Just when you thought it was safe to buy into a new drivetrain – in swims the Shark. Perhaps trying to lure over the remaining 1x holdouts, wide range cassettes are getting even wider. While we know SRAM has something of this magnitude up their sleeve, it’s OneUp who is first letting the Shark out of the bag.
While OneUp is no stranger to cassette adapters which modify Shimano cassettes to provide wider range, the Shark is a little different. Sold as a kit with a replacement derailleur cage and an 18t and 50t cog, the set is to be used together. However, if you want even more range – there is an additional 10t mini cluster that is compatible with a few different wheels already out there…
Building on the 11-42t profile of the Shimano XT cassette, the Shark upgrade starts with a 7075-T6 aluminum 50t sprocket. Going on the freehub first, the 50t sprocket pushes the cassette out one gear which is made up by replacing the 17t and 19t cogs with the included nickel plated steel 18t cog. Due to its modular nature, the Shark can be used in this set up without the 10t mini-cluster for an 11-50t cassette with 11,13,15,18,21,24,28,32,37,42,50 progression. In this configuration, the complete cassette comes in at 505g. OneUp points out that in order to keep a standard-free hub body, this is the widest range cassette you can currently build.
We haven’t had a chance to check out the mini cluster yet, but when available it will replace the lower three gears to get down to a 10t as the smallest cog. This is smaller than the standard free hub body will allow, so OneUp worked with Hope Tech to create a non proprietary freehub body that will work with the 10t. Essentially the last three cogs are housed on their own carrier which threads into a shortened free hub allowing for either a 10-12-14 or 10-12-15 progression depending on the use. OneUp says that free hubs will be available for Hope, DT, and Stan’s hubs with more coming soon.
Called the MiniDriver, the technology is open to anyone to use or develop which means we could see this concept on the wheels and hubs in the near future. When available the 10t cluster will include a 10-12 cluster, 14 and 15t cog and the green lockring for $45. The OneUp MiniDriver which is 4.5mm shorter than a standard free hub body and is compatible with DT Swiss Star Ratchet hubs will sell for an additional $40. The Shark 50t sprocket and cage kit will run $125 meaning you could have the full 10-50t cassette for $210 plus the cost of the Shimano components.
Based on either the 10-50t or 11-50t Shark gearing, it’s clear what OneUp was after. Yes, there are some huge jumps in the cassette progression, but if it’s absolute range you’re after, look no further.
In order to fit that massive 50t sprocket back there, the Shimano derailleur is going to need some help. Compatible with Shimano 11 speed Shadow+ derailleurs, the Shark Cage increases the upper pulley offset by more than 50% to allow it to clear the 50t. Our derailleur came preassembled, but from our experience with the RAD and RADr cages, it’s an easy swap and utilizes the stock pulleys and hardware. Complete XT M8000 weight once modified with the Shark Cage came in at 281g.
If you’re not into the green look, there is also a full grey kit which nicely matches the stock Shimano colors.
It’s important to note that OneUp recommends using a chainring with 48-50mm chainline. If you are using a stock RaceFace Cinch set up as I was, that means you will need to use a different chainring to get away from the stock 51mm chainline.
Initially, when running the RaceFace ring if you were to back pedal in the 50t the chain would derail down the cassette. Switching to the 49mm OneUp ring solved the backpedal issue on the 50t cog, but it doesn’t solve the issue on the 42t cog – which seems to be a Shimano problem more than a OneUp problem. With the stock Shimano 1x drivetrain, if the chain is in the 42t cog and you back pedal it will also derail. This doesn’t seem to change whether that 42t cog is in the outermost position or shifted in by one spot. So while you can get it so that you can back pedal in the 50t and the 37t cogs without the chain coming off, you can not back pedal in the 42t cog no matter where it is on the cassette. It’s actually pretty impressive that you can back pedal on the 50t considering how big it is, and the extreme angle of the chain.
Speaking of which, really our only criticism at the moment comes from the amount of noise the chain makes when you are pedaling in the 50t. Speaking to OneUp, they acknowledged the issue and said that they changed the angle of the lower pulley after their sample run and before their production run to make it run quieter. We should be getting in a new cage to verify, but it sounds like the production cages will have that taken into consideration.
As far as set up is concerned, once everything is installed, adjustment is straight forward. Thanks to the design of the Shark Cage, the derailleur will clear the 50t with B-tension to spare. Keep in mind that if you are modifying an existing drivetrain you will probably need a new chain – on our test Kona Hei Hei DL Trail we didn’t cut the Shimano chain at all out of the package. Bigger chainrings/longer chain stays may need more than one chain!
Admittedly, there have been rides on a stock Shimano 11 speed 1x group with the 11-42 cassette where I have wished for more range. But an 11-50t?
Right off the bat I was surprised at how well the whole system worked. Typically, my experience with cassette adapters have been that they worked, but not as well as a purpose built drivetrain. This may be the closest you can get at the moment to adaptive drivetrain perfection. The chain doesn’t hesitate up or down when shifting to the 18t or the 50t, and the somewhat normal B-tension adjustment seems to keep shifting relatively crisp. That isn’t to say that the performance is on par with SRAM’s XX1 or Shimano XTR, but it’s very, very good – as long as the production models offer a quieter ride in the 50t.
As for the usefulness of the 50t, it does take some getting used to. I really had to search for grades at my local trails where the 50t was needed – at which point it became more of a struggle to keep the rear tire from slipping. Because of that, I’ve already gone up a few teeth in the front (32 – 34) which provides more high end speed but still provides more low gearing as well. This seems to be the big payoff of the 50t – the ability to run bigger chainrings while still having enough of a low end to climb any hill that comes your way. Because of that, I have a feeling that 50t cassettes will have a lot of riders paying more attention to maximum chainring size on their frames in the near future.
So who is the ideal customer for the Shark? As an upgrade, the system makes a lot of sense for anyone wanting more range out of their current Shimano 11 speed 1x drivetrain (or anyone who may buy a complete bike with Shimano 1x in the near future). The Shark kit also seems like a real option for anyone trying to gain the widest range 1x drivetrain on a budget. SRAM has put out some mighty impressive 1x drivetrains at very attainable prices, but when it comes to absolute range the Shark has the 10-42 beat. And if/when SRAM does launch their 10-50t cassette, we have a feeling that it will be a good bit more expensive than a Shimano XT drivetrain with the OneUp Shark treatment.
Shark Kits are available for preorder now for $125 and will ship starting April 11.
Shark 50T Sprocket Tech Specs:
- Cassette Progression: 11,13,15,18,21,24,28,32,37,42,50
- Sprocket Material: 7075-T6 Aluminum (50T), Nickel plated hardened steel (18T).
- Compatibility: XT M8000 11-42T cassettes (For Shimano 11-40 use the OneUp 45T sprocket)
- Freehub requirement: Standard
- Cassette range improvement: 19%
- Colors: Grey or Green
Shark Cage Tech Specs:
- Pulley Offset: 50% more than stock
- Compatibility: Shimano Shadow+ 11spd rear derailleurs
- Colors: Grey or Grey/Green
- Shark 50T Sprocket and Cage Kit MSRP: $125 USD
10T Cluster Tech Specs:
- Kit contains: 10-12 cluster, 14T and 15T
- Cassette Progression:
- 10-12-14-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40 (11-40 Shimano converted to 10-40)
- 10-12-14-17-19-21-24-28-32-37-42 (11-42 Shimano converted to 10-42)
- 10-12-15-18-21-24-27-31-25-40-45 (11-45 OneUp’d Shimano converted to 10-45)
- 10-12-15-18-21-24-28-32-37-42-50 (11-50 OneUp’d Shimano converted to 10-50)
- Compatibility: Shimano 11-spd 11-40 and 11-42 cassettes and OneUp’d Shimano 11-45 and 11-50 cassettes
- Freehub requirement: OneUp MiniDriver (or compatible)
- Cassette range improvement: 10%
- Color: Nickel Plated cluster with Green Lockring
- MSRP – $45
MiniDriver Tech Specs:
- Length: 4.5mm shorter than a standard freehub
- Lockring Thread: M29
- OneUp DT star ratchet compatible MiniDriver
- MSRP – $40