chelboed- my methodology was not 'willy nilly' (defined as random), it was simply in the interest of finding the desirable parts at a reduced cost. The XTR cassette I purchased for $90 new at a local shop. So, I had a list of parts I wanted, and I started to search for them online. I did not consider uniformity or compatibility (with regards to wear patterns). I slapped all the parts on and thought it would spin like a new drivetrain. I guess we live and learn.... If I had known this from the beginning, I would have bought a new drivetrain.
surreal- Thanks for the thoughtful response. I appreciate it! Great points that I have not thought of.
I noticed a grinding feeling through the pedals (when I was riding) after installing my used XTR crank. Prior to the crank install, I had a stock crank, X.9 rear der., XTR cassette, and stock chain. That led me to believe the crank rings were the culprit. I then installed the middleburn XTR replacement rings, and it helped. But didnt completely cure it.
As far as diagnosing things, this is what I have noticed: the chain doesnt skip or jump across the cogs/rings. The BB is smooth (luckily). The hubs are smooth. What I dont know is why I still get a rough feel through the pedals. Could it be that the old chain wore with the XTR cassette, and when I threw a new chain on, they didnt 'agree' with eachother?
I get help with installing these components from my local shop. I installed an XT front der. when I installed the used crank. I can see why an improperly adjusted front der. would pull on the chain and cause adverse grinding.
I dont run by small ring with a cog past 3rd/4th gear. I switch to my middle crank ring at that point-- and usually stay there. I do, however, run my middle front ring with my lowest (largest?) cog (i.e. 2x1). I hope thats not bad....
Again, thanks for the input. If you have the time, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the above.