Shimano is the major company making Brake / Shift levers for mountain use. Please read these reviews in the order presented, so we can avoid explaining the same principles with each of the three items. We chose top write about the XTR first because it is the longest in production of the 3 and wanted to discuss how the Rapid Fire shifter has changed in the current Optical Gear Display version. Incidentally this the last year the M900 will be made. For 1995 Shimano will introduce an OGD version of the XTR brake/shifter.
We want to remind you that all indexing systems for shifting reside only in the shifter. Any rear derailleur can be used with any indexed shifter, there are some very fine adjustments that are invisibly built into "systems" but the indexing will function with any index shifter. Some makers of bike parts have chains and rear gears that might add speed to achieving the shift. These Shimano shift systems are designed to use the industry standard of 4.8mm spacing on-center between rear sprockets. They will work with any rear changer, chain, or cassette...no matter who made it.
The 1995 model year includes a replacement for the XTR brake/shifter set above. It is known that the new set will have an "Optical Gear Display", but not much more is known. They are expected to arrive for after market replacements in the US by either late 1994 or very early 1995. Though this will still be an 8 speed rear system.