With all the Covid-induced supply chain fears and realities – I thought I’d give a non-Shimano cassette a try during a drivetrain swap-out.

I’m religious about certain gear choices, and like all aging codgers, swear by certain items. It would take a lot of evidence to pry me away from a chain other than the KMC X11 (SL), but I figured a cassette would either work, or suck, right out of the gate. While a catastrophic failure is possible, problems would likely come from bending or shifting issues over time – which would obviously suck as well.

Choosing

I wanted to bump up the tooth count from my Shimano 11-46 to 11-50. With aging knees, a little less knee grind from time to time is a good thing (according to an old orthopedist) and when you ride the rocks around here – it’s grind central! We’ll leave out the fact that the only way to consistently clean these rocks is with more mo and higher gears, but that’s another story.

After some digging, I found this cassette fit/compatibility chart in a forum. ZTTO seems to be another Chinese/Taiwanese supplier of off-brand components.

After a modest search I chose: The Bi-bike 11 speed 11/50T from Amazon

This one seemed to have good reviews. If the $60 investment pans out – I’ll be psyched that we’re not stuck in the duopoly of SRAM/Shimano for ALL things.

It arrived quickly in a padded bag – but no hard backing – which made me a little worried. No obvious bends – but some tweaking WAS necessary.

How to:

Packing for Bibike Cassette

  1. Install new cassette onto the wheel (requires cassette remove tool).
  2. Installed a new long cage derailleur.
  3. Noticed a slight bend in the biggest ring of the new cassette – used a brake rotor tool to correct the slight deviation. I think this was slight damage in shipping.
  4. Further adjustments for optimal shifting up/down.

Anecdotes from the install:

Bought a new oval chainring – Blackspire Direct Mount and realized I BOUGHT THE WRONG DIRECT MOUNT style oval chainring. Needed Race-Face compatible – bought Shimano. Curse these new crank standards!

A clean and freshly mounted Bi-bike Cassette

Update 11/22/21

I’m pleased to report that this off-brand Cassette is holding up well in some pretty extreme conditions. Shifting is clean, crisp – some problems getting into the 11th (little) gear. The climbs around here are such that you use your 4 lowest gears under max torque on every ride. I haven’t had grinding or skipping and I’ve tweaked the barrels to the point where I’m pretty confident it’s to spec.

I’ll report back.

Update 05/01/22

No bends, reasonably precise shifting still. Starting to old-man clean things using the 50 tooth gear. Nice to have it!

6 months in on the off-brand cassette – still shifting well.

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