SHIMANO DEORE XT MECHANICAL
When it comes to group sets, the different choices and associated ride experiences they offer are becoming more numerous than post-ride beverage options at your local café or brewery. Until recently, the biggest question riders faced was Shimano or SRAM, and the level of goodness within a given range. But add a preference for a single or double chain ring up front, and Shimano’s customisable Di2 electronic shifting into the mix, and drivetrain choices are reflecting an ability to tailor our bikes more than ever before. Di2 isn’t new. Shimano first went electronic on the road with their Dura-Ace Di2 group set in 2009 and followed this up with their premium dirt offering, XTR Di2 in 2014. XT Di2 was released late last year. XT has always been the more affordable offering for the discerning mountain biker; a fraction heavier, a lot less expensive, and often incorporating further innovations prompted by the initial XTR release. So, given a chance to compare mechanical and Di2 XT back-to-back on our Trek Remedy 9.8 test bike (see page 80), how did they stack up?
One of the areas where Di2 heavily outweighs mechanical XT is through the ability to combine front and rear shifting into a more automated system: Synchro shift. This requires only the right lever for control, freeing up the thumb (and your brain) for an ergo dropper lever or suspension remote. Di2 takes care of half shifts and full shifts for you on the front, based on where you are on the rear - which is really quite a genius innovation. It also means no more rubbing front mechs or crossed chain lines when you blindly move toward either of the extremes on the back.