Shimano have just announced 12-speed XT and SLX group sets - and we've ridden them.
With the release of Shimano XTR M9100 12-speed in May 2018, everyone knew it was just a matter of time until the 12-speed options came to Deore XT, and later SLX. Some might not have expected both to happen at the one time, but that's exactly what Shimano have revealed overnight.
Shimano make no bones that they were a little behind having group sets that offered the super-wide range that mountain bikers wanted with a single chainring option. And then when Shimano XTR M9100 was released, they couldn't hit their delivery dates with complete group sets after fires in one of their main production facilities knocked out important equipment for the finishing on the M9100 crank sets.
But with those crank sets now shipping, Shimano have 12-speed Deore XT landing in dealers in mid-June, and 12-speed SLX is just a few weeks after that. Along with XTR M9100, all the parts from each group set are compatible. Shimano have a slogan 'Make your mark', as they believe that with the three group sets, different brake sets, some wheel options, and yes even a 2x option, you can do some high end customisation on your bike, and make it exactly what you want it to be.
In mid-May, I was invited by Shimano Australia to go ride the new Shimano Deore XT group set in the Pacific North West in the USA, talk to some of the people behind the changes, and really put the gear under pressure.