by Marc Basiliere
December 20, 2013
Talking to Canfield Brothers a bit more after Monday’s post about their 9T Microdrive system, the company indicated that more bits would be coming “soon.” And by soon, they meant a couple of days. Teaming up with Taiwanese specialist cassette company Recon, Canfield Components has released a freakishly light, 9-36t 10 speed cassette.
By way of recap, the 9T Microdrive system makes use of Shimano’s existing Capreo compact cassette interface. With its shortened freehub spline, Capreo uses interlocking bottom cogs and an external lockring to hold the whole setup in place over a smooth freehub stub. Developed for compact and folding bicycles, the stepped-down freehub body allows for some tiny cogs at the high end: 9t and 10t as opposed to the 11t minimum on standard freehubs. The balance of the cassette is relatively normal, even allowing for the use of a partial SRAM with Canfield’s 9-11-13-16 top end.
Back to the Canfield/Recon partnership: the two companies have taken the next step and are now offering a complete 9-36t cassette. The bottom three cogs (9t, 11t, and 13t) are steel and the rest of the block is CNC machined out of a single chunk of aluminum. Granted, the gears are smaller, but the result is a 191g cassette- some 75g lighter than SRAM’s XX1, going a long way toward undoing any weight penalty created by Canfield’s (not heavy but not super-light) 350g rear hub.
The words “aluminum” and “cassette” in combination naturally strike fear into most mountain bikers- after all, the soft metal doesn’t like being ground by grit and steel chains. Three generations in the making, Canfield assures us that wear on the current cassettes isn’t unusually quick. For a bit more longevity, an gold-coloured titanium nitride coating is offered for a reasonable upcharge. Of course, running a partial SRAM cassette with Canfield’s top end remains an option. Either way, the system allows for a 400% range with a single ring (compared to XX1’s 420%) or a massive 600% range with most doubles (wider than even a 24-32-42 triple provides with an 11-36 cassette).
Pricing is excellent- a kit including the rear hub, cassette, and lockring tool retails for $460 (£280- currently on special for $300/£185), which compares very favourably with an XX1 cassette alone ($425/£330)- all while allowing the use of the rider’s existing 10s shifter and mech. Cassettes alone sell for $160 (£100) and a tougher gold-coloured plating adds $25 (£15) to either price (but may be a worthwhile investment). If it works as promised and holds up reasonably well, Canfield may have snuck in with one of the more compelling 1×10 drivetrain options.