Xtr br m960



Keywords: xtr br m960
Description: Shimano XTR FC-M960 0 Stores Found. Lowest Price - $0.0

Yep, it's the 3rd part of my Shimano XTR component review series, and I’ve decided to examine the XTR FC-M960 Crankset.

I've decided to leave my review in its original format, but you should read this update before making a decision of your own. After two years of this crankset on my Specialized Epic I have quite a different impression of the XTR Crankset that I did for the first year or so. After about 14 months I noticed shifting and pedaling problems that were only getting worse. I had problems moving between my front chainrings, and the chain was constantly being sucked up into my bottom bracket, a situation commonly known as chainsuck. The final straw was in a 24 Hour endurance race in the spring of this year which I almost quit because of my chainsuck problems. It was to the point I couldn't pedal more than 1 to 2 minutes without having my chain jam tight against the bike's frame.

After the race was over and my bike was cleaned up, I looked at what was left of my middle and large chainrings. They were completely destroyed and several teeth were missing. This is from riding in the midwest where we don't even have rocks to damage chairings, the damage was all from hard racing and riding in muddy conditions. These alloy rings are apparently very soft and weak, which leads to their ultra-light weight. I agree I ride pretty hard, but I'm a 165lb rider that doesn't abuse the bike or cause excessive damage.

When I went to purchase new chainrings I about had a cow, $211 for a new middle ring and big ring. My old RaceFace race crankset on my last bike needed new rings after four years which cost between $30 and $45 each which I could purchase from several different companies. Shimano decided to make their rings proprietary and only available from Shimano, hello price control. I did end up replacing my rings but I sold my FC-M960 soon after. I'm now back with RaceFace and so far my new cranks seem much more durable than Shimano's. I still think these cranks look great, pedal great, and perform well. That said, I can't honestly recommend a $350 crankset that while light, may only last 1-2 years and require rebuilding to the tune of $200.

Before I dive into the actual review I’ll give a quick rundown of what a crankset is for the uninitiated in bicycle component lingo. The pedals on all bikes are connected together by crank arms. which in turn are connected to each other at the bottom bracket. Bottom brackets house the bearings that enable the crank arms to spin freely and also distribute the torque load to the frame. The crank arms, triple front chainrings, and bottom bracket are referred to as the crankset. Top-of-the-line cranksets are not only lighter in weight and stronger, they are also very rigid and provide the best transfer of power to the rear wheel.

Most mid-level mountain bikes come equipped with either factory-branded cranks and bottom brackets or lower end Shimano components. Truvativ and Race Face are also brands you could expect to find on many stock bikes, and while they are strong and durable you couldn’t use lightweight as a fair description. The combination of bottom bracket weight and forged aluminum crank arms creates excess weight and compromises rigidity.

Shimano decided to take a new approach to crankset design when they changed the XTR component line for 2003. The newest XTR crankset is designated FC-M960 and is the first revolutionary innovation in design since the ISIS spline drive bottom bracket several years ago. Shimano’s system doesn’t use a bottom bracket at all, and consists of only two pieces. The right side crank arm and chainrings are a one-piece unit, and attached to this is the hollow carrier shaft that is supported by dual sealed cartridge bearings and distributes the working load. This design reduces the number of parts, significantly cuts down weight, and increases rigidity. The Hollowtech II? crankarms are amazingly light, and like all new XTR components are finished in glossy titanium. Chainrings are limited to 44-32-22 with an option for 24 tooth granny gear.

Since there is no bottom bracket to speak of, the bearings are mounted on the outside of the frame. This increases the stiffness of the unit as a whole, but the downside to this is there may be a tendancy for water to enter the bearings. Several disgruntled owners have mentioned premature bearing failure due to water damage, but I've noticed no problems with my bike. In case of failure a pair of new bearings and cups runs about $70.

Installation is a snap, and each M960 comes with all special bottom bracket service tools required for installation. First step is to thread the right-hand bearing cup assembly into the frame, next install the left-hand cup, slide the crankarm/chainring assembly and attached carrier shaft through the bottom bracket bearings, and install the left crankarm onto the bottom bracket shaft. A special included tool allows you to pull the cranks toward each other and seat them firmly against the bearing cup faces.

The biggest difference I’ve been able to feel is the stiffness of these crankarms. Before this I was riding Race Face Prodigy ISIS cranks, and those definitely had flex when you were working the pedals hard or climbing hills. When cranks flex under torque load you lose energy and reduce pedaling efficiency every stroke you make. A little wasted energy via crankarm flex may not seem like a big deal, but on an average 1.5 hour ride you’ll complete 6,750 pedal strokes. Wasted energy means you’ll be a little slower and more exhausted at the end of the ride than you would be otherwise.

The other benefit that is less tangible while riding is the weight loss you get with the M960 crankset. It sneaks off the scale at a very low 797 grams, which is 130 grams lighter than last-generation XTR. Compared with the competition it either compares very favorably or flat-out smokes ‘em.

The added weight loss helps get your bike down a few ounces, and helps further reduces the weight you’re pushing with each pedal stroke. With the added rigidity and flex-proof design the M960 will you ride better and hopefully faster. If you haven’t seen these cranks in person you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how great they look. As high-end bike parts go these are a great bang-per-dollar value in the image department, and perform equally well on the trail.

At $460 list price no one can say the FC-M960 is a cheap upgrade, but it’s arguably one of the better upgrades of all the new-generation XTR components. You can find it online for up to $150 less than Shimano’s list price, and it’s easy to find for $330. Compare the chart above for other brands prices, it’s easy to see the XTR M-960 is competitive. If money is a concern the brand new Shimano XT Hollowtech II crankset is a great 2nd choice. It features the same integrated bottom bracket as the XTR FC-M960. If you’re planning on upgrading only a couple components or just buying one piece at a time, I’d start with either the XTR crankset or the RD-M960 rear derailleur. These two parts offer the most performance increase for your money spent, and isn’t that what every buyer wants?






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