Words: Chris Lesser
Shimano recently unveiled a slew of new components to the global cycling press, and the revamped Ultegra 6700 road group, with all its sexy forged parts (and even more appealing price point) hogging all the attention.
But below the fold, Shimano also announced the latest iteration of its humble Deore group—the most affordable 'branded' nine-speed components group in Shimano’s mountain bike lineup. You've probably never fogged up a display case window lusting after the latest Deore kit—but if you've been riding for a while you've probably bought a Deore derailleur or a shifter pod as a replacement part.
With the introduction of the 2010 Deore group, however, Shimano is looking to up the ante. Witness a redesigned two-piece brake caliper that uses the same pads as its pricier siblings. The levers also got a makeover, and although they lack Servo-Wave action of XT and SLX—which works in two stages to provide great rotor clearance and still chomp down with authority when called to action—the new Deore levers benefit from a radial master cylinder design, a revised lever blade to accommodate both one- and two-fingered brakers, and which can be fine-tuned for reach preference with an easy access dial.
"They're way smaller, they're lighter, they work better and they bleed better," says Shimano PR honch Devin Walton. "And the fact the calipers use the same shape brake pads as all the other brakes in the lineup opens up some more doors in terms of what you can do with the Deore platform."
To get down to brass tacks and talk about what sort of power we can expect from the new Deore brakes, we caught up with Shimano mountain bike product manager Matt Robertson, who said that Deore's power jumps 5 percent, and is on par with two lesser-known brakes, Shimano's M575 and M486 models.
To put that in perspective, Roberston elaborated on how Shimano looks at power, which starts with defining a baseline.
"Baseline is the equivalent power of earlier XT M755 and M765 and the original Saint M800," Robertson said. "That was great then, but today's bikes and riders need a little more. Our XC stuff is now rated 105 to 110 percent of base. Our trail stuff delivers
120-125 percent and we have big power available with Saint at 150 percent. To put these numbers in context, consider that changing rotor size results in a power gain or loss of 15 percent."
Shimano took the occasion of its Ultegra and Deore release to debut two more components—an SLX 15-millimeter hub, to work with 15-millimeter thru axle forks from Fox, Marzocchi and DT-Swiss; as well as a 12-to-36-tooth cassette, aimed at the ever-growing 29er crowd.
With the introduction of more longer travel 29ers, such as Turner’s new Sultan, which specs a 120-millimeter fork, racier cassette ranges might not cut it for the pedal-up/pedal-down, all-mountain crowd.
The new HG61 36-tooth cassette doesn't use an aluminum spider to support the gears like Shimano’s higher-end models, but its construction is a step-up from Shimano’s lowest-end offering, too. The new cassette will offer an affordable way for riders to try out the new gearing range, and is compatible with all of Shimano’s Shadow rear derailleurs.
SRAM is also reported to be working on a 36-tooth cassette option as part of its Double-X group, which is expected to hit the high-end of the MSRP spectrum. If 36-tooth cassettes gain popularity, look for Shimano to pony up and produce a version with a stiffer, longer-lasting aluminum carrier.
Final pricing and weight of the new Deore group is not yet available, but expect the figures to be the lowest and the highest, respectively, of Shimano's mountain bike components catalog.