Guest review: Shimano Saint 10 speed shifter

By Nader Mahrous

Image courtesy of Shimano Bicycle Components

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of guest post in which MTB Egypt riders review the bikes and gear they use and love. Want to submit a guest gear review post? Get in touch!

My bike came stock with SRAM drivetrain. I have also used several other models of SRAM shifters, as well as Shimano’s SLX, XT and XTR along the way. Then it was time for me to go down the 1×10 route – not to mention that I had smashed my SRAM shifters during a rather innocuous very slow speed fall. It was time for me to shift to Shimano (no pun intended). I am not going to get into a SRAM vs Shimano debate here, but they are indeed quite different.
From my experience with relatively weak components, I opted for the top of the line DH grade Saint shifter, and it does live up to its tough, reliable reputation. These shifters operate on roller bearings make actuation easy and effortless in the most demanding conditions. The extra large levers are brilliant, textured and ‘thumbful’. The large shifter paddle also helps with optimizing cockpit layout. You don’t need to stick the shifter too close to your grip leaving space for brakes to be moved to your liking and customize everything. I have grown to be a big fan of two way Shimano levers and have really helped me learn to shift rather easily out of the saddle and seated.
The biggest difference between these shifters and others on the market is the multi-release function. Again the DH and 1×10 mentality is shown here. When you quickly have to shift up AND down through 10 gears, you can do it here. All it takes is three 4 full strokes to shift all the way up, or 2-3 strokes to go all the way to your biggest cog. Again, I find this quite useful in terrain where it changes elevation and speeds quickly and you have interact fast enough not to loose flow/momentum. (Editors note: Some people might prefer single-release shifters, like the SLX or Saint’s less expensive brother, Zee, due to their minimization of potential misshifts. This is more important in racing conditions. Pro racer Brian Lopes runs SLX shifters for exactly this reason)
Several fellow riders know how crash-prone I can be sometimes. I am happy to say that the Saint had survived pretty brutal crashes. Flawless performance day in day out. Fancy looking levers high quality finish. Quality doesn’t come cheap, as reflected in the pricing of Shimano’s top-end Saint and XTR lines of components, but you can often find good discounted deals online.