Wednesday, 25 April 2012

2013 Shimano Zee

Alongside its new Saint components, Shimano has also announced another gravity-oriented group pitched at a lower price point. It's called Zee, derived from "zero" apparently. "ZEE will give their riders a sense of freedom when they hit ‘zero gravity’ on the extreme trails!" it says here. Let no-one say that Shimano isn't down with the kids.

This isn't the first time that Shimano has launched affordable freeride parts. Hone was launched the year after the original Saint into a similar position, with a similar axle-mounting derailleur and through-axle hubs. Like the original Saint it was only a partial group, and never really took off -- other than the rear mech, the rest of Hone was a bit too much like the same year's LX group with a lick of black paint.

Zee, though, looks like a much better effort, being a lot closer to Saint in spirit. Here's the full lineup:


Taking a closer look at the various bits and bobs, it's clear that Zee has most of the useful features of Saint -- it's very much as SLX is to XT, which is no bad place to be.

Zee mech looks broadly similar to the Saint one with a short cage and Shadow+ anti-chainslap goodness. Rather than Saint's close-or-wide ratio adjuster chip you have to choose a cage angle at time of purchase depending on what cassette you want to use, though. There'll be 11-25 or 11-28 for DHey stuff or 11-32/34/36 for more all-round use.



Zee shifter. Not much more to say about it, really. Saint-style longer levers, two-way release, I-Spec compatible so it can share a clamp with a brake lever. And there's only a right-hand one.
Zee's brakes are again superficially similar to Saint's, although the lever doesn't have a handy adjuster knob. Four-pot caliper has the same differing-diameter ceramic piston magic as Saint but you don't get finned pads or cool-running Icetech rotors. Both of those can be added later if you want, though -- the calipers are compatible with the Saint items.

Single-ring chainset looks quite a lot like the current Deore crank -- it's certainly not as single-ring specific as Saint. You get a steel axle and pedal inserts, though, with a choice of 34, 36 or 38t chainrings.

Front hub is only available in 100x20mm, while the rear can be had as 135x10/12, 142x12 or 150x12, which covers most of the bases.
No word on weights or prices yet, although I'd expect it to be somewhere around SLX money when it goes on sale in July.

Commercial Break
Browse Shimano components at Chain Reaction Cycles, Wiggle, Evans or Merlin.

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