E*thirteen first had their TRS+ 11-speed cassette hit back in early 2016, and with its 9–44t spread it came close to providing the range of a 2x setup. Twelve months later they released a wider range, 9–46t cassette, the TRSr. The TRSr’s large 511% range is greater than that of SRAM's 12-speed Eagle drivetrains—which are 500%—and you don’t need to dump all of your 11-speed parts in order to get that range. We’ve put in a lot of time on the $349 USD cassette to see how it stands up in the real world.
TRSr 9–46t Cassette Details
• 11 speed, 9–46 tooth spread
• 511% gear range
• Tooth count: 9-10-12-14-17-20-24-28-33-39-46
• XD driver body required
• Weight: 307 grams (actual)
• MSRP: $349 USD
When e*thirteen began working on the TRSr 11-speed cassette, they didn’t stop at increasing the range. They also worked on the fit of the cassette, with the older version susceptible to a little bit of creaking if not maintained, and they wound up getting the weight of the cassette down too; it now comes in at 307g (actual) versus the smaller 489% range TRS+ cassette's 333g (actual). The cassette is still constructed using the same techniques as the previous version—the top three cogs are aluminum, and the remaining cogs are steel.Installation/Removal
The cassette only works with an XD driver. Installing it onto the driver is straightforward with the use of the provided, keyed BB tool and a chain whip. First, the one-piece alloy top end (large sprocket cluster) of the cassette is slotted onto the XD driver and the locking nut is tightened down with the provided tool and a wrench. From here, the remaining steel part of the cassette, which contains eight of the eleven gears, needs to be lined up with the slots in the back of the steel body to the three teeth on the alloy part—the indicators on the 28 and 33t cogs help out with this step. Make sure that the steel part of the cassette is pressed firmly all the way onto the driver, or it won’t lock into place once the slots are aligned.
Removing the cassette is also pretty easy, but it does require two chain whips. If, like me, you don’t have two chain whips, it is possible to sneak it loose with the wheel still on the bike, attaching the whip to the lower portion of the cassette and turning it counterclockwise while the chain is on one of the upper three cogs (the alloy portion), with force applied to the pedals. Once the two halves of the cassette have been split, remove the locking ring holding the alloy piece on.Performance
On the trail, the TRSr cassette's range was welcomed, especially with early testing being done toward the end of a tough winter. With enough snow and shitty weather to stop the regular riding we normally seek here in coastal British Columbia, fitness levels were at an all-time low and the slightly easier gearing at the top end made the pain a little more bearable.
Jumping through the range I found the gaps between gears to be quite good, and didn’t find myself looking for something in-between gears when on the trail. Once regular riding was back I did find myself between two gears while commuting on the road to and from the trail, but to be honest, it’s not fitted to a road bike, so this is hardly relevant.
The 9t is one small cog, and despite already setting the bike up to run a smaller front ring shortly prior to this cassette being installed, I still only found the 9t cog on one occasion: commuting on a road, with a tail wind. The spread through the upper portion of the cassette felt really good with a 32-tooth chainring up front, and I found I was regularly in the middle of the cassette on the trails, so I’m not sure going any smaller with the front ring is the right answer, at least for where I live. Although I didn't make much use of the 9-tooth cog, in locations with wide open, very high-speed trails I'd imagine that using the full range would be more commonplace.
The TRSr cassette was set up with a new XT derailleur, new housing, cable, XTR chain (HG901) on a bike that was only six rides old. With all of the parts for the drivetrain being only a short number of rides old I would have expected shifting to be on-point from the get go. Shifting performance was good along the steel part of the cassette, albeit not as light and smooth as SRAM’s Eagle drivetrain, but it was totally fine regardless. Unfortunately, I did run into some problems higher up the range and found that the original cassette didn’t like to shift from the steel, 28t cog up to the first alloy cog (33t). The derailleur hanger was checked, gear cables checked, housing, B-tension—everything. In the end, nothing seemed to work. Swapping back to the SRAM XG-1199 cassette that it replaced showed no signs of shifting problems, leaving me to believe the issue lay with the cassette.
After some discussion, e*thirteen did fire over another cassette that included some rolling updates that the team had made. After putting this cassette on the shifting issue was gone, immediately. No change to the cable tension, chain—nothing. To the naked eye, the two look identical, indicating that the changes were minor, but they were enough to make the shift cleaner and more consistent.
After hundreds of kilometers on the new cassette, finishing off with a six-day event that included more than 9,000m of climbing and 13,750m of descending over a distance of 200km, it’s still performing well. During the event, the cable tension went a little out of whack resulting in the shifts in the upper part of the stack to get hung up a little, but a little cable adjustment amended that.
The TRSr cassette doesn’t shift as cleanly or lightly as Eagle, but this is admittedly being pretty nitpicky, given they both shift very well. Despite having been in the top three gears (the alloy cogs) for plenty of time on countless steep climbs the amount of wear is reasonable, and there is still plenty of life left in the cassette. The steel cogs show little sign of wear. Pinkbike’s Take: