Shimano Linkglide for ebikes – first ride

It’s been more than a year since Shimano introduced the Linkglide drivetrain. I remember asking Shimano about availability back then. It’s available to order as of now, they said. But I’m not sure many people has bought this drivetrain so far; this is the first time we’ve seen it. Watch the video review, or keep on reading below.

2 versions

Shimano says the Linkglide is a more durable drivetrain that shifts consistently. The test bike is a 2022 Merida eOne-Sixty 975 that comes with the Shimano M8130. That’s the Linkglide XT 11-speed drivetrain with an 11-50t cassette. There is also a cheaper 10-speed Deore version, the M5130 with an 11-43t cassette.

Linkglide XT cassette

As opposed to the Shimano 12-speed cassettes, the Linkglide cassettes comes with 11 teeth on the smallest cog. Consequently, the cassette fits the regular HG style cassette bodies. And our test bike of course has a cassette body made of steel. That’s the way to go for ebikes!

We’ve heard the cassette was heavy, so we put it on our scale. It returned 784 g, that’s around 200 g more than the Shimano 12-speed cassettes. Sure, that’s a lot. But I guess this is how it has to be.

Shimano XT Linkglide

Linkglide XT chain

Naturally, we expected the chain was heavy too. But the scale said 264 g, that’s just 6 g more than the 12-speed Deore, SLX and XT chains, all cut to fit a Merida eOne-Sixty. Does that mean the chain isn’t super durable? Well, it remains to be seen. We only had time for a few rides on this bike, so we don’t know.

Shimano Linkglide

Holding the chain in our hands, it felt different to the 12-speed chains. It felt more loose and it had quite a bit of sideways flex. Previously, minimal chain flex has been an indication of quality and manufacturing precision. But it makes sense on this chain. The sideways flex will probably reduce the risk of snapping the chain when shifting under load.

Linkglide chain flex

Riding the Linkglide XT

Shifting under load isn’t a new thing. This works well on the 12-speed Shimano drivetrains too. But I find they have to be precisely tuned to shift with any smoothness. And I find myself adjusting the gear wire tension quite often.

Shimano Linkglide features

I kept tuning the wire tension on the Linkglide XT too, but that’s to be expected on a brand-new bike. The hoses and plugs need some time to seat before the wire tension settles. I think this was getting better on the third ride. And I believe this Linkglide gear stays tuned for a longer time than the Shimano 12-speed versions. But we really need to ride it more to say for sure.

The Linkglide XT too must be perfectly tuned to shift well under load. Turning the wire tensioning barrel on the shifter just one click will reduce shifting performance noticeably. Then I’m more anxious to shift while pedaling standing up in Turbo mode. Sure, that’s not how we are used to ride derailleur gear systems. But it felt okay with a correctly tuned Linkglide XT. Whether the gear system will handle this kind of use over time remains to be seen.

Shimano Linkglide XT M8130 shifter

The Shimano XT M8130 shifter feels a lot like the 12-speed Deore and SLX shifters. It allows for multiple shifts to lower gear ratios. When shifting to a higher gear, it will only shift one gear at the time. Just like the Deore and SLX.

Shimano Linkglide XT M8130 rear deraileur

Conclusion

 We’re happy to see more durable derailleur gear systems on the market. Worst case, the longevity of a 12-speed chain can be just a few hundred kilometres. We expect the Linkglide chains will last much longer. XT M8130 Linkglide shifts well. We can largely decide ourselves when we want to shift, not just when the terrain allows it.

  1. Maybe i missed something?
    What is the weight difference between this 11/43 10S and my regular Deore 10S 11/46?
    What is the price differenc?
    What is the longevity difference?
    I hope SRAM offers something better because here i see no reason to buy.
    Heavier, more expensive, less range = no improvement in my opinion.
    I guess they are selling a more sticker
    EBIKE . . . . not my cup of …
  2. Been waiting to buy one of these once they are readily available. Sick of wrecking a SRAM 10-42 cassette every 300 miles or so.
    Couldn’t take my eyes off that dork disc though 🤣
  3. With a claimed 300% increase in life, I’m keen to put this to the test but I’ve had the 10 speed kit on order since February and my local bike shop is telling me the cassette is down for march 2023 delivery!
    Crazy!
  4. We didn’t test the M5130.

    Been waiting to buy one of these once they are readily available. Sick of wrecking a SRAM 10-42 cassette every 300 miles or so.
    Couldn’t take my eyes off that dork disc though 🤣

    Yeah. We considered removing the dork disc. But we decided it’s better not to removing anything that isn’t ours. Who doesn’t love a shiny transparent thing…

  5. Is this a long term set up? Logically that is the requirement to put the claimed benefits to the test.
  6. Just ordered the 10 speed setup for my Levo to replace the 11 speed SRAM. :)
    Ordered the cassette and derailleur from the UK and the shifter (without display) and chain from Germany.

    [edit] Nope. the UK shop just emailed to say they don’t have stock of the mech or cassette :mad: They have a date of jan 2023 for the mech, but no date for the cassette :mad:

    Anyone seen stock of the 10speed cassette and mech?

    At least i have the shifter without a display i guess, since no shops in the UK list it. :rolleyes:

  7. Hi @knut7
    Thank you for those links.
    Unfortunately I don’t think any of those shops will ship to the UK
    I checked Bike24 and TCMcykel and they won’t.

    It looks like i’m just going to have to sit on the Linkglide shifter and chain for a while.

  8. Been waiting to buy one of these once they are readily available. Sick of wrecking a SRAM 10-42 cassette every 300 miles or so.
    Couldn’t take my eyes off that dork disc though 🤣

    300 miles? Unless you ride in sand, that’s hard to imagine. My Deores and GXs have lasted 3 to 4 times that. What is your cleaning and chain rotation like>

  9. 300 miles? Unless you ride in sand, that’s hard to imagine. My Deores and GXs have lasted 3 to 4 times that. What is your cleaning and chain rotation like>

    I only use 2 gears at the bikepark, which is the only place I ride.
    12t down and 42t up.
    The 12t will skip once the 2nd chain reaches .5 stretch and is changed.
    I’ve just swapped to Shimano HG (in preparation for linkglide) so have just fitted an slx 11/46 and can buy the individual cogs for a few quid.
    So I’m going to swap chains plus the 13t cog at the same time when .5 is measured to see if that helps

  10. Nope. :(
    Ridewill just emailled to say the cassette is not available :mad:
    What is it with these shitty shops showing stock then emailing to cancel? FFS

    Has anyone else seen a 10 speed Linkglide cassette anywhere please?

  11. Perhaps I could buy a Shimano CS-M4100 Deore 10 speed cassette and HG chain?
    Would they work with the LinkGlide shifter and derailleur while I wait?
  12. Perhaps I could buy a Shimano CS-M4100 Deore 10 speed cassette and HG chain?
    Would they work with the LinkGlide shifter and derailleur while I wait?

    I’m fairly certain they are not compatible as they have a different ‘throw’ length. You can use a regular 10speed chain with Linkglide though.

  13. The problem is that I have (if nothing else is cancelled) a linkglide shifter, derailleur and chain, but no cassette.
    I just thought maybe I could use a hyperglide one instead.
    Guess I’m stuck waiting.
  14. This isn’t a bad idea but the weight is terrible and the price is way too high.

    Plus you can’t get it or spare parts if it breaks.

    Overall fail in my book. It’s going to die along with support for it.

  15. I bought 10 speed linkglide and had a few rides on a Scott Genius eride. Shifting is much better under load, no more freewheeling and waiting for motor to cut before shifting. I don’t need 12 speed on this. I was running 2 expensive sram chains on the old set up and after 600 miles a daft amount of stretch. Very happy with it.
  16. I bought 10 speed linkglide and had a few rides on a Scott Genius eride. Shifting is much better under load, no more freewheeling and waiting for motor to cut before shifting. I don’t need 12 speed on this. I was running 2 expensive sram chains on the old set up and after 600 miles a daft amount of stretch. Very happy with it.

    It also has short cage derailleur so gives me more ground clearance and seems to have stopped sticks being sucked into the transmission.