Shimano Deore 12 Speed has arrived, bringing the technology initially found in the flagship XTR group to a price point more commonly found on “entry-level” bikes. For most riders, it isn’t news that will affect them — not right away at least.
Trickle-down tech isn’t a new concept; last year SLX dropped in a 12-speed iteration, and if you were buying a new $3.5-4k bike that’s the Shimano gear you’d see mixed in. It works pretty damn good too.
Riders are unlikely to go out to buy the new Deore M6100 as a group; if you’re buying parts separately you’ll be mixing and matching based on the best deal you can find.. or maybe like us, just going straight to XT. It does however, give product managers spec’ing what will be your next bike another option from NX Eagle. What important is that a new level of performance is coming to riders looking for their first legit mountain bike. And once you’re invested into the Shimano ecosystem, it’s actually worth a brake or shifter upgrade down the road, as you don’t have to replace half the parts or buy a new compatible rear wheel.
For a Shimano fan like us, this is a big deal. Upgrading to 12-speed is still challenging, with Shimano Microspline freehub bodies still hard to find for rear wheels – plus you’re looking at near $100 just to make your old wheels work with a new drive train. If you were going to drop the coin to upgrade to 12-speed you’d spend more and go XT anyway. But being able to buy a bike that already is equipped with Hyperglide+ means you actually can upgrade a bit at a time.
The other cool bit about this launch is the fact that Deore – known as the lowest priced MTB group worth riding – is not only now available in 12 speed, but also in 11 and 10-speed options. But what does that mean?
Lower Priced Options for Wear and Tear Components
With Deore available in 12, 11, and 10-speed options, you now have a lower-priced repair option if you bust your Shimano derailleur during that epic bike trip, or wear out a chain and cassette. A Deore chain will work on your drivetrain, and most riders won’t even register the difference between a $24 Deore HG+ chain vs a $45 XT chain. The Deore derailleur will set you back $55. When you consider the price of the XT is $115, that’s a hell of a deal.
Assuming you properly maintain your bike, you’re going to eventually replace your old chain and cassette. Whether you’re riding 10 or 11 speed, the wide range and performance found in the new iterations of Shimano Hyperglide is a world apart from what you’ve ridden before.
If I was looking for max performance while spending the least, I’d splurge on brakes and shift levers. You can get away with a less expensive derailleur; though I’ve found entry-level Shimano derailleurs aren’t as durable in the long run, if you break a lot of stuff, long term durability doesn’t matter.
The best part of the new 12-speed group is not just the fast and crisp indexed shifts but the feel at the shift lever is improved as well. If you’ve ever experienced “shifter-thumb” than you know what I’m talking about. In our Shimano Saint 10-speed group review, we praised the shifting performance of our favorite 10-speed group of all time, Shimano Saint — and now a low-cost derailleur and cassette option has opened up that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to try out.
Deore 10s: Mix and Match
The best part of the new release is the fact that 10-speed not only continues to receive support, but you can mix and match new components with the old. If you’re still fond of your 2-3 year old bike with a 10-speed XT drive train, the new Deore group opens up host of new options.
Deore 2-piston and 4-piston brakes
If you haven’t run 4-piston brakes, in recent years they’ve gotten good. Like, really good. I recently spent some time riding a 2020 Norco Sight equipped with the latest SLX 4-piston brakes and unless I was looking at them, I wouldn’t have noticed the difference between SLX and XT. The step down to Deore drops the toolless adjustability and the free stroke adjustment found in XT, but if it works the same or close to it, that’s all that matters.
Our pick for Deore brakes would definitely be 4-pistons — 2-piston models are better for performance trail riding where weight plays a bigger factor. If you’re looking to save weight you’ll be buying higher performance items, whereas 4-pistons of stopping power is going to provide maximum bang for the buck.
For more info visit MTB.Shimano.com