Sea Otter hasn’t even started and arguably the biggest news of week will be Shimano’s announcement that Di2 performance will trickling its way to the company’s Deore XT group. That Deore XT is getting the upgrade isn’t terribly surprising. Once Shimano introduced XTR Di2, we knew that it would makes its way to Deore XT by virtue of the fact that Di2 is available in both Dura-Ace and Ultegra.
I attended the launch of the group last night. Like XTR, the Deore XT shifters, called “Firebolt,” have a distinct click with strong tactile feedback; you’ll know when you’ve pushed far enough for a shift. Also, like XTR, Deore XT Di2 offers users the ability to program which button performs which shift; additionally, XT includes the brain and the ability to use Synchro mode in order to program the exact sequence of shifts the user desires. Shimano’s eTubes can exit the shifter either to the left or the right to optimize routing. The shifters are said to weigh 90 grams each.
We’re relieved to note that Shimano doesn’t think the front derailleur is dead. Compared to the XTR front derailleur, the Deore XT front unit is said to offer more powerful shifting between chainrings. Given the wide array of mounts for front derailleurs, Shimano moved to a modular mounting system with the Deore XT front to accommodate as many different designs as possible. With bolt and adapter, it’s said to weigh in at 150g.
The Deore XT Shadow + rear derailleur features a very low profile design to keep it out of the way of rocks and sticks. The rear derailleur will work with two cassettes, an 11×42 for 2x use and an 11×46 for 1x use. The rear derailleur is said to weigh 329g.
The System Information Display is the computer that mounts to the handlebar and allows you to program the shifter buttons and establish the shift pattern for Synchro mode. It will also allow users to devote a shifter to Fox IRD suspension control. The system has also gotten a software/communication upgrade from the XTR to allow communication between the unit and ANT private and Bluetooth low energy for increased integration in the future.
While the Di2 version of Deore XT will be notably more expensive than the mechanical version, it won’t be crazy expensive. Currently, 1x Deore XT goes for $561.93, while its 2x brother goes for $568.94. Naturally, 1x Deore XT Di2 will be less expensive than its brother; the 1x group is $773, while the 2x, due to the addition of a second shifter, the front derailleur and a second chainring, will go for $1101.
On a more editorial note, we’re excited about this. The combination of Di2 and off-road riding makes for much more reliable, exactly-when-you-need-it shifts. And while the benefits of Dura-Ace have been appreciable by any experienced cyclist with no I’m-not-a-pro performance disadvantages, the same has not been true for XTR. Shimano’s best off-road group truly has been best appreciated by pros who brake rarely and whose bikes are maintained constantly by race team mechanics. Deore XT has really been the right group for dedicated off-roaders and this is a big step up in performance.