A while back I was talking to Tim “Ciseaux” about singlespeed cranksets. He told me about a custom builder who modifys the XTR 960 triple crank, into a clean looking single setup. After looking at some pictures, I thought this would be a cool project for my single. The XTR 960 cranks are strong, and already light. I found a used set in great shape on a local auction site.
The good thing about these older XTRs is, they can use most of the current Shimano external bottom brakets. I ended up using one from the current XT crank. One important thing you need to know is, this set uses a 102 BCD, not the more common 104 BCD. So your favorite ring you normally run may not fit. The first step is to strip them down. You will be cutting off the supports for the big ring. I found the center between the chainring holes and made a mark.
Now you can use many different tools to make the cut. I am pretty handy with a hacksaw, so that was my choice. After making all the cuts, I used a pneumatic die grinder to round the edges.
I almost just ran them like this. I kinda like the silver coating of the older XTR line. But ended up using a scotch brite wheel to remove the coating, so I could polish them.
After they were all clean, I used a polishing wheel on my bench grinder to bring the shine back. I didn’t go crazy here. I am sure you could spend all day getting them to perfect. But I really just wanted to ride them. Here they are after bolting on a Blackspire Mono Veloce ring.
I ran them like this for about two years. Recently I moved them to a new frame and decided to give them some new life. I found a local polisher that did a great job for about $25.
I know they don’t look exactly like the ones that sell for a few hunderd bucks. But I saved some cash, I had the fun of doing it myself.