Shimano is back in the game again with its latest 12-speed drivetrains from Deore up to XTR. Precise and reliable shifting no matter what the component level is what Shimano nailed. Although the rear derailleur does need additional maintenance. I’ll take a little added maintenance over fragile SRAM GX and NX derailleurs any day. This “How To: 2 Minute Shimano Clutch Service” will show it’s not much harder than lubing your chain.
Shimano’s derailleur clutch maintains chain tension and prevents the chain from bouncing around and coming off. The clutch has needed attention in the past to keep shifting smoothly. With 12-speed, the clutch seems to need more attention since the derailleur has to move a bit more to wrap around the big 51 tooth cog. I’ve been riding XT 8100 12-speed since late last summer and have had to service the clutch twice. Once I just regreased, then I backed off tension and regreased and its been going strong for months now.
How To: Shimano Clutch Service
Most of the Shimano 12-speed clutches I’ve ridden have came adjusted tighter than I think they need to be. This makes the shifting action harder and likely prematurely wears away the factory grease. You’ll start to notice this when the derailleur hesitates to shift into smaller cogs from the largest 2-3 cogs. The derailleur also starts making creaky rocking chair noises when shifting from those largest cogs.
The first thing to try even before you regrease is to try backing some tension of the clutch by a turn or two.
If you still have a hesitant clutch, try this quick and easy service.
I hope this keeps ya shifting smoothly. As always I welcome your feedback!