We’ve rated their mountain bike groupset, so how does the Microshift Advent 1 x 9 drop bar groupset stand up? Find out in our review.
I think it’s fair to say that the price of your average bicycle drivetrain these days is a bit silly. The price of above-average stuff is getting bloody daft and as for the high-end kit…. just don’t go there.
Microshift’s Advent 1×9 speed groupset though gives you drop bar dual control shifters, a wide-range cassette and a clutch mech for about 250 quid. Is it any good? How can it be?
Microshift Advent 1 x 9 drop bar groupset – Features
Due to this being a true 1×9-specific groupset, the derailleur has a clutch. That’s unusual (probably unique) in the world of 9-speed bike parts and providing you’re not using a really worn chainring you can normally get away with fitting a non-thick/thin chainring without the chain dropping- I fitted a ‘normal’ 9-speed chainring and it was fine and I didn’t bother with any kind of chain device either.
The clutch can be disengaged by way of a largish switch, which is easy to grasp with winter gloves on.
The 46-11 cassette has a big gap between the biggest 2 sprockets but the gaps in between the rest aren’t massive by any means. All the sprockets apart from the big one are steel so it’s a relatively heavy thing but at this price are we bothered? It’ll last ages anyway.
The right-hand lever takes care of gear shifting duties. The gear cable exits the unit at the side, rather than being concealed under the bar tape. It looks rather old-fashioned but it does the job and at least you can swap cable outer if you need to without re-taping your bars – which everyone hates. It’ll rub and/or snag on your bar-mounted luggage if you’re into that sort of thing though. The shifter and mech are not compatible with any other manufacturer’s stuff before anyone gets any funny ideas about digging out old 9-speed stuff from the back of the shed (although I’m not stopping anyone trying it). You’ll need a Campagnolo gear cable too because the Shimano one I used snags slightly on the lever’s hood. It’s not too bad though and it’s still fitted.
The left lever is more fun in that it has a dropper seat post lever instead of a gear shifter. The actuation lever is neatly hidden behind the brake lever where there would normally be a shifter for the front mech. Why has nobody thought of this before?
Microshift Advent 1 x 9 drop bar groupset – Set up and on the trail
I dug my old Planet X Uncle John cyclocross frame out of the loft along with some other bits (some flared handlebars, some non-BOOST wheels, suitably narrow ‘cross tyres) and I was away.
Fitting the shifters, cassette and rear mech was super-easy and once I’d fitted a new 9 speed and super-cheap chain I spent literally ONE MINUTE getting the gears indexing perfectly. I’d forgotten how straightforward and tolerant of hamfistedness a 9-speed transmission was.
The Advent brake levers play nicely with any cable-pull brakes. In this instance, I fitted a pair of cheap (and perhaps suicidal) cable-operated callipers I bought on eBay for about 35 quid. The cable actuates a lever connected to a master cylinder on each brake and so far I’ve had no mishaps. Again, the levers were straightforward to set up with the brakes and the barrel adjusters were effective at removing any slackness in the cable. If your frame doesn’t have disc mounts the Advent levers will work fine with any short-pull cantilever brakes, too.
In use, the whole thing ‘just works’. Gear changes happen with a good, loud CLUNK and upward shifts under load aren’t too bad either. The rear mech keeps the chain nice and quiet and the ability to run a dropper post on a cyclocross bike is hilarious in all honesty. Try it – it’s really weird at first and then it gets all silly and giggly. Like you’re suddenly riding gravel trails perched on your old racing bike from 1978. You’ll just have to try it to know what I’m on about.
If I had a complaint, the small gear lever on the right-hand side is slightly too short, so it’s sometimes an awkward upwards stretch for my index finger to shift into a bigger gear with my hands in the drops. From the hoods, it’s fine though. I’m nitpicking though.
What we would like to see:
- Some riders might prefer the cleaner look of the cable under the tape.
- I would prefer a slightly longer right-hand gear shifter for use on the drops.
What we love:
- Excellent value for money.
- Incredibly easy to set up, and great consistent gear changing throughout the test.
- The clutch on a 9-speed mech could be a first.
I rode this ageing bike for dozens of hours through the winter and for most of the spring and summer and apart from the usual minor adjustments to the rear mech to take up any cable stretch I’ve not had any trouble from any of the Microshift components at all.
The cassette doesn’t show any sign of notable wear and even if it was completely knackered after a year or so of heavy use, a replacement is a fraction of the cost of a posh Shimano or Sram one.
Taking modern clutch technology and applying that to 9-speed components keeps things simple to set up, maintain and keeps the price low. There’s no shortage of 9-speed chains that I can see in case anyone’s worried that a 9-speed drivetrain is already obsolete and the integration of a dropper post is innovative and is just downright good fun.
- Microshift Advent 1×9 drop-bar groupset
- Price: Shifters £130, derailleur £70, cassette £35// From: microshift.com
- Tested: 6 months
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