MBUK's Most Wanted (2020) – #18 Gearing: Shimano Deore XT M8100 12-speed drivetrain
The hardworking hero of the Big S's range
The workhorse of Shimano’s drivetrain family is the Audi to XTR’s Porsche, saving you a significant amount of cash for marginal losses, beyond bragging rights.
Out back, the new XT cassette uses Shimano’s 10-51t configuration (10-45t also available), with 10 steel sprockets and two aluminium ones. It fits onto their Micro Spline freehub, which is being licensed to more hub manufacturers and should soon be widely available.
The rear mech gets a slim Shadow RD+ profile to keep it tucked out of the way, plus reduced tension in the low gears and a pulley cage bumper to minimise noise. At the other end, the shifter has a lighter and quicker action than its 11-speed predecessor, and lets you downshift two gears at a time (something SRAM and lower-model Shimano shifters don’t offer).
Twelve-speed XT has been a long time coming, but if it works as well as previous iterations, as initial testing suggests, we’re in for a treat.
About MBUK's Most Wanted (2020)
For the January issue of Mountain Biking UK magazine we put together a glossy guide to our Most Wanted gear for 2020, containing some of the most incredible, highly desirable mountain bike kit on the market. It seemed a shame not to share it with our website users, so now we’re posting each category online too.
The selection process wasn’t easy. We were determined to pick products that genuinely stood out, so just narrowing down the categories was hard. Then our test team discussed the pros and cons of each bit of kit that had been shortlisted – and had some heated debates over which should make it in!
You can rest assured that all of our Most Wanted gear has been given this accolade for good reason. It’s either performed amazingly in our tests (in which case we’ve provided links to the original review) or, in the case of just-released kit, has wowed us on the trails during initial rides and shown huge potential.
Cast an eye over the gear and you’ll notice that a lot of it doesn’t come cheap. That’s because these are our Most Wanted products, and not necessarily the parts and accessories that represent the best value for money. We know that not all readers will be able to afford them, but think they’re worth showcasing. Firstly, because they show just how far MTB kit has come. But also because innovation and improvements at the top end of the market inevitably trickle down to lower price points within a couple of years, for the rest of us to enjoy.