Shimano’s latest single-ring option has outstanding rings and super tough arms. But continued skinny-axle-only limitations and terrible cosmetic durability let it down.
Shimano’s extensively evolved hollow forged arm designs have been a benchmark for structural toughness for years now and XT is no different. Compared with other 24mm axle cranks they’re very stiff too, but that edge is lost when you stamp on them alongside 30mm axle opposition. That’s more of an issue now due to the fact you can fit 30mm axles into pretty much any frame you want if you use a convertor BB.
While the spider has bolt holes for an inner ring to make it triple- and twin-ring back-compatible, it adds needless weight to a solo setup. It’s permanently fixed too, so there’s no direct-mount option.
The single chainring is a stunning piece of innovative, ultra-durable design. The low-scooped DCE tooth profile consistently refuses to let go of the chain however clumsily we ride.
The use of a steel-tooth ring in a composite sandwich means fantastic chainring durability (and longer chainring life) as well as retaining stiffness all the way to the outer edge. But despite continual complaints about scuff damage starting immediately on previous generation Shimano cranks, the latest XT are worse than ever – and there’s no longer a silver option to disguise it better either.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.