SHI­MANO DE­ORE XT ME­CHAN­I­CAL

Australian Mountain Bike - - Tested - WORDS: KATH BICK­NELL PHO­TOS: TIM BARDSLEY-SMITH AND KATH BICK­NELL

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?

FUNC­TION­AL­ITY

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.

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