Shimano – New XTR, Carbon 29er Wheels and more!

29er Components Wheels

Shimano held a special media presentation of some new products for this year. With the strong growth in XC racing and the influx of new, young riders and racers in the XC category, Shimano focused their development efforts on their XTR range of products. The Trek Factory XC Racing team is all on XTR and they helped test and develop several of the new products. Even though this was more of a “refinement” year for Shimano, there is still plenty of new changes and upgrades. XTR brakes, hubs, bottom brackets and chains all get improvements. By far, the most exciting new product is the all new carbon 29er tubular wheels.

Carbon wheels are a hot segment in mountain biking. Brands such as Enve, Easton, Roval and Reynolds all have popular carbon models that have been on the market for a while. So, it is not surprising to see Shimano producing an all new carbon fiber tubular wheel. In a strong support of the 29″ wheel, Shimano is only offering the XTR WH-M980 in a 29er version. Tubular wheels are not cheap and not easy to deal with, but for the ideal rider or racer, tubulars offer real world, tangible benefits. The way they ride (climb, accelerate, corner) are noticeably different from traditional wheels. With no bead, the tire profile becomes more round which really changes how the tire handles (a 2.0 tire feels like a 2.2 tire). Shimano intends the tubulars as XC oriented, so trail/all mountain riders should take note. There is also a considerable weight savings. The rim itself is 280 grams. The WH-M980 will be offered in 15mm front and 12mm rear E-thru axle options.

The XTR carbon fiber 29er wheels that we were shown were shod with Schwalbe Racing Ralph. Schwalbe is a brand that fully supports the mountain bike tubular technology.


Shimano XTR M980 series adds a new lighter weight hydraulic disc brake system that offers new advanced ICE Technology disc rotors and a refined caliper. The SM-RT99 “Freeza” rotor will now be available in smaller 180mm/160mm/140mm sizes. A new premium level mountain bike bottom bracket will be added that is lighter weight. A new super narrow HG-X chain will be introduced in the XTR line that is more durable.

Also new for this year is the M987 XTR disc brakes. Shimano concentrates on 3 main things with their brake development: power, stiffness, and heat dispersion.

Shimano uses an internal power level rating system and the new XTR maintains the Shimano tradition of a powerful, yet manageable brake engagement.

Maintaining stiffness is a key component of modulation. The new XTR has a magnesium caliper, magnesium master cyclinder, and a (first for Shimano) carbon fiber brake lever. These are all lightweight, but still perform well.

For heat requirements, Shimano uses their ICE technology of making a rotor that has 3 layers with the center layer being aluminum to draw heat. The new finned section comes from technology developed in the SAINT line of products. So now a 160mm rotor draws/disperses as much heat as a 180mm rotor use to. The new XTR brake also has a high powered hose, two piece caliper construction, banjo bolt that flows oil and keeps the two pieces together.

Also improved for this year are:

XTR hubs
-improved seals
-titanium freehub body
-QR or thru axle options

XTR press fit bottom bracket
-lighter, better
-improved sealing
-less rotational drag

XTR chain
-developed from Dura-Ace 9000 (11 speed) technology
-Siltech – nickel plating now has PTFE (flourine) particle wear longer, smoother and better for cross chaining (2×10)

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.

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  • cg says:

    Did they fix the free stroke issue?

  • yoeddy20000 says:

    Any idea on when these new parts will be released to the public? Any idea on cost?

  • Collinc says:

    What am I missing here? The pics of the full bike clearly show the Ultegra/Dura-ace battery pack under the downtube water bottle cage. Are they also showing off electronic shifting made for XTR?

    The closeup of the top of the fork shows the electric line going into the fork as does the close up of the rear derailleur. Hmm…..

  • SayWhat? says:

    Carbon rims, tubular tires, sounds like a promise wraped in a lie swallowed with industry kool-aid.

  • Erich B. says:

    Shimano says that the bearing sealings of the bottom bracket are improved. When a bearing have low drags it’s usually means that it’s easier for dirt/water/mud to come in, so getting a improved sealing and less rotational drag is (very) difficult to manage at same time. I hope that’s not the case in the new BB. For if the bearings only last one-two years, what’s the points of buying it?
    Wasn’t they good enought earlier?
    What was bad with the former sealing type?
    Why didn’t they discover that earlier?

    I like questions, because they’re a challenge. 🙂

    I find it horrible that several peoples don’t compare the new stuff with the older, seeing if it is actually some improvement. One can’t always expect that new are better.

    I am still on my dear UN-73 bought around 2007, these last more than four years, I haven’t been on the Octalink, ISIS, bb30 so I have saved a lot of money and troubles. Of course it’s heavy and don’t likes high air, but it’s RELIABLE! 🙂

    My trailbike is on it’s second bottom bracket and I bought it in 2000, and changed the BB around 2006, my commuter from 1999 was on its’ third bottom bracket before I bought a new one with a new frame at 2007, it’s still smooth. I ride a lot in rain, mud and snow, and I don’t do any maintenance on these BB until I change them.

  • bryan says:

    Tubulars are only practical for a road racer with a support vehicle following behind, I don’t see any “real world tangible benefits” at all for mtb, it looks more like an engineering exercise in what is possible but not really practical. It’s kinda like going to a SEMA show and gawking at all the awesome show cars, but in reality 99% of them never see pavement or even really driveable.

    • Alex says:

      Absolutement d´accord !!!…… that is a fact!, we are near to be the testers of impractical issues related with consumerism.
      Remember when it was a sin use the front crankset cog in 22, and the rear one in 22 (p.e.)?? ……. So, what happened now with the guys paying more than a thousand for the 1-11 ???? ……. i still asking…

  • Jory says:

    Maybe I missed it? Shimano XTR 1×11 – did they release it???

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