Shimano 2013 Saint and Zee

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New video just added! Saint M820 first impressions from Santa Cruz’s Syndicate, Trek’s World Racing and Team Yeti. Find out what the top racers and their mechanics think about Shimano’s new Saint!

Shimano gave a media only shindig for their Saint and ZEE gravity oriented group, before opening the tent door to the general public. Shimano engineers, designers and professional racers were on hand to talk about the product, and answer questions. For the 2013 model year, Saint gets the ICE Technologies for their brakes and the Shadow Plus clutch derailer, new pedals, upgraded hubs, shifters and cranks. For the budget-minded gravity rider, they added the all-new Zee group, which has the ICE brakes, Shadow derailer, hubs, shifters and cranks. Most of the new products should be available in the July timeframe.

The Saint Hollowtech II cranks is made with hollow forged Duraluminum alloy, with an axle that is 250% stronger than XTR and an arm that is double strength. In a side note to history, Duraluminum was first used on German Zeppelins! It comes with press fit or normal threaded bottom bracket, in 34, 36 or 38 tooth options. One of the cranks was fitted with an interesting prototype bash guard with a segmented design. It points downward when your favored foot is forward, and it’s supposed to save rotational weight, and two segments can be used if a rider switches feet during cornering and jumping.

The Saint shifter gets a 5mm longer lever, textured paddles, and low friction ball bearings to reduce shifting effort. The ball bearings give it a smooth action, with a nice feel, and make for snappy and quick shifts. Upshifts with the thumb can be done two at a time, while down is only one, and it happens with a crisp and instant response.

The Saint rear derailer gets the Shadow Plus clutch technology (the gold lever), making for better chain control and decreased noise. It has a super wide parallelogram for quick shifting, urethane bumpers, and of course, 10-speeds. It has a switchable mode converter on the mount, which alters the angle of the derailer sweep, to correspond with a wide MTB or tight road gear ratio cassettes, which will be handy for different courses or riding terrain.

The Saint brake lever is short, and uses a ServoWave mechanism for a quick response from the four-piston caliper. The lever has a nice set of textured dimples on the handle for wet weather usage, and for greater overall tactile feel. The hydraulic hoses have been stiffened for better line flow, which corresponds to more precision, tightness and response to the brake lever.

The Saint disc brakes utilize a four-piston caliper, with asymmetric ceramic pistons, which prevent excess heat from transferring to the hydraulic fluid. It has aluminum backed sintered metal pads, and includes their ICE technology cooling fins. The banjo fittings (gold connector) length has been increased, to dissipate additional heat. The Saint brakes have a 150 power ratio, which means is equivalent to moving upwards 1.5 rotor sizes over its XTR brethren. The brakes were fitted with a normal two-piece ICE rotor, but I didn’t see the fancy wavy rotor shown in their press release?

The Saint pedals use sealed ball bearings, and replaceable pins, which extract from the backside, and an ergonomic concave platform. The pedals are tough and durable, and use bearing system technology that has been learned from years of making SPDs.

The Zee cranks use solid forged 6000-alloy arms, and 34, 36 and 38 teeth chainring options, and pressfit or normal bottom bracket. The Zee rear derailer has the same medium sizing and Shadow Plus clutch, but lacks the Saint’s wide parallelogram pivot stance and mode-change functionality, but separate B2 links are available for gear ratio changes.

The Zee shift levers get the same additional length, but only the thumb paddle is textured, whereas the Saint has both. It doesn’t get the same precise and smooth ball bearing internals, but shifting range changes remain the same (two up, one down). The Zee brake lever gets the textured dimples for feel and wet grip, and ServoWave mechanism and internals, but it doesn’t have the reach adjustment and fancier cosmetics.

The Zee brakes get the powerful four-piston caliper with the ceramic pistons, cooling fins and sintered metallic brake pads, but they won’t get the fancy ICE tech rotors.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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