The popularity of 1x drivetrains continues to increase, as does the number of aftermarket options available for riders looking for an even greater gear range than their stock setup. There are enough numbers associated with all of this to make your head spin, but when it comes to e*thirteen's new 11-speed TRS+ cassette, the important numbers to remember are that it has a 9-44 tooth spread, which equates to a 489% range, weigh in at 333 grams, and retails for $309.
TRS+ Cassette Details
• 11-speeds (9-42 tooth 10-speed version available)
• Aluminum and cro-moly cogs
• Cog sizes: 9-10-12-14-17-20-24-28-32-38-44
• Weight (actual): 333 grams
• MSRP: $309 USD
The cassette's three largest cogs are machined from aluminum, and the eight smaller cogs are steel for increased durability. That eight cog cluster can be further broken down into two more parts, one with five cogs and one with three. This allows riders to replace sections of the cassette as they wear, rather than needing to buy a whole cassette; the 32-44 tooth alloy cluster retails for $104, and the 9-14 tooth steel cluster is $39.95. Crunching Numbers
Remember when I mentioned that there are enough numbers to make your head spin? Well, get ready for some dizziness, because it's time to dive in and see how the TRS+'s 489% range compares to some of its competition, at least on paper.
The first, and flashiest, contender is SRAM's recently announced Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. That setup gives riders a 500% range thanks to its 10-50 tooth cassette, but it requires a new cassette, chain, shifter, and derailleur, all to the tune of roughly $800.
Next comes OneUp's Shark cassette and derailleur upgrade, which results in an 11-50 tooth cassette with a 455% range. That kit costs $125, in addition to the price of a Shimano cassette. OneUp also has a driver body available that allows for that 11-speed Shimano cassette to be expanded even further, resulting in a 10-50 tooth cassette with a 500% range.
Shimano has an 11-46 tooth cassette on the way, but with a claimed weight of 450 grams it's a quarter pound heavier than the e*thirteen TRS+.
And what about the original 11-speed drivetrain that ignited all of this wide-range madness? SRAM's XG1180 cassette has a 10-42 tooth spread, giving it a 420% range, and it's priced within a few dollars of the TRS+. Now that that's out of the way, let's take a look at what it takes to actually install the TRS+ cassette.
The TRS+ cassette installs on an XD driver body, but there are a couple extra steps required for installation compared to a 'regular' cassette. The carrier that holds the three largest cogs goes on first, and is held in place with a lockring that requires a tool from e*thirteen to tighten it down to the recommended 25 Nm. That tool (the same one used to install their bottom brackets) is included with the cassette.
Once the first portion of the cassette is installed, the next step is to line up the indicator mark on the 24-tooth cog with the 'unlock' symbol printed on the 32-tooth cog. This will allow the second carrier, the one with the remaining eight cogs to slip into place, and it's then locked into position with a chain whip. Removing the cassette is a reverse of those steps, but it does require two chain whips in order to unlock the cassette.
Don't have two chain whips? If you keep your wheel installed, and shift the chain into one of the three largest cogs, you can then get a chain whip on the smaller cogs and push down on a pedal with one hand and down on the chain whip with the other to unlock and eventually remove the cassette.Performance
For the duration of the test period I ran the TRS+ cassette with a SRAM GX rear derailleur, and a PC-X1 chain. Out in the trail, in the middle cogs the performance was on par with the SRAM XG-1180 cassette whose spot it replaced, with quick and accurate up and down shifts. It was in the largest cogs (the easiest gears) where the shifting lagged a bit, and I was never able to get the shift down from the 44 to the 38 tooth cog to be as quick as I would have liked. The upshift speed was reasonable, but there was a noticeable lag when dropping off those top two cogs. I checked the cable tension, the derailleur's limit screws and B-tension, as well as the derailleur hanger alignment, and everything was as it should be. Swapping back to a SRAM cassette resolved the slow shifting in those easier gears, confirming that the blame for the sluggishness lay with the cassette. The tooth profiles and shift ramp shaping don't look drastically different than a SRAM cassette, but there's enough difference to affect the shifting speed.
What about that tiny 9-tooth cog? It's survived without any signs of excessive wear despite plenty of wet weather riding, although I will say that it didn't really see a massive amount of use. That's due to the terrain I typically ride – there simply aren't that many wide-open, flat out sections of trail where I'd have enough speed to warrant pedaling in that hard of a gear. Even when spinning out a few road miles on the way to the trailhead I usually found myself using the 10- or 12-tooth cogs.
The cassette's 44-tooth cog saw much more usage, and I certainly appreciated it when faced with the steep logging roads that are the key to accessing the gems hidden in the forest near my house. I ended up staying with a 32-tooth ring up front due to the fact that I was more interested in having an easier climbing gear rather than increasing my top end speed; swapping to a 34-tooth chainring would have maintained the same climbing gear ratio as I'd had with a 10-42 tooth cassette, but increased the speed needed to spin out. Alternatively, I could have gone down to a 30-tooth chainring, thus gaining an even easier climbing gear and more ground clearance, while still maintaining a similar top-end speed to what I'd had previously, thanks to the 9-tooth cog,
On the whole, the cassette has held up well to the miles that have been put on. It did develop an intermittent creak after a string of muddy rides, but pulling it apart to clean and re-grease the section where the two carriers slide together resolved this. The fact that portions of the cassette can be replaced individually is a nice feature, one that means you'll only need to part ways with a fraction of the cost of an entire cassette if you wear out the 44-tooth cog trying to see how much vertical you can rack up in a season. Pinkbike's Take:
|The TRS+ cassette weighs only a few grams more than a SRAM XG-1180 cassette, and has almost the same MSRP, but possesses a gearing range of 489% vs. the XG-1180's 420% range. On paper those numbers are attractive, but out in the field the cassette's shifting performance wasn't as flawless as I would have liked, which makes the TRS+ a less compelling option. Of course, different derailleur and chain choices may affect the results, but with the test setup I used the SRAM cassette's shifting was quicker and smoother.|
Personally, I'd rather have perfect shifting rather than a greater gear range, but there may be some riders who are willing accept slower downshifts in order to broaden their cassette spread, whether that's to make it up steeper climbs or to avoid spinning out on high speed descents. - Mike Kazimer
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