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Mountain Cassettes

Shimano XT CS-M8100 12 Speed Cassette

A cassette can look fairly simple or incredibly complex, yet any great shifting cassette requires extraordinary engineering and practical experience to produce. No bike component company owns as many shifting related patents as Shimano, with thousands of details covered. In developing the XTR version, Shimano went all out, and carried the important tech to the XT CS-M9100 12-Speed Cassette. So many aspects where brought together that it can seem like a unicorn among a field of thoroughbreds. Both the borderline ludicrous 10-51 and 10-45 versions are among the most interesting components of the M8100 series line-up, with a plethora of new technologies, striking combination of materials, and in the case of the the 10-51, sheer size.

First things first, the 12-speed CS-M8100 cassettes employ a new freehub body interface, called Micro Spline. Yes, a rear wheel with a Micro Spline freehub is required. The shorter interface features a keyed spline system, similar to a standard HG model in theory, but very different in practice. If you look at the back of the cassette you can see how the spider is built to allow the splined sections of the cassette and freehub interface and that the spider itself is concave, so the freehub goes deeper into the cassette. This one-piece Beam Spider construction features six extensions outwards from the center and carries the cogs. The two largest cogs are machined from aluminum, then anodized for protection. The lower 10 cogs are steel, and plated for hardness and corrosion resistance. While certainly heavier than XTR, the $160 price point is way more palatable than the $380 XTR version, which adds in machined titanium to drop weight and send the price into orbit. An alloy XT locking ring is still used, and actually features the same internal notch system as older Shimano cassettes so you can use the same HG tools you have been.

As impressive as the construction as, the true performance of the CS-M8100 12-Speed Cassette lives in the Hyperglide+ system that integrates chain and cog performance to deliver better chain engagement, stronger retention, and smoother pedaling to provide greater power and confidence over rapidly changing terrain. This definitive up and down shifting in both directions boosts smooth acceleration and response with a goal towards highly predictable and precise performance that helps riders adapt to drastically changing trail conditions by precisely judging the optimal shifting moment for consistently smooth operation. The shifts and steps among cogs feel more intuitive and natural, no matter what conditions the trail throws at you. Shimano believes that Hyperglide+ helps riders seamlessly maneuver rough trails by reducing pedaling shock and cutting shifting times by a 1/3 versus the current HG system. Overall the goal has been to reduce the time and effort required for shift points through spacing, tooth engineering, crank arm position and chain design, all of which lessens the pedaling shock you feel when shift point is engaged.

The 10-51 version of this cassette is the big deal as Shimano's 1x12 drivetrain seeks to take-on SRAM's Eagle 10-50 system. It is designed only for the 1x12 option and requires the use of the RD-M8100/M8120 SGS long cage rear derailleur. The 10-45 can be used with the GS or SGS models, as well as the RD-M8120 SGS trail-oriented 2x set-up. Shifts are quick, precise, intuitive and as seamless as anything we have seen for road or mountain drivetrains.

Features

  • 12-speed wide range cassette developed for XT M8100/8120 drivetrains
  • Built to improve speed, subtlety, and intuitive rider response without jarring effects, which lets you pedal continuously while shifting
  • New Micro Spine construction to engage shorter length Micro Spline freehub body
  • Increased acceleration by reducing inertia, weight by Beam Spider construction
  • Larger two cogs in anodized aluminum
  • Smaller ten cogs in plated steel
  • Alloy HG-tool style lockring
  • Hyperglide+ tooth-step design combines with M9100/M8100 chains for optimal shifts
  • Better chain engagement, stronger retention, and smoother pedaling
  • Definitive up & down shifting in both directions boosts confidence and performance
  • Ultra-efficient drivetrain with smoother power transmission
  • Reduces pedaling shock and cuts shifting times by a 1/3 vs. current HG system
  • Options:
    • 10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-33-39-45-51T
    • 10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32-36-40-45T
  • Requires Shimano Micro Spline freehub system
  • Weight: 470 grams (10-51T)