New Shimano SLX M7000 breaks cover – and there's plenty to get excited about. Words by Benji Haworth

Shimano SLX M7000 brings 11-speed shifting and high-performance disc braking to a more affordable level. Will the new SLX be as well-received as its first incarnation was back-in-the-day?

The new SLX M7000 drivetrain will be available in 1×11, 2×11 or 3×10 guises. Yes, 3×10 is not a typo.

The 1×11 drivetrain is surely what most of us are interested in. The chainring features Shimano’s impressive Dynamic Chain Engagement thick-thin tooth profiling for chain retention. Shimano are marketing SLX 1×11 as “simplicity”, but that’s underselling 1×11’s myriad on-trail benefits — 1×11 isn’t just simple, it’s reliable, functional and liberating.

The new SLX 11-speed cassette

The new SLX 11-speed cassette

The 2×11 seems to be the SLX that Shimano feels is “optimal”. It has a point. On big rides in big mountains a lot of riders cling on to their granny ring, and there’s the added benefits of 2×11’s smaller gaps between gear ratios and the ability to maintain a better pedalling rhythm. Each chainring has slightly differently designed thick-thin Dynamic Chain Engagement teeth, because the granny ring has different demands compared to the outer ring. Clever stuff.

Both the 1×11 and the 2×11 groupsets are available with 110mm/148mm Boost options.

The 3×10 drivetrain is niche-d off as “recreational” and we’d be inclined to agree. Triple rings have no real place on modern mountain bikes.

>>> Shimano launches new chainring for XT and XTR 1×11 drivetrains

Do you remember the first time?

Shimano SLX has been radically revamped yet – in a funny way – it has returned to its origins. When SLX first came out in the noughties it was an instant hit with real world riders. It worked pretty much as well as higher end groupsets, was decently light, reliable and didn’t look nasty.

Shimano SLX M7000 11-speed rear mech

11-speed rear mech

The new SLX M7000 carries on this tradition of everyman-focussed affordability, durability and compatibility. And its new sleek makeover looks mighty fine. We’ll bet that there are a lot of people who have just bit the bullet on Shimano’s XT M8000 groupset who will be quietly miffed with this announcement of this nice new SLX stuff.

SLX may not quite offer the same level of performance of XT, but it won’t be far off. Having said that, it will interesting to see what the weight differences are between the two groupsets. Maybe the XT owners out there won’t be so miffed when the weight listings emerge.

We only have one weight listing to go on so far. The SLX 11-40T cassette is claimed to be 467g. The XT 11-40T is 411g. Make of that what you will. Every gram counts.

The drivetrain

The new SLX shifters offer most things that Shimano’s top end groupsets offer. You can downshift three gears in one stroke. You can get them in various I-Spec handlebar/brake mounts for keeping a cleaner looking cockpit.

The rear mech and front mech look to be impressively XT-like. The rear mech is a proper Shadow RD+ which strong clutch that can be disengaged for easy wheel removal. It’s available in Medium cage (1×11 and 2×11) and Long cage (3×10).

Shimano still loves front mechs. It’s quite endearing really. And the results are genuinely impressive. The new breed of front mechs are compact, powerful, accurate and reliable, and their dinky stature makes them play nicely with big wheels (29er or 27.5+) and short chainstays.

Disc brakes and hubs

The disc brakes will hopefully live up top their promise and look like they’ll be really popular. They have Shimano’s Rider Tuned lever for no-tools on-the-fly adjustment. The rotors are heat-dissipating, mud-shedding pieces of loveliness.

Shimano SLX M7000 rear hub

Shimano SLX M7000 rear hub

Finally there’s the hubs. Normally there’s not that much to say about Shimano hubs but the SLX hubs have a few nice features. Improved all-weather durability. Boost 110mm/148mm options. Rapid engagement for quick pedal response; 36 pick-up locations over a 360 degree rotation.

Shimano’s own summary: “In all in, the new SLX M7000 groupset achieves an unrivalled level of high performance, efficiency, durability and value. Competitive-level technologies found in Shimano’s premium MTB components have been transferred to the new SLX M7000 cranksets, derailleurs, cassettes, shifters, levers, rotors and hubs, letting you focus on what matters, getting maximum fun and enjoyment out of your rides.”

Let’s hope this is true. If the new SLX is anything like the original, prepare to see a lot of it out there on real world riders’ bikes.

We’ll update this story with pricing and availability as soon as we know the numbers.

>>> Best mountain bike disc brakes

Shimano SLX M7000 components

SLX Crankset: FC-M7000-11/ FC-M7000-10
SLX HG Cassette: CS-M7000-11/ CS-M7000-10
SLX Front hubs HB-M7000/7010
SLX Rear hubs: FH-M7000 / FH-M7010
SLX Shift Levers: SL-M7000-11 / SL-M7000-10
SLX Rear Derailleurs: RD-M7000-11-GS / RD-M7000-10-SGS
SLX Front Derailleurs: FD-M7020-11 / FD-M7000-10
SLX Hydraulic disc brake set: BL-M7000, BR-M7000, SM-RT70

Drivetrain options

2×11-speed: 34-24T, 36-26T, 38-28T

1×11-speed: 30T, 32, 34T

3×10-speed : 40-30-22T

CS: 11-40T

CS:11-40T, 11-42T

CS: 11-32T, 11-34T, 11-36T