Recently I reluctantly upgraded my shifting system to 10 speed on my downhill bike to accommodate the new Shimano Zee derailleur and shifter. ‘Reluctantly’, because I feel I don’t need an extra gear whilst pelting down hills cause I can barely think about when I need to brake let alone what gear I’m in, although that’s probably a sign that I should start thinking about my gears more.
However I upgraded for a reason, they have introduced an new feature to their downhill and free ride specific derailleurs : The clutch feature. This is a simple lever which can be either on or off and in doing so allows the lower part of the mech to swing freely or not in one direction. This in theory will eliminate the noise and the horrible chips you get on your beloved bike from the chain slapping against your chain stay.
Well after riding it on the weekend I can say that the derailleur delivers exactly what you would expect form Shimano: impeccable silky smooth shifting which is undeniably reliable. The shifting feels fantastically solid and accurate whilst being so smooth you can barely tell you changed gear.
But what about the new hailed ‘Clutch feature’? Well I can say in my opinion, from personal experience it is a revelation! My bike was so quite over heavy rough stuff and never made a sound on the bigger single hits from drops and jumps. It genuinely took a while too get used to how much quieter it was, it really baffled me. The clutch didn’t change the performance of the shifting for me and I only needed to flick it off for taking my wheel out to fit my bike in the car.
All in all Shimano have hit the Jackpot. They have finally introduced a affordable younger brother to the Saint group set and equipped it with the best features allowing us poorer downhiller to enjoy the wonder of a ‘clutch derailleur’. It comes in at around £70 RRP and approximately 250g which is nearly half the price of the Saint but a tad heavier.
Although it was pricey to upgrade chain, cassette and shifter I am really glad I did and I will keep you updated with any problems I encounter.
Please comment and share your own experiences or simply ask a question below…