- The one-finger brake levers have the same design as XT and XTR (though not as shiny). Photo courtesy of Shimano
- A new double crank option for the SLX line. Photo courtesy of Shimano
- The new Shadow Plus SLX rear derailleur. Photo courtesy of Shimano
- The Latest groupset redesign is a clear little brother to the XT and XTR groupsets. Photo courtesy of Shimano
- The 29er WH-MT66-29 should appeal to the SLX buyer. Photo courtesy of Shimano
- Shimano offering multiple color options has been uncommon in the past, but an option of black or white is a small step in the right direction. Photo courtesy of Shimano
- Shimano's all-mountain 26in wheelset the WH-MT68 comes in both black and white. Photo courtesy of Shimano
The latest updates from the Shimano camp are beginning to become available and their affordable all-rounder SLX is becoming even more versatile. With a lot of trickle down of technology from the top-tier XTR groupset, SLX could be stepping into the role of being the most cost efficient mountain bike group. The new SLX group is intended to become available in July, followed by the release of their new mountain wheelsets.
Shadow Plus comes to SLX
The highly praised Shadow Plus clutch design used on the XTR rear derailleurs will now come on all SLX models. The Shadow Plus technology reduces chain slap and creates a much more stable drive train. This can be most noticeable for riders who ride very rocky terrain. Making it a huge improvement for the all-mountain intended SLX group.
Rider Tuned drivetrains work with 2×10 and 3×10
The new SLX shifters have closer more precise shifting. Though the major highlight, especially for current triple chainring users, is that the front shifter can be “Rider Tuned” to function with either a 2x or 3x crankset.
In conjunction with the Rider Tuned shifters comes Rider Tuned cranksets. For the first time the SLX line is offering cross-country intended double cranksets. They will be available in three different gearing combinations; 40-28T, 38-26T, and 38-24T. The latter of which, as Shimano sees it, will be the best gearing for the 29er crowd.
Still thinking of the ever-growing 29er cult, Shimano’s new SLX front derailleurs have plenty of tire clearance for the bigger wheels. They will come in four designs and in 2×10 or 3×10 specific options.
Direct Mount Derailleurs become available from SLX to XTR
With more and more manufacturers moving to thru-axle style rear ends the direct mount rear derailleur is becoming a necessity for component manufacturers, the new SLX hubs even have a 12mm E-thru rear. In 2013 XTR, XT, and SLX will be available in GS and SGS direct mount options. We expect that with a standard set across the board, the only major difference between the three groupsets, besides appearance, is the weight discrepancies.
29ers for XT and SLX levels
The latest addition to the Shimano mountain bike wheel line is an updated 29er version of the WH-M785-29. Shimano’s XT level wheels are UST tubeless, sport a 15mm E-Thru axle front hub and a quick release rear. As with most all Shimano hubs, they will come standard with Center Lock disc brake mounting. We are expecting them to be available this fall.
Perhaps more versatile wheels, cleverly aimed at the SLX rider are the WH-MT66-29 and its little brother the WH-MT68. The MT66-29, as you might guess is a 29er, but with more all-mountain features than the XT level M785-29. The MT66-29 will be tubeless-compatible on a 19cm wide rim. They will be available in a 135mm quick release or a 142 E-thru rear and a 15mm E-thru up front.
The MT-68 wheel is even more of trail-specific set with a slightly wider rim at 21cm, but shares the same tubeless–compatible rim design as the MT66-29. Also like its big brother, the MT-68 comes in either a 135mm quick release or a 142x12mm rear hub and a 15mm E-thru front.