Shimano Mountain Bike Groupset Hierarchy [All You Need to Know About] – Beginner’s Guide

For almost 100 years, Shimano has built an empire on the strength of its bike components and Groupsets (as well as a flashy range of fishing reels) it is a well-known brand for Mountain Bike Groupsets.

Shimano Mountain Bike Groupsets have increasingly diverged from their road-going counterparts, and become more robust and better suited to the requirements of modern mountain biking.

Shimano has spearheaded much of the innovation that has driven this change, creating sophisticated components and designs that push the boundaries of what mountain bikes and their riders can achieve.

In this blog, we will explain to you the most important features to focus on Mountain Bike Groupset, the pros and cons of Groupset along with approximate price, and to which level rider it is best suited for.

Prepare for lengthy information and don’t worry, we made it as simple as possible.

Components of mountain bike Groupsets include:

Generally when people are talking about “Groupsets”, the focus is on all of the bits that run between the pedals and the rear wheel (also called the drivetrain). Normally this Groupset comprises front and rear derailleurs, shifters, chainset, bottom bracket, chain, cassette, and brakes.

If you want to dive straight in, here’s a quick-glance guide, from entry-level (top) to high performance (bottom) in the Shimano Mountain Bike Groupset range:

Shimano’s mountain bike Groupset hierarchy, from least expensive and technologically-advanced to most, is as follows:

Shimano MTB Groupset

1. Shimano Tourney

Shimano Tourney

Approximate Price: SGD 100

The range starts with Tourney, which is usually found on department-store or children’s bikes and comes in a few different configurations depending on its intended application, whether that’s touring, road, or very light mountain biking.

Tourney received its latest update in 2020 getting two new 6- and 7-speed mechs and further updates to the shifters, front mechs, cranks, and cassettes.

The Groupset is available in 6-, 7- and 8-speed systems combined with triple or double cranksets.

2. Shimano Altus M2000

Shimano Altus M2000

Approximate Price: SGD 130

Next is Altus, this is the group you’re likely to find on entry-level mountain bikes.

The latest version of Altus offers a 9-speed cassette with a triple crankset with 40/30/22t chainrings.

The Altus rear derailleur doesn’t use Shimano’s Shadow Plus clutch technology for chain stability, but it does use the Shadow design, which refers to a lower profile to reduce the likelihood of damage from obstacles on the trail.

Our Shimano Altus M2000 Product

3. Shimano Acera M3000

Shimano Acera M3000

Approximate Price: SGD 110

Acera follows next. This group starts to introduce corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel on certain components.

It’s a 9-speed group that can be used with a 40/30/22 triple crankset or a 36/22 double crankset. It offers a wider range of 11-36 cassette.

4. Shimano Alivio M3100

Shimano Alivio M3100

Approximate Price: SGD 150

Shimano Alivio sits just above Acera. Like Acera, this 9-speed group is available with a triple or double crankset. We consider Alivio Shimano’s starting point if you’re seeking a trail-worthy mountain bike.

It’s the first of Shimano’s mountain groups to use a two-piece crankset with an external bottom bracket for increased stiffness. Acera uses an octal link bottom bracket, while Altus and Tourney rely on square-taper bottom brackets.

For 2020, the Alivio Groupset received some updates to the front derailleurs, gear shifters, cranks, cassette, and chain.

5. Shimano Deore M6100, M5100, M4100

Shimano Deore M6100 M5100 M4100
Approximate Price: SGD 300

Deore is the tireless workhorse of the range. Striking a balance between performance and value, Deore is to be found on countless bikes. It might drop rear cog numbers down from eleven to ten but the reliability cannot be faulted. There are times when you would be hard pushed to notice much difference in the shifting performance compared to the more expensive offerings.

Deore is aimed at the entry to an intermediate level mountain biker and is perhaps the most popular too. Deore is durable, reliable, and features much of the technology found on the more expensive SLX and XT. Deore currently has ten cogs on the cassette and a choice of two or three gears at the front. Some bike brands do equip Deore on bikes with a single chainring, but Shimano themselves don’t offer the Groupset in such a setup. Deore is Shimano’s first Groupset to offer a clutch-equipped rear derailleur.

Our Shimano Deore M6000 Products

6. Shimano SLX M7100

Shimano SLX M7100

Approximate Price: SGD 330

SLX M7100 is a very important group in the Shimano hierarchy. This is the first group to share the same number of speeds as XT and XTR in a more budget-friendly package.

Generally speaking, SLX offers the same features and functions as the upper-end groups at a higher weight and marginally lower shift quality.

Standout features include a 12-speed cassette offered in 10-45 and 10-51t options.

7. Shimano Dore XT M8050

Shimano Dore XT M8050

Approximate Price: SGD 400

This is the Di2 electronic shifting version of Shimano’s XT drivetrain. However, the M8050 series hasn’t had the same updates as the cable operated XT Groupset when the M8100 series was released, staying as an 11-speed system.

The advantage of the electronic system is consistent gear shifts and very low maintenance. Another perk of Di2 is sequential shifting, AKA Synchro Shift, whereby both the front and rear derailleurs are operated with a single control, and the system decides whether to shift at the front or rear for the next closest jump.

The Deore XT M8050 Di2 Groupset shares the same crankset, cassette, chain, and brakes of the respective XT 11-speed mechanical Groupsets.

8. Shimano Deore XT M8100

Shimano Deore XT M8100

Approximate Price: SGD 800

Like the M8050 XT series Groupset, Shimano’s headline electronically-shifting XTR Di2 M9050 is only 11-speed compatible and shared most of its components with the top-tier M9000 Groupset when it was available. Now that XTR’s M9100 is 12-speed, a full-house 11-speed XTR Groupset is trickier to find.

And like the XT Di2 group, it has Synchro Shift and can be powered from the in-built battery on an electric mountain bike.

Some downsides include the high cost and remembering to occasionally recharge the battery if you’re running the Di2 system on an ‘acoustic’ bike.

9. Shimano XTR M9050

Shimano XTR M9050

Approximate Price: SGD 800

Like the M8050 XT series Groupset, Shimano’s headline electronically-shifting XTR Di2 M9050 is only 11-speed compatible and shared most of its components with the top-tier M9000 Groupset when it was available. Now that XTR’s M9100 is 12-speed, a full-house 11-speed XTR Groupset is trickier to find.

And like the XT Di2 group, it has Synchro Shift and can be powered from the in-built battery on an electric mountain bike.

Some downsides include the high cost and remembering to occasionally recharge the battery if you’re running the Di2 system on an ‘acoustic’ bike.

10. Shimano XTR M9100

Shimano XTR M9100

Approximate Price: SGD 880

XTR is the pinnacle of Shimano’s range and is often used for racing purposes. XTR combines top-end design with lightweight materials, such as high-grade alloys, carbon fiber, and titanium. It’s common for XTR to offer features that no other Groupset level receives, such as multi-shift release when downshifting.

The latest M9100 group has four different drivetrain options to choose from. There’s a wide-range 1×12 drivetrain with a massive 10-51t cassette, a tighter range 1×12 drivetrain with a 10-45t cassette, a 2×12 drivetrain with a 10-45t cassette, and a 1×11 option designed to save weight with a 10-45t cassette.

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