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Shimano XT shadow mech

Shimano XT shadow mech

When your local DH trails feature a line called 'mech wrecker', the Shadow concept from Shimano seems to be a winner. For 2008, we see a low profile cage and tight cable routing. Will the Shadow leave the competition cold in the shade? I slapped an XT Shadow mech on the DH bike and gave it a workout
Fitting and Installation
Bolt on, set the limit stops, fit the cable. Ride. That's pretty much it, except for a couple of changes...

First up, the cable run. Gone is the large loop hanging out of the back of the bike, ready to catch branches or other trail hazards. In with the new direct (dare I say SRAM style) cable routing. Changing from an old XTR mech, I trimmed my already minimised gear loop down by a whopping 180mm. This new routing is very clean - a welcome modification with the cable line offering significantly less friction and reduced length shaving a few more grammes ;)


Gear loop on a standard XTR mech


Direct cable routing on the shadow - less cable required

The next change that I noticed during setup - there's no barrel adjuster to take up the slack in the cable. No sweat, just use the one on the shifter. It would be useful to be able to do all the tuning from one end of the bike but a trip to the bars doesn't take too long.

Finally, gone is the bulky pivot bolt and spring arrangement. The top mount is now fixed, to limit forward movement of the mech. Great news - no more mech clatter as the body can't bounce off the bottom of your chain stays. A silent bike is one step closer! The mech retains a 'b tension' screw to adjust your angle of dangle, if required.

Low profile
Here's where it's at - the crux behind the Shadow technology. By ditching the coil spring and hanger pivot, the profile is significantly tighter in to the chainstay. The difference is apparent - in fact, it's weird looking top down on the bike as you can hardly see you have a mech installed.


Top down, the shadow positively hides behind the dropout

Of course, the actual mech cage does not move inboard at all - it has to line up with your chosen gear for the mech to do it's job. There's no getting away from the fact the cage is the vulnerable part, but looking at the gouges and chunks out of my old XTR mech, the extra clearance will definitely help in some situations.


XTR mech (left) versus Shadow (right) in high gear


XTR mech (left) versus Shadow (right) in low gear

Shifting performance
So far, out of the box, the performance is snappy and positive. As you'd expect from the 'big S', really. No doubt some of this impressive response is due to the shorter cable routing. We'll see how this mech holds up over a season of DH racing - the old-style XTR I'm replacing has lasted 5 seasons and still faultless!

For the 45 RRP, the XT mech brings in a few noteworthy improvements and offers solid value for money in the performance area.

At the moment, the choice is GS (medium) or SGS (long) cage. The only improvement I could see is the addition of a super-short cage version to the lineup, for downhillers looking for the ultimate slick shift with single rings road blocks.

Coming in at 228 grams, it's no beefcake. The XTR version, with carbon jockey wheel cage, is due out in December and is a claimed floaty light 180g.

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More articles from the 'review | hardware' section:
[ VholdR helmet camera / headcam review ] - posted on 17th December 2008 by Phil.

[ Shimano Brake Bleed kit ] - posted on 27th January 2008 by Phil.

[ Shimano XT All Mountain wheelset ] - posted on 16th January 2008 by Phil.

[ NeoGuard review ] - posted on 4th December 2007 by Phil.

[ DMC Moto trainer review ] - posted on 27th November 2007 by Phil.

[ Shimano XT shadow mech ] - posted on 13th November 2007 by Phil.


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