Shimano have chosen the Sea Otter Classic and the accompanying trade show to unveil the latest generation of XTR – M9000. Reportedly the most advanced XTR group set to date, the M9000 group has been completely redesigned – and offers riders more choice than Shimano have offered previously in gear range, actuation, ergonomics, chain ring setup, wheels, braking and pedals.
After a few photos were snuck out via a French site in early February, rumours had spread about the inevitable shift to an 11 speed MTB cassette from Shimano, and the possibility of a production Di2 electronic drivetrain. They have delivered, but in typical Shimano fashion, have delivered something for just about everybody! Except there’s no word on that Di2 option just yet…
Range is the most prominent feature here. Shimano have aimed to offer a great range with appropriate steps in gearing to maintain a riders ‘rhythm’. If only creating a smooth pedal stroke and gear selection was so easy! While the timing and actuation of shifting gears, and pedal stroke are not yet able to be controlled by Shimano, they can offer well thought out spreads of gears.
1 x 11 is really favourable, but as Shimano want to offer ‘Rhythm and Range’ you can also have 2×11, or 3 x11. Single, double or triple are available in the M9000 Race, or M9020 Trail variants. More than that, your chain ring ratios have some options too. The M9000 Race chainrings use titanium, carbon and aluminium in their construction, and the single ring uses a tooth profile that doesn’t require a retention device. The Race crank has a Q-factor of 158mm, and the non-drive side crank has a hollow bonded structure for less weight. M9020 cranks have a 168mm Q-factor, and gear options for both are as follows:
Single: 30t, 32t, 34t, 36t
Double: 24/34, 26/36, 28/38
High end MegaRange is finally here! The M9000 cassette has the biggest range ever offered by Shimano with 11-40t, using aluminium, titanium and steel cogs on a carbon spider. Spacing is 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40T. It looks like just the 40t is aluminium, but this can be confirmed in time. Shimano have tweaked their 11 speed chain for the Hg-900-11 model, with an updated asymmetrical design and plate treatment for quieter shifting and supposedly better mud shedding. No quick link mentioned though.
The shifters have obviously had a tweak for 11 speed, but the main changes are a more pronounced actuation and slightly flatter paddles. Best of all is an update to the iSpec setup, which allows rotation and not just side to side movement. Previously, if you wanted a less cluttered handlebar you lost ergonomic adjustment. The new iSpec II changes that.
The persistence with offering a range of gearing options does increase the need for holding parts in a bike shop – and that is most noticeable for front derailleurs. There are 10 models in the M9000 XTR line up. The new Side-Swing design is said to improve shift performance 100%, best of all it gives 15mm more tyre clearance. The front mechs are available in direct mount options, E type, high and low clamp for double or triple. There are some conventional (non-swing) options in high and low clamp too.
Thankfully, the rear derailleur is more standard. The clutch is standard, it now can be adjusted externally, and the cage sits closer to the bike to be more out of the way. There are two models, GS and SGS for short or long cage, depending on the chainring setup you run.
More options! But more of what we are used to, with a Race and a Trail variant. The M9000 Race system has a carbon lever blade and magnesium body and caliper. Pistons and pad coatings help reduce heat transmission.
The M9020 Trail brake has increased power and stiffness. The servo-wave lever uses carbon and alloy construction, and the calliper itself is finned, along with the stock IceTech pads. Although not new, the M9000 rotor has increased surface area for heat dissipation, and now comes in more sizes: 140mm, 160mm, 180mm and 203mm.
Wheelsets – carbon for Trail and Race
There are new wheels in 27.5″ and 29″ options in both the Race and Trail variants. Hubs have new axle and bearing assemblies that cut the eight by 33grams, and the 28 spoke count wheels have a 20mm internal width for Race wheels, and 24mm internal width for Trail wheels. The rims are a UST tubeless carbon laminated alloy rim.
The Tubular option is there for the Race wheel, the WH-M9000-TU, in 29″ only.
Hubs are still available, but only in centre lock
Shimano pedals work, and last. Although the M980 and M985 pedals did have some problems over the M970 model. A wider bearing placement suggests there is a new setup that might require less frequent maintenance, but time will tell here. There is still a Race and Trail variant.
So we are low on final weights, and performance, and there is still the whole Di2 question… but hopefully after Sea Otter, and after some touch and feel in Cairns, we can get you some more information.