2009 is shaping up to be a pretty stellar year for Shimano-loving all mountain and gravity riders. Not long after the unveiling of the 2009 SLX line for aggressive riders on a budget, Shimano is showing off a redesigned Saint M810 line for next year. The new Saint gear boasts all of the expected incremental improvements that come along with a refresh, such as trimmed weight and increased strength and stiffness. Beyond that gloss, however, there are some interesting features that should put Saint back on top for freeride and all-mountain rigs. Read on for a look at what the new Saint brings to the table.
First, and most noticeably, the new Saint brakes mark Shimano’s return to a four piston caliper, which haven’t been seen since the dearly missed original XT disc brakes. Bucking the trend of one-piece calipers, the new Saint caliper is a two-piece unit held together by four torx bolts, and Shimano claims that this results in a caliper which is 9% stiffer than a one-piece unit. The pistons contained in those chunky new calipers are of two different sizes, which should provide better modulation of all that power.
The levers are brought up to speed with Servo Wave action, which is already seen on a handful of other Shimano levers. Coupled with the new calipers, the brakes are said to offer 50% more stopping power than the units they replace. We never found the outgoing Saints to be lacking in power, but one-finger braking should now be easier than ever.
The new Saint cranks follow the trend of half-legible enormous white letters started by the Truvativ Noir, and have shed 90 grams over the outgoing Saint cranks. The steel pedal insert remains on the new cranks, and Shimano has managed to narrow the q-factor slightly. Lest you think that these lighter, narrower cranks are noodles under your tree-trunk legs, Shimano says that the new Saint crankset is 200% stiffer than the already stiff XT cranks. The new Saint cranks are to be offered in single or double ring options.
Following the lead of the XT and SLX derailleurs, the new Saint cog-swapper will be of the Shadow variety, meaning that it stays tucked safely away from rocks and roots. Gone is the annoying direct axle mount of the previous derailleur, replaced by a conventional mount on the dropouts. A skid plate is integrated into the lower part of the derailleur’s cage, which should help prevent trailside debris from getting tangled up in the unit. Shimano claims that a very impressive 100 grams have been saved compared to the previous Saint rear derailleur.
Up front, there is a new Saint front derailleur. The all-new unit is for dual rings only, and matches up with the 22-36 dual ring crankset option. The Saint front derailleur is nice and compact, which should give some extra mud clearance on some frames.
The 2009 Saint shifters are all about giving you options. The 2-Way Release mechanism let you operate the release lever by pushing or pulling, and a new mounting bracket allows the shifters to be mounted on either side of the brake levers.
The new Saint hubs are where the most weight has been saved, and each hub weighs a stellar 100 grams less than the models they are replacing. Combined, this results in a weight savings of close to half of a pound in the wheels, which is a great improvement in the most weight sensitive part of the bike. The freehub bearings are now placed further apart for more stiffness, and in typical Shimano fashion, the hubs are built around fully serviceable cup and cone bearings. Perhaps the best improvement is that the centre lock rotor mount has been scaled down to the same size as the rest of Shimano’s hubs, meaning that you can now use any centre lock rotor.
Overall, it looks like Shimano hasn’t held any punches in redesigning the Saint line. The lighter weight should increase the group’s appeal to all-mountain riders and gravity racers, and the loss of proprietary ‘features’ such as direct-mount rear derailleurs and oddball centre lock rotor sizing mean that Saint gear will play nice with the rest of your non-Shimano parts.