Main use: mountain biking
Gears: 1×11, 2×11, 3×10
Buy it: individual components at Jenson USA
Shimano’s SLX is a group of mid-range mountain bikes with features that should appeal to most mountain bikers. It is offered in a 1×11 variant with a large-radius cassette that has a large, 46-tooth large tooth that facilitates single-rock climbing. Like many of the mountain bike transmissions, the SLX has a friction rear gear that limits the slap in the chain and helps reduce the displacement of the ghosts (see this guide to find out the basics of the gearbox).
The group of components is typically found on bicycles ranging from $ 1,700 to about $ 2,400. SLX occupies the center of the Shimano mountain bike transmission range. It was last updated in 2016, when it acquired style and functionality that Shimano had previously debuted on its top-end XTR and XT component groups. The current group also moved from the 10-speed to 11-speed rear cassette, acquired a single-ring 1x option and the brake lever received a sleeker and lighter design.
The choice is yours: 1x, 2x or triple crowns
SLX is positioned in the Shimano mountain bike line just below XTR and XT, but above Deore. Compared to the two higher-end groups, it uses less exotic materials and lower-end finishes. This keeps the price low, but adds a little weight. Shimano still sees benefits in twin and triple crown combos and offers SLX with one, two or three front crowns. Although the SLX is cheaper than Shimano’s more expensive component groups, it does not lack performance. In fact, the group has all the significant features and technologies that have found XT and XTR.
Highlights of the component
The SLX rear derailleur uses Shimano’s Shadow design, which translates into a thinner profile that is less likely to get caught on rocks and branches of ground, and – somewhat shielded from the frame – less likely to be bent or damaged in case of accident. Unlike the cage clutch of the pulleys always SRAM, Shimano is engaged with a lever on the body of the derailleur. Be sure to turn it on before driving or the chain may jump out of the front chain. The upper shifter of the rear derailleur (which moves in higher gears) works in two directions: it can be pushed forward or pulled back.
The Shimano cranks are offered in one axle. With the correct bottom bracket, the 24 mm steel axle adapts to any modern frame. SLX crowns feature profiled teeth that, according to Shimano, prevent the chain from bouncing over rough terrain.
The SLX hydraulic disc brakes share the same basic design, levers and gripper shapes with the higher end XT model. The brake levers use a flow adjustment without tools to move the lever position to better fit larger or smaller hands. Shimano uses mineral oil as a hydraulic fluid. Mineral oil is less caustic than the DOT fluid used by other brands (mainly SRAM) and does not absorb water like the DOT fluid, so it never needs to be changed. However, mineral oil may not work well at low temperatures, which is something to consider if you live and drive in very cold weather.