All too often, the cycling industry sells us technological breakthroughs and huge advancements in performance that are little more than marketing exercises. That's why we greeted news of Shimano's newest tech, the XTR FD-M9000-E Front Derailleur's side swing action, with some healthy skepticism. When we saw the video detailing the derailleur's benefits, we grew even more skeptical. And then we rode it ourselves and happily ate crow. The new XTR can be run as a 1x, but the side swing feature may be our favorite element of its 11-speed redesign because it makes front shifts feel like rear shifts. It's that smooth and responsive, and it's not something you want to miss out on.
The M9000-E's all new side swing design produces very light shifting by increasing the outward pull's strength by a claimed 100%. When shifting with side swing, the derailleur is pulled from the front, moving it out and forward to complement the chain's direction. The side pull mechanism obviously necessitates a change to the cable routing. The cable hops straight across to the derailleur from the down tube, eliminating extra length and unnecessary bends at the bottom bracket or seat tube/top tube joint. The combination of routing and side pull provides a 15% increase in shifting efficiency.
The side swing design also nets a total of 15mm of additional clearance, so it accommodates larger tires, longer travel, and shorter chainstays. There are also multiple mounting options, so if your needs change you just need a new mounting interface piece, not a new derailleur. This particular model, the M9000-E, comes with an E-type mount, which attaches to the bottom bracket flange instead of a seat tube clamp. An additional bolt anchors the derailleur in place to a braze-on clamp.
The Shimano XTR FD-M9000-E Front Derailleur accommodates triple drivetrains with chain rings up to 40 teeth and a capacity of 18 teeth. Please note that these values can't be adjusted.