A number of aftermarket options have sprung up that cater to riders who want to tweak their bike's gearing range, but OneUp Components is quickly becoming the name that most will likely think of due to the company's quickly expanding lineup of wide-range cassette solutions. The latest edition to the Squamish, BC, company's catalog is a pie plate-sized, aluminum 45 tooth cog that's designed to work with Shimano's 11-speed XT and XTR drivetrains that would otherwise top out with a 40 or 42 (on XT only) tooth cog in their stock configuration. A steel 18 tooth cog is also included, which OneUp says, ''provides more even cassette progression for smoother cadence and improved shifting,'' and the whole shebang adds 12.5% to the gearing range over the stock setup.
The two-cog kit adds 65 grams to an XTR cassette, and OneUp has forsaken their usual anodized green colours for a slate grey finish that comes close to matching the rest of the XTR drivetrain. The 18 and 45 tooth cogs are only sold together as a kit, with an MSRP of $90 USD for both. www.oneupcomponents.com
| Looks like a bunch of confusing, squiggly lines; is actually OneUp's gear chart that uses confusing, squiggly lines.|
Installation and Setup
The last OneUp component that I reviewed was their SRAM-specific X-Cog that, while not exactly requiring an engineering degree to install, does necessitate that you pry apart your extremely expensive X-Dome cassette with a flat blade screw driver before hammering the aftermarket cog in place. Scary stuff for some, especially if you paid full pop for that pricey X-Dome block, but, thankfully, OneUp's 45 tooth cog doesn't require you to pry or hammer anything. In fact, if you've got the tools to remove and install a cassette - a lockring tool and a chain whip, as well as a 2mm hex key to dial on some B-tension, and possibly a few links of 11-speed chain - you should be able to get the job done in ten or fifteen minutes.
The extra five teeth dwarf the stock 40 tooth cog that used to provide the easiest gearing option. The OneUp cog is dished to fit behind the stock 40 tooth XTR cog with the correct spacing.
The job is as easy as removing the stock cassette from your wheel, sliding the 45 tooth OneUp cog onto the freehub body, and then reinstalling the XTR cassette with OneUp's steel 18 tooth cog and thin spacer in place of Shimano's 17 and 19 tooth paired cogs. Tighten down the lockring and slide the wheel back into your frame before checking your chain length and the derailleur's B-tension adjustment - you'll likely need to tinker with both before heading out for a ride. I had to add a link of chain to compensate for the OneUp cog being five teeth larger, as it would have been too short to allow for full suspension travel when I'm in my easiest gear, and most others will find the same.
OneUp's 45 tooth cog is machined to match standard freehub bodies, meaning that you can create a mega-wide range cassette on older wheels. Out with the 17 and 19 tooth stock XTR cogs, in with the single 18 tooth steep cog and thin spacer.
I also added two full turns of B-tension to the XTR derailleur in order to have the upper pulley wheel clear the larger cog. Not enough B-tension will see the derailleur basically try to shift the chain into the side of the largest cog, and while it might eventually make its way up onto it, the shift will be about as agreeable as throwing a bunch of pots and pans down a flight of stairs. OneUp says that ''Due to the large pulley wheel offset of the latest 11 speed Shimano rear derailleurs, B-screw adjustment is well within the normal operating range and chain wrap is excellent throughout the cassette for flawless wide range shifting,'' but too much B-tension will slow things down in the opposite direction, so it's important to get this one right.
When I reviewed OneUp's 44 tooth X-Cog conversion to fit SRAM cassettes, I found the eight tooth jump between the 44 cog and stock 36 tooth cog to feel awkward and disruptive to my cadence. Yes, the X-Cog provided an easier and presumably terrain-opening gear for some riders, but I wasn't a fan of the gearing jump. It's an entirely different story with OneUp's 45 tooth XTR cog, though, as there's only a five tooth jump between it and the 40 tooth cog that sits just below it, which feels much more natural.
The 45 tooth cog will provide anyone with an easy enough gear to pedal their bike up anything they'd actually want to scale, that much is obvious, but it's also a very useable gear ratio in that you can jump between it and the 40 tooth next to it strictly to mix up your cadence without losing momentum. Much larger and the OneUp cog would likely have you feeling like you've shifted from 5th to 2nd gear while driving your car on the highway, but the five tooth gap isn't pronounced enough to prevent your legs from compensating. Then again, the full five tooth jump from the 40 tooth, which used to be the XTR cassette's easiest gear, is large enough to act as a bailout gear when you need to soft-pedal at the end of an all-day mission.
| OneUp's 45 tooth cog is larger than the big chain rings that riders used to use, but it doesn't look out of place on the XTR cassette.|
I don't believe that our bikes should simply have the easiest gears available, and as I've said in the past, if I wanted to have that I'd be using three chain rings and a front derailleur. I want to get to the top of the mountain in a respectable amount of time, and my fitness is just as important to me as handling skills, just as it is with a lot of you out there. Those reasons are why the 45 tooth cog was paired with a slightly larger chain ring than usual, a 32 tooth, XTR compatible chain ring from OneUp, that created both a wider and easier range than I had been running. Riders with a bit of a competitive spirit in them would do well to do the same. And what of the "Dual Shift Zones" that OneUp says their 18 and 45 tooth cogs create? I have to admit that the converted cassette felt a lot like any other stock cassette out there, and I never really had the impression that there were two distinct "zones" to my shifting patterns.
Shift speed up onto the 45 tooth cog was a touch slower than going up to just the 40, which is totally to be expected, and the difference is marginal enough that many riders won't even notice the disparity. This increases under heavy pedalling loads, just as it does on a completely stock cassette, but it's pretty inconspicuous. But, much like I found with the 44 tooth X-Cog, coming down off of the OneUp pie plate was slower than I would have preferred, especially when turning over a low cadence. The larger the cog, the slower it rotates when you're pedalling, so this isn't exactly a surprise, but the difference in coming down off of the OneUp 45 and the Shimano 40 is night and day, with the former being quite a bit slower. The price to pay for that mountain taming gear, it seems. Pinkbike's Take:
|For a lot of riders, the big plus of OneUp's 45 tooth cog isn't just that it greatly increases the gearing range of their Shimano drivetrain, but that it does it without requiring the use or a different freehub body like SRAM does. Sure, you're not getting that small 10 tooth cog, but you are increasing the spread on the opposite end of the cassette, which is what the majority of riders will benefit from. In the end it's all about options: you can run a standard 11 - 40 tooth XTR or XT cassette, an 11 - 42 tooth XT cassette, or, for $90 USD, you can add OneUp's 45 tooth cog if an 11 - 45 tooth spread suits you and the terrain you ride. - Mike Levy|
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