Drivetrain Parts from Lesser-Known Companies - Sea Otter 2021

Oct 8, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  
The end-of-season Sea Otter 2021 may not be the event where all the companies are releasing their new offerings, but there's still plenty to see. Today, these four brands had new and new-ish drivetrain parts to show off, and as always, it's fun to see the smaller companies throw out some components that compete with the giants. Here's a roundup of what was on display today.

Archer Components

Sea Otter 2021
Archer Components makes a wireless setup that claims to turn any standard drivetrain into an electronic one.

Archer Components offers the DX1 system, which claims to turn any standard drivetrain into an electronic one using a phone app to program a control box for any number of gears and any gear spacing. Each individual gear is tunable using the app, and it's even adjustable to compensate for derailleur damage or other malfunctions. It's a two-part system, with a handlebar-mounted remote and a chainstay-mounted battery pack and derailleur controller, with just a short section of shift cable from the box to the derailleur. The setup retails for $399 USD.

Back in 2018, we tested an earlier version of the product, and you can find that review here, though the brand's owner says the product has come far since then.

Sea Otter 2021
The DX1 system uses a chainstay-mounted shift unit with a short piece of shift cable to the derailleur.
Sea Otter 2021
...And it's all controlled with a phone app that is programmable for any brand of drivetrain and any number of gears.




MicroSHIFT

Sea Otter 2021
MicroSHIFT makes 8, 9 and 10-speed drivetrains for much lower prices than the bigger competitors.

MicroSHIFT is a small drivetrain company that makes drivetrain parts a much lower prices than its competitors, selling 8, 9, and 10-speed setups with a 10-speed system starting at $147 USD. We've written a full review in the past here.

The drivetrain does everything one would expect it to do, and from playing with it a bit in the stand, seems solid. There's a simple clutch mechanism and clutch adjustment looks simple and intuitive, with the adjustment accessible by removing two small screws that hold a plastic cover in place.

Sea Otter 2021
The shifter is a standard two-paddle system.
Sea Otter 2021
The Acolyte and Advent are the 8 and 9-speed versions, respectively, and the Advent X is the latest and greatest 10-speed drivetrain from MicroSHIFT.



TRP

TRP debuted its first drivetrain offerings in late 2019. Although the brand has long been known for its brakes, the 7-speed drivetrain first appeared on Aaron Gwin's race bike and was soon followed by the 12-speed edition. Now that the shifter and derailleur have been refined, it sounds like we should stay tuned for some updates and new products to round out the series.

The shifter and derailleur set retails for $329.99 USD.

Sea Otter 2021
The 12-speed derailleur uses cassettes from other manufacturers at the moment, but TRP says that may change soon...
Sea Otter 2021
Extra texture for grip on the shifter paddles.



Gates Carbon Drive

Sea Otter 2021
Belt drive systems and gearboxes go hand-in-hand.

Gates Carbon Drive had a full fleet of Zerode demo bikes equipped with Gates belt drive systems and Pinion gearboxes. Gates is the U.S. distributor for Pinion, and the two brands have worked together to develop products that we'll likely see more and more as gearbox bikes move into the spotlight.

Also important, I found my dream vehicle under the Gates tent. This sweet thing is carbon belt-driven, has an option for a surfboard rack, and just oozes style.

Sea Otter 2021

Sea Otter 2021
Sea Otter 2021




That's all for now, but you can find more Sea Otter coverage as the event unfolds on the homepage and under the Sea Otter 2021 tag.


96 Comments

  • 82 0
 If archer did the wireless conversion thing for the droppers is buy it
  • 8 0
 Never thought of that! Makes a lot of sense
  • 19 0
 they need to develop a wireless for Pinion, i think itll take off if that happens. I love my Zerode but god do i HATE the gripshift... almost 200mi in and i still hate it, im used to using it but hate every shift of it. my hands get slippery in the texas summer and i have to wear gloves otherwise i cant shift, which sucks. when going DH over fast small bumps (braking bumps or similar) you cant feel the indents of the shifts so you really have no idea where you are until you pedal. and it makes my hand more inward to the bars, a good 1.5" of grip/bar i cant use, and i have to stop braking to shift which really sucks. Aside from all that i do still love the ride quality and feel of the bike! just please someone develop a wireless shifter for it already
  • 3 0
 @TylerG96: Take a look at the Effigear Mimic
  • 3 0
 @TylerG96: effigear has a gearbox coming out this year (allegedly) that uses the pinion mounting standard - and a standard sram shifter. i've seen pics of a zerode with a proto of this unit floating around; wouldn't be surprised if we see the option from zerode in the not too distant future. would eliminate one of this bike's biggest criticisms. also heard it's better at shifting under load, which is another significant gripe w/ the pinion.
  • 1 0
 @half-man-half-scab
I agree , it would be a great idea for droppers.
I have the Dx1 system on one of my bikes, using a box 9 cassette (11-42) with a Sram 11speed derailleur and it works quite well.
  • 2 0
 Genuine question. How much extra would you pay for for a wireless Pinion shifting mechanism? What weight penalty would be acceptable. I believe the axs dropper is 70g heavier than its non axs brother.
I presume you would need 2 Archers and a shifter. Because of the pinions design @TylerG96:
  • 1 0
 Could do a wireless lock out as well. Fake the whole SRAM wireless deal for less cost
  • 5 0
 @TylerG96: I have seen people use a lefthand and righthand thumb shifter in place of the gripshift for that gearbox.
  • 1 0
 nevermind
  • 1 0
 I bet you could make that with a servo a bluetooth chip and a battery
  • 2 0
 @TylerG96: honest question: How is the gearbox drag? What is it comparable to? If rolling on tarmac, does it gets annoying?
I've had internal gear hub from shimano with 3 gears on a bar bike and the thing sapped power like crazy. Can't fathom that again.
  • 1 0
 but the battery would likely sit inside the frame somewhere...might work for Di2 compatible bikes
  • 1 0
 @xy9ine: ive seen the cable install video for that gearbox.... no f*cking thank you! that cable system is extremely complex. also only 9 speed i believe
  • 2 0
 @Notmeatall: they dont sell the shifters by themselves, ive already hit them up about it Frown
  • 1 0
 @Notmeatall: its not bad. people say it drags alot but they also have never ridden one. sprinting still feels good, the drag is similar to a normal drivetrain if it was super dirty. it does get louder as well the harder the gears get, climbing is fairly quiet but once you start sprinting it does get loud. minimal drag imo
  • 1 0
 @TylerG96: Noise from a gearbox is just cool AF. Drag is what gets me, I'm finnicky about this. I've found some good lube that does not care about mud and water, but the expensive bits exposed are just a no no.
By the sounds of it, the drag must be identical to a high pivot idler, no?
Pinkbike should do a efficiency test on the pinnion, effigear, a brand new, well used lubed and maintained, brand new with mud and sand, well used with mud and sand, all of them on a hardtail with control maxxis assegais double down with cushcore front and back.
  • 31 0
 Working at a shop I've had to assemble quite a few bikes with microshift, feels like it is a really solid lower priced option if you are looking to get away from 12spd. Feels a lot better than the lower end stuff from sram and shimano.
  • 4 0
 Agreed. Been running a 1x9 advent groupset on my commuter bike for a while now and it’s been completely trouble free.
  • 3 0
 I've jus upgraded my kids bikes to microshift. Seems solid - they do a 12-46 8 speed - I'm tempted to throw one on my bike.
  • 2 0
 Had the 1x9 Advent on hardtail for a good few months now, replacing a 11speed slx setup (smashed up mech plus broken shifter). Works just fine, shifter feels nice and ratchet clutch works great. Shifting into harder gears under hard acceleration is a tad noisy, that's the only thing I've noticed tbh.
  • 3 0
 I've had the 9 speed version for two seasons and it's been awesome. Tough as nails and dead simple to adjust. Only a handful of times I wish I had more range in the cassette but otherwise, it's been spot on.
  • 3 0
 I converted my kids giant 24in tire bike from 3x7 to 1x10 microshift while we passed it down from my oldest to youngest. The microshift has been flawless. The only issue is at 7yrs old he finds the downshift trigger a bit stiff at times for his little thumb. 34t front chainring and 11-48 cassette its the perfect trail gearing.
  • 1 0
 @ColinBulloch: For the 10-spd cassette - do you know if the ramping gradient or the derailleur-to-shifter pull ratio is the same for Microshift and Shimano?
  • 1 0
 I also put the 8sp version on the bike for my daughter. Seems good indeed. If you don't bring one already, keep in mind that you do need to bring your allen key to engage the clutch. You can disengage it with a lever, but you need the allen key to engage it again. Should I ever need a bigger gearing range (currently running an 11-36sp Shimano cassette on my bike) I'd probably opt for Microshift too. I'd rather go with that than invest in those fashionable expensive 11sp or 12sp drivetrains.
  • 1 0
 @CSharp: I do not know.
  • 2 0
 I also switched my daughter's 3x8 to their advent X 11-48. Seems to work well. If they'd make a 10-48 or 10-50 cassette along with adding lateral adjustment to their shifter bar clamp I'd probably put it on my bike. I'm tired of buying $350+ eagle cassettes and $60+ chains.
  • 1 0
 @Cerps: Smaller than an 11sp sprocket requires a more expensive cassette body so it may not be a high priority for a brand that aims to offer a budget alternative. I haven't ever tried smaller than 11t but I do wear my 11t sprocket quite fast. Bigger sprockets last longer.
  • 1 0
 @CSharp: it's not the same ratio. While Microshift is known for their Shimano compatible replacement parts, Advent and Acrolyte are both their own designs and not compatible with other brands
  • 1 0
 Very easy to setup, and I like how it's made to be user serviceable. I've got OG advent on my hardtail and sram eagle on my FS. Eagle is definitely smoother and feels more refined but for the price, I'll probably go advent x next. I suspect that will feel a bit more upgraded from the first advent.
  • 1 0
 my kids bikes being specked with micro shift - no complains so far, looks and works ok, cassettes have plenty of range 12-46, clutch definitely makes super good for the price
  • 2 0
 Love my Advent X setup. Cannot sing it’s praises enough!
  • 1 0
 @vinay: I aware of the differences in the HG and XD driver. E-thirteen and Sunrace have cassettes available for the xd driver so it's definitely doable. When you figure in dialing in shifting, cost, and maybe durability I'd likely give up 1 or 2 gears if they kept the range the same.
  • 1 0
 @Cerps: I have no experience with the XD driver but they look like you can only replace complete cassettes, not individual sprockets, is that right? As I mentioned I'm wearing the smaller sprockets faster than the bigger ones. So I rarely replace a full cassette, just the worn sprockets. The smallest on my cassette (11, 13, 15 and 17t) are sold individually from 3 euros onwards (17t may be 6 euro or so). After that you're getting clusters and of course if you need to replace the biggest gears you may be better off buying a complete new cassette. But that's rare for my use. I understand the new LinkGlide cassettes have individually replaceable 11, 13 and 15t sprockets. But it seems annoying to me to have to replace a complete XD cassette just because the 10t sprocket is worn.
  • 1 0
 @vinay:
e13 allows u to change part of cassette
sram - not, since it is single piece

cassettes that have individual cogs tend to weight sufficiently more
  • 1 0
 @nickmalysh: In the E13 case, isn't the lockring a sprocket too (though I wouldn't know how to align that properly with the next cog)? Either way, if a cassette with a 10 or 9t sprocket can be made cheap then great as apparently there is a market for that. But for me, being able to ride cheap is important too. I stand up most of the time so I usually push hard at a low cadence and that kills these smaller sprockets on level sections. 3 euro replacement sprockets are acceptable to me though I might try the LinkGlide option sometime. I understand it is heavier but I already ride a steel hardtail so the rear wheel doesn't count as unsprung weight.
  • 14 1
 How is anyone supposed to ride that wooden, 2 tiered, electronically geared skateboard from Archer? Where are the wheels?

I think my pants would get caught in the chain
  • 2 0
 It's clearly a sewing machine.
  • 8 0
 More drivetrain options is welcomed, but it is a tall order to compete with Sram and Shimano. The TRP drivetrain looks interesting, but at that cost it is competing at the mid to higher end drivetrains.
  • 44 60
flag deeeight (Oct 7, 2021 at 19:28) (Below Threshold)
 Microshift does a better job competing with Shimano than SRAM does.
  • 11 0
 I've been playing with both the Microshift 9spd on one of my bikes since nothing was available when I built it this spring. I expected to replace it but it's actually pretty damn smooth. Clutch works well and it's an ok spread. I've set the TRP up on two bikes and it's smooth as XT 12. Pretty nice really. I'd expect to see more groups from them as they are able to out to them out.
  • 3 1
 @kiddlivid: Been running Advent 9spd on my mountain bike for three years now with zero problems. Easily my favorite groupset. Partially because replacement 9spd chains and cassettes are dirt cheap!

Oh, and for the gravel folks out there, they make Advent 1x9 drop bar shifters as well. Swap between flat bar or drop bar setups super easily.
  • 1 1
 Ran TRP most of this year as I couldn’t get anything else.... glad I’m back on XT now. It was very temperamental with adjustments and my bike was as noisy as it was in the 9 speed clutch less days.
  • 1 0
 Looks like the TRP shifter is thumb / thumb - a la Shimano. Is that correct?
  • 1 0
 @jnicol: yea, I liked the shape a lot, release lever tension was a bit on the high side, not as light action as shimano or sram
  • 2 0
 At the budget end of things Microshift are certainly winning. I just upgraded the shifter and mech on my daughters bike for under £50. It's 8 speed but they do a 12-46 cassette which I wouldn't mind on my bike - certainly would be nice as a winter beater drivetrain.
  • 1 0
 @deeeight: I bought the Microshift cassette mainly because the gear jumps were better than the Shimano XT cassette (didn't like the big jump from 36T to 46T), but personally didn't like the Microshift cassette. While it was functional, the shifts and preciseness were not nearly at the level of SRAM or Shimano. GX is my goto right now. Really solid drivetrain and value.
  • 2 0
 @fartymarty: For old school purists, microshift offers thumbshifts and bar-end shifters with both index and backup friction modes (for when you bend the derailleur hanger but don't completely snap it off, and still want to shift gears) for SRAM 11 or 12 speed and Shimano 10,11 or 12 speed clutched derailleur geometries, as well as offering drop bar brifters compatible with the shimano dyna sys mtn derailleurs at prices cheaper than Shimano's gravel group. I run microshift shifters on all my most modern mountain bikes with shimano dyna sys clutch deraileurs (thumbies 1x11 on my plus tire hardtail, 1x10 on my fat bike and 2x10 on my carbon frame 27.5 XC full suspension and the 1x11 brifters on my carbon gravel bike). The stuff simply works and the shimano or sram rear derailleur doesn't much care who's brand of shifter is yanking the cable as long as it moves the correct amount of cable for each shift. I don't use the microshift cassettes at all myself becauise the shimano ones simply shift better.
  • 7 0
 Microshift Advent X is a total bargain. And it shifts so good. I am really glad i switched from eagle. Still got the big casette on the back. But less weight and i dont feel like i miss that 2 gear at all.
  • 4 0
 Agree. I replaced my gx eagle with the microshift 10speed and it shifts so much better, and no more constant adjustments. The range is perfect. For me 12 gx 12 speed middle gears are to closely spaced and don't make enough of a difference between gears so you end up double or triple shifting every time.
  • 2 0
 @cmoney23: did either of you guys use the original 9sp advent? I suspect advent x is a bit more refined. My gx/nx setup feels a lot smoother and "refined" compared to advent. But I hate having to do multiple shifts every time with 12sp, I love that aspect of advent. If they made a 9sp while still getting in 11-50t, that would be killer.
  • 1 0
 @cmoney23: I have been years on GX and never had any problems, but I do still have 11 speed. Precise, smooth, and doesn't get out of whack easily. However, the only time I had inconsistent shifting was due to my error when I first got GX. I routed the cable at the derailleur incorrectly around the pulley wheel.
  • 4 0
 I've been running the Advent X on my trail bike for a little while now and it is fantastic. I can't recommend it enough; it's lightweight, affordable, shifts very well and crisp, and an 11-48 range 10 speed is perfect.
  • 6 0
 Have microshift. Would buy again
  • 1 0
 I would too...if I could find it in stock anywhere.
  • 7 2
 Since when is Gates a smaller company?
  • 9 28
flag deeeight (Oct 7, 2021 at 19:27) (Below Threshold)
 In terms of the bike industry they're considered smaller as most of the belt drive systems they do are for motorsports.
  • 5 0
 @deeeight: just like continental is a smaller company because they produce rubber for every business on the planet
  • 5 0
 Please more in depth review of the micro shift!!
  • 3 0
 They said they'd write a full review of it a year ago (the "full review" they link to is just a first look article in which they said a full review was coming). So I doubt it's ever coming now.
  • 2 0
 @conman1395: Oh you sweet summer child. That is for "Outside Plus Members" only.
  • 1 0
 Decathlon is selling rebranded Microshift parts, I could get a 9sp cassette+shifter+derailleur for 100EUR in stock here in Brussels, here installed on my retromodded Marin Eldridge Grade 1995: www.instagram.com/p/CSbMKuBFuiZ
  • 2 0
 Archer cockpit set would be cool. I think if Archer cost about half I’d buy it. $400 seems like alot money to remove a cable.
  • 6 0
 Not only does it allow you to remove the cable, but you also get to charge batteries and program it with an app!
  • 1 0
 And make it heavier, more expensive and less reliable due to flat batteries. Can I buy 2 of them and program them to ruin a pinion gates dive Zerode Taniwha

@thegoodflow:
  • 2 0
 Just give me some 10speed super heavy duty chains and sprockets for ebike use please. Thanks
  • 4 0
 Shimano made Deore Linkglide exactly for that
  • 1 0
 What if all of these smaller drivetrain manufacturers made their shifters compatible with Matchmakers? Might be an easier way to adopt a new system for us OCD types.
  • 2 1
 Are the micro shift 8/9 speeds compatible with the 12 speed 148 boost wheels?
  • 3 0
 100%. Boost wheels have nothing to do with how may speeds /gears You have. Spacers can accommodate anything from single to 7/8/9, etc
  • 5 2
 @bman33: super! about tired of this 12 speed stuff
  • 2 0
 @mtbmaniatv: get the 10 speed great range good steps between gears biught it when it first came out. I love it won't go back it does shift best with a shimano chain.

You will enjoy cheers
  • 4 0
 @mtbmaniatv: I recently made the switch from SRAM 12 to MicroShift 10 and its amazing, so easy to adjust. And so much cheaper Wink
  • 1 0
 @Cspringsrider: +1 on Shimano (I used an XT) chain with Advent X. So good.
  • 1 0
 DX1? It’s tough to spell random acronyms correctly, but it’s wrong multiple times!
  • 1 0
 Archer components should really call that wireless remote "The Lana"...I mean, look at the size of those humps.
  • 1 0
 "Here's a full review of Microshift Advent X" - links to a first look article promising a full review from a year ago...
  • 1 0
 Microshift on Chromag looks sweeeets!!!
  • 1 0
 Microshift have 11spd XCD on their website.. is that vaporware?
  • 1 0
 Eye spy an Archers herb grinder in the back. Puff, shift, pass…
  • 1 0
 Spoiler alert, none of it is any more available than the big players.
  • 3 0
 Microshift Advent X is available from many online retailers. That is going to be my drivetrain of choice for the Honzo ESD I am building up.
  • 1 0
 @Offrhodes: unfortunately not in Europe...
  • 1 0
 @BenTheSwabian: No Amazon in Germany?
  • 1 0
 @CycleKrieg: Obviously yes, but it's not in stock and hasn't been for a long time
  • 1 0
 Box 9 for the win!
  • 1 0
 I love my prime 9. I put it on my kid's bike to replace an old 9 speed setup he couldn't crank uphill on the dirt. After a year of him riding it and wrecking it I put a prime 9 setup on my stache an haven't looked back. It's durable and works well. I hope to see more companies throwing box and microshift drivetrains in lower tier bikes to get them better suspension while keeping those lower price points.
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