Drivetrain parts compatibility is always a confusing topic, especially when you have to consider a variety of shifter pull ratios between brands and types of groups, different speeds, and a range of hub sizes and spacing. It gets even more overwhelming if you’re trying to mix and match components in order to achieve a particular gearing or are working with an alternative “mullet” (mixed drivetrain) bike. The new Shimano CUES line aims to make things simpler and eliminate confusion with a range of mid-tier components that are all cross-compatible.
Same Sprocket Spacing… Same Pull Ratio
The beauty of Shimano CUES is a unified sprocket spacing across the entire lineup, allowing components to be intermixed depending on individual needs and wants. The exciting part for us is that (hopefully) means CUES road shifters will work with CUES mountain bike derailleurs and cassettes. Note that Shimano hasn’t yet released road shifters/levers in the CUES family, but there have been suggestions that they’re coming soon and will ultimately replace the Tiagra, Sora, and Claris drop-bar lines. We should finally get a set of drivetrains that have the same pull ratio on curly bar parts as it does on flat bar components!
What is Shimano CUES?
So, what’s with the name? As you might have guessed, CUES is an acronym. However, it unexpectedly stands for Creating Unique Experiences. Name aside, CUES seems like a promising offering from the brand that’s been playing constant catchup with rival SRAM for the last decade. In short, Shimano CUES consolidates all of their non-12-speed mid-tier “lifestyle/hybrid” 9, 10, and 11-speed component groups—Deore 11-speed, Acera, Alivio, and Altus—into a single system. According to Shimano, the simplified lineup means standardized compatibility, a reduction in shop inventory needs, and an easier purchasing experience.
Shimano CUES Groups
The Shimano CUES system consists a massive array of components divided into three lines. The upper-end U8000 offers parts for both 2×11-speed 1×11-speed drivetrains. The mid-tier U6000 line has 2×11-speed, 1×11-speed, 2×10-speed, and 1×10-speed. And the low-tier U400 has 2×9-speed and 1×9-speed components.
Shimano CUES Group Pricing
The sample pricing Shimano provided us with shows the entire CUES 1×11 drivetrain (including shifter, derailleur, chain, 11-50T cassette, bottom bracket, and crankset) will cost about $450 USD—$288 for U8000 1×11 without crank and BB. The U6000 1×11 (w/o crank and BB) will be set you back $214 with the 1×10 (w/o crank and BB) priced at $187. The U4000 1×9 (w/o crank and BB) will cost about $150. Here’s the pricing for the U8000 1×11 group, which is the only one that’s been fully released, so far.
SHIMANO CUES U8000 1×11
- SL-U8000-11R 11spd Rear Shifter: $59.99
- CS-LG700-11 (11-50t): $130.99
- RD-U8000 / RD-U8020 Rear Derailleur: $74.99
- CN-LG500 Chain : $22.99
- BB-MT501 Bottom Bracket: $22.99
- FC-U8000-1 1×11 Crankset: $139.99
- TOTAL: $451.94
Shimano CUES Group Weights
Unfortunately, when asked about weights, Shimano let us know that they don’t publish weight measurements with their mid-tier drivetrain components—anything below the SLX level. However, there is one listed weight in the U8000 line. The U8000 11-50T LG700 cassette tips the scales at a claimed 609 grams. For reference, that’s about 82 grams over the 527g 12-speed SLX cassette and considerably lighter than the LG600 cassette that Shimano launched with DEORE LINKGLIDE group. As noted in our review and compared to SRAM GX, Shimano’s 12-speed XT cassette weighs 473 grams.
Shimano CUES Road Groups?
We don’t exactly know which tiers will offer road components, namely shifters and levers. Nor do we know what exactly to expect. But it’s been suggested that CUES road components will come to fruition and take the place of Tiagra, Sora, and Claris, the mid-tier groups below Shimano 105. Stay tuned as we hope to find out more on this soon.
Performance and Advantages
Obviously, CUES components are going to be heavier than Shimano’s high-end groups, but the fact you can get a wide-range 1×11 or 2×11 group at a fraction of the price is excellent news. As for performance, one thing that’s interesting about the CUES groups is that they’re made for e-bikes in part. That’s not really applicable to our interests, but it does mean they’re probably built with durability in mind. This is what Shimano said in their press release: “Cassettes and chains built to withstand consistent daily wear and tear of both analog and high-torque e-bike use.” In short, the cassettes on all three lines feature a new tooth profile that allows for smooth shifting under load and are designed to withstand consistent daily wear, including to withstand the more torque-intensive needs of e-bikes. That’s good news for bikepacking, a high-wear discipline in itself.
Find details on Shimano CUES and all the individual components over at bike.shimano.com.
Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.