Thursday, April 20, 2023

Alt-Drive Train Parts: Good, Bad, Or Meh?

MicroSHIFT's AdventX v2 10 speed rear derailleur (Image courtesy of MicroSHIFT)
 Since about the start of the twenty-teens, new components on bicycles started appearing that weren't Shimano or SRAM. MicroSHIFT being one of the earliest examples that I can think of. The brands available outside of the two mainstream brands has now blossomed since COVID hit with all of its availability issues. Everything from complete group-sets to cassettes, chains, and brakes are available from multiple, mostly Chinese based manufacturers at the click of a button on Amazon. 

I've even been intrigued by some of the new electronic group-sets I've seen on YouTube and really, they are not that far off from being really good, if the YouTuber you see yakking is actually being honest. But in this day and age of the "Internet/Social Media Influencer", what can you believe?

Out of all of the "alt-drive train" bits you can get now I have had the most experience with MicroSHIFT components. Early on their bar end and thumb shifters were spec on several Surly and Salsa models. It was the "almost- but not quite" shifting quality that kind of turned a lot of people off on their stuff early on.

However; some of their latest stuff is getting good reviews, and maybe it is time to set up a gravel-going MicroSHIFT drive train and put it to the test. So, maybe here in a month of so I'll finagle something and try it out. But in the meantime, what do you think of the "alt-drive train" choices? Got any favorites? Let me know in the comments.


Phillip Cowan said...

I've had pretty good luck with Microshift R10 stuff. At last count I have it on 5 bikes. It's decent quality and price and it's available in a polished version that looks good on a bike with silver components. The shifters work fine they're just a little homely. I have them on one bike, another has 10spd Dura Ace downtube shifters, one has Gevanalles and the others are Riv Silvers friction. I live in the Chicago burbs which for the most part flat as a billiard table so 10 cogs out back is a gracious plenty.

Exhausted_Auk said...

I have been very happy with the 2X12 Sensah Empire Pro drivetrain I am using for gravel/all-road riding. Its design is the end game for combining functions - braking, upshifting and downshifting all accomplished with a single lever, shifting similar to SRAM Doubletap. It works great, if perhaps not the slickest shifts, and it was inexpensive enough that it doesn't bother me to "trash" it on gravel roads.

Owen said...

Second the love for Microsoft R10. It works well, is reasonably light, looks good and the price is right. For traditional 2X or 3X set ups with bar-end shifters it's straightforward and incredibly reliable--maybe not built for extreme downhill MTBs, but for road and gravel it works just fine. Think of it as the successor to late 90s/early 2000s Ultegra or 105. Let's face it, unless you're running 1x anything more than 10 speeds is just marketing.

KC said...

I have Microshift's original Advent 1x9 on 2 of my kids' bikes. Both have been pretty bulletproof, especially considering what kids 5-12 years old will do to a bike in daily use. If I had to build up a bike from parts right now I'd have no problem going with their newer groupsets.
I Also have Sensah's 1x11 set (under State Bicycle branding) on my son's gravel bike and it's been great, especially considering the beating it took last Saturday in a crash. Some scuffs but still shifts like new. My only complaint is that I'm not s fan of the Shimano

KC said...

... Shimano lever movement. Phone decided I hit post before finishing that sentence.

Guitar Ted said...

@KC - Thanks for not leaving us hangin'! :>)