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Kiss the Ring.
Shimano might not be all-in on the 1x movement, but thankfully the Japanese giant does craft product for those of us who prefer the simplicity of a drivetrain with a single chainring. The XTR M9000 SM-CRM91 1x chainring marries Shimano's top-tier XTR crankset with the most precise, smoothest shifting groupset on the trail. Resist the urge to bastardize your otherwise full-XTR build with a third-party vendor and stick with the exactness that can only come from a group engineered in total unison. The same carbon-reinforced titanium construction found on Shimano's flagship rings brings you excellent durability and lightweight performance. The biggest change is in the tooth shapes, which differ slightly from their shifting counterparts. They're custom designed to grab at the inner plates of the chain and work simultaneously with modern clutch rear derailleurs to keep your chain on the ring not matter how rough the trail gets.
- Shimano's 1x offering for its top-tier group
- Carbon-reinforced titanium body is light ans stiff
- Specially shaped teeth retain the chain on rough terrain
- Compatible with Shimano XTR M9000 crank arms
- Item #SHI00HM
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
As far as I'm concerned, the XTR 9000/9020 crankset is the very best mountain bike crankset ever built. They're light, stiff, impact resistant, and absolutely reliable, which is a combination of factors that places them miles ahead of any carbon fiber crank arm, at least for those of us who are prone to crank arm strikes. Unlike the crank arms, this chainring is super flimsy. Mine bent almost immediately, and I still genuinely have no idea what I hit. That's not terribly surprising though, as I've had the same experience with these composite-reinforced Shimano 1x rings in the past. They just don't seem to hold up.
So for those of you running a 1x drivetrain, keep your superior Shimano crankset, but pass on this chainring and get a Wolf Tooth instead. You can thank me later.