Shimano has released details of the latest version of its top-tier XTR mountain bike groupset. After three years of development, XTR M9000 has arrived in the form of an extremely versatile 11-speed group that’ll be available in single-, double- and triple-ring configurations.
Shimano has continued with its ‘rider tuned concept’, which translates to providing components for specific riding disciplines.
While much of the press to-date has been for the electronic Di2 version of the groupset, the mechanical is likely to retain favour with those seeking the top-tier groupset from Shimano, without the estimated 40 percent price increase that the electronic version brings.
This article was originally published April 11, 2014. It was updated on October 27 following an XTR press-camp at the Cape to Cape mountain bike race in Australia. We're told the groupset will begin to reach stores in November. We've since written a first-ride review of the 11-speed XTR M9000 groupset.
FC-M9000 and FC-M9020 cranksets
XTR’s new style crankset will be available in two options: the FC-9000, a lightweight crankset designed for cross-country race use; and the slightly stiffer and stronger FC-M9020 Trail crankset.
The XC Race crankset can accept one or two chainrings but will not accept three rings. The crankset features a unique hollow-bonded construction, the result of which is a 640g complete claimed weight (excluding bottom bracket).
This crankset also features a unique 158mm Q-factor that is 10mm narrower than that of the Trail version. The idea is to offer improved pedalling efficiency for racers. The teeth of the XTR chainrings are made from titanium and reinforced with a carbon fibre structure. The Race version has cut-outs to the teeth of the outer chainring.
The Trail version of the crankset is cold forged and doesn't have the hollow-bonding of the Race version. This gives it additional strength, along with a weight penalty.
The crankset can accept a single-, double- or triple- ring setup, with blanking tabs used to cover the holes left for double or single configurations.
For those seeking a 1x setup, the dedicated chainring features retention technology – now labelled Dynamic Chain Engagement – with a unique slightly-hooked and longer tooth profile that claims to eliminate the need for chain retention devices.
The XC and Trail cranksets both feature a proprietary 94BCD spider. As the chainrings mount from the back of the crank, the crank will need to removed from most bikes in order to swap chainrings.
Both the M9000 and M9020 cranksets use Shimano’s Hollowtech II bottom bracket standard, two current bottom brackets will be standard fit, one for regular threaded BBs (SM-BB93) and one for press-fit BBs (SM-BB94-41A).
FC-M9000 XC Race chainset
- 2x: 34-24T, 36-26T, 38-28T
- 1x: 30T, 32T, 34T, 36T
FC-M9020 Trail chainset
- 3x: 40-30-22T
- 2x: 34-24T, 36-26T, 38-28T
- 1x: 30T, 32T, 34T, 36T
Shimano will also continue to produce its FC-M980 10-speed chainset in all common sizes and gear configurations.
Note that even with a triple, the largest ring possible is a 40T. This is of course smaller than the 42 and 44T options of the past and is a sign of current mountain-focused gearing trends.
Shimano’s all-new wide-ratio 11-speed XTR cassette is available in one option only and features an 11-40t range. The gear ratios are spread follows: 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40. The cassette spider is constructed from carbon fibre and mounts a combination of aluminium, steel and titanium cogs leading to a 318g claimed weight. The cassette is compatible with all current Shimano 8-, 9- and 10-speed freehubs.
Where Shimano 11-speed road components needed a wider specific freehub body, XTR sticks with the current standard through off-setting the largest cog from the carrier. Due to the 40T size, it has clearance with the spokes that narrow toward the rim.
Just in case you're wondering (and we're not sure why you would), Shimano knows that the new 11-40T cassette won't fit on road wheels.
The CN-HG900-11 uses a HG-X11 special asymmetric plate design and Shimano's new SIL-TEC surface treatment. Shimano claims a 60 percent reduction in friction and a 30 percent improvement in the chain's ability to shed mud.
If this all seems familiar, it's for a good reason. Just like it was with the 9-speed 7701 Dura-Ace and XTR chain, Shimano is returning to using the same chain for road and mountain. Mechanics rejoice!
RD-M9000 rear derailleur
The new XTR rear derailleur features an even lower profile than previous Shadow models. This profile also optimises the slant angle of the component which lowers shifting effort and improves stability. The new Shadow RD+ clutch retention system has a simpler, external clutch adjustment that is done with an Allen head bolt.
Additionally, the position of the clutch switch has been reversed, with the on-position now pointing down. This is done because of compatability issues with some bikes, where the upward position of the switch could touch the frame.
The derailleur will be available in a G/S version for single/double setups and a longer SGS long cage version for triple transmissions.
Like the crankset, XTR’s brakes are divided into XC Race and Trail versions. The Race version features a magnesium caliper and lever body along with a carbon lever blade and titanium hardware. The trail version is 25 percent more powerful than the race version and uses an alloy lever with a carbon overlay. Both brakes also benefit from pistons that use a glass fibre phenolic construction, compared to the previous ceramic material. This material gives a claimed ten percent improvement in heat resistance and is said to be more durable.
The brakes are also compatible with Shimano’s new I-spec II attachment standard, which now allows the height of the brake lever and shifter to be adjusted independently, but with fewer tools needed.
XTR M9000's shift levers can be used to perform single or multiple shifts in one action. As you'd expect they also use Shimano's two-way release system, so riders can change gears using just a thumb or a thumb and forefinger. The levers feature a little more texture for better grip, something borrowed from Shimano Saint.
The internals have been reworked to offer an easier action and ensure that every single shift feels identical, where previously some riders experienced upward shift resistance progressively getting harder when used with the clutch rear derailleur. XTR now gets the same polymer-coated inner gear cables as Shimano's top end Dura-Ace road groupset, the result is a claimed 20 percent reduction in shifter effort compared to current XTR shifters.
FD-M9000 front derailleur
XTR M9000 debuts a new front derailleur design for Shimano, known as the sideswing. It is said to offer 100 percent more powerful outward shifting, along with less noise and 15mm more tyre clearance when compared with previous XTR.
Imagine turning a conventional front derailleur 90 degrees and mounting it sideways – that's the orientation of sideswing. It's not all good news though – this design requires unique cable routing that follows the down tube and goes directly into the front derailleur, which won't be possible on all frames. Conventional front derailleur types will also be available for incompatible frames.
XTR M9000 wheelset
Shimano will be producing two entirely new XTR mountain bike wheelsets in 27.5in and 29in sizes. The rims will debut Shimano's carbon laminate rim technology for mountain bike applications (similar to Shimano C24 and C35 road wheel designs) and will also get a new lightweight bearing and axle system that claims a 33g weight reduction (exact configuration unknown).
A M9000 XC Race and M9020 Trail version of the wheel is soon to be available, both featuring 28 butted and straight-pull spokes front and rear. The XC Version will feature a 20mm internal and 23.9mm external rim width.
While the Trail version features a wider 24mm internal and 27.9mm external wider. Both are tubeless compatible and come pre-installed with a tubeless rimstrip, something that Shimano states makes for easier spoke replacement and repair compared to previous tubeless designs.
Hub configurations are limited and not interchangeable, with the XC Race version offered in 15mm thru-axle for the front only and either 9mm QR or 142 x 12mm thru-axle rear only. The Trail version is available in just one configuration, 15mm front and 142 x 12mm rear only.
And just in case you're reading this and thinking these will make good cyclocross wheels, Shimano states these won't work with a 11-speed road cassette.
XTR M9000 pedals
Receiving some minor updates from the previous M980 editions, the M9000 Race and M9020 Trail pedals offer a little more shoe and pedal interaction, while a reduction in the axle material allows for increased mud shedding and a slight drop in weight.
M9000 mechanical groupset weights
M9000 XC 1x11 (2015)
M9020 Trail 1x11 (2015)
M980 XC 2x10 (2014)
M9000 XC 2x11 (2015)
M980 Trail 3x10 (2014)
M9020 Trail 3x11 (2015)