Bike Setup: Chaka Al600 Frame, Votec GS4 Fork, Magura HS44 Gustav M & HS33 Race Line Brakes, ESP 9.0, Race Face...
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: January 10, 2001
Strengths: Light Good Hubs, Smooth Shifting
Weaknesses: Brakes develop slop, cranks wear out
O.K Im reviewing the original 96 groupo here- a bit of a waste of time I guess but you can still buy some of the components. An interesting obsevation: the original components had the designation M-950. Now every component except the hubs has been remodeled- i.e the new brakes are M-951. Guess what- on my bike the hubs are the only component which have lasted. Shimano basically released a crap component group in 96 but has changed it over the years and I guess the group as it stands in 2000 might be O.K. I bought the hype in 96. My biggest beef was with the bottom bracket/crank interface- the pawls on the M-950 bottom bracket were tiny and only went half way into the spline of the crank- the spline eventually wore out and now Im riding with race face. The front derailler sheared off, the brakes are way sloppy (new ones have beefier linkage), the front shifter broke- it has plastic inside and plastic pawls on the indents, and the rear deralleier developed side play- the new one has a different bushing at the dropout mount.
Bottom Line: If you have lotsa money XTR is O.K as you can buy a new set when it wears out, and initially it does function like a dream- I guess the 2000 line up might also be more durable than the 96. But as this catergory is for the 96 group then my rating is-
Bike Setup: Full XTR Groupo, Steel frame, Sid, Ceramic Rims
a Cross Country Rider
from Boulder, CO
Date Reviewed: January 14, 2000
Strengths: nice brakes and levers
Weaknesses: 9-speed drivetrain -- weak chain, more positions that rub, clogs more easily.
The bottom line is that 9-speed sucks. I'm snapping chains left and right, I have more gear combinations where the chain is rubbing the front derailleur, and the drivetrain clogs up more often in muddy conditions. How is this supposed to be "better" for us riders? Sure, shifting is smooth, but what good is that if other parts of the drive train are rubbing and snapping?
On the positive side, I really like the brakes and levers. That and the fact that I was able to get a good group price swayed me to buy the XTR grouppo. In hindsight, I really wish I had listened to the other negative reviews and gone with a non-Shimano for my drivetrain.
And in case you think that we'll see the end of this stupid behavior on Shimano's part, think again. According to the Dec99 issue of "Dirt Rag", Shimano has been awared two patents for a 14-speed (!!) drive train. The patent numbers are 5954604 and 5921881, and you can read them at http://126.96.36.199/netahtml/srchnum.htm (the US Patent Office search engine).
Strengths: Stiffness of cranks, rings Shifting performance Light Durability Wide range of gears
Weaknesses: Interchange of non group parts is difficult and effects performance Chain wears quickly in 9 sp setup Expensive upgrade as a system
I have raced with many groups and set ups over the last 2 decades. The XTR groupset is the best shifting performance available. I have used the 9 sp system for the last 6 months and I am pleased with every aspect of performance. The drive system demands to be cleaned and lubed often - after every muddy or dusty condition ride/race. I disagree with the idea that the XTR is an expensive casual group. The XTR is an expensive race bred system. It's broad based popularity is a reflection of the willingness of off road fanatics of any skill level to pay for high performance stuff - go for it. If you are looking for the best shifting race group and price is not an issue, the XTR fits the bill.
Similar Products Used: Shimano - Many Race Face cranks, rings Specialized cranks Grip shift - Many
Bike Setup: Spec. FSR XC Comp XTR shift group Avid brake/Lever
from North Vancouver, BC
Date Reviewed: October 31, 1999
Strengths: - Mega Range allows you to not shift off the middle ring for inordinate amount of time - light weight - good resale value
Weaknesses: - Subsceptibility of chain to breakage when torquing under load - Mis-shifts in muddy conditions - Quick chain wear - Tendency for chain to slip from middle to granny when bike is jarred or portaged.
Review is for 1999 XTR Mega Range drivetrain. Chain rings are Race Face 9 speed.Experiences are for racing Snr Expert in BC Cup and local BC races in Pacific NW. Shared experiences with some training partners racing Mens and Womens Expert and Pro.Part of my frustration is the countless - oh but 9 speed is great without stating under what conditions 9 speed is used. I'm reluctant to say Expert rider, ride harder, faster and longer than the rest of you and in mud blah, blah but, generally, for myself and many of my racing mates - that is the truth relative to the majority of posters.Most tests are conducted in relatively friendly climatic conditions and I suspect that these conditions lend themselves to good gear performance. Moreover, most tests are designed for the mean/average rider. Performance is acceptable and would merit 3 stars. However, given the price of the group, downgrade to 2 stars
Bike Setup: Norco Team Issue - OEM with XTR Mega Range 9 speed drivetrain except for Race Face chainrings
a Cross-Country Rider
from Folsom, CA
Date Reviewed: October 22, 1999
Strengths: Light weight, the new MEGA 9 works pretty well, I like the gray metal color... cool
Weaknesses: Doesn't shift quite as well as last years XTR due to the WIDE range (and only one availible) 12-34 rear cogset.I like compact gearing, I wish they had that option...Make sure youo get the SGS (long cage) rear deraileur if you want to be able to cross chain the gears or you will accedentally rip your der. off!
This new XTR MEGA 9 spd works OK but not as well as the standard set up like last years XTR. Why does Shimano think you need this wide range of gear ratios? I would put this gearing on an XT (more recreational) equipt bike. I NEVER use the 24 chainring with the 34 rear cog. (Not even in Moab on the slick rock trail) I just ordered a 5 arm spyder conversion and race face chainrings (32T and 44T) and I'm going to run, yes, only two chainrings up front. My buddy has been doing this for quite some time and the gearing is sufficiant for anything we ride... and yes we have STEEP and LONG hills around here too. Everything else is typical XTR... NICE! Great grouppo BUT stupid (no choice in the matter) gear ratios, so only 4 burnning turds...
Similar Products Used: '98 XTR, XT, race face (good stuff too)
Bike Setup: Ventana Fuego, full new XTR MEGA 9, '99 SID
from Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
Date Reviewed: October 1, 1999
Strengths: Most functional group of parts
If you read Shimano total information you would find their very logical explination to why Shimano XTR is not really compatible with everything else and that is that the XTR parts are made to work with nothing else but themselves. Basically those of you who want to complain about it feel free to but if maintained even a bit this group is the best one.
No matter what a couple of these losers say, Shimano makes the best components on the market. Foremost of these is the XTR gruppo. Simply the best shifting, braking, stiffest and lightest for any price. Has never failed me in a race. Have you ever noticed that when the losers start ragging on Shimano, they NEVER have anything intelligent to say and have to mention that the trendy product of the moment that they just bought is so much better than Shimano. Too bad their brains are filled with crap instead of brains. I guess they are still in high school mode and think that you have to be different to be cool. Have a good ride!GIG 'EM Aggies! 1999 Big XII Champs in Football and Baseball!
a Cross-Country Rider
from Ithaca, NY
Date Reviewed: April 30, 1999
Strengths: Light, beautiful, good gear ratios
Weaknesses: rear cogs easy to bend. Doesn't work well when it gets dirty.
Great looking and I love having 9 speeds to chose. When I get it dirty or muddy performance really drops. Bent the 3rd cog in the rear cluster during a ride. Must have been a stick because I never felt like I really torqued up.
a Cross-Country Rider
from Brooklyn, NY
Date Reviewed: April 16, 1999
Strengths: Great components. It's simple, they work! Silently, smoothly, quickly. AND they're LIGHT!
I have a a '97 goup with a'98 Rapid-Rise Rear Derailleur. I upgraded from an XT group and was astounded by the improvement. I ride through mud, sand, dirt and city streets (NYC streets are a bit like riding off-road) and have had nothing but flawless performance. The Rapid-Rise Derailleur is a treat to use! The cranks are stiff. Both derailleuers WORK! The brakes are excellent. Shifting is Quick and Precise.Keep it all clean and lubricated and you'll have perfect performance.Definately worth the price!
The absolute best shifting. No other group comes close. It's worth it to get XT or XTR instead of LX for the shifters alone, which have quicker action and much shorter travel. The quality of the other components is also superb. The V-brakes are great. The hubs and cassette are light and strong.The only gripes I have are minor: (1.) The cost is still brutal. (2.) I love the brake levers (I think only Avid makes better brake levers than Shimano) but they're too damned short. It's hard to get 2 fingers on them. I know they're supposed to be 1-finger levers, but it pisses me off that Shimano is not giving people a choice. I still think better than 90% of bikers like to use 2 fingers. I have relatively skinny fingers. Someone with big hands could really get to hate these levers. (3.) The BB is great, but you're forced to use Shimano's cranks. Come to think of it, the splined spindle and 4-arm cranks are really good ideas and are already starting to become standards. I have to admit that many of Shimano's innovations become standards, not because of the company's dominance in the component market, but because they do work better. (4.) In an earlier review, someone else mentioned how the finish on the cranks can wear away relatively easily. (5.) I wish the shifters had more adjustability. I like my brake levers angled down somewhat and this causes the shifters to be positioned too close to my thumbs.Like I said, all my gripes are minor. I consider 5 flames to mean perfection, so I score the XTR group a 4, but that doesn't mean I don't consider it to be the best group out there by far.