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Falling (literally) for Shimano's new group

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XTR parts

XTR parts (Image credit: James Huang)
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Lots of rain in Japan

Lots of rain in Japan (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new XTR group

The new XTR group (Image credit: James Huang)
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A supplementary thumb lever

A supplementary thumb lever (Image credit: James Huang)
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Nope, I haven’t become

Nope, I haven’t become (Image credit: James Huang)
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M970’s new chainrings

M970’s new chainrings (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new rear derailleur

The new rear derailleur (Image credit: James Huang)
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I think this goes somewhere around here…

I think this goes somewhere around here… (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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XTR parts go through a number of finishing steps before the final result is achieved. Keep in mind that this sequence doesn’t even include any forming steps.

XTR parts go through a number of finishing steps before the final result is achieved. Keep in mind that this sequence doesn’t even include any forming steps. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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The new XTR group is serious kit with serious looks and function to match.

The new XTR group is serious kit with serious looks and function to match. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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The new rear derailleur gets wider and stiffer links plus a bold new industrial look.

The new rear derailleur gets wider and stiffer links plus a bold new industrial look. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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M970’s new chainrings are very rigid to provide excellent shifting under load. Though it will likely be taken for granted, it was apparently no small feat to get the carbon finish of the middle chainring to visually match the rest of the anodizing on the rest of the gear.

M970’s new chainrings are very rigid to provide excellent shifting under load. Though it will likely be taken for granted, it was apparently no small feat to get the carbon finish of the middle chainring to visually match the rest of the anodizing on the rest of the gear. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Not even the rotor was spared from the milling machine. Check out the edges of the disc brake rotor spider. The new wheel retains the use of straight-pull stainless steel spokes.

Not even the rotor was spared from the milling machine. Check out the edges of the disc brake rotor spider. The new wheel retains the use of straight-pull stainless steel spokes. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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A supplementary thumb lever remains on M970, but it’s even more of a vestigial nub than before as I didn’t feel the need to use it even once during our rides. Cable changes on the Dual Control setup are now far easier than before, with no tiny screws to lose.

A supplementary thumb lever remains on M970, but it’s even more of a vestigial nub than before as I didn’t feel the need to use it even once during our rides. Cable changes on the Dual Control setup are now far easier than before, with no tiny screws to lose. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Just about every component in the new M970 XTR kit is not only anodized at least twice, but also machined and laser-etched to impart the unique finish.

Just about every component in the new M970 XTR kit is not only anodized at least twice, but also machined and laser-etched to impart the unique finish. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Our test components were all etched “PROTOTYPE”, but any planned changes between what we rode and production bits were to be purely cosmetic.

Our test components were all etched “PROTOTYPE”, but any planned changes between what we rode and production bits were to be purely cosmetic. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Shimano increases performance and saves some titanium from the recycling bin by using center cutouts from its titanium cassette cogs as backing material for the new XTR metallic disc brake pads.

Shimano increases performance and saves some titanium from the recycling bin by using center cutouts from its titanium cassette cogs as backing material for the new XTR metallic disc brake pads. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Nope, I haven’t become one of Shimano’s coveted Skunkworks riders, but I at least have the sticker…

Nope, I haven’t become one of Shimano’s coveted Skunkworks riders, but I at least have the sticker… (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Our fleet of XTR-equipped bikes at rest on a very rare smooth section of the Kumano trail…

Our fleet of XTR-equipped bikes at rest on a very rare smooth section of the Kumano trail… (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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…the rest of it was more like this, and this was a relatively tame section.

…the rest of it was more like this, and this was a relatively tame section. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Our motley crew - ready to ride, and sweating our asses off. Joe Murray is deep in thought, while Mike Ferrentino puts on his best “tough man” pose.

Our motley crew - ready to ride, and sweating our asses off. Joe Murray is deep in thought, while Mike Ferrentino puts on his best “tough man” pose. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Lots of rain in Japan equals lots of greenery as we put the new XTR through its paces.

Lots of rain in Japan equals lots of greenery as we put the new XTR through its paces. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)

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