Shimano XTR vs XT vs SLX vs Deore | MTB Drivetrains Explained!

The Shimano drivetrain is, without a doubt, the most popular out there, and for a good reason. They offer many options to suit your riding style, power output, budget, and bike weight. But how do you go about choosing the best drivetrain option for you?

In this article, we’ll compare the Shimano XTR vs XT vs SLX vs Deore counterparts. Also, we’ll be discussing various drivetrains features that you should consider in your decision-making.

Shimano XTR vs XT vs SLX vs Deore: Comparison Chart

The XTR, XT, SLX, and Deore are all mountain bike groupsets offered by Shimano. They’re all similar in that they offer similar levels of performance and features, but there are some important differences that set them apart

CharacteristicsXTRXTSLXDeore
Groupsets1557g1804g1879g2108g
Crankset170mm or 175mm165mm, 170mm or 175mm165mm, 170mm or 175mm170 or 175mm
Crankset configurationTwo-pieceOne-pieceTwo-pieceTwo-piece
Tooth32303432
Chain269g278g279g277g

Shimano XTR vs XT vs SLX vs Deore: Key Difference

The main difference between these groupsets is the materials used and the weight. XTR uses the best materials and is the lightest weight, while Deore uses lower-quality materials and is the heaviest.

  • Cranks
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On the Dior level, you can expect a 170-175-millimeter crank. They’ve just announced a 165. So great for shorter riders. So your cranks having that clearance is essential. You can expect those to weigh 780 g. 

But moving up to SLX now, you get 165, you get the 170, you get the 175 options in these, and the weight is less than 638 g. X. T. has165 and 175 options. So if you’re lofty, the 180 could be for you. 

XDR 165 175 options, 573 g this time with the 32 I’ve got options from 30 all the way up to 38, which kind of tells you whom it’s aimed at the real cross country or the marathon enthusiasts there. 

  • Chains
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The cool thing about this 12-speed stuff is it’s all hyper glide plus. SLX has the same hyper glide plus, but it has plates with gray links. 

But XT chromizing treatment on the plate and links. This is the most durable treatment you can get on them again. 

The exact weight is 252 g, and the price is 40 quid. So slightly up. But the critical feature is durability and strength when it comes to X. T. Finally, the XDR visually looks quite different. 

So it’s designed to have minimal friction, saving as much as five watts to a rider, which probably doesn’t make that much difference to me. 

XT is the best for durability and performance, whereas SLX puts a little more function on keeping pricing down but giving you performance shifting.

  • Cassette
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When you look at the cassettes themselves, you can see their differences. SLX has one aluminum sprocket and 11 steel sprockets on its 1045 and 1051 options. 

So you can run it with a two by 1045, or the one by 1051 weighs less than 534 g and costs more than 115 quid. XT visually has two alloy sprockets at the top, and it has ten steel sprockets for durability. 

XTR weighs 367 g in the one-by-12 star setup, you can get 1045 as well, but it does cost 325 quid. 

  • Shifters
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The Deore shifters visually look very similar. So deal one has a maximum of three shifts at a time. 

It has a two-way release on the shifter itself in both directions. And it’s got a nice spec clamp or clamp-on options. 

The regular clamp is four g additional, and you’re talking about 37 quid SLX one, a maximum of three shifts has a two-way release and an instant release. So quicker downshift that into the higher gears 133 g that weighs and costs 41 quid. 

XT is probably where I’d go look at one of my bars there. It’s got to weigh release instant and a multi-way release. So you can shift two gears in one stroke. 

Just got a bit more grip there, 135 g, so barely any difference in weight, and it costs 60 quid, and then you got the X. T. R. 

MTB Rear Mech Comparison

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The Deore shifters visually look very similar. So deal one has a maximum of three shifts at a time. It has a two-way release on the shifter itself in both directions. And it’s got a nice spec clamp or clamp-on options. 

The regular clamp is four g additional, and you’re talking about 37 quid SLX one, a maximum of three shifts has a two-way release and an instant release. So quicker downshift that into the higher gears 133 g that weighs and costs 41 quid. 

XT is probably where we’d go look at one of our bars there. It’s got to weigh release instant and a multi-way release. So you can shift two gears in one stroke. 

Just got a bit more grip there, 135 g, so barely any difference in weight, and it costs 60 quid, and then you got the X. T. R.

What Is The Best Gear Ratio For Climbing Hills?

The gear ratio is the number of teeth on a cog about the size of its pulley. The lower the gear ratio, the easier it’s for you to progress up steep inclines; however, this comes at the cost of making your bike harder to pedal uphill and climbing steeper grades. 

50/34, 36/40, 34/32, and 32/20 are all good ratios to start with and will be good starting points for the rest of your mountain biking career. 

In addition to not sinking into rocks in the bike’s pedal stroke, with the right ratio, you’ll be able to keep your weight more centered over the rear wheel.

What Is The Best Chainring For Climbing?

When it comes to which chainring to use, it simply depends on how often you’re climbing and how steep the climbs are. 

A 32-tooth chainring (the smallest possible) is great for climbing steeper grades, but if you’re primarily riding slower paced trails or spending more time in the saddle, a 20-tooth chainring is probably better. 

In general, mountain bikers tend to use different chainrings for different trails. 

For example, on a trail on which you’ll be riding at a faster pace, you’ll want to use a 26 or even a 28-tooth chainring.  If the trail is just slightly steeper than your riding speed, maybe around 4-5%, you may want to use a 32 or 34-tooth chainring.

FAQs

Is XTR better than Deore?

Shimano XTR is a good choice if you want a more inexpensive and lighter-weight drivetrain. Deore is often more durable and perfect for heavier riders. Deore is great for those who are very hard on their drivetrains and are looking for durability to ensure they get the most out of it.

What is the difference between Shimano XT and XTR?

The main difference is that XT has a 1x ring and cassette, while XTR has a 2x ring and cassette. The XT only comes in a triple chainring set-up. These differences are designed to improve the drivetrain’s performance as riding conditions vary by the rider.

What do Shimano’s model numbers mean?

Shimano’s model numbers indicate the order in which the company’s products were released. For example, the first model number released was the Dura-Ace, followed by the Ultegra and then the 105. The higher the number, the newer the product.

Conclusion

So from the Shimano XTR vs XT vs SLX vs Deore comparison, we can say the XTR is the best for those who want the best performance. The XT is a good choice for those who want good performance but don’t want to spend as much as the XTR. 

And The SLX or Deore are good choices for those who want decent performance but don’t want to spend much money.

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