Shimano’s Deore XT and XTR cranks are intended for 10-speed setups and appear to be at their shifting best with Shimano’s direction-specific 10-speed chains. But they still seem to run pretty well with most nine-speed chains.
The Japanese company lagged behind rivals SRAM when it came to introducing 2×10 chainsets but they appear to have made up for that by improving on last generation XT with super-stiff big-profile arms, a new spider design and meticulously profiled rings that remain slick, quiet and accurate even when shifting under extreme pedal pressure.
Weight is impressive for such a stiff crankset and the stainless steel inner ring will last for ages, as will the bottom bracket bearings. Go for silver rather than black if you want to avoid the outer edges looking scruffy quickly.
You’ll have to run adapters if your frame has a BB30 oversized bottom bracket shell. If you’re not completely confident of your fitness on climbs, go for the 38/26-tooth chainrings option, even if you’re running a cassette with up to 36 teeth out back.
Also consider: Shimano XTR M980 double, £435. The XTR double costs a lot more but has loads of ring options and performs better than most carbon cranksets.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.