Shimano XTR FC-M9020 Trail Crankset

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XTR FC-M9020 Trail is modular, creating a Rider Tuned platform whereby single and double chain rings can be used on the same crank arm. It is available in single, double and triple chaining configurations on the cold forged more durable, standard 168mm Q-factor crank arms.


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[Nov 09, 2016]
Weekend Warrior


168 Q factor. Bolt pattern makes sense. Light when used with aftermarket ring. Quiet and reliable. Can fit in almost all bottom bracket formats.


If you use the stock ring(s), you are stuck using the cosmetic chainring bolts which are heavy and IMO look cheap. Finish looks okay, rather plain/boring to look at from a distance, and prone to rubbing off if you're someone whose feet rub the crankarms.

So lets start with weight. These arms, Absolute Black 32t oval ring, and XTR bottom bracket: 472+53+63=588 grams. Compare to Race Face Next SL arms, Absolute Black 32t oval ring, and Hope bottom bracket for 30mm spindle and english threaded BB: 377+62+102=541 grams. So if you do it right, the total package is actually right there with the lightest competition.

Now, bolt pattern. I know people are annoyed Shimano changed their bolt pattern. But it makes sense to have the bolts closer together on the two sides of the chainring where it is possible for it to hit the ground, not to mention that is where the chain is loaded the most in your pedaling motion. It makes bash guards less necessary and that's a good thing. More ground clearance, less weight, less money spent. Next, I haven't heard of a spiderless interface yet where there aren't an uncomfortably large number of reports about things starting to creak. Either at the place the crank arm attaches or the chainring splines or both. With Shimano's pinch bolt system on the non drive arm (aka Hollowtech II), and time tested spider and chainring bolts, I've had no issues (now or ever before with past products using the same design). I trust chainring bolts more at this point than a spiderless design, even though spiderless does look cool and should work fine in theory. The new bolt pattern also gives us room for 30T rings if people desire, which is nice now that many people ride a 1x setup.

Finally there's Q factor: the real reason I personally went XTR on this particular part of my bike. Some people say it doesn't matter. Well when I run, my calves almost touch each other, so I figured a narrow Q factor might be nice for me (I've never had heel rub problems on the bike so wasn't worried about that). Turns out it indeed feels way more natural for my knees. They feel better during the ride and after. Shimano XT, which I was using before, is 8 mm wider than these (176mm), that is a pretty significant change in the realm of biomechanics. I felt it instantly and won't be going back to anything wider unless there is no longer a choice.

Similar Products Used:

XT, SLX, Deore. Race face and SRAM on demo bikes and rentals.

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