I’ve been testing the Microshift Advent X on a number of bikes over the past few months and I’ve come away a believer!
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Andi: “I’m a sucker for an underdog, so when microSHIFT announced the Advent X drivetrain I was super keen to give it a go. It is a 1×10 wide-range drivetrain that, at £170, costs significantly less than anything from SRAM or Shimano. But there has to be a catch right? Surely it’s weak or perhaps it’s really heavy? In actual fact, no. The Advent X cassette, shifter and rear mech are all durable and long-lasting and while they may not weigh as little as XX1 or XTR, they’re lighter than the low-cost or mid-range kit from rivals.
“On top of all of this, the Advent X actually works really well on the trail too. The rear mech features a ratchet clutch to keep the chain in place, and the shifter and cassette allow for smooth shifts across the range. What’s more, because Advent X is 10-speed it’s much less time-consuming to set up and it’s less susceptible to issues with misalignment, like if you whack the rear mech off a rock.
“Since I reviewed it, I’ve continued to use MicroShift Advent X and it keeps performing. It really is a great value drivetrain – the only issue is finding a shop with stock.”
As my job is to test bikes, I often get some pretty pimp kit to play with. Kashima covered forks, AXS wireless shifting, carbon wheels, and eBikes that cost as much as a car. And I do enjoy all that high-end gear, but when it comes to my own builds, I much prefer an underdog or to hunt out a bargain. For drivetrains, I usually opt for a Shimano SLX system with XT shifter, or SRAM GX, but after my experience with the Advent X I think I’ll be saving big on my next build.
Microshift Advent X – What is it?
The Advent X is a 1 x 10 wide-range drivetrain, or more accurately a shifting system because Microshift doesn’t manufacture chainsets, chainrings or chains just yet.
It consists of a rear mech, shifter and a wide-range 1 x 10 cassette. Each of the components is available individually and there are a few options when purchasing.
Do I know anyone riding Advent X?
Martha Gill of Gowaan Gals and EWS fame rides Microshift Advent X on her Marin enduro bike, and I would imagine if the system performs well enough and is durable enough for one of the fastest women in the EWS it’s more than good enough for the majority of us.
Microshift Advent X Reach Mech
- Price: £78 all-alloy £70 with the steel cage
The Advent X rear mech is a fraction of the cost of most traditional rear derailleurs and despite being manufactured from chunky alloy and steel it weighs an impressive 313g, not a huge amount more than an XT mech.
Features include a ratchet and pawl style clutch with a switch to activate it. Really there isn’t a whole lot to say about it, the black finish gives a very stealthy finish that might not be as fancy as the new GX but still manages to look pretty decent even after a few months of rock garden smashing.
Microshift Advent X Pro Trail Shifter
- Price: £32 for Pro, £26 for standard
There are 2 options for the Advent X shifter, a Pro and non-Pro version. The difference in price is just £8 and the difference in the actual product is that the Pro model has a silicone grip for upshifts. Like the rear mech, the shifter is very affordable but it boasts a solid alloy and plastic construction and the shifter lever runs on a sealed bearing.
Microshift Advent X 11 -48 10-speed cassette
- Price: £70
There aren’t many wide range cassettes on the market for less than £100. The Advent X cassette comes with a wall-climbing 11-48t spread, 6 teeth more than the original Advent system, and is manufactured in 2 halves with an alloy spider. There is a lot of machining and plenty of holes drilled into the sprockets to save weight but also aid in the mud and the overall weight of the cassette is just 424g, a similar weight to a GX Eagle.
However, there is one thing that you must know about the cassette and that is it is only available with a Shimano HG style freehub fitting. So if you’re moving from an older Shimano drivetrain or SRAM SX/NX it’s a straight swap, but more modern units will probably require an additional Freehub swap factored into the cost too.
Gearing starts with an 11t moving up to 13t, 15t, 18t, 21t, 24t, 28t, 34t, 40t and finally 48t.
Microshift Advent X set-up and the on-trail performance
In my time testing the MicroShift Advent X I tested the system on both my Patrol E-Six eMTB and on my Pole Taival hardtail. However, I ran into an issue with the eBike, one which isn’t the fault of Microshift.
The system being a 1×10 drivetrain and using a wider chain, I found that the narrow-wide ring of the E8000 chainset couldn’t bite and hold the chain in place. This wouldn’t normally be an issue as a top chain guide can solve this, however, the design of the frame on the 1st Gen Patrol covers the E8000 chain guide mounts. On other eMTB’s with a chainguide I didn’t have this issue, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re planning a switch to Advent X.
For my Pole Taival build I used an SRAM chain which Hotlines, the new distributor of Microshift supplied, and a Deckas narrow-wide chainring with a Nukeproof chain guide to prevent any dropped chain issues.
Installing Microshift doesn’t throw up any weirdness or odd design issues, and if you’re competent at installing Shimano or SRAM systems you’ll quickly have the Microshift kit shifting smoothly. Just as you would expect from a rear mech there are 2 stop adjusters and a B Tension screw, and if you remove the cover from the clutch there is a little internal adjustment there also.
On the stand and on the trail the Pro Trail Shifter offers a light upshift with a positive click for downshifts resulting in solid and snappy, if not super fast, gear change from the rear mech.
Spending time on the Advent X bolted to a hardtail gave me plenty of time to see just how well the clutch works and the fact that my Taival is extremely quiet and has minimal marking on the chainstay (yes, I need a chainstay protector) proves that the little switch does make a major difference when in the ‘on’ position.
With a low-price tag attached to it, one area where I expected to see some performance issues was during loaded upshifts, but even under load, the Advent X delivers clean and precise shifts. In fact, the precision of the system is a marked improvement of 12-speed systems that can be very fussy after hard use, the Advent X is still working great now even after all this riding time despite rock strikes, mud, sand and grit.
Microshift Advent X Overall
There really isn’t anything to complain about with the Advent X system. Sure it loses 2 gears compared to Eagle and modern-day Shimano system, but in all honesty, I can’t say I’ve really noticed unless feeling extremely tired or a little lazy.
You might ask would I run Advent X over SRAM or Shimano kit and that answer does depend. I would run Advent X over SX or NX, and from a price point of view perhaps Deore, but I think that’s the wrong question. Instead, would I be put off a bike if it was built with Microshift instead of one of the bigger names? No, absolutely not, it’s a great shifting system that has proven to be durable and is pretty lightweight. Will I be running Advent X on other builds? Yes, 100%.
Microshift might not be the go-to name for drivetrains at the moment, but if they keep this momentum going and gain a few OEM deals, I hope we get to see a lot more of them.
|Tested:||by Andi Sykes for 6 months|
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