June 27/07 3:50 am - 2008 Shimano MTB Preview
Posted by Editoress on 06/27/07
2008 Shimano Product On Display At Mont-Ste-Anne
Photos & report by Mike Badyk
Shimano Canada occupied a prominent spot in the pit area here at the Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup. As usual, the good folks at Shimano were patiently getting people's race bikes functioning perfectly. However, if you looked carefully you'd see some special new items lurking in their tent. Of particular note are the substantially revised 2008 XT group and the new XTR Shadow rear derailleur.
First the derailleurs: This is a radical redesign of the derailleurs that we've been using for so many years. Shimano calls this new derailleur series the "Shadow". It was first designed for the 2008 XT line, but it has worked so well that it has trickled up to 2008 XTR. The changes to the derailleur mean it resembles nothing else on the market today. An extra "B" knuckle (essentially an extra pivot) has been put behind the main fixing bolt moving the derailleur much to the rear of where it normally sits. This was necessary because the cable arm has been moved completely behind the cassette, thus providing a very linear path for the cable to pull through. This design has many benefits. It tucks fragile parts of the derailleur out of harm's way, it shifts better and it is lighter.
The lighter aspect is very evident in the 2008 XTR rear derailleur. This is the lightest XTR ever, at only 180 grams. A carbon cage aids in this endeavour, but material has been trimmed away from almost everywhere. The XTR Shadow comes only in "High Normal" mode. The XT Shadow comes in the same format, but it will also be offered as XT "High Normal" and "Low Normal". Shimano's idea, according to their staff here at MSA, is that XT is going to be marketed to a wide range of users. Everything from trekking, to XC racing, to all mountain will be taken care of.
The multi-user concept is shown in the brakes. XT has 6, 7 and 8 inch size rotors. The calipers have been refined and made lighter, but the real story is the brake lever. It looks a lot like the 2007 XTR lever, but there are significant internal refinements. The levers use what Shimano calls "Servo Wave", which yields a 20% increase in braking power. Another new feature that I consider to be quite wonderful is the "tool free design" for both stroke and reach adjustment. You can now fine tune your hydraulic disc brakes to get them exactly where you want them. You can easily make your rear brakes feel exactly the same as your front brake, which has long been an issue with many brake designs. The optical gear display is removable and there is a cover included to seal the resulting hole. These features are also available in the Dual Control lever design.
The crank has some minor changes, with the middle chain ring now being steel with carbon shifting ramps. There is also, for the first time in Shimano history, an XT branded clipless pedal. The rear hub gets the XTR rapid engagement feature internally (less dead rotation before the freehub engages).
Finally, there are three XT wheel sets available. These are V-brake, regular or cross country with 23mm wide rims and an all mountain version with 28mm rims and a 20mm thru axle.
Several of the top racers are using the new derailleurs in both downhill and cross country. Expect to see these derailleurs on a lot of 2008 bikes as original equipment.