The good news is my new Alfine 8spd hub has been built into a wheel and the shop told me today that my new Hutchinson Toro tires and the other bits I wanted are all ready and waiting to go on my bike which after a muddy ride over the weekend is now spotless and waiting for me to drop it of at the shop for the goodies to be put on. The bad news is that I wont be riding with my Shimano XTR rear derailleur which has worked perfectly since I got it. Shimano recently made some pretty major improvements to the XTR and XT shifters, they now have a more positive shift feel but still nowhere near the excessive clunk of Sram gears, IMO this gives a perfect shift feel. I chose this one over paying another £30 for the Shadow carbon one because the Shadow models are slightly harder to dial in perfectly, I’ve got one Shadow that shifts perfectly every time and one that rattles a little sometimes no matter how I adjust it. Some bikes, in particular those that run Horst Link suspension have a problem where the RD hits the chain stay, Shimano are now sending this RD out with a rubber band to stop it doing any damage but Shadow RD’s don’t have this problem at all on account of the mechanism design but I’ve never had a problem on my Maestro suspension bike. It looks great, the jockey wheels stay smooth and actually spin unlike others no matter how much mud they’ve been through, it always shifts lightly and perfectly and it takes a serious amount of weeds and grass in it to make it ghost shift. Also for anyone who hasn’t heard, Shimano’s new YUMEYA (dream workshop) will allow you to use a carbon cage and some nice white jockey wheels with this RD. In short this is still a great alternative to the Shadow takeover.