Shimano 2016 – 11 speed XT

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In a move that will surprise precisely nobody, Shimano have just announced that 2016 XT is going 11 speed, along with a range of other changes across the board. Barney took a red-eye trip down to deepest, darkest BikePark Wales on an incredibly sunny Thursday to take a look at the new gear.

Ohhh yeah…

The hottest day so far this year saw a bunch of industry-types descend upon BIkePark Wales to squint, poke and otherwise prod the new offerings for 2016 from Osaka. We only got to see mock-ups of the new kit, but there was a prototype groupset available, although sadly this was strictly for swift car-park razzing rather than any serious trail time. According to the press release, the new XT accommodates ‘four distinct mountain biking styles’. Ok..

11-Speed XT

So Shimano’s XT groupset is going 11 speed for 2016. Similarly to last year’s (well, this year’s really) XTR, you will be able to ride 1x, 2x or 3×11 groupsets (33 gears – I bet there’s a lot of crossover there). Shimano basically seems to be aiming the 1x groupsets at racers, 2x is aimed at ordinary mortals, and 3x is aimed at – er – dunno. Continental types?


Prototype only – there wasn’t a mock-up on display

The cassette comes in 2 flavours – 42-11 and 40-11 – and comprises an aluminium largest sprocket with the remainder being steel, firmly pinned to a series of aluminium spiders. Like XTR, you can use your standard freehub body – and thus hubs. The extra space needed for that extra gear is taken by riding the cassette up the spokes a little. Shimano have implied that the 42-11 cassette is 1x only (with HG-X11 specific tooth profile), reserving the 40-11 cassette for 2x and 3x applications.


Welll helllloooooooooo…

The chainset is certainly (to these eyes) considerably, enormously, vastly prettier than the XTR model and it contains much of the same technology. Chainrings  have carbon and composite construction; the 2x chainsets are available in 24-34T, 26-36T or 28-38T, and 3x is available in a 40,30,22T configuration. The 1x chainring shares the same lateral ‘hook’ technology seen in the 1x XTR chainset – no thick/thin here. Apparently this design reduces chain drop by 150%. And did I mention it looks ace?

Rear Mech

Finger in shot ‘cos the mockup weighs nothing and kept on falling over…

Completely redesigned to provide ‘sharp and silky gear changes’ apparently, reducing shift effort and increasing chain stability. You can now adjust the clutch stiffness, and the pulley teeth are taller. There are long and short cages (the long cage one is for 3x) but essentially it’s the same mech for 1x, 2x and 3x. It’s direct mount compatible too. Interestingly though, we understand you can’t get your existing XTR rear mech to work properly with the 42-11T cassette – be warned.

UPDATE: we’ve just been informed by Shimano’s Mark Greshon that you *can* actually run the new XTR with the 42-11T XT cassette. Hope that clears things up.

Front mech

Front mechs are still a thing!

Yep, the front mech will be going side-pull – so we can see a lot of extra holes in frames in the future – although you can get old-style ones too if your frame won’t accommodate a newer one. There’s a significant reduction in shift effort with the new one, though, and it’s designed with long-travel bikes in mind – and handily it also increases tyre clearance. In fact, you’ll be able to get your paws on side-pull front mechs all the way down to Deore.


An XT shifter, yesterday

Same again – lighter action, more clicky, like XTR – there’s a 20% reduction on shift effort, apparently. There is a 2-way multi release system – so you can down-shift 2 gears per lever throw with your thumb, but only one gear with your finger over the top of the bar – unlike current XT. A quick poll around the office suggested that this will be a disappointment to a few riders, but not the majority. As well as band-on, you can get them in I-SPECII and I-SPEC B-type, so you can retro-fit and integrate them to older brake levers too if you like.

And here’s a shot for our Australian reader. Oh, my aching sides.


No mock-ups – here’s the prototype

These have a new master cylinder and refined servo-wave levers, but apart from that not much has changed (not that there was any need, really). There is apparently also a new heat-dissipating coating on the piston, and a subtle alteration of the bite point too. The band on the prototype we saw is narrower than existing ones, in line with current XTR too.

Arty, non? Or inept photography: you decide!


Race and trail wheels with 20mm and 24mm internal rim width anyone? Don’t mind if I do. 40g lighter than previous iterations, although it’s not clear if that’s largely at the rim or the hub. Each wheel has a whole 28 spokes.

Clean integration

I did get a chance to potter about the carpark on the (prototype) XT, and I can safely report that it works very well indeed. If you yearn for the more damped but softer ‘click’ of this year’s XT, as opposed to the positive lightness on the new XTR, you’ll be disappointed – as that’s exactly what’s on offer here. Shifting felt very light indeed, front and rear, and clicks were noticeably more positive (well, clicky) than they were in previous XT iterations. Of course, carparks are hardly what this gear was made for, but this being Shimano I have every hope that the new XT will also perform impeccably on the trail.

Prototype-tastic. All the function, none of the form…

Here is a brief rundown of XT RRPs. Perhaps the most interesting thing here is the cassette, which is £74.99, and will run on your existing hub. Essentially, you could potentially furnish yourself with a brand-new 1x XT setup including chain for around £370 at full RRP. Tasty.

  • Bottom Bracket – £29.99
  • Cassette – £74.99
  • Chain – £27.99
  • Single Chainring – £49.99
  • Cranks without ring – £99.99
  • Double cranks – £149.99
  • Triple cranks – £159.99
  • Disc brakes – £99 per end
  • Front Mech – £29.99
  • Hubs – F – £34.99
  • Hubs – R – from £44.99
  • Rear Mech – £74.99
  • STI levers L – £39.99
  • STI levers R – £44.99
  • Wheels F – £174
  • Wheels R – From £194

You’ll start to see some of this stuff in the shops from June.

Barney Marsh

Singletrack Magazine Contributor

Barney Marsh takes the word ‘career’ literally, veering wildly across the road of his life, as thoroughly in control as a goldfish on the dashboard of a motorhome.

He’s been, with varying degrees of success, a scientist, teacher, shop assistant, binman and, for one memorable day, a hospital laundry worker. These days, he’s a dad, husband, guitarist, and writer, also with varying degrees of success. He sometimes takes photographs. Some of them are acceptable.

Occasionally he rides bikes to cast the rest of his life into sharp relief. Or just to ride through puddles. Sometimes he writes about them. Bikes, not puddles.

He is a writer of rongs, a stealer of souls and a polisher of turds.

He isn’t nearly as clever or as funny as he thinks he is.

Comments (31)

    Where does the £300 come from? Cassette + chain + chainring + cranks + rear mech + STI R = £373 (rounding up a few pence).

    woah there, sunshine. Back up a bit.

    WTF is a “Side pull” front mech? Is it a direct mount thingy with an integral outer cable stop?

    There’s the drivetrain for my next bike!

    Maybe Sram will have to reconsider some of there pricing as I imagine this’ll be pretty popular.

    GHill – it’s a typo. Should read £370…

    Thanks for the clarification Barney – still looks to be good value compared to SRAM.

    Does it come in silver and black like the M780/785 groupset or just black?

    Cassette for £74.99 is a game changer beats the SRAM pricing…..

    @Stoner, that’s exactly what it looks like to me.

    A side pull front mech first appeared on XTR. It turns the conventional mechanism on its side, which allows the cable to approach from the front (cable down the downtube). There are several bike frames that now allow for this.

    Pleasantly surprised by Shimano! Someone in the bike industry has introduced something new this year (11 speed cassette) that fits something old (freehubs)! Is it April fools again?

    Very nice chainset indeed, and none of sram’s p*ss taking prices. Nice!

    Well, it seems i’ll be skipping over 10 speed, and going straight up to 11.

    Are the pedals XT too? 🙂

    Those pedals look awesome

    All seems to good to be true, does any one know if the cable pull ratio on the 10/11 speed rear mechs is the same and are sram and shimano 11 speed rear cassettes the same spacing ?.
    Bizarrely 11 speed XT is a new standard that makes all our 10 speed transmissions obsolete and we are all happy about it. Mint.

    So are you going to be able to run the 11 speed cassette with a sram set-up to save a fortune ?

    Might be time to upgrade my 8 speed then!

    When my 9speed bites the bullet I can see myself going 1×11 on this, 45quid for a shifter is really the winning number

    As others have said – great to see evolution and innovation, not just a new .
    Also good to see a really sorted offer.
    I may have to move 9sp to 11speed…

    Oh crap. Still not fitted my new 10 speed stuff. When is this out?

    I’ve been a big SRAM supporter for a long time but was seriously turned off by their 11 speed pricing. Looks like Shimano may have lured me back to the Japanese way.

    I do like the sound of 3×11…….

    I like the look of the proto more than the finished product!

    That is a bonnie looking chainset.

    You sure the XTR 11 spd mech doesn’t work with the 11-42 XT cassette? I’ve read elsewhere that it does.

    It is ALL just bollocks and they are taking the piss out of us. F… them!

    No mention of what size BB this will fit? are we all going to have to buy a frame with a pressfit to run new cranks? Also still only 11t on cassette but appreciate avoids need for new freehub and therefore hub(wheel) to go with it but limits the front ring size for 1×11 if you want both hill climbing and top end speed you’ll need legs like tree trunks 🙂

    Will fit any Shimano HTII type thread-in cups or BB92 style press fit cups.

    The new XT BB cups are similar to the new Ultegra ones – smaller external diameter (come with an adaptor tool for use with standard installation tool), but any 24mm internal diameter HTII type BB will work.

    Do you think that rear mech + cassette would work with Shimano’s RS685 hydro STI brake/shifters? Interested for 1x CX bike.

    mikep – cable pull is different, so no mixing of road and MTB on the mechanical side. You can mix and match on Di2 though – all E-tube, so interchangeable.

    Thanks. But poo. Guess I’ll stick with the current 1×10 SRAM Force shifters with cable brakes and an X0 MTB back end.
    I wanted to look at Shimano hydro brakes as they work well on my road bike and cost less than the SRAM CX1s.

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