Shimano has been steadily upgrading its road drivetrain hierarchy for the past several years now, benevolently delivering trickle-down technology to its more wallet-friendly groupsets to keep improving its designs across price points. Fortunately, the brand hasn't neglected the practice on the mountain side of things either, and this year treated its workhorse SLX groupset to a full 11-speed upgrade. Now built with sleek XT aesthetics and the durability we've always associated with Shimano, SLX looks to recapture some of the pre-spec'd bike build market with its up-to-date technology and accessible mid-range price point.
Aiming to appeal to a range of riders and preferences, Shimano made SLX available in several different configurations, with the FC-M7000 2x Boost Crankset created for riders who prefer the gear range of a double chainring and the increase in stiffness of Boost spacing. It benefits from Shimano's Hollowtech II aluminum construction, which consists of a careful cold-forging process that results in stiffer, lighter crank arms than their solid counterparts would be. Rather than making one standard design for each configuration, Shimano adapted its construction details to each configuration, giving the FC-M7000 close gear ratio combinations so that you experience as little lag time in between shifts as possible — especially helpful when you have seconds to drop into a low gear before a steep roller or are trying to accelerate quickly heading into a flat stretch.
The chainrings themselves now boast teeth built with Shimano's Dynamic Chain Engagement technology, which suit them to manage different power outputs depending on the ring. This improves shifting overall by delivering more tailored shifts, along with an always-welcome increase in stiffness and improved chain retention. Shimano also made improvements to the FC-M7000's bottom bracket, developing better seals to guard against invading trail grit and water for this year. Though you won't get the Di2 compatibility or weight savings that SLX's older sibling, XT, promises, the FC-M7000 narrows the gap between the two groupsets considerably and presents a hardworking, dependable option that's been brought up-to-speed to modern standards.