XTR M950 Advice

pw_pw_la

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So I've just bought another bike...

(The Mrs says you can all go to hell, btw)

And it's come with most of a complete XTR M950 groupset. I don't plan on keeping that longterm necessarily, but I do want to get this bike in ridable shape pretty quickly, so that I can decide on what changes I do want to make.

Which means getting what I have in operational condition: shifters, crankset, cassette, front and rear mechs.

Now, M950 came out at around the time I (regrettably) lost interest in mountain biking the first time around. In 1998 I believe? So I know very little about it. I know that I don't like it aesthetically very much at all, although the RD does have a certain charm, but I have heard that it performs superbly.

So, those with experience: Thoughts? Feedback? Who uses it? Anything to look out for, anything to avoid?

My first couple of questions are as follows:

1. Is there any/much difference between M950 and M952? Can you mix and match freely between them in much the same way you can M900 and M901?
2. Are there any alternative front mechs I can use with an M950/M952 crankset? Would an M900 FD work just fine, for example?
3. Am I right in thinking the M950 RD can work as either 8 or 9 speed?
4. I do need a bottom bracket. The very specific M950 kind. Does anyone have one?! I don't care much about condition, other than it's smooth-enough and will work just fine for a while. Is there a decent cheap alternative that I can bung in there just to get this bike on the trails?

I'm really, really excited to do so.

And would like to get it operational as soon as possible, if at all possible.

I just don't have any money left now I've bought it!

:oops:
 

mk one

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Excellent groupset.

Came out in '96. The 950 is 8 speed and the 952 is 9 speed. The 951 and 953 are reverse action variants.
 

Once A Hero

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M950 arrived in ‘96 and continued in ‘97. It was 8spd at that time.
In ‘98 it went batshit crazy with the introduction of M951 rear mechs that rested in the ‘open’ position, and the option of remote gear shifters on your bar ends, then in ‘99 M952 / 3 with 9 spd (‘Mega 9’).
As for interchangeability I’m not sure so try not to venture in to the murkiness beyond M950. Look out for the ‘Mega 9’ logo and you’ll know it’s M952 or later.
Still can’t really understand how to install the cranks and bottom bracket 🤷‍♂️
 
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benjabbi

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I think 950 sounded the death knell for a lot of the CNC'd bling that was around at the time, it works really nicely, the shifters still feel really nice, even compared to modern stuff.
1: 952 went to 9 speed with 11 tooth jockeys on the rear mech, slight aesthetic differences to the chainrings, but really not much different. Obviously a 9 speed cassette needs a 9 speed shifter and chain.
2: yes an m900 front mech will work, as will more or less any Shimano mtb front mech from the era.
3: yes an m950 rear mech will work with 7/8/9 speed mtb shifters. Will also work with 10 speed road shifters.
4. The bb is V1 octalink, this was only used on XTR in the mtb world. The XT and lower groups had a different longer spline. The Dura Ace, Ultegra and 105 octalink cranks used the V1 spline, so if you have a 68mm bb shell you can use a bb from one of those groups, if you have a 73mm shell you are stuck with XTR, the 950 bb was adjustable and serviceable, the 952 was of the sealed cartridge variety.
 

ishaw

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I'm a big fan of m952, pretty much the same as m950 aside from the shifters being 8sp (and cassette of course). It is good stuff, hubs and brake levers (separates) remained m950 for the m952 range.

Bottom bracket is v1 spline pattern and while m950/2 versions are hard to find in decent condition, you can run road versions, though they have slightly different axle widths, but only a couple of mm difference: 109 and 118 Vs 112 and 116 for the xtr ones. BB width for road was 68mm iirc so if yours is that, you are golden. M950/2 was adjustable for both with spacers.

Front mech wise, any will work with it (MTB) as long as it is compatible with the outer chain ring, which is probably 48t. If you want to stick with xtr, m950/2/3 will work, but anything goes as long as MTB.

If you have separate shifters, you can use anything 9sp, you'll just need to change the chain and cassette, the rear mech will run 9sp, nothing more though.

If you have everything but the FD and BB, I'd get a road BB and any FD, xt or LX of the period should be fine, set it up and roll with it. It's great kit, probably the best xtr (though I prefer m952 as 9sp) in terms of reliability as after that it got very lightweight and less robust (that said, I think m970 is excellent, it got a bit meh after that imho).
 

pw_pw_la

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Amazingly helpful everyone!

Thanks so much!

Good to know on the FD. I figured anything else should work in its place, but seeing as how this is when the modern tech version of shifting really started, I wasn't 100% sure.

Definitely agree this group was the beginning of the end, of anything that actually looked good anyway. But also probably the beginning of everything that actually performed well!

I do have the M950 front mech, I just can't stand how it looks! So if I can use an XT or M900 in its place I'd certainly much rather. Especially as I don't plan on keeping the set on the bike anyway, and front mech's are usually a relatively affordable and easy to find component. No point putting something on there that I hate, even if it's free, if I can get something else on there right away that I prefer and may use longterm.

Good to know the rear mech will work fine for 7-through-9 speeds too.

If my rear hub is 140mm spaced, running 8 speed right now, I assume a spacer is all I would need to run it back to 7 speed, if I wanted?

Anyway, that's really another question for further down the road. Right now I feed to focus on finding a bottom bracket...

Good to know the road version would also be an option (bb shell on the bike is 68mm). What do I look for when I'm hunting for a road version? Still just "XTR M950"? I really just need anything that'll work in there right now, so I guess I'll start trawling eBay and put a wanted post up on here.

Last one: what would happen if I ran the M950 group as-is, but with, say, M900 shifters, or even XC-Pro thumbies? I know it wouldn't be a good longer term solution, but as I'm just setting it up to ride it, to get a sense of the frame size more than anything, could I make a botched version work for a few short rides with either?
 
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FluffyChicken

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Ah shifter will work fine, you'll just be left with the slight naffness feel of the shifter.
M910 was still around during the initial M950 as alternative parts.

XCPro shifters will also be usable, as long as the 7/8sp version probably.
 

FluffyChicken

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Front mech, look for M953 for a traditional front mech, M950 brought in the era of the top-swing mech.
Useful for various suspension bikes at the time and later.
Also great if you like to collect stones and mud in Yorkshire ffs.

M737/738 will also be a great match front mech.
M900 is of the older style but will work, as will many others newer and older.
 

FluffyChicken

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If my rear hub is 140mm spaced, running 8 speed right now, I assume a spacer is all I would need to run it back to 7 speed, if I wanted?
Is this a Manitou or something? Otherwise it's 135mm at the rear.
You can spacer a 7 speed onto 8sp+ cassette, but just stay at 8 speed (or 9).
7speed is really late 80s and turn of the 90s.
Or budget bike for later on.
 

Peachy!

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M950+ ? My favourite. Proper sorted.
I know you said you didn’t like the look of it, but ride it first, it’s lovely 😁

 
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