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 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.|
|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.