Over the years I’ve gone through a wide range of gear set ups for example, in the 90s I used to ride a 3×7 set up which changed to a 3×9, then a 2×10, then a 2×9 and for the last six months I’ve been riding 1×9.
However, if you look at any of the new bikes being brought out or read any MTB forums then you’ll quickly discover that 1×10 seems to be where the biggest fuss is being made. I decided I’d take the leap and try it out for myself with Shimano’s XT series.
Just for anybody who isn’t familiar with Shimano, their mountain bike groupset range is ranked like this (from best to basic):
- Deore XT
- Deore LX
There are also some others below this level that I haven’t included because they are basically what is thrown onto bikes that you’d get from ASDA. Deore is the lowest I would personally go, and to be honest it can often be difficult to justify the extra cost between Deore to Deore XT as most work very similarly. Saying that, going for the higher range items when they are in the sale often pays off – I managed to grab the Deore XT M780 shifters and mech for just over £90 on Chain Reaction Cycles.
Review of Deore XT Shifters & Mech
Straight of the box, both the Deore XT shifters and rear mech looked awesome. The design on both is smooth and sleek and the trigger shifters look and feel ergonomic, which is great for when you’re really cranking up those miles! What the product description doesn’t tell you is that the shifters come with new cables inners and outers, which saves you about £10 buying them separately and was a lovely little surprise when I opened up the box.
Fitting was relatively simply and they worked brilliantly with my existing 10 speed Deore cassette and 10 speed SRAM chain. The cable supplied with the shifter was plenty long enough to run from my bars to the rear dereailer and had a good 5-6 inches left over – same goes for the cable outer. After mounting up the rear mech, all it took was a quick bit of indexing and the bike was ready to go!
Benefits of 1×10
Front mechs are one of those things that are slowly dying away, and if you’re not entirely sure why then just get rid of it and you’ll see on your first ride out. I dropped from 2×9 to 1×9 about 6 months ago and it has definitely worked to make me a much stronger rider, the only problem however comes on steep technical climbs when you simply can’t weight yourself properly and spin quickly enough at the same time. I’ve already found that the extra gear on the back makes these long slogs much easier and even faster.
My front chain ring is a 32t RaceFace Single Chainring and this works brilliantly with the 36t being the largest ring in the cassette. The only time I feel as though I’ve ever been running out of gears was hurtling down a road pedalling my heart out at around 35mph – but I’ve never had this feeling off road, making it a perfect set up for mountain biking. I have also noticed that there is a lot less maintenance with this set up, and the handlebars feel a lot less cluttered – which is ideal for when I finally get around to getting a dropper post!
If you’re thinking about making the jump to a 1×10 set up then I thoroughly recommend going for the Deore XT shifters and mech. Check around for the best price or wait for the sales and you’ll get it for sub-£100. This is one mountain bike upgrade that you will definitely notice the difference with as soon as you take it for a spin!
For the money and performance you can’t do much better than the Deore XT and take from someone who has ridden with XTRs the difference is marginal. Basically the extra money saves you a few grams of weights and gives you World Cup standard equipment on your bike – flashy but not always worth the cash!