An important question for any MTB rider out there: Should you ride SLX or DEORE? Let's dive into the key differences and common features of these hallmark MTB groupsets. 

Shifters may not have been the first invention on a bicycle, but they are definitely among the most important. The ability to alter the transmission between your crank and rear wheel sprockets while riding has changed the way we enjoy our cycling adventures. It allows us to adjust the force we apply to climb a hill or ride against the wind. And in many ways, shifter innovation is just getting started.


An important aspect is the number of sprockets per cassette. That is, the sprockets that are attached to the rear wheel and aligned in increasing order by size. The more sprockets there are, the smaller the jumps from one to the next, which means the chain will move more smoothly across the cassette when shifting. Currently, twelve sprockets are the standard, as we presented it for the first time with the high-end shifter group XTR a few years ago. Now, this modern technology is also available for budget-priced mountain bike groupsets. SHIMANO DEORE and SHIMANO SLX.


1x yes yes yes yes
2x yes yes no yes
Teeth 1x 30|32 30|32 30|32 30|32|34
Teeth 2x 36/26 36/26 x 36/26
Smallest sprocket (1x) 11 11 10 10
Largest sprocket (1x) 46 51 51 51
Smallest sprocket (2x) 11 11 - 10
Largest sprocket (2x) 42 42 - 45

Key differences between DEORE and SLX

The name DEORE represents cycling's harmony with nature and stems from the Japanese borrowed term for Deer. The SHIMANO DEORE groupset marks our entry into the world of mountain bikes. It was the first groupset for many MTB riders, and it remains their go-to travel companion to this day. 

SHIMANO SLX serves as the next step into a slightly more ambitious area, where value for money is a major purchasing factor. Utilizing more lightweight materials and components, such as the cassette and the HOLLOWTECH crank, SHIMANO SLX weighs a little less compared to DEORE. 1x12 SLX groupsets have a 34T chainring option, in addition to the 30 and 32 tooth versions it shares with SHIMANO DEORE.

SLX also marks our most price conscious double chainring version for 2x12 mountain bike shifter groupsets. SHIMANO DEORE is available with a double chainring, but only in combination with an 11 or 10-speed cassette. Something else to note about SLX: You can use the same crank arm with either one or two chainrings.

Common features of DEORE and SLX

SHIMANO DEORE and SHIMANO SLX have many technologies in common which have trickled down from their big siblings: SHIMANO XTR and SHIMANO DEORE XT.

Both SHIMANO SLX and SHIMANO DEORE are available with either one or two chainrings. Both are built to last and provide the highest level of safety with, for instance, strong performing four-piston disc brakes.

The cockpit has two shift levers with the SHIMANO 2-WAY RELEASE system, which allows gear shifts either by thumb action or by pulling with the index finger. Thanks to the RAPIDFIRE PLUS technology, you can change up to three gears at a time. However, the DEORE two-way shifters only allow you to shift up and down with RAPIDFIRE MONO technology, using only one lever.

At the other end of the bike, the rear derailleur stabilizes the chain using SHADOW RD+ technology, which prevents the chain from banging against the chainstay and from falling off the chainring.

As a result, the chain runs reliably and quietly. SHIMANO’s HYPERGLIDE+ system, which comes mounted on both SHIMANO SLX and SHIMANO DEORE, ensures fast and smooth shifting, even on extremely rough surfaces.

If you prefer two chainrings in the front for more gears and smaller jumps between gears, you can use slightly smaller rear sprockets. Mountain goats might prefer a SHIMANO DEORE 10-speed cassette or SHIMANO SLX with two chainrings, which offer a slightly higher gear reduction compared to one chainring, making it a little easier to pedal uphill. In contrast, with SHIMANO DEORE 11-speed, gear reduction is slightly higher thanks to the large 51T rear sprocket in the single chainring version.

Downward compatible

Because these groupsets share so many common features, they're also downward compatible. This means that 12-speed components from SHIMANO DEORE get along superbly also with SHIMANO SLX components. Only the SHIMANO SLX 34T chainring is exclusively designed for use in combination with a SHIMANO SLX derailleur.

Overview of our MTB shifter groupsets

Level Entry level Advanced Upper mid-range Premium
Di2 no no yes yes (only 1x11 & 2x11)
Combinations 1x12/1x11/1x10/2x11/2x10 1x12/2x12 1x12/2x12 1x12/2x12 (mechanical)
Brakes 2 or 4 piston 2 or 4 piston 2 or 4 piston 2 or 4 piston

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