Who ever thought we would need to review a single cog as part of a cassette, right? Thanks to the crazy world of 1x drive trains and drive train conversions as well as the lack of readily available 16t cogs, this is the reality. Fortunately, while also providing us with aluminum 40 and 42t cassette adapters, companies like Wolf Tooth Components have also provided us with steel cassette cog replacements to provide a better jump between gearing.
Whether you’re running Shimano or SRAM, the WTC 16t cog will provide a better experience along with your GC – just make sure to install it correctly…
If you’re unfamiliar with the need for a 16t cog, let’s get you up to speed – the use of cassette adapters like the WTC GC 40 or 42t require the elimination of one cog from the cassette. In the case of 11-36 mountain cassettes which are used for the conversion, you have the choice of eliminating the 15t or 17t cog, both of which leaves a 4t jump some where in the cassette (11-13-17-19 or 11-13-15-19). By removing both the 15t and the 17t cog and replacing them with a 16t cog, you’re left with nice 3t jumps (11-13-16-19). The smaller jumps result in better shifting, and a better gear range between shifts.
In order to shift as smoothly as possible, the WTC 16t has unique tooth profiling similar to that which you will find on a current MTB cassette. It is also designed to work for both Shimano and SRAM cassettes depending on how the cog is rotated on the freehub body.
The clocking of the cog is very important for optimal shifting so pay attention when you install it. SRAM cassettes run the tab with a single dot in the wide notch in the freehub (above, left), while Shimano cassettes run the tab with two dots in that wider notch (above, right). Of course installation requires the removal of both the 15 and 17t cogs in addition to the installation of a GC cassette adapter.
The end result is a wide range cassette with better spacing between the lower cogs. Shifting has proven to be better than expected but not quite as perfect as a full Shimano cassette (without any cogs removed). I will say that the addition of a 16t cog makes a huge improvement as far as the gearing choice of the cassette and I would consider it a necessity if you’re using a cassette adapter.
For the gram counters out there, technically the 16t will ultimately replace the 15t which is 2g lighter. The improved shifting performance is well worth the 2 grams.
Note that the 16t cog is not included with the GC cassette adapter, so you will have to purchase it separately for $19.95. Like just about everything else we’ve tried out from Wolf Tooth Components, it seems to be worth the money.