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  1. #1
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    Shimano Alivio vs. SLX vs. Deore XT

    Hi all,

    Sorry for the noob question, but I can't seem to get a straight answer anywhere else. I'm a beginner MTBer, just bought a Fuji Outland 29er with Alivio components. I'm going to Moab in a month with my father in law who's an avid road cyclist, but has been out of the MTB scene for a while. I also will be doing intermediate trails about once or twice per week, along with road riding another two times per week as well. My question is, should I follow all the salesman advice at my LBS and upgrade to an SLX rear derailer, cassette, and shifter? I'm told the Alivio isn't made for MTBing, but then I think why would Fuji put them on if it wouldn't do well? In any case, I obviously don't want any major problems out in Moab or elsewhere, so I'm just not sure if I should play it safe and go with the SLX upgrades or if Alivio will be fine until I'm doing more technical rides.

    Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by howetechnical View Post
    My question is, should I follow all the salesman advice at my LBS and upgrade to an SLX rear derailer, cassette, and shifter? I'm told the Alivio isn't made for MTBing, but then I think why would Fuji put them on if it wouldn't do well? In any case, I obviously don't want any major problems out in Moab or elsewhere, so I'm just not sure if I should play it safe and go with the SLX upgrades or if Alivio will be fine until I'm doing more technical rides.
    So the sales person sold you a new bike then is trying to sell you parts for your brand new bike? That sounds like a pretty crooked bike shop. They should have sold you on a higher end bike from the beginning, you get a much much better deal by buying bikes complete than you do from piecing them together.

    My take is you should ride what you have until they break. Keep your bike in good mechanical functioning order and you won't have any more or less issues with Alivio than you will with others. The lower end components don't last as long as the more expensive ones do, but they're not just going to grenade out in the middle of nowhere where an SLX would keep going. If you break something in the desert, it probably would have still happened if it were SLX, XT, or XTR.

    If it's going to be something that keeps you up at night, then by all means upgrade. But I would suggest SLX minimum if you're going to spend the money. And here's my take on particular parts:

    • Rear derailleur: the Shimano "Shadow" rear derallieurs are a good way to get an actual upgrade out of your purchase. The Shadow stuff tucks your derailleur out of the way of rogue rocks and sticks a bit better, I think it's a worthwhile upgrade. I believe SLX is the minimum level to get this feature. Otherwise the Deore level is fine.
    • Cassette: No way would I upgrade this just to upgrade it. The only feature a beginner might notice in a different cassette is a small decrease in weight. Not worth it as the minimum upgrade I would suggest is XT level to get any significant weight savings. There are also shifting improvements, but they're minor in my opinion.
    • Shifter: very expensive to upgrade but they're the most important part of upgrading the way your bike actually changes gears. If you want an improvement in shifting you don't get it from derailleurs you get it from shifters. If you're going to bother changing them, get SLX or better.


    In my opinion, here's what you should be spending your money on:
    • Fit/Feel: Spend money on your saddle, your grips, get some GOOD pedals (don't let someone talk you into clipless pedals if you're not 100% confident on the trails you ride, they're not worth the trepidation they cause most people at first), and get some good riding gear like gloves and shorts.
    • Tires: Tires are a great way to get an upgrade on a bike. I personally like higher volume tires (2.3"+) which give you more traction and cushion but roll a bit slower.
    • Replacing broken parts: this is going to happen, I would just wait to upgrade your bike parts until it does.


    Remember to carry a spare derailleur hanger with you when you're in Moab, it can be a hanger snapping festival out there depending on the trail.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply, and for the advice on the extra hanger. I'll pick one up today and put it in my pack.

    I've already got an upgraded saddle, some Shimano SPD pedals to go with my Pearl iZumi shoes (I got used to them a few years ago when I biked for a couple of months) and a better set of tires, like you mentioned. The only thing I haven't bought is the upgraded components, which I'm glad you went into detail about. The durability factor was my most pressing issue, but if I were to break something accros the board (Alivio not being singled out as less durable), then I might as well keep with this set for a while until I really will notice and need the XT or higher.

    It's tempting to try out the 26er with SLX / SRAM X0 components, but I think I just like the frame and 29" wheels too much for the extra $300 on the GT 2.0.

    Then again, maybe I'll just keep these and upgrade to XTR when the need arrises.

    Thanks again for being so helpfull. By the way, it was a different salesperson(s) that recommended the upgraded components than the one who sold me the bike. I went on my first ride on the bike (a 2 hour, +/- 30 mile ride) on the road only and wound up with a bent hanger, which is odd because I never shifted on uphills, never set the bike down, and only transported on a bones rack without anything touching the gears. I'm thinking it was already bent when I bought it, but it was an opportune time for them to try and upsell.

  4. #4
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    I raced an Acera/Alivio blend for a while. My bike now has a Deore/Deore LX/SLX blend on it, but I agree with the above - the problem, such as it is, with the Alivio level is that the wear life isn't great. If your components are working, they're working. Don't worry about it. I think Deore is a kickass value. Shimano's not loud about it, but there's a Shadow rear derailleur for Deore, and it's quite nice. It may have some more steel in it than the SLX rear derailleur, but whatever - it does its job.

    If I was buying a replacement part, I probably wouldn't go sub-Deore unless I was having a really bad month.

    Do you have the 2.0 or the 3.0? I think zebra gives some great upgrade suggestions. For the 3.0, I'd be thinking about a new fork too.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I raced an Acera/Alivio blend for a while. My bike now has a Deore/Deore LX/SLX blend on it, but I agree with the above - the problem, such as it is, with the Alivio level is that the wear life isn't great. If your components are working, they're working. Don't worry about it. I think Deore is a kickass value. Shimano's not loud about it, but there's a Shadow rear derailleur for Deore, and it's quite nice. It may have some more steel in it than the SLX rear derailleur, but whatever - it does its job.

    If I was buying a replacement part, I probably wouldn't go sub-Deore unless I was having a really bad month.

    Do you have the 2.0 or the 3.0? I think zebra gives some great upgrade suggestions. For the 3.0, I'd be thinking about a new fork too.
    I've got the 3.0. Funny thing is, the salesperson said that the fork was actually one of the selling points, along with the frame. This kind of stuff is why I hate buying expensive items without being fully knowledged, but when working in a time crunch of buying one and building endurance in only a month, I'm prepared to end up paying a little extra down the road for improving the parts. But I guess for $1100, the 3.0 is still a nice buy for what it is.

  6. #6
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    That's not much for a FS bike. So there are bound to be some cut corners.

    Nice suspension forks don't have to cost that much if you don't want them to. There are some well-regarded ones for as little as $200. The thread comes up a ton - do a search.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by howetechnical View Post
    I went on my first ride on the bike (a 2 hour, +/- 30 mile ride) on the road only and wound up with a bent hanger, which is odd because I never shifted on uphills, never set the bike down, and only transported on a bones rack without anything touching the gears. I'm thinking it was already bent when I bought it, but it was an opportune time for them to try and upsell.
    Very likely the hanger was bent from the start. It happens all the time.

    Remember there are two types of durability, long term and short term. The short term durability will be roughly the same no matter the level; if you hit a derailleur on a rock they would all react roughly the same no matter how expensive they are. The long term durability is what changes from level to level; the more you spend the longer they typically last. Because I'm expecting you to have the same short term durability no matter what is on your bike, just wait until things start to function poorly before you replace them.

    A huge point is to make sure you keep your bike functioning at the highest level possible. If you keep everything adjusted properly and all the nuts and bolts tight then your bike will last longer and work better no matter what parts are attached to it. If you're worried about your bike before a big trip like Moab, take it in to the shop a week or two before you leave and have them tune it up but make sure you always take it on a ride before you head off to your remote destination. Shops are only human so if they make a mistake tuning your bike you need to catch it before you leave town.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  8. #8
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    I'm running a Deore Shadow, RD-M592 on the rear of one of my bikes. It shifts great, positive, crisp and the spring is very strong. You would definitely feel the difference over the alivio in the rear at your shifter. On my path bike, I just put a new Alivio 9 speed, RD-M430 and it also shifts excellent. It is a much lighter feel at the shift lever, but it works well. One last thing, the only difference I can tell on the Deore vs. SLX in the rear is the SLX has an aluminum outer link, the deore is all steel which adds a few grams. If they were close in price, get the SLX. I got a few Deore models when they were priced arounf $40 so shop around and price match if you can.

  9. #9
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    My original bike a '94 trek 850 came with alivio shifters... it's a 94 and still has original set up on it. I rode that bike for work at French Creek State Park (yes I was a bike ranger) and did 30 plus miles per day. Still have that bike (retired from work use of course) but the shifters still work and is my back up bike. I had to replace cogs and chains from extended trail use riding over down trees etc, but never changed the shifters. I now have a GF Hifi Plus with Deore shifters and don't really notice a difference. I was actually a little disapointed, I figured the new bike would be much better at shifting, but I don't really notice a difference.... of course it is full suspension and has hydraulic brakes but the shifting seems the same... well except the 3X9 instead of my old3X7. Guess time will tell, but If I were you I'd just use the stock stuff until it breaks or wears out.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    [*]Rear derailleur: the Shimano "Shadow" rear derallieurs are a good way to get an actual upgrade out of your purchase. The Shadow stuff tucks your derailleur out of the way of rogue rocks and sticks a bit better, I think it's a worthwhile upgrade. I believe SLX is the minimum level to get this feature. Otherwise the Deore level is fine.
    In my experience the Shadow derailers are fragile. The top plate that bolts to the bike is thin and bends easily. Even a minor bend of this plate caused by the drivetrain ingesting a few thin weeds ruins the derailer. I would recommend standard SLX or XT rear derailers.

  11. #11
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    long time since your post but now m610 group deore 10 speed has all m670 slx features, which is more worthwhile? currently have acera 8 speed.........

  12. #12
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    Are you still on the same bike, bud?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Creet6 View Post
    long time since your post but now m610 group deore 10 speed has all m670 slx features, which is more worthwhile? currently have acera 8 speed.........
    You can get Shadow Plus on Deore now for the rear derailleur so you can go with that. I like an XT cassette for the hub protecting carrier.

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