Video: We ride the new Shimano Saint

We’ve just returned from riding Whistler Bike Park on Shimano’s third generation Saint groupset and as you can see, we've given it a good thrashing. So, is it a Saint or a sinner? No surprise there, really – Shimano have pulled no punches with their halo downhill groupset and it's now better than ever.

Check out the helmet cam vid below for a look at the conditions we were testing in, and then read on to find out what we love about the new Shimano Saint.

Five heavenly virtues of the new Shimano Saint

1 Get a shift on

Shifting is lighter and crisper than with the old Saint. The levers are longer and have been textured to improve grip, and there's lots going on inside, too. You can shift multiple gears with a single push, and the release lever can be triggered with your finger or pushed with your thumb.

Shimano Saint M820 shifter. Picture by Rob Weaver

Shimano Saint M820 shifter. Picture by Rob Weaver

2 Silence is golden

The short-cage, 10-speed rear mech has a mode converter that allows it to be used with everything from road cassettes to 34-tooth all-mountain sprockets. We’re big fans of the B-tension bump stop and the adjustable clutch. This keeps chain slap to a minimum and makes the bike stealthily silent while maintaining a reliable, precise shift.

Shimano Saint M820 rear mech. Picture by Rob Weaver

Shimano Saint M820 rear mech. Picture by Rob Weaver

3 Braking news

Shimano have pushed the boat out here in a bid to manage heat and keep the brakes as consistent as possible when descending. There are new Ice Tech rotors, finned pads, ceramic pistons and extended banjos to keep things cool, while the re-modelled lever resembles that of Shimano's acclaimed XTR trail brake. Modulation is greatly improved, making the power far easier to control.

Shimano Saint M820 brake calliper. Picture by Rob Weaver

Shimano Saint M820 brake calliper. Picture by Rob Weaver

4 Pinned

Rather than make a new clipless downhill pedal, Shimano opted to add a flat pedal to the Saint line-up. The new platform is loosely based on their classic DX pedal but is 3mm wider and 8.5mm thinner. The nine pins per side are height adjustable with the addition/removal of a small washer and all thread through from the opposite side of the platform to ensure easy, reliable access. The grip on these things is phenomenal!

Shimano Saint MX80 pedal. Picture by Rob Weaver

Shimano Saint MX80 pedal. Picture by Rob Weaver

5 Crank it up

It’s hard to not mention the crankset. Saint cranks are the real workhorses of the groupset and have proved themselves year after year. Shimano claim to have shaved 100g off the previous model while maintaining the same stiffness. For 2013 they'll be single-ring specific.

Shimano Saint M820 crank. Picture by Rob Weaver

Shimano Saint M820 crank. Picture by Rob Weaver

Want to find out more? You can read a first ride review of the new Shimano Saint on BikeRadar, co-written by Weavs.

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