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When Shimano introduced its answer to SRAM’s front derailleur crushing 1×11, with that 10-42T cassette SRAM uses, Shimano limited the range of their 1×11 cassette to 11-40T.  That was not too ideal in that it did not have either the high end of the 10T cog SRAM uses or the low end of that 42T cog.

Now that has been addressed in a new cassette.  From the press release:

The 1×11 drivetrain range has been extended to a super-wide 11-46T range providing optimal gear choices for all-mountain riders and enduro racers. The new CS-M8000 cassette is compatible with XTR M9000 and DEORE XT M8000 drivetrains and has a target weight of 450g.

No images yet, but this is a welcome change.  With a 46T top cog, that allows for a larger 1x front chainring while still having a decently low gear and makes the lack of a 10T cog on the high end less of an issue.  Very nice.

2X gets some changes too:

Now add to that the new crankset with a 24/34 chainring set-up and gearing options for 2x just made a bit more sense for 29ers or even 29+.  A 34T big ring brings us back towards where we would have been with a 26″ wheel and the gearing of the day.  Even a 36T big ring is pretty big for a 29er trail or XC bike and might put the rider into the position of using the small ring more than is optimum.  A 34T ring also puts the driving point of the chain more in line with where some suspension designs are optimized for, that being closer to the 30T or 32T 1X set-up.  In addition to that, a 24x40T low end is pretty generous (2×11 cassette being an 11-40T).  There also is a new 40/30/22 triple crank option.

So now we are getting back to more choices in gearing; choices that make sense.  With 10 speed gearing options being served by companies like Wolftooth, it looks like this new cassette and crank, along with the rumored wider range 11 speed cassette from SRAM, will give us ‘factory’ options in 1x and 2x 11 speed that are worth having.