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  1. #1
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    Help me choose a new drivetrain.

    My next big upgrade on my Hammerhead 100X will be the drivetrain (and wheels and brakes, but that's a different forum). Everything is just starting to get worn and I want to replace the whole drivetrain at once...Crankset, cassette, front and rear derailleur, chain, shifters, cables.

    I've done some searching around and I have a few quesitons.

    This looks like it's going to cost around $600 with mostly XT/X9 level stuff..... Does this sound about right (sounds like a bunch to me)?.. Or should I shop around a bit more?

    SRAM or Shimano? Not to open a can of worms... and I know many people have definite preferences here but if I'm a satisfied shimano user with no axe to gring against shimano as a coporate giant per se..... is there any real reason to change? The way some talk about SRAM you'd think it was the next coming of sliced bread....but I have no experience with anything but shimano so what would I know?

    Deus or XT crank?

    Do all cranks come with the new outboard bearing/bb systems now replacing the need for a separate bb?

    Will shimano chains work on SRAM gears and vice/versa?

  2. #2
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    SRAM or Shimano?The way some talk about SRAM you'd think it was the next coming of sliced bread
    personal preference. They're both good. I was also a happy shimano user but don't like the dual control so jumped ship when it was time for me to rebuild my drivetrain. I still prefer xtr rapidrise over anything else but found xtr to be more finicky in terms of setup.

    Deus or XT crank?
    Once again, preference. XT outboard bearing cranks have a wide q-factor which I find ergonomically unpleasing. Race Face cranks are a bit bulky at the crankarm-spider interface and I kept banging my ankle into it. After trying several cranks I settled on FSA.

    Do all cranks come with the new outboard bearing/bb systems now replacing the need for a separate bb?
    Not all, but many. Be sure to read the fine print on what you're ordering.


    Will shimano chains work on SRAM gears and vice/versa
    Absolutely
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Squeaky Wheel
    I was also a happy shimano user but don't like the dual control so jumped ship when it was time for me to rebuild my drivetrain.
    Thanks for the input Squeak. Can't I still get the old trigger system for shimano?.... Or is it the derailleur that goes with it that is no longer available?

  4. #4
    Bodhisattva
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    Quote Originally Posted by KRob
    Thanks for the input Squeak. Can't I still get the old trigger system for shimano?.... Or is it the derailleur that goes with it that is no longer available?
    You can still get old style Shimano triggers. A Shimano RD will work with either the new or old shifters.
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  5. #5
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    You can still get shimano RF shifters. They have never been dicontinued and even have new sets to match the new stuff. Remember shifting is totally a preference thing. Don't just avoid DC because some people don't like it. A lot of people don't like grip shifting or rapid fire but thats no reason to avoid it. If you want to play it safe go with what you're used to but if you get a chance, try to test all the alternatives.

    As far as cranks, my choice would be XT. I have the Race Face Deus as well but Shimano's outboard implementation is just simpler and overall better though out. Race Face uses a huge ISIS like spline on the driveside which is a tricky to install and sometimes backs out. They also use bearings that are completely filled with balls. It sounds like a great idea and they should be stronger except for the small fact that they apparently didn't figure that if they cram them with balls it leaves practically no room for grease. They dry out rather easily. Fortunately they are easy to service and bearing cups are compatible between the different brands.

  6. #6
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    Same boat

    I'm glad you asked this question. My Deore shifters are about at the end of their ropes, and I am wavering between Shimano or Sram also.

    I did purchase a XT crankset about 4 months ago, and have been very happy with it. completely eliminated the chain suck I was experiencing, and I felt a big increase in power over my old Deore crankset. I was looking at the Race Face also, but I heard several people complain about bent crank arms, so I went XT. I haven't been sorry.

  7. #7
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    You can go with Shimano & Sram for der. and shifters. I'm currently running an XT rear der. with Sram Rocket trigger shifters. IMO, that combination is awesome.

    I'm still running my old RF Turbine LP cranks, so I don't have any input on the new cranks. I can tell you that I've never had a problem with the Turbines matched with a RF SRX BB. I've had this setup for 3 years without any problems.
    "If God didn't want us to eat animals, He wouldn't have made them out of meat."

  8. #8
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    If you can find it, get an old XT 8speed shifter pod, 8speed chain and 8speed rear cassette. I wore out "all" of the 9 speed stuff in a year on my '04 Kikapu. That's chain, middle chain ring and rear cassette. And that was actually my 3rd chain. And I even kept it clean and lubed every 3 rides. Crazy!!!! Why did Shimano have to mess with a good thing. 9 speed chain and gears are thinner than 8 speed. Do the math.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbikernc69
    If you can find it, get an old XT 8speed shifter pod, 8speed chain and 8speed rear cassette.
    I'll probably stay with 9 speed unless I could get 9 speed ratios 1-8 then drop the 12 tooth cog. I NEVER use it unless I'm on the road..which is almost never.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailrash
    I'm currently running an XT rear der. with Sram Rocket trigger shifters. IMO, that combination is awesome.
    I saw those advertised somewhere and wondered how they worked. I thought the SRAM 1:2 ratio triggers weren't quite up to par with Shimano. Is the mechanism and build quality like X-9 level?

    Anyone have any comments on the thumb/thumb push/push action on the SRAM. Seems like it would get confusing. Heck, I get confused with with the finger/thumb pull/push on my XTs.

    K (easily confused) Rob

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by byrddog33
    I did purchase a XT crankset about 4 months ago, and have been very happy with it.
    Yeah, I'll probably stay with the XT crank. It has been absolutely flawless over 3 1/2 years and thousands of hard miles.... just wondering if there was any compelling reason to change.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by KRob
    I saw those advertised somewhere and wondered how they worked. I thought the SRAM 1:2 ratio triggers weren't quite up to par with Shimano. Is the mechanism and build quality like X-9 level?
    Well, as said in another thread, SRAM has misrepresentated the truth. Srams shifters are in reality 1.2:1, and shimano is around 1.7:1, so the difference isn't as great as it's been made out to be, but SRAM has "rounded" the numbers to make it seem greater.

    Shimano has been making rapid fire shifters for decades. They have precision metal detents inside of them. This is the main reason that sram had to decrease their leverage ratio, because the plastic teeth of the gripshifters were just too inaccurate over time, so to fix this they decreased the leverage. Will the new sram push-push shifters last as long as the shimano ones that have been around for more than a decade? That's the real question. Most grip shift systems that have been around for that long are simply trash now, but you can also attribute that to sram being a smaller company that's been forever trying to catch up. I worked in a shop recently for about a year, and the only real long term problem with some of the rapid fire shifters (and I'm talking like 5-10 years down the road) is that the grease gets gummy and eventually turns into more of a glue. This is easily fixed with carb cleaner and nice wax lubes or your favorite lube.

    When you remove the indicators of the shimano shifters, they are lighter than the sram push-push shifters. My LX shifters are lighter than the SRAM XO. With proper installation they work awesome (as does any decent system). I really like how I have my shifters positioned, which allows me to shift to harder gears by just moving the knuckle of my index finger in a little bit, and I do my upshifts with my thumbs. The other reason that this works is that shimano's leverage allows shorter lever throws, so you don't have to push as far to change one gear.

    Shimano has been making these things for literally decades. Sram has been doing it for a couple seasons. Some people see this as "innovation" on srams part, and others just see it as sram finally "getting with the program".
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  13. #13
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    I'd say the new outboard bearing XT cranks are really nice, HOWEVER be very careful on chain maintanance and changing - I just had to change the middle ring on my new (2 months and a little) XT cranks with about 1/16" chain wear it ate away the middle ring with ease (was prob about 1/32" when I installed the new cranks). Still love the new XT HT2 cranks, just watch out for the soft middle ring. For a little less cash and some weight gain you could get the LX ones - round $160 compared to $240.

    As for cassette is you're looking to save some money and only gain a little weight JensonUSA has the LX M-570 (11-32) cassette for just $24 - just replaced mine with the LX and LX/PG-73 chain.

    Shifter wise I'd have to say I'm in the same boat as you. Had Shimano 8 spd on my 1st bike (old style) and then got the Trance with RR which took a little to get accustomed too ( kept shifting up when I wanted to go down and vice versa) but really love 'em now. Have heard the SRAMs are nice but no experience - try to demo some.
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  14. #14
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx
    I'd say the new outboard bearing XT cranks are really nice, HOWEVER be very careful on chain maintanance and changing - I just had to change the middle ring on my new (2 months and a little) XT cranks with about 1/16" chain wear it ate away the middle ring with ease
    Yeah, that doesn't suprise me. You've got to replace the chain more often, at 1/16 of stretch the chain is usually damaging something else in the drivetrain, and ruining the cassette at the same time (but sometimes you get lucky and it's ok). After some serious time on the XTs and about 3 chain changes, I don't think there's anything wrong with the rings at all, they hold up great...if you maintain the rest of your drivetrain by changing the chain.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  15. #15
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    One last thing I almost forgot...don't go cheap on derailluer cables. I've tried several different ones (Aztec Power Lines, Jaguar, generic bike store)....then I found Nirvana...
    XTR derailluer cables are the shizit! They have sealed rubber ends and are pre-lubed. Slickest cables I've ever used...even better than, dare I say, Gore cables.(And I've used those on my hard tail/they just didn't work that well on my full suss.) All the others would ghost shift. Not the XTR's. Best $30 I've ever spent. One thing though...Make sure you read the directions...Insert the inner wire into the housing end that has the Shimano logo on it. That's where all the lube is. If you don't, you push all the lube out. Later...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbikernc69
    One last thing I almost forgot...don't go cheap on derailluer cables. I've tried several different ones (Aztec Power Lines, Jaguar, generic bike store)....then I found Nirvana...
    XTR derailluer cables are the shizit! They have sealed rubber ends and are pre-lubed. Slickest cables I've ever used...even better than, dare I say, Gore cables.(And I've used those on my hard tail/they just didn't work that well on my full suss.) All the others would ghost shift. Not the XTR's. Best $30 I've ever spent. One thing though...Make sure you read the directions...Insert the inner wire into the housing end that has the Shimano logo on it. That's where all the lube is. If you don't, you push all the lube out. Later...
    There's nothing really "XTR" about the cable housing, they're just a different color than some of the other shimano cable housing. If you want ferrules with seals, you should be able to get them from any bike shop. All shimano cable housing that comes with shifter kits comes with grease. The "grease" that shimano puts in the housing pisses me off to no limit, if the now grease-laden cable touches the floor, or even a table, it's going to pick up all kinds of junk. They should just leave them free of the grease.

    That said, I think you were talking about cable housing; I'd also recommend to not go too cheap on this stuff. We've gotten cheap housing in the shop before from Summit and it was just crap. It would never cut correctly, and shimano, quality, or jagwire housing was just heads and toes above the real cheap stuff.

    Cables on the other hand are pretty dead simple, a coated zinc cable is going to hold up pretty darn well, the other option is usually stainless, but if you are replacing your cables at decent intervals, the SS cables don't seem to make any difference.

    If you are mechanically proficciant and do not have any qualms about routing cables and housing, I'd just recommend to go cheap and simple, and rip it out and completely replace it every 6 months.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  17. #17
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    I'd go with the Raceface cranks over the XT due to the spider. XT's are using a seperate press-fit spider, where the Raceface is a single piece connected to the crankarm. It's been my experience that over time, the press fit XT spider loosens up a bit and creaks. I haven't used the new outboard bearing version of the XT crank, but looknig at the spider, it seems the same as the previous generation of XT cranks with gave me tons of creaking problems.

    For shifting, it's personal choice. All of it works well. I've used rapidfires, dual control, recently moved to SRAM triggers and will be trying SRAM twist shifters on my new bike. They all work, just differently, and all have their positives and negatives.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbikernc69
    I found Nirvana...
    XTR derailluer cables are the shizit! .
    This would seem like a good deal then.

    For 15 bucks, I think I'll give these a try.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    You've got to replace the chain more often, at 1/16 of stretch the chain is usually damaging something else in the drivetrain.
    Oops. It just dawned on me with regards to my other thread that I haven't changed my chain in like 15 months. I've been pretty good about changing it out as soon as it got out of spec (about once a year) up until now. This could explain some of my current shifting woes.

    I guess I better get busy and change out all this stuff. I don't want to put a new chain on these old (probably damaged) cogs.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal
    It's been my experience that over time, the press fit XT spider loosens up a bit and creaks.
    I've never had any issues (including creaks) with my previous generation XT cranks. Is this something different with the new hollowtech cranks?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by KRob
    Oops. It just dawned on me with regards to my other thread that I haven't changed my chain in like 15 months. I've been pretty good about changing it out as soon as it got out of spec (about once a year) up until now. This could explain some of my current shifting woes.

    I guess I better get busy and change out all this stuff. I don't want to put a new chain on these old (probably damaged) cogs.

    Dagnabbit - my reply just disappeared.

    Well, the gist of it is that you can replace your worn items for far less than a new derraileure. Probably only need one chainring, a chain and *maybe* a cassette.

    And put NEW CABLES AND HOUSING on your bike. That will make that old drivetrain work just like new. 95% of my crappy drivetrain problems end up getting fixed with nice fresh cables and housing.

  22. #22
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    No reason to change

    If you liked the Shimano drivetrain you're replacing, why switch? I have two bikes, one with X.7 and the other is a combo XT/LX. Both work fine, and both need adjusting from time to time. Both companies put out good products, but Shimano seems to take it on the chin a lot (admittedly, I don't care for what I PERSONALLY perceive as arrogance from Shimano). Bottom line, stick with what works for you.

    Bob
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  23. #23
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    Sorry for the short hijack

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    ... the only real long term problem with some of the rapid fire shifters (and I'm talking like 5-10 years down the road) is that the grease gets gummy and eventually turns into more of a glue. This is easily fixed with carb cleaner and nice wax lubes or your favorite lube...
    Jayem can you give a short explaination of how to do this cleaning.

    Back to the topic. XT vs X9. I'd say its a toss up. I like both but... the XT "seems" more robust in the short haul, i think the x9 will shift better in the long haul.

    I own a set of Deus and would buy another purely based on the CnC looks. But i have already returned a set and I don't think their "Hard stop" method of attaching the crank will last as long as the Shimano method. Go Xt.

    Favorite cables by far are the old Goretex ones (not available anymore), i like the XTR ones but may try out the Nokians next (Goretex like housing liner).

    I mix an match shimano/sram chains all the time, never really noticed a huge difference.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratt
    Jayem can you give a short explaination of how to do this cleaning.
    Turn the bike upside down, this makes it easier and no small parts will fall out. Remove the screw on the bottom of the shifter. Then remove the plastic cover that hides the internals. From here, you take a can of carb cleaner, and start spraying the pawls. The pawls have little springs attached, and what you want to make sure is that the pawls can move freely back and forth. If they are "sticky" or stay in one position after moving, that is an indicator that the grease is gummed up. Spray the carb cleaner at the gummy grease and pawl/spring. Work it back and forth, and it will usually free up pretty quickly. I'll usually lube the internal parts with bike-aid when the carb cleaner has evaporated.

    This is something that I have to occasionally do with shifters that are at least 8-10 years old, usually happens when they've been sitting in one place for many years.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

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