The Good: Low cost, clutch, black, strong. Great warranty service.
The Bad: Clutch is finicky and fragile. Replacement parts? Good luck.
I traded a warrantied XTR shadow+ derailleur, new in box, for the ZEE, because it was cheap. I chose the ZEE specifically because it has a steel backplate in place of the aluminum one which lives on the XTR. This aluminum backplate turned out have a significant weak spot, which I broke. I figured that due to this key difference, the ZEE would have a fighting chance.
I mounted up the ZEE on my G-Spot, with a 11-36 cassette and an MRP Mini Guide. Things were great, the clutch was effective, the chain was silent. After four months, the clutch started weakening in strength, and effectiveness. I popped off the clutch case expecting to find a similar tiny little wrench to what the XTR has, instead finding no tool at all. I grabbed a pair of narrow pliers and adjusted the set screw tighter by about a quarter of a turn. I returned the case cover and applied the clutch, and it wasn't much tighter. I rode for a few more weeks, then popped the cover off again and the clutch strap fell off in my hand. What was one piece, became two.
I called Shimano tech support, and learned that those fancy little clutches have literally no replacement parts available. They were very kind, and sent me a shiny new ZEE derailleur, which I will do my best to keep in one piece.
The lessons I learned were:
- Never apply the clutch with the cover off, the mechanism relies on the inner moldings of the case providing support from the outside.
- If you don't know the torque spec for the set screw on the clutch strap, and have a crow footed torque wrench with MINIMAL Newton- Meter values, then don't go trying to adjust it. What is that torque spec? Nobody seems to know.
- If you run a short cage derailleur without a clutch, an 11-36 cassette, and a chain long enough to reach the 36, the chain will catch in the rear wheel very often. I discovered this undesired side effect on a set of 30ft. tables, when my rear wheel locked up. I came skidding to a stop and looked down to see that my chain was being eaten by my frame. This occurred during my two week wait for the warranty replacement unit. I figured that because I had a chain guide on the front, I could just ride without the clutch and it would be noisy at worst, I was wrong. It happened at least four times during the day of shuttling.