e*thirteen's new TRS+ 12-speed cassette is poised to ruffle SRAM's feathers again. E*thirteen's 11-speed TRS cassettes were an ambitious project for the high-performance accessory maker. One-by drivetrains simplified the duties of the rear derailleur and transferred the onus of smooth shifting onto the shoulders of the wide range cassette. But the new crown jewels - SRAM's and Shimano's 11-speed cassettes - left many riders wishing for a wider, more useful range of gears.
E*thirteen seized the opportunity to squeeze in between the two giants with an innovative 9 x 46 tooth option that offered a significantly wider gearing range The shifting was a little clunky, but it was light, affordable and exactly what one-by drivetrains needed at the time.
TRS+ Wide Range Cassette Construction:
10-cog steel, 2-cogs aluminumCompatible:
SRAM XD or XD-R onlyGearing 556%
: 9,11,13,15,17,20, 23, 27, 31, 36, 42, 50Gearing 511%
: 9-10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-33-39- 46Weight:
9 x 50 (reviewed) - 390g, 9 x 46 - 336g (stated)MSRP
: $299 USDContact: e*thirteen
Enter SRAM's 12-speed Eagle, which seemed to put the wide range issue to rest and with it, a big chunk of e*thirteen's 11-speed TRS cassette sales. Undaunted, e*thirteen's design team volleyed back with a completely redesigned 12-speed cassette that shifts smoothly across an impressive 556-percent range of gearing.TRS+ Features
E*thirteen's TRS+ 9 x 50 tooth cassette weighs only 395 grams, requires only a 3mm allen key and a chain whip to assemble onto an XD or XD-R driver, and retails for $299 USD. If you pale at a 556-percent range, there is also a TRS+ with a closer ratio, 9 x 46-tooth option for the same cost. Both operate with any Eagle derailleur and 12-speed chain. Like the 11-speed model, the TRS+ is a two piece design that latches together with a twist. The outer half is a one-piece steel, ten-cog cluster, while the inside two cogs are machined from aluminum. Profiled teeth and a number of improved machined ramps assist gear changes.
To install theTRS+ cassette, the aluminum side simply pushes onto the XD driver and is clamped in place via a 3mm Allen key. That seems simplistic, but it can be argued that the micro-fine threads of SRAM's XD driver are a disaster waiting to happen. There's no clear indication whether or not you've cross-threaded a SRAM cassette or if you are simply experiencing the resistance of its press-fit sleeve. The only way to be sure is to remove it, check, and then risk cross-threading it once more. E*thirteen's clamp-on arrangement settles that doubt by eliminating the threads and you'll never need to search for a spline tool to remove it either.
Gearing for the 9 x 50 and 9 x 46 is different, across their ranges: 9,11,13,15,17,20, 23, 27, 31, 36, 42, 50 for the 556-percent wide-range option and 9-10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-33-39- 46 for the 511-percent, close-ratio option. I weighed the 9 x 50 at 400 grams, which is close enough to e*thirteen's 398-gram figure to call it good. The weight of the 9 x 46 is stated at 336 grams.
Both the weight and price of the two cassettes fall between SRAMs Eagle XX1 and GX, (360g / 450g) which makes the TRS+ an attractive option, especially for those who want to upgrade from SRAM's 600-gram, lower level 12-speed cassettes. Sadly, e*thirteen's TRS+ cassettes are not Shimano compatible.
TRS+ cassettes are shipped with easy to follow instructions and e*thirteen further equips their customers with video tutorials and downloadable PDF format instructions on their website. The cassette requires grease in a few places, which is pre-applied on new product, so initial assembly is a piece of cake. Slide the aluminum half of the cassette onto the XD driver (in the rare instance you are installing it on an XD-R road driver, you'll need to add a supplied 2mm spacer). Wiggle the cogs until they engage the XD spline and press down until it bottoms on the driver body. Torque the 3mm-hex Allen screw to 3 Newton meters and you're half-way there.
The steel half of the cassette has a hole that lines up with a pair of lock icons printed on the matching aluminum cogs. Push the steel half onto the driver with the hole under the "unlocked" icon and use a chain whip to rotate the steel half counterclockwise to lock it in place. A tiny, 3-mm hex Allen screw is provided that fits into the hole and prevents accidental disengagement. The assembly process is simple and intuitive.
To remove the TRS+ cassette, reverse the steps; I use a gloved hand to hold the two largest cogs while I rotated the steel half with a chain whip. Alternatively, a Shimano cassette spline tool fits into the nine-tooth cog and can be used to rotate and unlock the steel half, while you secure the aluminum side with the whip. Either way, it's a three minute task. Don't drop that tiny screw, though - I did, and it was gone forever. E*thirteen sent a replacement. Trail Report
I have complimented e*thirteen's wide range 11-speed cassettes for offering a more useful and lighter-weight alternative to the second-tier cassettes typically found on mid-priced mountain bikes. That noted, I never rode one that didn't have a clunky shift somewhere in the range, and while their overall shifting performance was good, TRS cassettes lacked the precise feel of the SRAM or Shimano items. I begin this review with an 11-speed slap-down because e*thirteen appears to have addressed those issues with their new 12-speed TRS+ Cassettes.
Shifting feels much smoother in both directions across the cogs, and the noticeable change in shifting performance between the steel and aluminum cogs of the old TRS cassettes has vanished as well. I tested the TRS+ cassette using a lower level SRAM NX Eagle derailleur so if there were any compatibility issues, they would have been exaggerated by the reduced precision of NX mechanism. Does it shift as well as SRAM's XO1 Eagle? No, but e*thirteen has narrowed the gap to the point where I never gave the TRS+ cassette a thought while I was riding - except to note how well spaced the gearing range felt for such a massive spread.
I prefer a 30-tooth chainring for 29ers to adjust my climbing gears for the larger diameter wheels. Now that most trail bikes are shipped with 2.5" or larger tires, that issue is more acute. e*thirteen's nine-tooth cassette cog gives back the top speed I'd normally sacrifice by dropping from a 32-tooth chainring, so the TRS+ is a win/win accessory.
I had some reservations that the gearing steps would feel too extreme across a 556-percent range, but such was not the case. SRAM's Eagle range has a 500 percent spread and it looks like this: 10,12,14,16,18,21,24,28,32,36,42,50. TRS+, with a 556-percent spread looks like this: 9,11,13,15,17,20, 23, 27, 31, 36, 42, 50.
As you can see, the differences are spread across the first nine cogs, and with one exception, the TRS+ steps feel more seamless than SRAM's. I expected the five-tooth jump between the TRS's 31 and 36 tooth to be the deal breaker, but such was not the case. The shift from the 11 to the 9 on the e*thirteen cassette, however, feels more dramatic than the shift from the 12 to the 10 cog on the SRAM cassette. I can live with that and after riding both back to back, I prefer the TRS+ gearing steps over those of the SRAM Eagle cassette.
Wear is on par with a SRAM cassette, which is good. Steel cassettes last a long time, and while the large cogs are aluminum, they also have a lot more teeth, which extends their lifetimes to compete with their steel siblings. If you do manage to beat one down, e*thirteen sells replacement halves on their website. Aesthetically, however, e*thirteen's TRS cassettes, with their white graphics and matte black finishes, look old in about an hour's use and never really clean up that well. Most of us will be buying the TRS+ for the extended range, but if you are "that guy" there are more handsome looking alternatives with less range - like a golden Eagle or a snazzy color-matched Garbaruk cassette
Good gear spacing+
Extends range without enlarging cogs
SRAM and Shimano 12-speeds shift better