The 2012 Shimano XT M780 has suffered some improvements compared to its 2011 version, improvements which have brought it at the same level with old XTR derailleurs. It’s no secret that Shimano borrows technology from top components, enhancing the performance of its lower spec parts.
I pedaled for two days with a long cage Shimano XT M780 derailleur. Despite the fact that I would have preferred a medium cage model, the bike had a triple crankset, so a long cage was an absolute necessity. The new XT is faster and smoother compared to its predecessor and the lag in shifting has disappeared.
If you use it with a Shimano XT 10 speed gear shifter, you will have the very pleasant surprise of finding that not only you can downshift 4 gears at one time, but you can also shift upwards 2 gears at a time. This is another characteristic borrowed from Shimano XTR range, and you will be also delighted by its precision.
As for durability, Shimano installed bearings for both jockey wheels and started using aluminum for the derailleur hanger instead steel. As a result, you won’t be able to bend it, but rather break it in case of an impact. Perhaps some more flexibility could have been useful, even if a bent derailleur hanger had negatively influenced precision of gear shifting. With a long cage, compared to its previous model, this derailleur only loses 5 grams.
Shifting under heavy load is not a problem, even if the derailleur becomes noisy. But function is more important than acoustics. Of course, Shadow technology is still present on XT M780, and this means good vertical stability and smaller chances of being hit on the track, thanks to its design, which does not allow this derailleur leave the chainstay plan.
In conclusion, the 2012 Shimano XT keeps going its way, offering improved performance year after year. Most probably, it will keep its current design for another 2 or 3 years, and afterwards it will be subject to new upgrades. As there aren’t so many riders for whom weight of the derailleur is a matter of life and death, I can assume that the new XT will be a serious competitor for the XTR range. Except weight and a few functionalities which you won’t absolutely need, there are no other reasons why your next derailleur shouldn’t be a Shimano XT.
Weight: 234 grams
Use: All Mountain, XC