Last year I made the change to a 1×10 drive chain, but I did it in the most ghetto way possible. I initially took the three rings off my Deore crank set and replaced it with the RaceFace Single Ring while keeping the old Shimano XT mech. While this worked well, especially with a BlackSpire chain guide and a Bionicon C. Guide, it created a very cluttered looking drive chain.
Therefore I decided to bite the bullet and buy myself a shiny new Shimano XT Shadow+ 10 speed mech (what a mouthful!). Here’s how I found it:
Shimano XT Shadow Plus Rear Mech
Installing this rear mech was a doddle, I was already using 10 speed XT shifters and the cable was practically brand new so it was just a case of switching out the old mech for the new one. Obviously it wasn’t quite that straight forward and I needed to do a fair bit of fiddling to get the indexing done right, but it probably only took around an hour total.
My initial impressions were pretty hard to decipher if I’m being honest, as I almost completely forgot that I had put it on until about halfway around the trail. With my previous set up there was an awful lot of noise from chain rub and even the slightest back-pedal could have potentially caused issued with the Bionicon. But with the XT Shadow+, nothing. Its incredibly quiet and does a fantastic job at keeping the chain taut so that it stays right where it’s supposed to be.
This is basically the best way I can put how I feel about this. I wish I’d been using a clutch mech years ago and now I’ve got it I highly doubt I’ll use anything but anytime soon. I picked this up off CRC for around the £40 and I’ve been using it now for around 4 months and it’s proved itself time and time again. There was a few moments when I did lose the chain when using the RF single ring without the Blackspire guide, but as soon as I switched to the Superstar Narrow Wide this completely stopped.
My rear cassette is an 11-36 and I managed to get away with their medium length cage, which is great because I have a rather nasty habit of breaking long cages! I think it may be a bit of a stretch to do this if you’re running a 1×10 with a t-rex set up but I haven’t tried it so it may be worth asking someone who has!
The clutch system is very easy to use, with a simple on or off function. I’ve never had mine slip from on to off while riding and it feels very firm so I can’t see this as being a problem that will arise in the next couple of months. It’s performance on the trails is unreal, taking in drops, jumps and rock gardens and keeping the chain exactly where you want it – on the chain rings!
I’ve also never had a problem with shifting when using the XT Shadow Plus. Whether that’s down to me being a bloody good rider or this product doing exactly what it says on the tin, I guess we’ll never know (probably the latter). I’ve managed to change gear while bouncing my way down a trail and even under high strain when climbing, so if you’re a constant changer you should be pretty glad to hear that! Also, unlike some mechs I’ve used in the past, this one sits very flush with the rear triangle, helping to protect it from rocks, sticks and stumps.
A point to remember: if you need to take the wheel off, make sure you knock off the clutch. This took a bit of getting used to at first and if you forget it suddenly becomes very difficult to get your wheel off and you do risk breaking the mech.
Do I recommend it? Hell yea! If you’re already running a 10 speed Shimano mech then the XT Shadow Plus will be one of the best performance upgrades you can make with the minimal amount of tinkering required! If you have a little bit more money on hand you could go for the XTR version and save yourself 50g, but why bother? This mech is absolutely phenomenal and for the money you really can’t go wrong!