e*thirteen TRSr Cassette

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e*thirteen TRS Race
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Tested: e*thirteen TRSr 9-46 Cassette

e*thirteen's latest cassette offers wider range and less weight, in a relatively compact form factor.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: e*thirteen TRSr 9-46 Cassette

The single-ring mountain bike drivetrain revolution is in the history books by now, leaving us with greatly simplified bikes while retaining enough gear range to get up and down all but the steepest of hills with ease. E*thirteen joined that party just a few short years ago, but their innovative take on the cassette sees them at the top of the range game while retaining a lower profile and generally lower weight. How did they do this? By splitting the cassette in two parts and reducing the smallest cog to 9 teeth, they were able to achieve 511% of range without needing to go bigger than 46t at the low end, all while retaining compatibility with a standard XD driver freehub. We’ve tested e*thirteen’s cassettes previously with good results, so when they introduced a lighter “race” version

The single-ring mountain bike drivetrain revolution is in the history books by now, leaving us with greatly simplified bikes while retaining enough gear range to get up and down all but the steepest of hills with ease. E*thirteen joined that party just a few short years ago, but their innovative take on the cassette sees them at the top of the range game while retaining a lower profile and generally lower weight. How did they do this? By splitting the cassette in two parts and reducing the smallest cog to 9 teeth, they were able to achieve 511% of range without needing to go bigger than 46t at the low end, all while retaining compatibility with a standard XD driver freehub. We’ve tested e*thirteen’s cassettes previously with good results, so when they introduced a lighter “race” version with an updated mounting system earlier this year, we thought we should check it out too. Read on to find out how we got along.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Class-leading 511% gear range
  • Low profile thanks to smaller cogs throughout
  • Low weight
  • Good chain retention
  • Good shifting performance overall
  • Compatible with standard XD driver
  • Split design allows for replacement of worn parts individually
  • Slightly clunky shifting under power in middle of cassette
  • Can be prone to creaking if dry
  • The “race” version is significantly more expensive for a small weight saving

E*thirteen TRSr Cassette Highlights

  • Made from EXA+ alloy and heat-treated cromoly steel (two parts)
  • 11sp
  • Cog sizes: 9-10-12-14-17-20-24-28-33-39-46
  • XD driver compatible
  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 312g (verified)
  • MSRP: $349 USD

Initial Impressions

Our test bike was already running the TRS+ version of e*thirteen’s cassette, and upon first inspection, the new TRSr looks fairly similar. It’s only when comparing them side to side that the difference become obvious: extra machining that reduces the weight by about 30 grams, and adds about $100 to the price tag. Additionally, e*thirteen told us that they have made some changes to certian tooth profiles on the 46t and the 39t cogs to improve shifting quality under load, and that they have now also improved the wear rate on the aluminum cogs.

New generation on the right, note the extra machining and updated mounting system.

The other major piece of news for 2018 is the introduction of an updated mounting system. Previous versions of e*thirteen cassettes used a threaded lockring to secure the three big aluminum cogs to the freehub. This lockring has now been replaced by an integrated collar that is tightened down with a pinch bolt. E*thirteen says the result is a system which is easier to manipulate and that does not require any special tools (older versions of the cassette were delivered with a special adapter used to tighten down the lockring).

Other than the changes outlined above, the rest of the features remain unchanged from the TRS+ to the TRSr. The cassette is constructed in two parts, with the three largest cogs made from aluminum while the eight smaller cogs are steel. The three larger cogs lock onto the cassette, while the cluster of eight smaller cogs locks onto the three larger cogs. There is a synthetic spacer that sits between the smaller cluster and the XD driver body.

Old vs. new (new on the right).

Why two parts? By placing the mounting mechanism on the three largest cogs only, e*thirteen freed up space at the small end of the cassette. This in turn explains how they we able to squeeze a 9t cog onto a standard XD driver, which is a key enabler for the massive, 511% range on offer here. As a welcome side effect, that also meant e*thirteen could limit themselves to “just” a 46t cog at the low end, which not only saves valuable space but also significantly reduces weight.

On The Trail

Installing the TRSr cassette is not very complicated. Place the three largest cogs onto the XD freehub driver, and secure it with the pinch bolt. Now align the 8-cog cluster using the graphics printed on each component, then twist it using a chainwhip until it locks into place. Make sure you apply generous amounts of grease to the locking tabs and the freehub body (a small tube of grease is included in the box). Removing the cassette requires either using two chainwhips (to work the two halves of the cassette against each other in the opposite direction), or using the bike’s chain to hold the largest cogs while rotating the 8-cog cluster counter-clockwise with a single chainwhip (with the wheel still on the bike). All in all, it’s fairly straightforward, and the new pinch-bolt system is a welcome simplification.

On the trail, the TRSr shifts much like a medium to high end cassette from SRAM or Shimano. It is very smooth at the low end of the gears, while it can be a bit clunky in the mid-range when shifting under power. It sometimes feels like it has “sharper teeth”, but on the whole, it is comparable. There is also a tiny bit of “rumble” in the 9t cog, which comes from the chain having to wrap itself around such a small diameter, but it is barely noticeable and not something that really affects performance. Another notable aspect is the relatively small form factor – because the largest cog is “only” 46t, the overall size of the e*thirteen cassette is kept in check. We’re only talking a small difference, but nevertheless measurable: our TRSr cassette paired with a Shimano XT derailleur leaves the tip of the derailleur cage approximately 140mm off the ground in the low gears, while a SRAM GX Eagle setup leaves it at approximately 120mm. If you’re prone to snagging derailleurs on rocks and such, this may be significant.

We tested the TRSr cassette with a 32t chain ring (on a 27.5” bike), which provides ample range and a very positive feeling when shifting up through the gears. The jumps between gears are slightly more pronounced than on SRAM’s 12-speed Eagle drivetrain, which we think is a good thing when headed downwards as it gives you a pretty “long” upshift to help avoid spinning out the gears too quickly. On the downside, if you are finicky about your cadence, you might find yourself more often in between perfect gears here. If you need more help on the climbs, a 30t or even 28t chain ring does the trick, knowing that the 9t cog is there when you really need to be hauling. The good thing about having such a wide range on the cassette is being able to choose your overall gearing to suit your riding style without too much compromise on either end of the range. Note that e*thirteen now also makes a 12-speed version of the TRS+ cassette, with the same overall 511% range but tighter gear spacing.

Things That Could Be Improved

Now a few revisions in, we have little criticism to offer on the TRS cassettes in general. The R version tested here is a bit pricey for what it is – a minor, 30-gram weight saving over the regular TRS+ due to extra machining work - but we should also note that it is still both lighter and less expensive than a SRAM Eagle XX1 or a Shimano XTR 10-51 cassette for example. If those 30 grams are not important to you, the TRS+ is the ticket.

Long Term Durability

The first version of e*thirteen’s cassettes were prone to developing creaks, but in our experience the ship has largely been righted since then. The addition of the synthetic spacer eliminates metal-on-metal contact with the top end of the XD driver body, and if you apply a little fresh grease to the locking tabs and the freehub body every now and then, it should stay quiet. The locking tabs between the large and small cog clusters seem to last longer and work better now, although this is known area of concern (we have seen some older cassettes develop a bit of play between the two halves, in which case they would be replaced under warranty). As for general wear and tear, we’ve recently put at least three months of riding in with both the TRS+ and this new TRSr version of the cassette with good results so far. Note that the split design allows e*thirteen to sell each cluster separately, which means you may end up spending less than replacing a whole cassette should one part wear out quicker than the other (if you always spend lots of time climbing in the same gear, for example).

What’s The Bottom Line?

Single-ring drivetrains are a blessing for most mountain bike applications, but the race for more range has led to some pretty big cassettes. E*thirteen bucks the trend by offering more range in a lighter, more streamlined package, which provides great performance and standard XD driver compatibility. Opt for the more expensive TRSr if you are really counting grams, or save $100 with the TRS+. In either case, you’ll be ready to take on whatever your next ride throws at you, be it on the climb or on the way back down.

More information at: www.bythehive.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 45 // Years Riding MTB: 13 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product e*thirteen TRSr Cassette
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Material EXA+ Alloy and Heat-Treated Cromoly Steel
Speeds 11-Speed
Tooth Options 9-46
Driver Type SRAM XD
Weight 0 lb 10.7 oz (303 g)
Miscellaneous Massive 511% range, light weight, a fair price, and serviceable, all without a new drivetrain. Our 11 speed TRS Race cassette gets you 511% range, using your existing 11 speed drivetrain. The aluminum and steel clusters are sold separately as replacement parts.

Our industry exclusive 9t cog allows for more range without just making the big cog bigger. It also means you can run a smaller chainring than with competitor cassettes, allowing for greater ground clearance.

The largest cogs are precision machined from aluminum and attach to a SRAM XD driver body with a lockring. The remaining eight steel cogs lock into place with a chain whip.

More range, more fun, same standard… now at am impressive 303g
Price $349
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bythehive.com

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