Wednesday, February 2, 2011

XT vs X9 Shifters: Conclusion

Just came back from a short but intense ride. Got to test out my Boardwalk fully, especially the shifters and the wheels. No problem with the wheels now, after I changed the tubes and put extra rim tape. Hopefully it holds with no further problems.

Comparing XT and X9 shifters: Conclusion
Disclaimer: XT shifter is being used with Ultegra RD, while X9 shifter is being paired with X9 RD. These different derailleurs may contribute to the difference in feel when using the shifters.

Both the XT and X9 shifts extremely well, both up and down the cassette. On the repair stand the X9 shifts better, but when riding the bike, both of them perform flawlessly.

The XT shifter is smoother, so smooth that sometimes I hardly feel the shift. The X9 has a more definite click when shifting, thus I always know when it has shifted. This tactile feedback is helpful as the X9 shifter does not come with gear indicator, while the XT does. I'm slowly learning to shift by feel and not refer to the gear indicator.

Also, the XT shifter mainly uses the thumb-finger combo to shift gears. Its quite good, as the thumb gets to rest sometimes. The instant release of the XT upshifting is really good, as it shifts almost immediately without waiting for the lever to recover.

On the other hand the X9 shifter uses thumb-thumb shifting, which is good in another way. For me I can switch easily between these two types of shifting, while some people cannot switch easily.

Final Say:
Both the XT and the X9 are almost the best that Shimano and SRAM has to offer for MTB shift levers, with the top end being XTR and X0. It is commonly said that the difference between XT and XTR (and X9 and X0) is the finish and presentation and price, with the shifting performance almost similar. Thus the XT or X9 is a good choice for those looking for top performance without the top end price.

If you want to use a Shimano road or MTB derailleur, get the XT shifter. Else if you like SRAM, get the X9 shifter and derailleur. I can't really recommend one over the other, because they are both excellent. If you die die need a gear indicator, get the XT. Also, you can choose based on your shifting preference (thumb-thumb or thumb-finger) or any good deal that you may come across.


  1. Just want to say with the xt (even with the low end deore's) you can use your thumb to upshift so if you prefer thumb-thumb shifting you can still go for the shimano shifters as they are multi-directional.

  2. I have a old XTR shifter on my MTB for 24 speed. Can I use it on my vitesse d18?

    1. 24 speed? that means you have a 3x8 shifter. cannot use on 2x9 speed Vitesse.

  3. Can I use Shimano Zee RD with XT Shifter, how does it compare to Shimano Zee Shifter?

  4. As long as they are of the same speed, it will work fine. Both XT and Zee use the same mechanism and work very similarly.

  5. Hi Steve,
    I've just removed my 10 Speed XT shifter from my Fatbike, intend to fix it on my Dahon Speed P8. What RD do you recommend to go with for compatibility? Currently also has a 105 Crank on it.

    1. A 10 speed Shimano MTB RD will be compatible with the XT shifter.

      I would actually recommend a 10 speed road shifter and RD to go with the 105 crankset, but it is not necessarily the only way to make it work.

      Using your XT shifter and a 10 speed Shimano MTB RD will also be compatible with the 105 crankset, you just need to use a 10 speed chain (road or MTB will be OK).

      For the RD, although you can use any 10 speed Shimano MTB RD, I would recommend the Shimano Zee 10 speed RD. This is because it has a shorter cage which would be more suitable for small wheeled bikes, as it can give more ground clearance.

  6. Thanks for the recommendation. If I was to use the Shimano 105 RD, check what flat bar road shifter would you recommend?

    1. You can use either the R780 or Tiagra 4600 flat bar shifters.