What is it?
SRAM’s original 11-speed 1x drivetrain delivered a massive 420% gear range. Coupled with a narrow-wide chainring, this technology was enough to convince most mountain bikers (and brands) to kiss the front derailleur goodbye.
While this range worked for most riders, there are still places in the world where more was needed. To answer those doubters, SRAM debuted their new Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. That cassette has a 10-50t spread, which translates to a 500% range.
That’s great news for anyone buying a new bike, but some us have 11-speed drivetrains that are still going strong. If you’re intrigued by Eagle’s range but don’t want to upgrade your entire drivetrain, e*thirteen’s 11-speed cassettes boasts Eagle-like performance at a fraction of the cost.
Learn more about the e*thirteen TRSr cassette in the Mtbr first look here.
The cassettes are available at two price points. The TRSr is the premium model. When it debuted last year, it tipped our scales at 303g and boasted an impressive 9-46T range. For anyone that’s counting, that’s a 511% spread, which is actually wider than Eagle. It’s also ~50g lighter than the fanciest Eagle cassette. The only problem was the price. Retail was $350.
Just below the TRSr level is the TRS plus. Previously, this cassette offered a solid 9-44T range. The cassette now delivers the same range as its pricier counterpart, but retails for a $100 less. If you’re okay pushing an extra ~36g uphill (339g vs 303g), that seems like a deal.
In addition to gearing updates, the entire unit has been redesigned. The previous version consisted of three different components. The upper cogs were alloy, while the remaining steel clusters fastened together. The newest iteration uses a two-piece system. The three big rings are still alloy and mount to an XD driver via a lockring. The remaining cogs are steel and fix onto the alloy rings with a little help from your standard chain whip.
The advantage to this system is that if you wear one half of the cassette before the other, you can replace it. The design also eliminates the standard lockring, so the cassette can go down to a 9T rather than just 10.
- 511% range, 11% wider than Eagle cassette
- 17g lighter than X01 Eagle cassette
- Ships with required install tool (a 45mm or 1 3/4” 12-point deep socket works, too)
- Two-piece design allows replacement as cogs wear out
- Replacement parts readily available through shops or online retailers
- No modification required
- Creak free
- Predictable jumps
- Compatible with SRAM, Shimano, and Box drivetrains
- Doesn’t shift as well as SRAM or Shimano, especially under load
- Requires a special tool for install
- Still expensive at $249 with no lower-cost versions
- Wears faster than SRAM or Shimano equivalents
We’ve been running the e*thirteen TRSr version of this cassette for eight months with zero issues. The TRS+ is essentially the same design. It uses the same two-piece construction, installation process, shift pattern, and gearing. The only difference is the amount of machining. Think of it as the difference between Shimano XT and XTR. Both components deliver virtually the same performance; the main difference is weight and price.
If you’re looking for the absolute lightest cassette, the TRSr is the way to go. If you’d rather save $100, the TRS+ is the better option. For $250, it delivers reliable shifting. It’s not quite as crisp as the Shimano or SRAM equivalent, but it’s something you can overlook if you need the range. However, the performance under load leaves something to be desired. Shifts were noticeably harsher than with the OEM cassette on both our SRAM and Box drivetrains. This problem seemed to worsen on the TRSr as the mileage increased.
While you may feel that either the 9T or 46T is overkill, you have to ride to appreciate it. With this gearing, you can actually reduce your chainring size while maintaining top end speed and expanding low end torque. And because e*thirteen compensated for the increase in gearing by adjusting tooth count (rather than just slapping on a bigger ring) the drivetrain jumps feel predictable and consistent. The gaps towards the 46T are on the wider side, but again, it’s a compromise we’re willing to live with for the added range.
With the previous version of this cassette, there were some complaints regarding creaking. The issue stemmed from tolerances on various XD drivers. With some designs, the inside of the steel cluster would make contact with the edge of the driver, which caused a creak. The simple solution was applying grease, but to eliminate the issue entirely, e*thirteen incorporated a Teflon bushing into the steel cluster. We’ve run the cassette on both DT Swiss and e*thirteen wheels without any problems (or noise).
If you’re trying to compare the TRS cassettes to the competition, here’s what you need to know. A standard 11-speed replacement from SRAM has less range, weighs a touch more, but shifts better. Shimano cassettes are far heavier and have less range (although you can fix the range issue with a Shark kit from OneUp). Wolf Tooth also offers a 49T option, but you have to modify your derailleur. With the TRS Cassette, you save weight, you don’t have to modify your drivetrain, and you get range that’s on par with SRAM’s latest.
Overall, the new TRS+ cassette is a major improvement over its predecessor. It’s easier to install, has a wider range, and costs less. If you’re in the market for a new cassette and envious of Eagle’s 10-50t range, this product offers a real solution. It may not shift quite as crisply, but your legs will thank you on the next climb.
Rating: 4 out of 5
More info: bythehive.com