It feels like 1×11 drivetrains have been around forever (go on, take a guess. No Googling mind. Answer* at the bottom of the review). I don’t think it would be too much of an exaggeration to say that they’ve revolutionised mountain biking. Riders have less to worry about when riding, cockpits have been tidied up, while designers have greater freedom in suspension design.
Wins all round then?
Except that the range of the first 1×11 cassettes (SRAM’s 10-42t ratio) was somewhat small at 420%, compared to a typical double chainring setup that offered over 475%.
Several companies have extended the range of their cassettes by simply making the largest cog bigger.
For 11-speed drivetrains there was Shimano’s 11-46t cassette (418%), and SunRace’s 11-50t ratio (454%). There have also been various hop-up kits from the likes of Wolf Tooth Components and OneUp, which modify an existing HG cassette by boosting the range with a larger in-board sprocket, while taking a smaller cog out from the bottom half of the cassette.
With the goal of trumping the front derailleur completely, SRAM added a cog to the whole shebang to make it 10-50t with its Eagle drivetrain (500%). And now Shimano is ‘leading’ the way with the 10-51t ratio on its latest XTR groupset (510%).
e*thirteen TRS Race Cassette
For the most part, everyone has been making the largest cog bigger, because there was no real way to make the smallest one any smaller, thanks to the pesky lock ring getting in the way. That is until e*thirteen joined the party and rewrote the rulebook.
The TRS Race is a wide range 11-speed cassette that offers a whopping 511% range. Even with one less cog, its vast range trumps both 12-speed SRAM Eagle and Shimano XTR.
Instead of upsizing to even bigger cogs at the low-end, e*thirteen achieves this range by simply shrinking the smallest cog to 9t.
To make this feat of engineering possible, the cassette is split into two gear clusters with the lock ring repositioned to the middle of the cassette body where it meets the threads of the SRAM XD driver. A special lock ring tool is (thankfully) included with the TRS Race cassette, which secures the large cluster down onto the freehub body.
The small gear cluster then mechanically locks into place on the large cluster with the aid of a chain whip. To unlock and remove, you’ll need a secondary chain whip.
Since the e*thirteen cassette is only compatible with XD drivers, existing Shimano drivetrain owners will want to check in with their wheel manufacturer to make sure they can source an XD option that’ll fit.
Overall it’s an ingenious and elegant solution, and the smaller cog offers numerous benefits – you can run a smaller chainring for increased ground clearance, and a shorter chain so there’s less chain flapping about. Consequently, the whole drivetrain can weigh a little less as well.
Speaking of weight, the TRS Race impresses at just 304g on the scales. That’s a lot lighter than the hulking SunRace MX80 11-50t cassette (526g) and Shimano’s 11-46t XT cassette (440g). Perhaps more impressive is that it’s even lighter than XTR 9100 (363g) and X01 Eagle (355g).
The larger cluster and lock ring are constructed from weight saving aluminium, while the smaller one is formed from high strength steel. The overall level of engineering and machine work is absolutely top notch, which it should be for over £300. Of note is that you can replace the large block (£129) and the small block (£209) separately.
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*Answer: SRAM introduced the 1×11 drivetrain back in 2012 with XX1. So now you know.
|Product:||TRS Race Casette|
|Tested:||by James Vincent for 6 months|