All of the stuff pictured above may look like a random assortment of drivetrain parts, tools, and pointy things, but it's actually everything required to turn your 11-speed SRAM drivetrain into a 12-speed setup. It’s e*thirteen's new TRS Plus 12 Speed Kit, which allows you to upgrade to their 9-46 tooth, 12-speed cassette, and it includes a 12-speed chain, necessary tools and hardware to modify your 11-speed rear derailleur, and the parts to give your 11-speed shifter an extra click.
All that adds up to $299 USD, and you get a whopping, 511-percent gearing range from a cassette that weighs 334-grams, which is competitive with SRAM's lightest offering. In fact, the entire e*thirteen conversion kit also costs less than an Eagle 12-speed cassette.
TRS Plus 12 Speed Upgrade Kit
• Converts 11-speed SRAM drivetrain to 12-speed
• TRS Plus 12-speed cassette w/ 9-46 spread (compatible w/ XD driver)
• Injection molded shifter spool w/ 12-speed ratchet wheels (GX, X1, X01 or XX1)
• Two pulley wheel spacers and longer bolts
• 12-speed chain w/ quick link
• Shift cable and housing
• Includes all required tools, grease
• MSRP: $299 USD
Who's This For?
On the left is the stock SRAM 11-speed spool (red) and ratchet wheel. On the right is e*thirteen's spool (black) and ratchet wheel; if you count the gears, you'll see that e*thirteen's has an extra one that provides the additional click inside the shifter.
Okay, the first question that needs answering is: With SRAM's entire NX 12-speed group going for $375 USD, including cranks and all the bits, does e*thirteen's $299 USD TRS Plus 12 Speed Upgrade Kit make sense given that it doesn't come with cranks, a derailleur, or even a shifter?
''Our 12-speed kit next to a complete NX group isn't really a direct comparison. NX is a nice product, but it’s SRAM’s price-point entry level group,'' Connor Bondlow, e*thirteen's marketing manager, explained when I threw that argument at him. ''Consequently, it is heavy, requires a Shimano driver, and provides less range (455%) than even other Eagle products. Our kit is aimed at a customer who has already invested in a high-quality 11-speed SRAM group and wants the benefits of 12-speeds combined with the greater range our cassettes have been providing for years,'' he went on to say.
Modifying Your Shifter at Home
He's probably right, too, as the majority of those currently using a high-end 11-speed kit likely aren't shopping for a relatively inexpensive NX drivetrain, even if NX performs essentially the same SRAM's much pricier stuff.
The weight is quite different, of course, as a 12-speed NX cassette weighs 615-grams, fits on a normal Shimano freehub, and costs a damn reasonable $100 USD; an X01 Eagle block weighs 360-grams and SRAM charges $1 USD for each of those grams. The e*thirteen cassette that's included in their 12-Speed Upgrade Kit weighs 334-grams on my scale, and its 9-46 spread provides a 511-percent range.
The other notable thing with e*thirteen's conversion kit is that they're selling aftermarket internal bits for SRAM shifters and telling consumers that it's okay for them to install said bits at home. I think that's really frickin' awesome, especially because much of the mountain bike industry seems to want consumers to believe that taking something apart will result in a few years toiling away in a salt mine as punishment.
But you know who doesn't think it's frickin' awesome? SRAM, of course, and installing e*thirteen's conversion kit voids any and all warranties. That's no surprise, and to be fair to SRAM, they have to think about stuff like liabilities and combining aftermarket parts with their stuff; this is a bit different than using an e*thirteen chainring or a set of Race Face cranks with your X1 drivetrain, isn't it?
The stock spool and ratchet wheel sitting on an opened 11-speed SRAM shifter.
If you've never taken a shifter apart, it's not exactly full of tiny pieces of science that are just waiting to explode in your face if you happen to sneeze, but it is a somewhat complicated little piece of engineering. I'd argue that it's kind of a big deal that e*thirteen is taking this approach, and Bondlow agrees: ''We were always planning on letting the customer do the job. There is something to be said for empowering your customers, and not just spoonfeeding them things they really don't need. So our goal from the get-go was to provide a variety of ways to guide the customer through the install, from detailed videos to live tech support when necessary.''
The updated TRS Plus cassette no longer requires proprietary tools to install, with the bottom portion meshing with the XD freehub's splines and being gently clamped in place. The top section locks onto it via overlapping fins and a small hex screw.
Taking things apart is probably my second favorite thing to do after mountain biking, and sometimes I even get whatever I'm tinkering with back together and in working order. But taking a shifter apart? Won't a few hundred tiny pieces fall out and roll away into the ether? It turns out that the job, while certainly requiring a bit of knowledge and patience, isn't exactly brain surgery. Actually, it's barely shifter surgery. It took me about thirty minutes, including shooting these sub-par photos, and it's far less complicated than you might think.
You'll definitely want to watch e*thirteen's how-to video
if you're going to do it yourself, but here's a brief take on how it went down when I had a go.
The Claw is your best friend for this job as it holds the partially disassembled shifter together while you mount the new spool and ratchet wheel.
After you remove the shifter's cover and thumb paddle, you back out the three screws holding the internal cover on - this gives you access to the shifter spool and ratchet wheel that you're going to replace. e*thirteen supplies all of the required tools, but the most important thing in the box is a black plastic triangle that they refer to as the 'Claw'.
So, if you were to back out those three screws and let go of the shifter, it'd probably spring apart (aaaaah, tiny pieces of science!) and then you'd be up shit creek without a paddle. But the Claw's three posts line up with each of those screw holes and, after you attach it to the underside of the shifter with the stock screws, it holds everything together for you to free up one of your hands. Pretty clever.
With the Claw mounted to the underside of the naked shifter; you're free to back out the hex bolt that holds the stock spool in place.
Once the Claw is attached, you can pull the spring off and back out the bolt that runs through the center of the spool. After you do this, you drop the e*thirteen spool, washer (if required), and correct ratchet wheel (the kit comes with one for GX, X1, and X01, and another for XX1), run the new pivot bolt through and gently snug it up.
The spool has to be aligned correctly, of course, and a small window on it that lines up with a tab inside the shifter tells you when you've got that right. Throw the spring back on, carefully remove the Claw and reinstall the internal cover, put the rest of the stock parts back onto the shifter, and head straight to the salt mine.
With the e*thirteen spool and ratchet wheel installed, all that's left to do is carefully put the spring back on and attached the internal cover.
You'll also need to install e*thirteen's thicker-than-stock pulley wheel spacers, along with the longer bolts, put the cassette onto your XD freehub, and put your new chain on. From there, installing a new cable and setting up the bike's shifting is the same as ever, except that you now have an extra click inside the shifter and a corresponding extra cog on your cassette.
That's a vastly simplified overview on how to do the job, and while it's not difficult, please watch e*thirteen's video
instead of using my definitely non-instructions run-through as instructions. e*thirteen has put a lot of effort into both their written how-to and the video, as they should with a job like this, so take advantage of the info so you don't end up paddle-less.
After you've converted your shifter to 12-speed, installing the pulley spacers will be a cinch.
With everything back together and installed on your bike, the first thing you might notice is that there's not a lot to notice, and I mean that in a good way. The tactile 'ka-ching' of the SRAM shifter remains unchanged, and both the thumb and release paddles feel completely stock and as though nothing's different. But something is different: There's an extra click in there now, and you've ditched that ghetto 11-speed setup that was obviously holding you back immensely for a 12-speed drivetrain that will let you scale mountains like Nino and set new landspeed records on the way back down.
The Foxy XR's hybrid drivetrain is sure to ruffle some feathers at SRAM, but there's no denying that it performs well.
Okay, not really, but the TRS Plus 12-Speed Upgrade Kit, with its twelve cogs that run from 9 teeth to 46 teeth, does provide a massive 511-percent range that trumps a stock SRAM setup. Pairing the TRS Plus kit with a chainring that's appropriate for your fitness and terrain should provide nearly anyone with a gearing range that's wide enough to get up the side of a building, but the small 9-tooth cog also means that you might be able to run a smaller chainring to gain some ground clearance.
Shift quality is largely unchanged, and I had zero skipping issues with the tiny 9-tooth cog, but the disclaimer for that one is that it's been drier than a popcorn fart in Squamish lately - some serious mud might not jive with that little cog. The shift up to the large 46-tooth cog is marginally slower and more mechanical feeling, but I suspect that I wouldn't even have noticed if it was a blind test and I didn't know what had been changed on the bike. That's not from the modified shifter, of course, but e*thirteen's cassette that's using differently machined ramps compared to SRAM's work.
It doesn't scream 12-speed like those massive pie plate cogs do.