I’ll simply leap proper in. So, I’ve been driving Shimano’s new group, the XT LinkGlide, for nearly a yr. After logging just a few hundred dust miles on the group, I’ve been principally impressed. I’ve purposely accomplished some exhausting shifting whereas underneath load on techy climbs. I’ve run it relentlessly, and unnecessarily I’d add, up and down the cassette for lengthy intervals whereas driving.
To this point it’s taken the abuse with aplomb. To not point out that you could get the cassette, chain, derailleur, and shifter for the value of a few of the cassettes which are in the marketplace proper now. So tremendous large kudos to Shimano for that.
I’ve been a Shimano person for fairly a while. And it’s type of the camp that I’ve hunkered down in since shopping for my first actual mountain bike again in late 1988, early 1990. What offered me on that bike approach again then, was the truth that it utilized the model new XT ST-M091 Fast Hearth “push-push” 7-speed shifters.
As much as that time in my driving, I had not skilled such exact and senseless shifting. That’s a fairly daring assertion, I do know. Nevertheless it was friction thumb shifters for me up till then. And, after the rapid-fire shifters, I by no means seemed again.
I simply needed to say, earlier than we do truly leap into it, that I’m not getting tremendous within the weeds for this overview. I do know it’s straightforward to do with drivetrain parts, however I’m going to withstand this and preserve this overview top-level. That approach your eyes gained’t glaze over. You may get all techy-tech from our unique tech put up in order for you.
However for this overview, I’ll cowl how good it seems, what new tech it has, what it weighs, how straightforward it was to put in and modify on my mountain bike, and what I considered its efficiency. And perhaps just a few anecdotes and opinions alongside the way in which. Who is aware of, we’ll see what sort o’ time we’ve got.
No large whoop… let’s get on with it.
Shimano XT LinkGlide
Again in March 2023, once I was seeking to construct up my Rivendell Gus Boots Willsen, Shimano had reached out and requested if I needed to overview their new XT LinkGlide group. In case you learn my stuff, you recognize I’m not all the time pumped to attempt one thing, simply because it’s the “latest-greatest”. So, initially I believed, “Naw, I’m good, thanks! I’ll simply use my current m8000 XT shifter, cassette, and rear derailleur”.
However I reconsidered after they instructed me who the LinkGlide was meant for, the way it was alleged to carry out, how a lot it price, and the way it was completely different. So, I stated sure…I even instructed them what bike I meant to apply it to, and so they had been on board.
The Cassette is The place the Tech is
Constructed to suit an ordinary HG cassette physique, the LinkGlide cassettes are designed to be extraordinarily strong and sturdy. They boast enamel which are formed in a different way than the HyperGlide enamel, are approach thicker, and have “2-way shifting guides”. Shimano says that the cassettes are 3 instances extra sturdy than their HyperGlide equal. As you’ll be able to see within the above footage, the XT M8000 cassette’s enamel (photograph on the correct) are a lot thinner.
They’re advertising LinkGlide as optimum for each high-torque shifting functions (e-bike customers) and “lower than good” shifting (newer cyclists). As talked about earlier than, the completely different formed and taller shift ramps differ from the HG cassette. These ramps permit a totally completely different shift level. In principle, these ramps will supply a smoother shift whereas shifting underneath load.
The LinkGlide system shouldn’t be alleged to undergo from, what Shimano calls, “shift shock” whereas shifting. You realize the sensation…the place the chain “drops” onto the cassette throughout a shift such as you get generally with the HyperGlide system. I discovered this to be true… more often than not… extra on that later.
XT LinkGlide Set up
The XT LinkGlide was put in on my Gus simply sufficient. I used to be simply utilizing the shifter, cassette, and rear derailleur. There’s not a LinkGlide crankset. Undecided if there ever can be. One of many cool issues in regards to the XT LinkGlide is that you just don’t want a particular chain to run the group such as you do with HyperGlide. LinkGlide will work with any Shimano or aftermarket chain.
They despatched the group to me with the Dura-Ace/XTR chain, in order that’s what I used. I truly needed to attain out to get one other chain as a result of my Gus’s chainstays are so fantastically lengthy.
The understated matte and gloss black shade that adorns the XT LinkGlide was a pleasing shock. Normally, or a minimum of traditionally, Shimano’s extra entry-level parts have all the time seemed nicely… entry-level. However, not so with with this group. It’s very good-looking and appears high-end.
Once I picked up the LinkGlide cassette field, it had some notable heft. In case you’re used to smaller cassettes with the bigger cogs produced from aluminum, this might really feel pretty heavy. So, I weighed it in opposition to a Shimano Deore CS-M6100 10-51t 12-speed cassette. The 2 cassettes aren’t suitable, however each cassettes have full metal cogs with an aluminum spider to cut back weight. The decrease tier 12-speed Deore cassette has one other gear, extra vary, and continues to be lighter, however solely by 31g. I discovered the brand new 11-50t LinkGlide cassette to be 626g in comparison with the Deore cassette’s 595g.
Two Completely different Cassettes
That being stated, the LinkGlide cassette that Shimano despatched me is the LG700-11. This cassette is the most effective match for the XT LinkGlide sequence, however based on Shimano, “is a non-series cassette that lives outdoors of the branded households, it’s the greatest pairing for the XT LinkGlide”.
The LinkGlide shifter comes with a standard clamp, like mine, or the I-Spec with its ergo adjustability. After putting in the parts, I ran the housing and cables. The rear derailleur was straightforward to arrange. I simply set the excessive and low stops after which set the cable and it shifted completely.
The derailleur doesn’t have a barrel adjuster, however the shifter does. This made it straightforward to regulate the “stretch” out of the cable after the primary few rides. Aside from my distinctive state of affairs of mixing two chains on my bike, the set up was straightforward.
How Did it Carry out?
Total I didn’t thoughts the way in which the XT LinkGlide shifted. It was a slower shift than that of the XT HyperGlide. And, which will have led to the occasional feeling that the shifting felt cumbersome. And talking frankly, it took some getting used to.
One other small studying curve was the LinkGlide shifter. The shifter permits you to throw a two-gear leap up the cassette with one push. However, limits you to a single push/pull to come back again down the cassette.
I’ve been driving the 11-speed XT M8000 stuff solely on each mountain bike I’ve owned since 2017. As most of you in all probability know, the M8000 shifter can throw three gears up the cassette in a single lengthy push. And may throw two gears again down the cassette in a fast “double-click” push.
So utilizing the brand new LinkGlide shifter took just a little getting used to as nicely. I needed to modify how I approached just a few particular sections on two of my favourite rides due to it. And I’ll let you know, even after I received used to it, and have ridden lots of of miles on it, I nonetheless choose the way in which customary XT shifts over this.
Total, the XT 11-speed LinkGlide system appears to be very robust. And after lots of of miles of use and purposeful abuse, it by no means missed a gear shift. I did, nonetheless, “undergo” from the occasional “shift shock” or “pedal shock” that Shimano says the LinkGlide eliminates.
It actually wasn’t an enormous deal if you happen to’ve been driving the HyperGlide stuff, trigger it occurs the entire time with that system. And perhaps it could be eradicated if I used to be utilizing this method on an eBike.
I by no means did fairly get used to it, nor did I really like how sluggish the LinkGlide shifted. Look, I do know I’m not racing or something, however I do like my bike stuff to work exceptionally nicely. And I’ve actually gotten spoiled by the shifting of my present XT HyperGlide stuff. I’m a non-transitional human, and I really like my M8000. Sue me.
Nevertheless, if you happen to don’t have that high-end reference level, new riders will discover the shifting greater than ample. Glorious even, if the comparability is different cheap teams that come on entry-level bikes.
In case you have an eBike, don’t want 12 speeds, and also you’re shifting underneath giant quantities of torque, then the XT LinkGlide is your group. In case you are okay buying and selling weight financial savings for sturdiness? Then the XT LinkGlide is your group. The sheer sturdiness of the LinkGlide cassette will prevent cash on chains and cassettes in the long term. If I owned an eBike, I might run the XT 11-speed LinkGlide system, and it could be high-quality with me.
It’s straightforward on the pockets as nicely. At Jenson USA, as of the writing of this text, the costs are as follows:
- XT LinkGlide Rear Derailleur: $122
- XT LinkGlide Shifter: $67
- LinkGlide LG500 Chain: $23
- LinkGlide LG700 11-speed Cassette (as examined): $130
That’s solely $342 earlier than relevant tax and transport for the group. That features the cassette that was examined, a LinkGlide chain, the XT LinkGlide derailleur, and the XT LinkGlide shifter. That could be a nice deal.
A Completely different Tackle XT LinkGlide (From Zach’s POV)
Together with Ron, I additionally received an XT LinkGlide equipment to take a look at. Initially, I had deliberate to apply it to a fats bike. My thought was that winter highway salt, sea salt, and all of the mud and grit are notoriously tough on fats bike drivetrains, and one thing that was extra sturdy and cheaper can be an incredible choice.
However… I additionally had some lighter Shimano 12-speed Deore/XT components out there for the construct, and my interior weight weenie received the most effective of me. That left me with an XT LinkGlide group to placed on one thing else.
Then it hit me. My Raleigh Redux commuter got here with a 9-speed drivetrain that was in want of an replace. On condition that LinkGlide is designed to work nicely with ebikes, it appeared like an ideal match… solely the hybrid gearing up entrance made it just a little attention-grabbing.
Like Ron, I additionally wanted an extended chain to make the large cassette work with the big chainring. Nevertheless, I came upon that Shimano affords an E-MTB chain, the CN-E8000-11. This chain is 138 hyperlinks as a substitute of 116, and was lengthy sufficient for me with out having to make use of two chains. I additionally needed to take away one facet of the chain information plate across the chainring and shift the chainring over utilizing chainring spacers to create a chainline that may work with the rear cassette. These adjustments weren’t resulting from something associated to LinkGlide, however somewhat me attempting to run a variety MTB drivetrain on a hybrid e-bike with an enormous chainring.
In the long run, all of it labored surprisingly nicely and I used to be left with a drivetrain that had way more vary. Like Ron, I discovered the shifting to be completely different, however I didn’t have any drawback getting used to it. It’s a really optimistic really feel to the shifter and lacks a few of the finesse that you just’ll discover on the increased finish. With that stated, it really works nice, particularly when hammering by the gears on an ebike.
Previous to the LinkGlide set up, I’ve truly damaged extra chains on this Raleigh than my different bikes mixed. So the truth that the LinkGlide drivetrain continues to be working flawlessly, is spectacular. Due to that, I’d haven’t any reservations about recommending this group to anybody on the lookout for a sturdy drivetrain on a funds.