SLX or XT vs. NX or GX shifters- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    SLX or XT vs. NX or GX shifters

    Just test rode a bike with SLX drivetrain. Worked pretty good, but I really didn't like the long throw and fell of the SLX shifters. Was very hard to try to shift up 3 gears for example. I feel the throw is longer for someone for larger hands or longer thumb. Also did quick test ride of XT drivetrain and found it required too much force to shift. I like my 18 year old XT drivetrain better.

    But wonder how SRAM NX/GX feel compared to Shimano? Hope SRAM has a softer and shorter throw.

  2. #2
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    Throw is about the same, stiffness is more the rear derailluer, not the shifter (unless the shifter is wonky, cable issues) its the clutch being turned on and set too stiff at the derailluer.

    Sram really feels about the same in both areas. My XT shifter feels the same as my 10speed xt shifter, which was about the same as my GX.

    Throw is for leverage to move the stiffer derailluers now. The clutch and design make them require more effort to shift compared to old stuff.

    NX is bottom of the barrel, more like deore grade. GX is more slx/xt.

    Beyond that its personal preference but owning both they feel very similar in both throw and effort needed to shift. I prefer my xt double shift though. Drop through the cassette faster.

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  3. #3
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    From my observation Shimano's latest 11speed shifters need significantly more lever throw and force compared to Sram.

    I used to be a happy Shimano rider in 3x10 times but their current 11speed efforts are just embarrassing. The 2 gears at once upshift feature of the XT shifter sounds like an advantage on paper but in reality the Sram shifter is still faster due to its nearly non existing lever throw of the short thumb paddle (it's more of a click)

    Sram NX shifter is not recommended, no Matchmaker, cheaper feel compared to GX (although both should share the same internals ?)

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Calf View Post
    From my observation Shimano's latest 11speed shifters need significantly more lever throw and force compared to Sram.

    I used to be a happy Shimano rider in 3x10 times but their current 11speed efforts are just embarrassing. The 2 gears at once upshift feature of the XT shifter sounds like an advantage on paper but in reality the Sram shifter is still faster due to its nearly non existing lever throw of the short thumb paddle (it's more of a click)

    Sram NX shifter is not recommended, no Matchmaker, cheaper feel compared to GX (although both should share the same internals ?)

    I have SRAM and Shimano shifters. It used to be that Shimano stuff was "light action" and a lot of people started saying that Sram stuff was better because the shifts were "more positive" and it "clunked into gear" better. So now Shimano is much heavier and positive, even moreso than Sram. I find my XT levers take quite a bit more force than my Sram. The ability to upshift more than one gear is nice, but it's offset by the heavier action, which prevents me from keeping my thumb on the bar and just "knocking" the shifter with my knuckle to upshift, as I can with my Sram stuff because the action is much lighter. Both are good, but the Shimano is a little harder on my hands IMO. I'm usually a pretty big believer in buying at least XT level aftermarket.
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  5. #5
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    All - thanks for the feedback. Good to hear SRAM maybe a bit lighter in action and shorter in throw. I feel as if Shimano is going backwards - with their tech development.

    I'm going to testing out a bike with X01 Eagle - but I know that build kit is likely out of my price range, so I'm hoping the GX Eagle "performs and feels" similar - with albeit a weight penalty.

    I'm likely going to end up with GX Eagle given the 50 tooth cog will come in very handy where I ride.

  6. #6
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    From my experiance, Deore, SLX, and XT were all smoother shifting. Thats with each shifter matched with its rear derailer. They felt smooth, crisp, and percise. The XT's were my favorite. My experiance with both the GX and NX shifters and their matching rear derailers, is that the shifting is more clunky. Smooth and nice on one hand, and chuncky and clunky on the other.

  7. #7
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    I've noticed on both bikes with XT11 that the shifters broke in after a few rides and felt like I needed to push less hard yet still feel crisp. It does not feel like I'm getting use to it as my fat bike still has Saint 10-speed and they are similar. XT is a smidge harder but I like it and as parts wear will continue to buy XT 11.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aresab View Post
    I've noticed on both bikes with XT11 that the shifters broke in after a few rides and felt like I needed to push less hard yet still feel crisp. It does not feel like I'm getting use to it as my fat bike still has Saint 10-speed and they are similar. XT is a smidge harder but I like it and as parts wear will continue to buy XT 11.
    I do notice this on shimano. Things are a bit tight brand new but goes to normal within a ride or 2. But my GX shifter was similar, fairly stiff (which could have been the RD) till after a couple rides.

    Both work great, effort to me feels the same between the 2, XT a little better but it gets used ALOT more right now. GX is on my fat bike so used a lot less during warm months.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I have SRAM and Shimano shifters. It used to be that Shimano stuff was "light action" and a lot of people started saying that Sram stuff was better because the shifts were "more positive" and it "clunked into gear" better. So now Shimano is much heavier and positive, even moreso than Sram. I find my XT levers take quite a bit more force than my Sram. The ability to upshift more than one gear is nice, but it's offset by the heavier action, which prevents me from keeping my thumb on the bar and just "knocking" the shifter with my knuckle to upshift, as I can with my Sram stuff because the action is much lighter. Both are good, but the Shimano is a little harder on my hands IMO. I'm usually a pretty big believer in buying at least XT level aftermarket.
    This is my experience, exactly. My Pivot Les Fat came with XT 1x11. My Tallboy has 2x10 XT, no clutch. My arthritic thumb hated the 11 speed, even with the clutch off. Too stiff. I exchanged it for a 1x10 XT system and leave the clutch off. I'm now perfectly happy.


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  10. #10
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    Shimano clutches are known for being set stronger out of the box than sram, which can lead to a bit more force in shifting. I run XTR and my shift force is very light and if it every stiffened up I would look to ensure cable housing was in good condition then look to loosen clutch which is easy on Shimano derailleurs.

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  11. #11
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    I always drop the tension with Shimano clutches (10spd, too) ever since I bought one that was set so tight it would hardly move.

    I'd also like to second the comment about cables (poor routing/poor condition) as the often overlooked culprit.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by smoothmoose View Post
    Just test rode a bike with SLX drivetrain. Worked pretty good, but I really didn't like the long throw and fell of the SLX shifters. Was very hard to try to shift up 3 gears for example. I feel the throw is longer for someone for larger hands or longer thumb. Also did quick test ride of XT drivetrain and found it required too much force to shift. I like my 18 year old XT drivetrain better.

    But wonder how SRAM NX/GX feel compared to Shimano? Hope SRAM has a softer and shorter throw.
    If the ability to easily dump multiple gears in one go is a concern, you just can't beat gripshifters. They aren't as popular as they once were, but they still work great! And if you are concerned about thumb issues with using a paddle shifter, twist-shifters are definitely worth a try. I broke my thumb in '97 and to this day can't comfortably use a paddle shifter for any length of time. But since I've used and preferred gripshifters since '93, they'd still be my first choice even if I didn't have a wonky thumb!

  13. #13
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    I have XT 11sp, Deore 10sp (both are clutched) and Deore 9sp (non-clutched), and TBH I don't notice any significant difference between them in throw or effort required. I jump between bikes without issue.

    It could be that I'm not particularly sensitive to such changes, others may just be more picky. I generally do notice if I've left the clutch disengaged though. I wonder whether the bikes you tested are in need of a new shifter cable?

    I've never ridden any great length of time with SRAM shifters.

    Of my Shimano sets, I find the XT 11sp to have the most defined indexing/clicks, and I have absolutely no desire for nicer shifting.

  14. #14
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    I have 2 bikes with 10spd xt. One i dont ride as often and when i went for a ride recently the shifting was noticeably stiffer than the bike I ride everyday, so I do think they break in a bit with use. The old shimano system was less effort but it led to vagueness after awhile. My RDs don't have the clutch.

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