MTB upgrade suggestions

i need some suggestions in order to better integrate TR in my outside spins (when i’ll finally be able to go out again, that is…).
I never raced nor i’ve ever invested a lot of money in my MTB gear, but i’ve been riding in the mountains for more than 15 years now.
A few years ago i bought what for me was a substantial upgrade, and indeed i’ve enjoyed a lot: got a used Epic carbon 26" with some nice extras for less than 1000.
Since TR started logging outside workouts, i just upload the data from my Polar with GPS and HR; it works ok, yet now, especially with the possibility to actually do outside workouts, i’d really like to be able to properly use that function.
If i get it right, from where i’m at, i’d need a power meter and a Gramin 530; and the problem i see is with the power meter: crankset on my bike is an XTR m970 3x9. So that rules out the possibility to get a 4iiii arm, the most cost effective option i see.
What would you do?

  • Swap the bike for a newer used one with a current XT crankset, buy the Garmin and a 4iiii arm.
  • Keep the bike and install a new (or used) XT with 4iiii arm and add the Garmin.
  • Send out my current XTR arm to 4iiii to get the power meter installed in it.
  • Swap to a used turbo levo that broadcast the power and has… :rofl:
  • Any other (and probably better) idea?
    Thanks a lot for the specific help!

For me it kind of depends.

If you are happy with the bike and the bike will be good for another year or two, I’d get a new XT crankset with a 4iii that you’ll be able to transfer over to a new bike and the 530.

I really like the feel of short travel 29ers so I’d go that route if money isn’t a problem.

I would not put the pm on the old crank that you won’t be able to use on a newer bike. But I live in Europe and 4iii is still a bit more expensive here.

Cheapest way forward is to send in your existing XTR non-drive-side arm to 4iiii and get the $300 retrofit.

As long as the bike is in good working order, use it for as long as you’re happy with it, and don’t expect to carry any of the components forward onto the next bike. Unfortunately, with a 3x9 bike, practically the entire rig is obsolete with regards to standards.

If you get a whole new crankset that can be carried forward, it’d be a 1X crankset, in which case you’d need a new 1x11 drivetrain.

Thank you both for the suggestions.
Searching and reading about it, it looks like ‘soon’ (well, who knows now…) there will be a choice of PM pedals with SPD mounts; SRM first, but i suppose some others will follow.
If that would be the case, it’s probably the best option: can use them now with no other addition (like sending the current arm to be retrofitted) AND can use it to any other bike i’ll get in the future. It could even be swapped quite easily and fast.
Did i understand the situation correctly? If so, i would no mind at all waiting a few months.

The 970 cranks aren’t as obsolete as some might think. Just because they are labeled 3x9 doesn’t mean they can’t be used with a modern 1x11 or 1x12 drivertrain. I think the main limitation would be boost axle frames (maybe; I’m not 100% positive that 970 can’t be used with boost).

The spindle is the same 24mm that Shimano is still currently using, and you can easily find a narrow/wide chainring to fit the 104bcd pattern of that crank. Chainlines did not change when bikes went from 135QR to 142TA rear ends, so the middle position would still line up. Maybe a boost bike would even work with the ring run in the outer position? (again, I’m not sure on that).

My point is - depending on what you think your next bike might be, there is a decent chance that the 970 cranks would work just fine.

Regarding the pedal-based units - I don’t have much first hand experience with them, but the first few generations of road pedal-based units has serious durability issues. I’m sure at some point they’ll have the kinks ironed out for MTB, as well, but having kind of micro-sensitive electronics bashing into rocks and roots freaks me out a bit.

Wow, good points!
Indeed my ignorance on bike parts is appalling but i knew that :upside_down_face:
In fact, i’m ok with this bike as it is; quite light and confortable for my standards…
To install a 1x11 or 1x12 on this one would be suboptimal to say the least, being a 26". All the other options are on the expensive side and indeed your point about the pedals for MTB makes sense.
So considering all of this, i think my most obvious path forward would be to keep the bike as it is, send the current crank to get the 4iiii installed and add either a Garmin or Wahoo unit - ready to go for TR outside workouts with power for something around 600 or so.
I’ll just have to contact 4iiii since on the website they start listing factory install on XTR m980, that looks like the first series with the current arm mount and mine is an older system and looks quite different; might not be a problem or it might be…

I always opt for a reason to get a new bike :joy::joy:. Seriously though, the MTBs available today are so awesome, I would recommend going that route. Depending on how and what you ride, modern day geometry can really make for a much improved and enjoyable riding experience.

In terms of a power meter on a MTB. Personally, I would view it as an interesting data collection exercise, but do any training type workouts on my gravel bike. But, I am a non-competitive old man that is not, and will not be on the pointy end of any MTB marathon races… Good luck on whatever route you choose.

You dont mention this, but do you have a road or gravel bike ? In my experience your training will be more beneficial done on these as opposed to a MTB. It is also quieter and more comfortable to ride on an indoor trainer, and you can keep it clean. Ive just had the 4iiii fitted, on my roadbike, with a shimano 105 chainset. Had to ditch the Praxis rubbish that was on the bike, as it was not compatible.
I am a MTB racer and love training off road, so I`m not biased !
Best of luck and hope you get it going!

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Indeed the idea of getting a new bike it’s always tempting, yet i’m trying to keep the budget as low as possible. I’m just not used to spend a lot on a bike and i just don’t have that much disposable income anyways…
If looking for a newer used one, what would you look for? I live in dry southern Spain’s mountains. So far i’ve enjoyed the Epic but i think something a bit more confortable and relaxed could also work well for me.
Gravel bikes are out of the equation, since the terrain is too rough and i’ll destroy what i have left of my sore back.

On the trainer (direto) i have an older MTB so i don’t need the outside one to work well on it. Sadly to have a decent bike it’s already a stretch for me, so to add even just one more is not possible.
Also, around where i live the roads are too dangerous for me to ride on and offroads is only doable on a MTB.
For the more focused intervals i can just do it on the trainer, but for longer tempo and threshold rides i’d like to be able to do them better outside; so far i go by HR and the effort estimate on TR import - not ideal.

Totally will work with a converted 1x system. Won’t work with most boost frames. So the investment of the 4iii will likely end with that bikes service.

I love having power on my mountain bike but I’m spoiled and have a meter on all relevant training bikes. If possible, you can run your mountain bike on the trainer to keep all your training as consistent as possible, or same power meter inside and out.

Unless you’re training for racing drop bars I say, train on the bike you will race on. Of course I say this and spend most of my time on my drop bar bikes but that’s only based on trail access and convenience. I prefer training on the MTB. Good luck!