The first 2013 component which actually we had the occasion to test in 2012 is the Shadow Plus Shimano XTR rear derailleur. As you must have already got familiar with the Shadow technology, the new derailleur only takes this idea further and comes with a technology which, in my opinion, should have been introduced long ago. I can even say that this technology should be present on every derailleur.
In brief, the Shadow Plus system is equipped with a small lever which tenses the derailleur’s spring, so that it remains stable, regardless of the terrain. As the spring is tensed same way as a clutch, the chain no longer slaps (when the lever is set to ON), shifting is much more accurate, and, of course, the rear wheel can be easily removed, (when the lever is set to OFF). These two positions have been designed in such a way that you use the Shadow Plus function only when you consider that it’s strictly necessary, as for example when you’re rolling on very uneven terrain. On a normal trail, you can put the lever in its initial position and the XTR derailleur will work same as a regular one, respecting, its top pedigree, of course.
Designed for 10 gear cassettes and compatible with Direct Mount, this is one of the most precise derailleurs I have ever met. The spring does not have Saint’s strength, which consistently reduces the noise when you shift gears, so that you won’t hear too many decibels. On the other hand, its speed is amazing, even if I compare it with Shimano Di2. Compared to entry-level derailleurs, this one is ridiculously fast, it actually makes you ask yourself if Altus or Acera have been built by the same Japanese from Shimano!
Levers are ergonomic, with long paddles, so you effort to shift gears is minimum. You benefit from 2 Way Release function, and you can also go down two sprockets at the same time, with a single paddle push. It’s faster, but you need to be extra-careful, so that you don’t go one speed higher than you first intended.
Materials are of very good quality, including the two jockey wheels, provided with bearings, to last longer. Basically this shifter has been designed for the most difficult conditions, with extra-durability. The Shadow Plus system will only be available for the Trail version of the XTR, while the Race range will benefit from a Shadow version and remains identical with the 2012 model.
With a weight of just 212 grams, the new Shimano XTR M986 Shadow Plus is a peak of technology when it comes to derailleurs or drive gears. Cyclists will love it, as it greatly reduces chain noise and makes the entire transmission much more stable. As you can expect, price is not small, as it sells for 160 euro in some online shops, and for a higher price in stores.
Weight: 212 grams