Shimano makes two versions of its flagship XTR crank: the fractionally lighter 9000 XC crank and the 9020 crank here. Both are very user-friendly and ultra-durable too, although not as light as the latest carbon competition and not much cheaper either.
The difference between the two XTR versions is in the way the hollow alloy crank arms are created. 9000 cranks are bonded together while the 9020 arms and spider are forged in one piece.
Threaded inner chainring mounts mean it can be set up in a double- or even triple-ring configuration. It also comes in the widest selection of arm lengths, from 165 through to 180mm.
A plastic preload cap and two opposing 5mm clamp bolts on the offside arm create a deceptively simple yet secure connection. However, the steel axle only comes in a standard skinny 24mm version, and together with the multi-chainring spider and big spider syncing blocks the chainring bolts screw into, these alloy cranks are over 100g heavier than the lightest carbon competition.
They feel solid under power though and they’re seriously tough in terms of crash and rock-scrape-resilience. The translucent anodised finish also scuffs more slowly than XT items.
The low-scoop DCE chainrings are very secure and smooth-running too. The use of a ring of titanium teeth sandwiched into a composite carrier ring means our sample is barely showing any wear after a year of use.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.