Shimano XTR chainset review

Lightweight dependable choice

BikeRadar score4.5/5

It’s not the lightest or pimpest, but the XTR works superbly and its relatively cheap cost completes Shimano’s whitewash of the '09 crank scene. 

Rather than going carbon, Shimano use top spec Duralumin alloy. Rectangular profile hollow forged arms are both light and strong, with rigidity rivalling most big downhill sets. It’s also one of the few modern cranks to come in a full range of arm lengths for perfect rider fit.

The thin-wall scooped-back spider is matched with deep, scooped extensions on the arms of the outer chainring, while the titanium middle ring is sandwiched in a composite carrier. 

This translates into massive stiffness and lifespan in the most-used gears, and the bearings last for ages too. Nickel-plated alloy inner and outer rings are relatively wear- and rock-resistant compared with cheaper Shimano rings, too.

While other manufacturers have almost caught up with Shimano shifting standards, the way the chain glides up and down on the ramps and pins is still gorgeous.

While they’re slightly heavier than the latest carbon or twin-ring options, the XTR cranks are still well under the 800g mark.

Shimano are the only manufacturer to produce crank arm lengths from 165mm to 180mm, which will please tall or short riders, and considering the overall quality and toughness, price is excellent.

Our only gripes are the unique but fiddly bearing preload collar and special bottom bracket installer tool, and the easily scuffable arm. They're our favourite tough-but-light trail cranks. 

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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