Design and Details
Last year, MicroSHIFT debuted their 9-Speed Advent drivetrain. At $125 for a cassette, derailleur, and shifter, the drivetrain was affordable. It also was functional, durable, and dependable. Even with months of testing, it proved to be reliable and worry-free; it just didn't have the biggest range of gearing, with 42t being the largest cog.
Addressing the range while keeping all of the benefits of compatibility durability and low price was key for MicroSHIFT in developing the new wider range 10-speed system that they have now rolled out, Advent-X...a 10-speed 11-48 range drivetrain that sells for $167, as tested.
Advent X Details
• 10-speed 11-48 range
• Dual-carrier aluminum cassette
• Compatible with any 10-speed chain/chainrings
• HG Driver compatible
• 857g total weight
• Clutch derailleur
• MSRP: $142-$167 USD depending on shifter and cassette
• Available now
Advent worked exactly how it should for what it was, it just wasn't quite competitive enough with the wider range systems that SRAM and Shimano both offer. Even at that, Advent won a lot of business both aftermarket and OE with brands like Giant, Specialized, Cannondale, and Marin choosing to spec it on more affordable builds.
Advent X adds a larger gear along with some refinement to the entire line, making it MicroSHIFT's top-tier group, so let's look at each of the elements on their own:
10-speed cassette: The new 10-speed cassette sports a wider 11-48 tooth range, a big step up from the original 42 teeth. With this range, the team at MicroSHIFT believes that riders have enough gearing to get over just about anything, and I have to agree. While the older 42t worked well, it still lacked just a little bit of low-end range, especially in steeper terrain or on longer rides when that bail-out gear can mean the difference between pushing on foot or climbing on the bike.
With the cassette being one of the most critical areas to cut weight, MicroSHIFT decided to make their higher-end cassette a little different. It still fits on a standard HG freehub body, but it uses a dual-stage aluminum carrier - two pieces with several cogs on them, and then the final four gears stack on individually, just as many other HG style cassettes do.
The cassette, as I have here with an aluminum carrier tips the scale at 424g. That's respectable for a budget system and less than Shimano's XT, which weighs about 470g, while SRAM's GX is 448g. There is an option to purchase the wide-range cassette with a steel carrier which knocks a further $20 off of the price but adds a weight penalty.
Steps between the gears are very similar to the original Advent drivetrain, with the addition of a larger ring. While they could have added more gears, that would have made it very difficult to deliver within the weight or price that they wanted, so ten it was. The dual aluminum spider cassette sells for $64.99 USD. and the steel carrier option sells for $44.99 USD.
Shifter: The shifter for Advent X is totally new, just like the cassette. There are two tiers for the shifter, the basic Trail version, without a traction pad, sells for $24.99 and the Trail Pro with a traction pad is $29.99 USD.
Compared to the original Advent shifter, the thumb paddle has updated ergonomics and the "Pro" version has a fancy silicone pad on it. The position of the paddle is not adjustable, but does fall into a pretty neutral spot. Riders can shift up multiple gears at once and then down one gear at a time.
Derailleur: The new Advent X derailleur is quite similar to the previous Adven. with a clutch system that can be disengaged for removing the wheel via a switch on the body of the derailleur.
It uses a ratchet and pawl system, just like most hubs, but it's different from other major clutch systems that use a friction sleeve. The tension of the Advent's clutch is managed by a friction washer stack that is tightened by a single Torx bolt. It's quick to adjust and it's also simple to take apart if it ever needs to be cleaned or repaired.
I’ve had a few rides on the drivetrain thus far and have been very impressed with how it performs. Shifting from the original Advent has been improved, and the wider range of gearing works totally fine. In addition, setting up/dialing in the drivetrain is a piece of cake.
Everything feels smooth and the interface with the shifter is comfortable, although I would like to see a Matchmaker-style option to help with bar clutter and open up more positons for placement as it is, some riders may find it a tad limiting, depending on where they like to run their brakes and shifter.
Over the coming months, I'll continue to put in miles on the drivetrain to see how it fares long-term.