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.
UPDATE OCTOBER 2022:
Well, it finally happened, I sheared off a piece of 2nd gear during a tech climb at Bruce and Toms exactly one year from the date ordered last year. Frankly, given the miles and the terrain ridden over the last year, this isn’t a total condemnation of the part. I got away clean from the failure, but if it were on one of the pucker spine climbs – things could have gotten nasty.
For the short money and access to a 50-tooth big sprocket (which is hard to get on an 11 speed these days), this still feels like a good decision. That being said, didn’t replace it with the same, I’m going with a SunRace MX8 Cassette with a 46t large.
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.
- Install new cassette onto the wheel (requires cassette remove tool).
- Installed a new long cage derailleur.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
No bends, reasonably precise shifting still. Starting to old-man clean things using the 50 tooth gear. Nice to have it!