Long Term Review: Shimano XT M8000: The Most Bang for the Buck?

Shimano XT M8000 brake shifter

From the very first time I hopped aboard a test bike with the new Shimano XT M8000 during the summer of 2015,  I was immediately impressed with the precise and refined feeling of the shifting and brakes.  The initial feeling seemingly exceeded the previous generation XTR and once again had me thinking why would I buy XTR.  Luckily I was able to try out the group for an extended thrashing.

So how does the new Shimano XT hold up in the long haul?  After slightly over 3,000 miles, impressively well.  Overall reliability exceeded my expectations with only a slight amount of adjustment and expected wear items replacement needed.

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Shimano XT M8000 11-42 cassette
My single chainring setup was mated to 11-42 cassette. I would strongly recommend the now available 11-46 for a little wider gear range in the hills.

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Shimano XT M8000 shifter
The lever ergonomics of the rear shifter is quite nice and remained crisp throughout my test even with only one cable and housing change.

Plus

  • Smooth shifting and great lever ergonomics
  • Low replacement costs for chain, cassette and brake pads
  • Great cost to value ratio
  • Durability even after some minor hits to the rear derailleur

Minus

  • Limited gear range compared to Sram 12 speed
  • Rear derailleur a bit noisy after relatively low miles
  • Inconsistent brake lever feel as pads wear or at high elevations

Shimano XT M8000 derailleur

The only thing that required attention was the replacement of a few sets of brake pads, 2 chains, and backing off the tension of the clutch on the rear derailleur.  We’ve had a few bikes now with XT 11 speed and it seems that after a couple months of hard riding the clutch (part of the derailleur that manages tension on chain) seems to bind and does not move as freely.

When the clutch starts binding and you hear increased noise under rear shock compression.   I had been told that the clutch may require lubrication, but after a couple attempts to grease the clutch there was zero change.  The cure for me was to simply pull the rubber cover back and use a hex wrench to back a slight amount tension off the clutch till the noise is gone.  Problem solved.

Verdict:  Small issues aside this XT group is still my pick for the long-term since the reliability, performance and cost of replacements parts combination is incredible.

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