paddle feels very tactile. Shimano has done a lot of work with it’s new Dyna Sys shifting. On the rear shift, you know how the shifter feels stiffer the higher up the block you get? Shimano has made it so that the shift tension is now even throughout that range.

And here’s the all-mountain version of the lever. The same short, almost one finger lever, but this time with more adjustment for reach and bite point.

The rear brake and rotor.

Here’s how the 142.5mm through-axle looks – with a pre-production rear derailleur.

It may look complex, but the all mountain lever is still very tiny.

And finally, here’s a super close-up of the rotor. You can just see the sandwich of steel, aluminium and steel.

So, that’s the XTR groupset. We’ve had the briefest of plays on it and it works well, looks great and seems to be well designed. It certainly has a more machined, ‘Terminator’ feel to it when compared to SRAM. It’s not cheap, but then, it is supposed to be the best component group that money can buy…

Here are approximate prices:

Chain: £44.95

Cassette: £179

Brakes: Around £179 a wheel

Chainset: £399

Front mech: £70-90

Hubs: £99/£199

Rear mech: £139

Shifters: £149

Wheels; £369/£449

We’re off to ride actual XTR in early August and we’ll be sure to let you know what it’s like. Actual XTR should be in the shops late in the year. We’re excited.


Comments (30)

  1. Ooooooh

    *counts pennies*

    That chainset looks loverly. The all mountain brake pads look like they’ve been hit with the ugly stick though. Will superstar be making replacements? 😉

  2. Aluminium is a better conductor of heat than steel? I should have listened more at school, thought it was the other way round. Does all the cooling mean smaller rotors are needed then? As well as a tooth brush to clean your pads before a descent to make sure they don’t overheat? Still, not aimed at a low maintenance oaf like myself I guess 🙂

  3. CABS (copper/aluminium/brass/steel) is the order, best conductor first.
    I agree, pad idea not exactly mud friendly.

  4. thanks chipps! awesomeness

  5. So the really light stuff – is that now XTR-R?

  6. Only 10 sprockets on the cassette? Seems so 2010…

  7. Not sure about those fins on the AM brake, surely they’re just gonna get clogged up with mud!?

  8. can you run a 10 speed sprocket on a 9 speed hub?

  9. Gutted… I WAS really excited when i first saw the chainset cos it’s gorgeous, but the brakes and pedals are horrific and the rest is just blah… Hopefully they will get tidied up a bit before release. Makes the current M970 look much nicer!

  10. mmmmmm – those brake levers look fantastic. A little bit of a change of direction visually for Shimano.

  11. A lot cheaper than XX, do we know when we’ll see some weights?

  12. the rear mech looks like an XT!

  13. Has dual control been dropped?

  14. Certainly a more functional look than XTR of old, I like it.

  15. i love those new “platform” pedals and the chainset is gorgeous! not sure about the fins on the pads….still easy to pull em out i expect

  16. We’ll have to wait for a test but in principle the idea of the platform spd seems like a good idea to spread load over a larger area of the foot. Could be more comfortable for enduro/day out riding.

    Liking the crank, nicer than XX imho, but then i think the X0 and X9 2 ring cranks look better than XX.

  17. I appear to have messed my pants

  18. That rear mech is not the one shown on the XTR website – it’s just the current shadow one with an alluminium cage not a carbon one.

  19. The ridextr site says under 700g for the race version of the chainset so looks like a small weight saving (wasn’t the current one about 750g?). Not a huge reduction though given you’ve gone from 3 to 2 chain rings.

  20. Is the smallest double chainset listed above a double+bash (it’s got a different model number to the others). Shame I don’t really need either an outer ring or a bash.

  21. So is the aluminium bonded to the steel (rotors)? – are there issues with these materials expanding at different rates? Wouldn’t ti throughout be a better compromise? – (nearly as light as ally, nearly as strong as steel…)

  22. @eep

    i also wondered about dualcontrol

    bought a “spare” set of M966 dualcontrol levers

  23. The brakes (aside from the lever-blade) look like something a GCSE technology student would produce. The hinged clamp is a good move though.

  24. could you whack the aperature up a little bit so more than half the photos come out in focus next time? ta 🙂

  25. Yes, what about dual controllers, I had assumed they would not do them anymore so also bought a “spare” of the 975’s,

  26. These may look like nothing more than swanky rotors, but they’re cleverer than that… Although the same thickness as normal rotors, they’re made up of a sandwich of steel on the outer faces with a aluminium core as the sandwich filling. This helps to dissipate heat far better, meaning that the brake runs much cooler.

    Reminds me of the olf forumla rotors which were two plates rivteted together 🙂

    presumably the new shimano ones won’t rattle as much 🙂

  27. Nice, not bothered about the aesthetics, looks pared down to the bare minimum, looks ‘factory’.
    Ali and steel rotors, any lighter?
    Will they be doing rapid rise mechs?
    Can’t see the point of platform pedals, spreading load over the foot? – wont that depend on the tread of shoe?

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