Many of you who know me know I'm not really much of a ShimaNO fan, but I have secretly been running a few of their [MTB] components for a long time.
Their shifters always seem to pull top coin for resale which helps if you buy a XT/XTR bike, but that's about it. The XTR shifters I had (pre-rapid rise) felt mushy at best. Even SRAM's pre-07 X.9 triggers were much more crisp than the Shimano shifters of today. That pretty much led me to SRAM shifters about 5 years ago, and I haven't looked back since.
Shimano's cassettes, on the other hand, are pretty damned good. I'm sure SRAM has improved their shifting over the years but when I had a mid-upper level cassette several years back, it just didn't shift that well and it was shot after one season of me not really racing that much. I've had 2 or 3 XT cassettes in rotation for about 3 years and they still shift very well. As I was looking at components to spec for my new bike I got to the cassettes and gave the SRAM a hella good look because A) I like SRAM. Alot. B)I don't like mixing components. 3)The SRAM spider is red.
Red is, afterall (ATMO), mountain biking's equivalent to the road's white.
Anyway, listed weight for the SRAM was 305g against a 260g for the XT. I like red, but 45g on a gamble when Shimano shifting is a known? Even I have to pass on the red for that. For 2008 Shimano came out with a new cassette, the CS M-770. I saw a picture of it and had to take a moment. They added five little nubs to the back of the spider pins to catch dropped chains and prevent jamming everything up in back.
These little nuggets would have saved me about 20 minutes at the XC National Championship last year since that exact fate cursed me. Out of pride I had to finish the race so I sat there for literally 20 minutes digging the chain out from behind the cassette. And me with no cassette lockring tool. Shame on me...
I'm a little concerned that the gears are not the nickel finish they used to be. I'm hopeful I don't have any durability issues as a result. Since I'm an AR clean bike person, it may not be an issue.
I was also rather disappointed when the new cassette weighed in at a portly 297g, but I will give up 40g to save 20 minutes. Trust me on that one.
Hopefully SRAM designers read my blog and decide to add the chain pins to their cassette. I also hope they've improved durability so that I can just get the damned SRAM cassette. My conscience will then let me sleep better at night knowing I'm running a same-brand drivetrain.
Plus it'll have a red spider.