Review Shimano Linkglide 10 speed drivetrain.

Spin

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Dec 24, 2021
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Product Image:
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Product name: Shimano Linkglide 10 speed drivetrain.
Price paid: 275
Score (out of 10): 8

Review: First up , some context for this review.
I have been riding MTB since 1999 , EMTB since 2017. My current bike is a Mondraker Crafty RR 2022 model. I am 57 years old.

I don't have much time on modern 12 speed drivetrains. I have been running SRAM 9 and 10 speed since....forever.... mid 2000s. Shimano 9 speed prior to that...
My preferred setup has been SRAM 10 speed shifter and derailleur , Shimano chain and Sunrace 11-40 10sp cassette. The last worn drivetrain I replaced endured over 2000kms of power delivery behind a Bafang BBSHD mid drive motor. I will say I rarely used all the power of the Bafang and rode mostly in dry conditions but it was far from a cycle path baby, and that drivetrain had some more life in it when it was finally retired.

When I bought a new bike last year and it came with a SRAM GX Eagle 12 speed drivetrain , I figured it was time to face my distaste for modern drivetrains and accept the products that the industry was dishing up. So I ran with it.
After a couple of months , the chain snapped on a power stroke just after a slightly hard landing off a jump. The shifting and general performance up until that time had been adequate. Nothing amazing , a few adjustments were made to the shifter cable as things settled in on the brand new bike. But the chain failure and subsequent face plant as I went over the bars and buried myself refueled my resentment for 12 speed modern drivetrains. I didn't need 12 gears or the ratio range of 11-50T and I could certainly do without BS failures like I had just experienced on a 200km old chain.

Rather than revert to my old faithful SRAM 10 speed setup that had been so reliable and fuss free , I decided to once again restrain my narrowminded , angry old man outlook and to allow the bike industry of 2023 to "blow my mind" with a drivetrain that seemed to be targeted and someone like me.
Shimano Linkglide.
I could care less about weight and bling. What is more important to me in a drivetrain , it should give the ratio range necessary for the places I ride , be reliable , simple to maintain and if the cost is repectable , that can be the icing on the cake. I chose 10 speed Linkglide over 11 speed because 43T with a 29" wheel is a short enough gear to get me up anything I ride. 11-50 would be overkill and it is the only option with 11 speed Linkglide cassettes. It would have been nice to have XT spec shifter and derailleur offered with 11 speed though.

I was unable to find all the Linkglide parts at one place online , but I do love to hunt down the best prices. In fact , I have a slight obsession in that area. So after a few hours online , I had everything ordered and for a pretty decent outlay. The total cost for 10 speed derailleur , 11-43 cassette , 34T chainring , shifter and chain: $275 AUD / $167 USD / 142 GBP / 166 EUR. The chainring is a Deckas from Aliexpress. I figured , lets keep this as a budget concious project and at $8 AUD each , I bought 2!

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Fitting and setup was pretty straightforward. I had to pull the cable housing through a few centimeters to allow for the "loop" to the derailleur , something that has puzzled me for a long time is that Shimano refuse to redesign this area. SRAM have had a nice straight run of cable from chainstay to derailleur for many years now.
The one thing that wasn't going to bolt straight on was the shifter. With its enormous gear indicator (ugh) finding a position to marry it with the SRAM G2 brake lever was impossible without compromising the position of one or the other. This made the choice of surgery even easier to accept. I hated the look of it and now there was an excuse to make it disappear. An hour later it now resembled something much more civilized. Best thing that could have happened to it and a pretty simple operation to perform with an angle grinder , styrene plastic sheet and super glue.

Chain length took a couple of goes to get just right. I found that this and the B screw adjustment were important in getting the shifting just right.
After the first few rides , I reduced the tension on the clutch slightly , this seemed to give shifting a lighter feel and with no noticeable trade off in chain slap or other side effects.

Now with eveything tuned , shifting is accurate and consistent. I wouldn't say it's anything better than I've used or seen previously. It does what it needs to do without fuss. The shifter has a nice positive feel , and slightly heavy feel to the shifts although it's no burden. Coming from years of thumb shifting with SRAM , I find myself using the trigger for upshifts rather than thumb. Maybe it's just a novelty for now or it could be that the lever is in a better position for this action than using your thumb ?

With only 300kms of use , I'm a long way off from knowing how durable the whole drivetrain will be. Overall impressions are positive , it's a cheap and cheerful replacement for a worn out or broken drivetrain. If this derailleur gets damaged in a crash , wallet damage will be minimal. It doesn't protest when shifting under load but you'll hear it when it happens. If you have seen reviews and are under the impression that Linkglide does something magically different than any other drivetrain on the market , I can say from my experience so far that it doesn't. For a freshly fitted and adjusted drivetrain , it does what it should , nothing more , nothing less.

Likes: Price , solid construction , 11-43 range across ten ratios. Operates with a cable. Doesn't need recharging. Price.
Dislikes: Gear indicator. Bulky size of the derailleur. Cable loop by Shimano TM. Zero flex at the trailhead car park as in , check out my wireless expensive af behemouth TranSMission OMg!!1 (Actually , is that a like ?)

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DieBoy

Member
Jul 14, 2023
69
102
EU
Great review, thanks!

Linkglide is advertised at least as having more durability especially with ebikes. Only a long term review will tell I guess.

I'm considering upgrading to linkglide when my cassette wears out. I'm slightly concerned about lock-in - I'd like to see 3rd party linkglide compatible chains for example.
 

cozzy

Well-known member
Aug 11, 2019
826
895
Hampshire UK
Don't suppose you have the ability to accurately measure the cog spacing?
Shimano say it's not compatible with the current hyperglide 11 speed derailleur and shifter designed for 3.74mm.
I'm curious as to whether linkglide/cues is near enough.
 

Bndit

Active member
Jul 14, 2022
160
203
Finland
Don't suppose you have the ability to accurately measure the cog spacing?
Shimano say it's not compatible with the current hyperglide 11 speed derailleur and shifter designed for 3.74mm.
I'm curious as to whether linkglide/cues is near enough.
I think sifting cannot be ”near enough” because if it`s anything else than perfect, it`s shit 😀
 

Spin

Active member
Dec 24, 2021
156
207
Australia
Don't suppose you have the ability to accurately measure the cog spacing?
Shimano say it's not compatible with the current hyperglide 11 speed derailleur and shifter designed for 3.74mm.
I'm curious as to whether linkglide/cues is near enough.
Measured with a feeler gauge , the gap between cogs is between 2.1 and 2.2mm.
Cog spacing (centre to centre) 4.2mm

An additional observation from a ride last week: I usually wipe down and lube the chain every 30 - 40 kms. (Muc off C3 is my choice)
Last week I did a shorter 20km ride , didn't lube chain and then did a fairly intense 35km ride the next day. For the last 10kms or so , the drivetrain sounded like the shift cable needed adjustment , like there was enough "drag" in the chain to make it sound like something was misaligned, I tried a few clicks either way on the barrel adjuster but that didnt fix it. The chain was as "dry" as it had ever been , not a condition I am comfortable putting them through but I have never seen this with an HG chain in the same condition.
Got home , wiped down and lubed the chain and test rode. The sound was gone. Chain checker showed no stretch or wear , so my conclusion is the LG chains like to stay well lubed !
 

Spin

Active member
Dec 24, 2021
156
207
Australia
Great review, thanks!

Linkglide is advertised at least as having more durability especially with ebikes. Only a long term review will tell I guess.

I'm considering upgrading to linkglide when my cassette wears out. I'm slightly concerned about lock-in - I'd like to see 3rd party linkglide compatible chains for example.
Given the relatively low cost of Linkglide chains , I'm not concerned with lock-in , but I see your point.
 

DieBoy

Member
Jul 14, 2023
69
102
EU
Given the relatively low cost of Linkglide chains , I'm not concerned with lock-in , but I see your point.

It's not so much cost as a question of availability, particularly at short notice. Broke my chain at the weekend and was of course able to walk in to a random bike shop and pick up a replacement. Not sure if that would be possible with a linkglide set-up.

Though I have now read somewhere that it is possible to use standard chains (11 speed IINM), it just won't be as good at least according to Shimano (salt required?). Most of the "magic" is in the cassette, with a compatible derailleur needed for the different cog spacing .
 

cozzy

Well-known member
Aug 11, 2019
826
895
Hampshire UK
Measured with a feeler gauge , the gap between cogs is between 2.1 and 2.2mm.
Cog spacing (centre to centre) 4.2mm

An additional observation from a ride last week: I usually wipe down and lube the chain every 30 - 40 kms. (Muc off C3 is my choice)
Last week I did a shorter 20km ride , didn't lube chain and then did a fairly intense 35km ride the next day. For the last 10kms or so , the drivetrain sounded like the shift cable needed adjustment , like there was enough "drag" in the chain to make it sound like something was misaligned, I tried a few clicks either way on the barrel adjuster but that didnt fix it. The chain was as "dry" as it had ever been , not a condition I am comfortable putting them through but I have never seen this with an HG chain in the same condition.
Got home , wiped down and lubed the chain and test rode. The sound was gone. Chain checker showed no stretch or wear , so my conclusion is the LG chains like to stay well lubed !
Thanks for doing this. It's a wildly different number to someone else who measured on here previously. They had just a .02mm difference from normal 11 speed.
Guess I'll just have to buy a linkglide cassette and test it myself when I run out of £15 Microsoft cassettes I stocked up on a while back.
 

cozzy

Well-known member
Aug 11, 2019
826
895
Hampshire UK
I purchased a cues 10 speed 11 -48 cassette (I think these are the same as linkglide, it's all a bit confusing) recently as it was cheap at £46, so I could check the cog spacing. It is around 4.15 to 4.20mm as you said, so definitely will not work with my current slx HG 11 speed mech and shifter designed for 3.76mm.
Once I smash my current mech I'll purchase the cues u6000 mech and shifter so I can use it. Parts come in at around £75.
 
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cozzy

Well-known member
Aug 11, 2019
826
895
Hampshire UK
So I fitted all my parts. I had intended to wait but I was getting some poor shifting on yesterday's ride.
Coming from hyperglide 11 speed I decided I wanted 10 speed and an 11/46 cassette.
Unfortunately the deore m5130 linkglide 10 speed wasn't suitable with the biggest cog at 43, neither the xt m8130 linkglide as that's 11 speed only.
The u6000 cues 10speed cassette at 11/48 seemed most suitable.
Paired with a u6000 windowless shifter and a u6000 10/11 speed derailleur.
I must say, it all feels very cheap, well it was I suppose at £150 for cassette, shifter, mech and chain!
Lots of slop in the derailleur cage and a wobbly cover on the shifter.
As the OP mentioned, a big loop of cable is needed, more so with the stupid barrel adjuster Shimano have fitted to this derailleur.
It shifts fine in the stand and on a quick test ride. I'll update my thoughts once I've got a few bikepark visits in.
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Edit. I see on YouTube someone is using the shorter cage m5130 mech with the 48 tooth cassette. So that's an option if this one falls to bits.
Of course an expensive option is to get the supposedly better quality xt 11speed mech and pair it with the deore 10speed shifter(you are supposed to be able to buy one without a window, but I can't find one) or the u6000 shifter.
 
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cozzy

Well-known member
Aug 11, 2019
826
895
Hampshire UK
Well my review is this is utter 💩.
I've never not been able to index gears before. It either works at the top of the cassette or the bottom, not both.
I've ordered a new hanger, but it wasn't this bad with the previous slx mech.


Updated. See my cues review.

My mech does the same as this guy's who reviewed it. The cage is very loose from new. I've got 12 month old deore with less play than this thing.


Mine is the same at 3 mins.

Oh and the cassette keeps coming loose. Again, I've never had a cassette come loose. It's not unscrewing as I've marked the lockring. But after 1 ride, the 2 small cogs are loose. Maybe the spacers are plastic and are compressing? I'll have to check.
 
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Spin

Active member
Dec 24, 2021
156
207
Australia
Thanks for the feedback and for being guinea pig on the Cues parts. Sorry to hear it turned out bad ! The slop in the der cage is disappointing and wtf with the 2 sprockets coming loose?!
I guess for the money , it's not a big surprise but unacceptable regardless.
My Deore der has a small amount of play in the cage after 600kms of use , about half as much as shown in that video. The LG 400 cassettte has steel spacers between those small sprockets and everything has stayed tight.
Shifting is still consistent but there is a definite "sweet spot" in the cable adjustment and B screw to get it there.
 

Zimmerframe

MUPPET
Subscriber
Jun 12, 2019
13,860
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Brittany, France
Well my review is this is utter 💩.
I've never not been able to index gears before. It either works at the top of the cassette or the bottom, not both.
Just linking in your solution in case anyone else stands in this turd 🙃

 

cozzy

Well-known member
Aug 11, 2019
826
895
Hampshire UK
Just linking in your solution in case anyone else stands in this turd 🙃

Good spot. I'll update my post. 👍
 

Zimmerframe

MUPPET
Subscriber
Jun 12, 2019
13,860
20,549
Brittany, France
The linkglide quick links were the hardest I've had to get together .... Presumably they're just standard 11s. I checked them and nothing seemed amiss.

Taking them apart sadly had the same level of resistance .. :-(

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Maybe I won't be trying the SRAM chain tonight ..
 

Spin

Active member
Dec 24, 2021
156
207
Australia
1000kms on this setup now. Chain at 0.75% wear , no noticeable wear and tear on the mech. Shifting is as good as it ever was , it has never been perfect and I find the need to adjust the cable at the shifter one click now and then to get consistent shifting.
Overall , it has been good value for money though. I'll replace the chain now , hopefully get another 1000kms out of the cassette.
 

Bndit

Active member
Jul 14, 2022
160
203
Finland
I think there might be something wrong in your set up if you don`t get more than that. I have SLX set up and I used to get 1000km with SLX chain before it was on 0,5% mark. After I changed chainlube I raised to around 1200km. I have done now 3500km on that SLX cassete and it works perfectly. So if Linkglide should give more miles to emtb than regular set up, there`s something wrong in the picture, specially if you have to adjust mech regulary 😀 Of course my riding is trail riding, no mountains here in southern Finland so if you are doing 1000 meter climbs on every ride it might be different thing 😀
 

cozzy

Well-known member
Aug 11, 2019
826
895
Hampshire UK
1000kms on this setup now. Chain at 0.75% wear , no noticeable wear and tear on the mech. Shifting is as good as it ever was , it has never been perfect and I find the need to adjust the cable at the shifter one click now and then to get consistent shifting.
Overall , it has been good value for money though. I'll replace the chain now , hopefully get another 1000kms out of the cassette.
Try to adjust the derailleur as close to the biggest cog as possible as I detailed in my cues review. That's the only way I got perfect shifting. The Shimano guide simply didn't work for me.
Ive just purchased the m5130 mech and shifter in the sales (£54) to replace my wobbly cues stuff. Will be fitting it to the new bike when it arrives.
It's much better quality for sure.
 

Spin

Active member
Dec 24, 2021
156
207
Australia
I think there might be something wrong in your set up if you don`t get more than that. I have SLX set up and I used to get 1000km with SLX chain before it was on 0,5% mark. After I changed chainlube I raised to around 1200km. I have done now 3500km on that SLX cassete and it works perfectly. So if Linkglide should give more miles to emtb than regular set up, there`s something wrong in the picture, specially if you have to adjust mech regulary 😀 Of course my riding is trail riding, no mountains here in southern Finland so if you are doing 1000 meter climbs on every ride it might be different thing 😀
I should be a more helpful guinea pig and run this chain and cassette into the ground :p but as I have a new LG chain on hand , I figure I may as well use it before the cassette gets worn to the point of not accepting a new chain.
I don't accept the claim by Shimano that Linkglide will last X times longer than anything else. I believe it may be more durable under E bike loads and shifting under high power settings.For reference , those 1000kms included about 20000 metres of vertical , moderate power settings , mostly dry conditions using either Muc-off C3 or their E bike specific lube.
 

Spin

Active member
Dec 24, 2021
156
207
Australia
Try to adjust the derailleur as close to the biggest cog as possible as I detailed in my cues review. That's the only way I got perfect shifting. The Shimano guide simply didn't work for me.
Ive just purchased the m5130 mech and shifter in the sales (£54) to replace my wobbly cues stuff. Will be fitting it to the new bike when it arrives.
It's much better quality for sure.
Yeah , it's odd. I have tried B screw adjustments either side of the recommended position and settled on slightly further away that the mark on the cage advises. That seemes to be the sweet spot. It's an inconsistent problem that leads me to believe I may have to replace the cable outer , its the original and a bit over a year old now.
 

Bndit

Active member
Jul 14, 2022
160
203
Finland
I should be a more helpful guinea pig and run this chain and cassette into the ground :p but as I have a new LG chain on hand , I figure I may as well use it before the cassette gets worn to the point of not accepting a new chain.
I don't accept the claim by Shimano that Linkglide will last X times longer than anything else. I believe it may be more durable under E bike loads and shifting under high power settings.For reference , those 1000kms included about 20000 metres of vertical , moderate power settings , mostly dry conditions using either Muc-off C3 or their E bike specific lube.
Yeah, maybe the real benefit is just how shifting works under load, and that's of course real benefit for the ebikes ( I have broke one chain because of my shit shifting under load)
 

Spin

Active member
Dec 24, 2021
156
207
Australia
Replaced the chain today , I've never had a quick link fall apart after removal ! I guess that's a reminder not to reuse it hahaha
IMG_20231209_160519320~2.jpg
 

rzr

Active member
Sep 26, 2022
345
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bcn
I still have spare XT M8000 and cassette etc. but after that I'll switch to Linkglide 11s for sure.
My previous cassette 11-46 Sunrace survived >3000km, and It still worked at the end, without chain slips (chain had 3000 as well, I forgot to run few chains).

all these super expensive electronic stuff just doesn't make sense on MTB, my mates destroyed GX AXS in 3-4 months...
 

cozzy

Well-known member
Aug 11, 2019
826
895
Hampshire UK
Seeing as I have many times suggested using the deore short cage 10 speed linkglide derailleur with the cues 10 speed 11/48 cassette, I'm finally able to fit it to my bike and take some pics.
Designed for a max of 43t cassette, but fits the 48 fine.

Smallest cog. Good chain wrap.
IMG_20240415_141900__01.jpg

Biggest cog. Not overstretched.
IMG_20240415_142009__01.jpg
 

arTNC

Member
Feb 1, 2024
161
206
Texas
I'll share my experience with a complete CUES 9-speed setup that's currently on my Trek Rail 7. I had this setup on a home built 2003 Santa Cruz Bullit with a Bafang BBSHD mid-drive motor that I used solely for challenging off road. I'm a dirt motor guy and ride single track in various places with my MTB's...and now emtb.

I use 9-speed because frankly I've not found the need for the extremely low gear cogs in the 40's and 50's. Anyone who knows that Bafang BBSHD motor knows it's a cadence system and not torque sensing. Hence, it is a little rougher on drivetrains IMO. I did have the motor cutout sensor attached to the shift cable which helped.

Our Shimano rep had touted the new CUES system as being more durable and suitable for emtb's. So, after wearing out the SRAM setup I had on the Bullit, I installed an 11-36, 9-speed CUES and put about 300 miles on it. I then transferred it on to the Rail 7 and put the high dollar 12-speed system it came with on the shelf...just in case. I now have nearly 400 miles on the Rail, so in all I have about 700 miles on the CUES.

I ride on what it is an off road enduro trail where our club puts on a state, dirt motor, enduro, circuit race. We've even had nationals out there. This is a brutal place for a dirt motor and an MTB. Constant pitch ups and steep downhills with lots of rocks, sand, and ledges. Here's what I've found.

For one, I have not found emtb's to need the lightning fast shifting that something like hyperglide provides. There are a few more milliseconds where my Bosch CX motor can make the gear change without losing momentum like it can when you're giving it your all on a climb or technical pitch up on your pedal-only MTB. That split second shifting is important as it's so easy to lose momentum. With the emtb I've been able to maintain just that tiny bit of precious momentum so that I don't have to make that grinding shift come hell or high water to keep going forward. It's been quite pleasant actually...LOL!

So, Linkglide is not touted as a super fast shifting system. It's touted more as a chain and cassette system that shifts solidly and secures the chain solidly...albeit a tiny bit slow in the shift. IMO this is what emtb's need and benefit from. I think some of us are still a bit in the mindset of our pedal-only MTB's and their requirements.

So, on the CUES durability and reliability at this point, I'm not experiencing any shifting problems or a loose derailleur. I've even been a bit negligent in failing to check my chain for wear. Now, as someone mentioned above, I agree that this linkglide chain and cassette like to be lubed. That's probably because of its inherent design to shift very solidly and be retained strongly on the cogs. I think this system likes lube. I use that Boeshield T9, but I'm not one to claim it's the only good chain lube out there. I would recommend that whatever you use, linkglide may like something a little bit "wetter" than some of the pure wax types...just wipe clean before riding.

I'm finding it somewhat amazing how well and how long this lower priced CUES is working for the price point, but Shimano claims that is what they were shooting for with CUES and linkglide overall. I'll ride this system into the ground at some point, but so far it's been amazingly reliable. My main recommendation is to keep it well lubed, and don't shift it like you're on your pedal-only bike. I'm sure others may have different outcomes, but this has been mine so far.
 

Perryqhill

New Member
Jul 16, 2023
57
22
Doncaster, Uk
Seeing as I have many times suggested using the deore short cage 10 speed linkglide derailleur with the cues 10 speed 11/48 cassette, I'm finally able to fit it to my bike and take some pics.
Designed for a max of 43t cassette, but fits the 48 fine.

Smallest cog. Good chain wrap.
View attachment 138425
Biggest cog. Not overstretched.
View attachment 138426

I'm somewhat confused by the CUES stuff - do they run on 11 speed chains or on 10 or 11 depending on what speed they are? I read the Shimano compatibility sheet and it seemed to suggest 11.

I'm currently running a 10 speed Deore 11/46 set up with a RD5120, well actually a Sram chain on it at the moment.

If when I need a new cassette I went to a 11 48 10 speed Cues cassette would the derailleur I have do, but I'd need the U6000 shifter?
 

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