Just In – XT 11-Speed Drivetrain

by Brian Mullin on December 15, 2015

Shimano Deore XT M8000 11-speed Drivetrain

The new Deore XT 11-speed group got the trickle down effect of their top of the line XTR 11-speed group, producing an affordable and highly engineered option from Shimano. The new XT 11-speed drivetrain gets two cassettes (11-40T and 11-42T), 1×11, 2×11 and 3×11 cranksets, two Shadow RD derailleurs (medium and long cage), multiple front derailleurs and RapidFire Trigger shifters. My favorite piece of the new drivetrain system is the wide-range 1x specific 11-42 cassette, which allows them to compete with SRAM 1×11 components, albeit without a 10-tooth micro cog.

Grams Thoughts

I played with the system at Interbike and the XT 11-speed drivetrain shifted as smooth as silk without any hesitation in that crucial last couple of upper cogs, and it was easy to sweep through large swaths of gears with an easy thumb push. Up and down through the gears went without a hitch or glitch. The triggers had a nice tactile and ergonomic feel, and I didn’t feel any binding as the cable slid in the housing.

Unfortunately, a review set of the XT 11-speed drivetrain wasn’t provided, so I purchased an 11-42T cassette, GS Medium Shadow RD derailleur, Ultegra chain and a rear RapidFire Trigger shifter. Everything is going to be installed on my new Ibis Ripley LS frame once I figure out a wheelset to use.

XT 11-speed Cassette

The new XT M8000 11-speed cassette comes in two configurations, an 11-40T and 11-42T. The 11-40T was optimized for 2×11 and 3×11 M8000 drivetrains while the 11-42T (shown) is meant for the 1×11. The cassette is built with an interesting combination of materials, Aluminum for the large 40T and 42T cog, durable steel for the rest of the cogs and a lightweight Aluminum spider. The cassettes use their Rhythm Step progression for optimal shifting:

  • 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40
  • 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-28-32-37-42

In person, the cassette is a thing of engineering beauty with gorgeous ramps on each of the cogs, and it cries out for smooth as butter shifting characteristics.

MSRP – $140

Weight (11-42) – 433 grams

XT Rear 11-speed Derailleurs

The new XT M8000 11-speed rear derailleur features their Shadow RD + technology and comes in two models, the medium cage GS (shown) for 1×11 and 2×11 setups and the long cage SGS for 3×11. It features high-efficiency pulleys with taller teeth for improved shifting, is direct mount compatible, has a lower profile to prevent trail obstacle encounters and has the capabilities to adjust externally the clutch tension (very cool). All the new design alterations reduce the shifting effort and improve driving and shifting stability.

MSRP – $120

Weight (GS) – 272 grams

XT Shifters

The new XT M8000 11-speed RapidFire Trigger shifter comes in bar clamp (shown), I-Spec II and older I-Spec B options to cover the gamut of handlebar attachment requirements. The levers have a 20% lower shift effort and an improved vivid index mechanism, and the paddles have improved ergonomics and are textured for better grip and less slip. For smoother shifting, they use their new Optislick cable that utilizes hyper low-friction coating technology (that’s a mouth full). The shifter feature two-way release shifting so you can shift the upper lever with either your thumb or index finger and the Multi-release functionality lets you shift through multiple gears with a single lever sweep.

MSRP – $75

Weight – 137 grams


The XT M8000 group uses the Sil-Tec coated Ultegra 6800 11-speed chain (CN-HG600) which retails for $40.

Weight –  264 grams

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