Worth-it' blogs EP#1: Micro Shift
Shimano and SRAM have dominated the drivetrain market for decades as competitors but, over the last few years, we have seen smaller manufacturers like Microshift wedge their way in between them. Microshift forgoes the fancy marketing and sleek lines to focus on making their components amazing quality at a supreme value.
Microshift hasn’t entered the race to who has the most gears, instead, they have focused on making durable 1 by 8, 9, and 10-speed drive trains. While SRAM and Shimano have been focussing on more gears micro shift has focussed on simplicity, durability and keeping the costs down.
The Acolyte groupset offers an 8-speed wide-range cassette with a range of 12 teeth to 46 tooth easy gear. The Advent 9-speed groupset offers 12-46 while the AdventX cassette adds one extra gear and takes the range easiest gear to 38 teeth. So while you may be reducing the gears, the range of each groupset is very close to that of 12speed competitors.
One major advantage of fewer gears is it allows riders to run a wider chain. A wider chain is more durable thanks to its larger pins and thicker side plates. Chains also require a huge amount of development to refine their shifting abilities, A larger chain can shift better without as much investment equal lowering the cost.
Every one of Microshifts rear derailleurs comes with a clutch mechanism. The clutch mechanisms allow rear mechs to maintain tension on the chain rearward without allowing the chain to get slack via the cage moving forward. This mechanism aids in the chain staying on the bike consistently while reducing any chain slap noise.
Why would you want to go to a 1X system? With one gear at the front, there is no need for a complicated front derailleur. With fewer parts comes less fuss. You don’t have to worry about the front mech being in tune, any mud clogging up the drive train, or the system ruining a ride by failing. 1 x drivetrains offer a simpler riding experience as you spend less time shifting gears and more time smiling.
Insert Phil on a bike?
So what did Phil think?
I was pretty impressed. The shifting was pretty clean throughout the more than adequate11-46 tooth cassette. It’s only after a few longer riders I felt that maybe a 50 toothe bailout gear on super steep fire roads might be nice but, it was definitely not a deal-breaker. The Advent X with 48t would be the ticket on steeper climbs. After more substantial testing on the advent 9 it's been flawless, no dropped chains and the clutch tension is still great and clean shifting with minimal adjustments too. But what about the Advent X on my fiances Marin Kentfield commuter bike? (insert clip asking here she will be like, it shifts good). No arguments there.
Now let's dig into some comparisons and really see if it's worth it saving money with the advent series or going with more expensive options from the competitors. So, I have used the Shimano SLX 12 speed drivetrain a lot over the past year on my polygon Siskiu T8 and considered to be the sweet spot when it comes to value meeting performance in the Shimano lineup.
Let's start with round 1, weight. If we look at the Shimano SLX cassette it's 527g, compared to the 424g on the alloy spidered advent X, and 446g on the Advent 9 alloy version too. So fewer gears = less weight, but that does come at the expense of range with the 10-51t on the Shimano vs the 11-48 on the advent X and 11-42 alloy advent 9 which also comes in an 11-46t steel version which is 150g heavier. So round 2(1?) to Shimano.
Well, what about the price? Microshift bounces back at 280 for the advent x groupset including derailleur, shifter, and cassette, $250 for the advent 9 vs around $360 for the Shimano SLX. Then we come to shifting performance and chain retention and yes the Shimano is a bit better here, the shifting is a bit cleaner and better under load thanks to the new hyperglide plus tech they're using but chain retention was similar. So we're even but considering the Microshift is cheaper I think it’s definitely worth it to save money here and go Microshift!
But Phil what about Shimano Deore 11 and 10 speed. Well yes, they are worth it too. They present similar performance and the same premise as the Microshift here and that's great value 1x drivetrains that offer a decent range at a reasonable weight making 1x drivetrains available on more affordable bikes!. And for those racing and who want to save weight and have even more range, spending more is still the way to go.
So if you want a new mountain bike or commuter and see a 1x Microshift drivetrain I would not think twice about spending extra money on the next model up unless there are significant improvements else when on the bike or if you are looking for a great value drivetrain for your new bike or an upgrade, check out the Microshift advent range at the link below and subscribe for more content like this coming soon!