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Just when we thought the 970 XTR cassette was the nicest thing we'd seen from their Sakai City factory, along comes the CS-M980 XTR 10-Speed Cassette. The biggest difference from the last generation is that this 980 Cassette has 10 cogs rather than nine. And with the addition of the largest titanium cog you'll get the option of 36 teeth for a stump-pulling low end gear ratio.

The largest 5 cogs are in fact made of titanium. It's super strong and saves weight over the steel that's typically used in lesser cassettes. In another nod towards weight savings, Shimano pins the six largest cogs, two at a time, to aluminum carriers. The width of these spiders increases the surface area, so they won't dig notches into your lightweight alloy freehub bodies like lesser cassettes with loose steel cogs would. They're faster to get on and off the freehub body, and also make de-gunking easier. However, for the most extreme friction applications, it's hard to beat steel. That's why the five smallest cogs rely on this seemingly pedestrian metal. But don't be fooled, Shimano spends a lot of time figuring out how to heat-treat it to last and last under the most grueling conditions.

The Shimano XTR 10-Speed Cassette CS-M980 is available in two 10-speed configurations -- 11/34t and 11/36t. It's held onto your hub with the included XTR 11t alloy lockring. Shimano recommends its use alongside the XTR 980 10-Speed HG-X Chain.

  • Computer-designed tooth profiles and shift gates provide crisp, smooth, and quick shifting—even under load
  • Nickel-plated finish resists corrosion and reduces wear for a long life
  • Three-piece spider fights deflection for accurate shifting
  • Five largest cogs are titanium for low rotational weight
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Awesomeness all rolled into one

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This cassette is really the best of the best. If you can afford it get one. Don't expect it to last as long. I typically run my cassettes longer than I should; this thing will last 2 seasons of moderate riding; one season for hard on 4 x week riding. When you hold this next to XT one there is an obvious difference.