Luxury Bikes

Head to head: Shimano Deore XT Hyperglide+ vs. XT Linkglide – mountain bike feature

SHimano doesn’t always have the easiest product line to understand. There we said it. We know that there is meaning and reason behind all the numbers, letters and names, but when you take a closer look at the detailed product catalog, misunderstandings can arise. A typical example: the distinction between Deore XT 12-speed Hyperglide+ and Deore XT 11-speed Linkglide. Sure, you have additional equipment, but the technology behind it and the differences in weight, price and compatibility leave a lot to understand.

To get to the bottom of this, we spent the second half of 2023 riding both circuits to find out how these shifting technologies perform on the trail and which fits each best.

Deore XT 11s Linkglide highlights

Deore XT 12s Hyperglide+ Highlights

  • Claimed to be 3x more durable than the previous Hyperglide due to the new tooth design, which is thicker and tapered at the base
  • New shift gates ensure a smoother transfer of the chain between the gears
  • Uses a HG freehub body
  • Only offered in 1×11
  • 11-50T cassette
  • I-SPEC EV or clamp shifter mount
  • Used on CUES series (Entry-level gearbox with 9, 10, 11 gears)
  • E-bike optimized
  • 2 year manufacturer’s warranty
  • System weight: 1,462g
  • MSRP: $342.99 (shifter, derailleur, cassette, chain)
  • Shift ramps are designed to provide the fastest, smoothest shifts
  • Available in 1x and 2x systems
  • Uses a MicroSpline freehub body
  • 10-45T or 10-51T cassette options
  • I-SPEC EV or clamp shifter mount
  • E-bike compatible
  • 2 year manufacturer’s warranty
  • System weight: 1,123 g
  • MSRP: $402.96 (shifter, derailleur, cassette, chain)


The technology: Hyperglide+ vs. Linkglide

As most know, Shimano’s Deore XT has long been one of the most reliable and attractive groupsets due to its mix of performance and price. So why does such a plug-and-play product family need to be divided into two? There are two reasons for this: switching speed and durability.

Hyperglide+ was introduced by Shimano in 2019 as a revolutionary shifting technology. The focus was on providing fast, smooth and efficient shifting using new shift ramps and a chain design that improves chain grip and engagement during shifting. Instead of the chain “jumping” between gears (especially when cycling down the cassette), Hyperglide+ holds the chain in place as it moves between gears. This ensures a quick and seamless switching experience. The downside is potential durability issues due to the high retention shifts, which inevitably place more strain on the teeth. And as e-bikes become more popular, the additional torque from the motor increases this burden.

Use Linkglide. Launched in early 2021 as a durable alternative to Hyperglide+, it features thicker cassette teeth, more robust shift gates and a robust 11-speed chain. Compared to Hyperglide+, the shifting experience is slightly slower and the chain is “pushed” over the cassette into the next gear. Improved shift gates minimize chain shock and limit the possibility of the chain slipping when shifting to a new gear. Linkglide is designed to withstand the rigors of e-biking, and it’s the special sauce that enables the Auto and Free Shift features within it Shimano’s E-specific XT Di2 groupset.

Hyperglide+ uses a MicroSpline freehub body that allows for a 10T cog.  Two cassettes are available: 10-51T (range 510%) // 10-45T (range 450%)
Hyperglide+ uses a MicroSpline freehub body that allows for a 10T cog. Two cassettes are available: 10-51T (range 510%) // 10-45T (range 450%)
Linkglide uses a HG freehub body and is only offered in 11-50 teeth (454% range).
Linkglide uses a HG freehub body and is only offered in 11-50 teeth (454% range).

Component weight and price are the remaining factors that differentiate the two XT offerings. A Hyperglide+ XT drivetrain is 340 grams lighter (mainly due to the aluminum versus steel cassette) and yet is only $60 more expensive than a Linkglide XT drivetrain. That’s a big weight saving for little money, making the Hyperglide+ the most logical choice for unassisted bikes. Since we tested the drivetrains on a heavy e-bike, the additional weight was not noticeable and was less of a factor.

Test parameters

To get the most out of our miles, we tested both powertrains on one Specialized Turbo-Levo. The combination of engine torque, bike weight, and our 200+ pound test pilot made for difficult testing conditions. In total, we covered about 350 miles on both systems in mostly dry, sandy conditions with a few wet rides. The installation and setup process for both drivetrains was identical and familiar, with the only difference being in the freehub body. If you’re adding an XT drivetrain to an existing bike, keep in mind that you may need to get a new freewheel. Visually, both drivetrains appear to be related, with the shifter and front derailleur having similar silhouettes.


Performance comparison

After thousands of grinding shifts and riding with extreme concentration on the feel of every connection and gear interaction, the results were less drastic than we had originally predicted. Despite Shimano’s conscious development of E-specific shifting technologies, the performance of Linkglide and Hyperglide+ are largely the same.


When it comes to shift speed and quality, the differences between the individual drivetrains were negligible. We noticed no hesitation from Linkglide moving the chain between gears and had no problem initiating shifts during crucial movements. Hyperglide+ was equally willing to shift at awkward times, and both systems did an excellent job of managing chain movement during high-torque shifts. Overall, Hyperglide+ scored points with its smooth shifting, even under load. Linkglide was still smooth and smooth, but tended toward aggressive shifts in tone and feel. Hyperglide+ also won the range battle as the 10T gearing was appreciated on high-speed descents.

It’s almost unbelievable that we never experienced a botched gear change, misshifting, chain slipping or anything like that. The shifting consistency of both powertrains was the most impressive result of the test, especially as we continued to rack up the miles. Even if one system hasn’t emerged as a clear winner, riders can be confident that installing XT on an e-bike or mountain bike, be it Linkglide or Hyperglide+, will provide industry-leading shifting reliability.

Long term durability

While each system’s consistent and reliable shifting was impressive, their ability to maintain that performance over the duration of the test was outstanding.

The Linkglide cassette began to show signs of cosmetic wear, particularly in the two largest gears, while the Hyperglide+ cassette showed signs of wear in most gears that we could feel with our fingers.

Both chains have stretched the same amount, but are still within the usable range. The cassettes are visibly worn and worn, with the Hyperglide+ 12-speed cassette looking worse than the Linkglide. Given the efforts Shimano has made to improve the longevity of the Linkglide cassette, it is definitely better suited to the demands of e-biking. However, the superiority over the 12-speed Hyperglide+ cassette was less than expected. And while the cassettes are no longer as pristine as the day they arrived, we saw little visible wear along the way.


Driving 350 miles with each system is a good start to make comparisons, but we know that most drivers will accumulate far more miles over the time they have the system. As things progress, Linkglide has the upper hand with its sturdy cassette. Everything else, like shifters, derailleurs and chain, will be comparable between the two systems. If you find that the drivetrain wears out quickly, Linkglide is the more powerful and economical choice in the long run, regardless of the bike you ride.


What is the end result?

If this test confirms anything, it’s that the XT continues to be a bulletproof groupset regardless of shifting technology. Shimano has developed Linkglide 11-speed for e-bikes and is best suited for this. The extra weight is not noticeable on a heavy e-bike and the longer lifespan of the cassette under the demands of a motor makes it a worthwhile investment.

The XT 12-speed Hyperglide+ is still one of the most powerful drives with the best price-performance ratio. It’s still best suited to unsupported mountain bikes, but proved to be better suited to the demands of e-biking than we originally expected. Either way, you really can’t make a bad choice. Both powertrains are made from durable components that deliver consistent, high-quality shifting for longer than most competitors.

To learn more about both XT groups, please visit

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