Ever since SRAM released its original 11 speed drivetrain in 2012, a whole industry has cropped up around creating either more affordable or wider range solutions.
When Shimano released its first 11 speed mountain bike drivetrain last year, I was a little disappointed to see the widest range cassette was an 11-40. The new XT Cassette helps push things a little further in the right direction with an 11-42, but some of us (myself included) could use a little more help, so we were excited to hear rumors circulating that Shimano was testing a wider ratio cassette. How wide?
Rumor has it that Shimano is working on an 11-46 cassette, and if the photo (far left) taken of a Shimano Rep’s bike during the Downieville Classic is any indication, they’re close.
For the purposes of slightly more scientific rumor mongering, we did a quick photographic comparison between the prototype Shimano cassette and several wide range options we have in for review. From left to right (next to a 160mm rotor): the prototype Shimano Cassette, a 10 speed Praxis 11-40T cassette, and a OneUp 44T.
Currently, OneUp offers an 45T sprocket for Shimano 1X11 drivetrains, which helps increase the stock range by 12.5%. According to them, Shimano 11 speed derailleurs do not have the capacity to run a 2×11 with an extended 11-42 cassette, but can easily accommodate a 45T within their normal operating range.
If Shimano does release this 11-46 cassette, the range would be 418% – which is almost identical to the 420% range of SRAM’s 10-42 – without utilizing a proprietary freehub standard!