Final prototypes of Shimano's SLX range have been passed and will go on sale from July. With Shimano's lead times causing mayhem for the majority of the industry, the announcement comes with a production increase of 2009 model year parts.
2009 will likely see the SLX group take over the LX territory from XC to freeride. The SLX is styled not to dissimilar to the XTR, with the brake levers alone offering similar technologies to that of the top of the line models, such as 20 per cent more power during braking. Another feature of the new lever is tool-free reach adjustment.
The new SLX derailleurs, available in both medium and long-cage models, will weigh in at 260g. The shifters are two-way release triggers, allowing for upshift. The pods feature a removable gear display, which is positioned so you can use one finger on the brake and still comfortably reach the shifter.
Expect to see many of the SLX components on next years bikes, including front and rear hubs, which will come in both 9mm quick release and 20mmm through-axle options for the front.
In other Shimano news, Fox and Shimano have developed a compromise between quick release and the chunky 20mm through-axle. The companies have developed a 15mm XTR hub that's 100g lighter than the M976 20mm model, best suited to downhill and heavier off-road riding. The design retains the 100mm over-locknut measurements of conventional hubs. It appears that the new 15mm design is open to development for other companies.