With the latest and greatest from the big brands pushing 12-speeds and high price tags, it’s easy to think the only way to get high performance parts is by spending a ton. The new MicroSHIFT Advent 9-speed group begs to differ, offering an 11-42 cassette, shifter and uniquely-clutched rear derailleur for just $125. Here’s all the details…
The cassette ($39.99) gets fully forged carbon-steel cogs that, they say, are perfectly straight and very tough, with precision chamfers and ramps to facilitate smooth shifts. The large 42T cog is machined alloy to save a bit of weight. Cog tooth counts are 11-13-15-18-21-24-28-34-42, providing well-spaced steps considering the reduction in rings. All are ED/anodized black, claimed weight is 450g.
The rear derailleur ($59.99) has a few interesting features. Up top, the cable entry path is designed to allow most frames to send the housing to it in a straight path. This reduces bends, thus reducing friction, which should mean crisper shifts and easier installs.
The bigger news is the clutch. Where other brands use a roller bearing that’s mostly friction-based, MicroSHIFT uses a pawl-and-ratchet system that they say is not only more durable (as in, it maintains a higher level of friction for longer). Like a hub, the pawls allow the ratchet to only engage the friction element when it’s trying to extend the pulley. It’s also easily serviceable…just open the cover, tighten a screw or two, and it’s back to working like new. They offer it in this mid-cage version for 1x (claimed weight 379g), which has an on/off lever for the clutch to make repairs and wheel swaps easier. There’s also a longer cage version for 2x, and even non-clutched versions if you want them.
Making it all work is a new shifter ($24.99) that’s equipped with cartridge bearings inside for smooth, stable lever action. The design uses a single large thumb lever to move the chain up the cassette (to bigger cogs), with a separate front-facing trigger to release cable and bring the chain back down the cassette (to smaller cogs). Claimed weight is 114g.
But what about the chain, cranks and chainring?
The group does basically require a 9-speed chain to function at its best. The cogs are designed around it, so they’re too thick for most 10-speed chains. But it doesn’t include a chain or chainring, so you’ll have to get your own. Fortunately, 9-speed chains are now pretty cheap, even decent ones, and they say most 10-speed narrow-wide chainrings should work just fine. And those are probably pretty cheap now, too. Even 11-speed chainrings should be compatible, but check with the manufacturer to verify compatibility with a 9-speed chain. We’re testing a group now and will report back soon on how it’s worked for us, along with a more detailed explanation of how their clutch works.
Works for gravel and cyclocross bikes, too…
Want more options? They offer an even less expensive 9-speed shifter without the cartridge bearings inside, but what’s more interesting is the drop bar lever options. Buy them as a set with the shift levers on the right hand, or get a left-only lever with a single shift paddle that can be used to activate a dropper seatpost. Altogether, the parts seem to offer an easy and affordable way to expand any bike’s capabilities, build a cheap enduro or play bike, or just upgrade your kid’s mountain bike.