NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS!
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: From Sarasota, FL sitting in front of a computer spewing random thoughts!
Bikes: Intense Uzzi SL, Masi Speciale, Trek 3700 Nashbar Single Speed, Old Cilo Road frame
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O.k., since you ride mostly XC and commute, you don't need industrial strength stuff. Any DH specific would be overkill.
I would try to find a nice set of Race Face Turbine LP's with a square taper bottom brackett on closeout. The new ISIS is very nice, but you'll pay more and you may find a killer deal on a square taper set of cranks.
You will have ZERO, ZIP, NIL, NADA problems running 9 speed chainrings with an 8 speed chain. It's the other way around that "sometimes" gives you trouble (Note: I ran a 9 speed chain on my Race Face 8-speed chainrings for a couple of years without ANY problems, but theoretically the 8 speed chainrings are too thick for a 9 speed chain)
Now, if you were going to get into jumping or some crazy stuff, then I'd go with ISIS or the Shimano SPlined system.
But for what you've described, a square taper will hold up fine and will be trouble free for years!
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
"Your Bike Sucks" - Sky Yaeger