Issue #032 Review

The Lab: Shimano XTR M9000 Drivetrain Review

In the “The Lab” we present the latest products and put them through their paces for you. Some undergo long-term tests, while we check others out only briefly. This time we reveal how the Shimano XTR M9000 drivetrain fared.

The Shimano XTR drivetrain has been 100% reliable, no jammed mechs, no ghost shifts, no jockey wheel explosions, almost boring in its reluctance to play up

XTR has always stood as the pinnacle of performance and weight. For the last 12 months Trev has been abusing the latest 11-speed Shimano XTR M9000 drivetrain, rain or shine. From near vertical enduro trails that make you question your sanity, to heavily laden alpine bikepacking, the XTR suffered it all, idiotic shifts and crashes included. On the trail there is no hiding the fact that this is Shimano’s top flight drivetrain, the ergonomic XTR Rapidfire Plus shifter shifts with machine gun precision. Trev loves the multiple gear dump option allowing him to grab 4 gears with one long push of the long carbon shifter paddles. Trev is still running the original shift cable, and while not as beautifully light as it initially was, it still shifts without hesitation.

The heart of the system is the XTR M9000 derailleur, which has been as reliable as a swiss watch. Fluoride coated bushing links give it a smooth action and have not developed any unwanted play, despite frequent bashing. The adjustable clutch is very strong, damping chain movement very well, Trev found that a lighter clutch adjustment gave smoother multiple shifts, but for hard terrain and muddy conditions he opted for a firmer clutch for absolute reliability. When working really hard in rough terrain the M9000 Dyna-Sys 32T chainring would let go of the chain, so Trev slammed on a top guide to keep everything in order. The 40T cassette ring has seen some action and wear can be seen, but it has not been at the detriment of shifting or performance – it’s no match for the mighty range of the SRAM Eagle though.

The ergonomic XTR Rapidfire Plus shifter features long carbon fibre levers running on ball bearings, with dimpled paddles that require just the lightest touch to send the chain rapidly up or down through the gears

Conclusion

Shimano’s top flight drivetrain has been a pleasure to use. It must be said, that while everything else on Trev’s bike has had some issues over the season, the XTR M9000 drivetrain has been absolutely faultless – if only the cassette were bigger.

Strengths

  • Bombproof reliability
  • Precision shifting

Weaknesses

  • Small cassette range
  • expensiv

Tester: Trev
Duration: 12 months

Price: ca. € 1,320
Weight: depends on configuration
More info: bike.shimano.com

This article is from ENDURO issue #032

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Words & Photos: Trev Worsey