Microshift Advent X 10 speed drivetrain for single-ring and a wide range cassette (11-48t). New 1x drivetrain for less than £135... take that, inflation!
Microshift Advent X is the brand’s premium off-road groupset, boasting plenty of mod cons – clutch mech, single ring setup, wide range cassette – but a tiny price tag. Has it got what it takes to compete with the best mountain bike groupsets from The Big Two?
Microshift Advent X need to know
- Cassette mounts to Shimano HG driver body only
- Aluminium cassette body, two largest sprockets are alloy, the rest steel
- Shifter with silicone traction pad for grip and comfort
- Mech features adjustable clutch mech, and switch to toggle on or off
Shimano and SRAM do for drivetrains what Apple and Samsung do for smartphones – namely deliver the most innovative and reliable products out there for consumers. In fact you need a good reason to step away from this duopoly given just how dominant the two have become, and how good their products are. Now though, Microshift has a compelling alternative in its Advent X drivetrain.
What’s the catch then? The backbone of Microshift’s Advent X drivetrain is the cassette, it’s called Advent X because it has 10 gears, the smallest is 11t and the largest 48t. This means it’s undergunned compared with SRAM, with the NX Eagle cassette sporting 12 gears and a bigger 50t bail-out sprocket to Advent X’s 48t. There’s really not much in it though, both NX and Advent X start with an 11t sprocket, so really it’s only that big crawler gear you’re missing out on, in terms of range (you can offset this with a smaller chainring).
The Advent X sprockets are mounted on an alloy spider to reduce wear on aluminium cassette bodies, although you can lop £15 off the price going for a spiderless cassette. Eight of those sprockets are made from steel, while the two largest are aluminium – NX uses steel throughout.
Microshift also argues that its tight 11-48t range is actually better for performance, because there’s a tighter spread between the gears with fewer big jumps, making a smoother ride and improved reliability too.
The Advent X mech costs £59.99 and weighs ??g, it uses an aluminium cage and big jockey wheels with tall teeth just as SRAM and Shimano do. Naturally, you get high and low limit adjustment, they’re helpfully marked H and L to avoid confusion, and accessed with an allen key (as is the B-tension). Microshift had the good sense to design its own ratchet and pawl clutch to stop the chain jumping around in motion too – you can turn it on or off – as you can on a Shimano mech – and adjust it via a little dial underneath a cover plate.
The Trail Trigger Pro shifter uses a silicone traction pad on both paddles to improve grip and comfort – it’s the same kind of design as Shimano uses for XT. This one will cost you just £24.99, although you can drop that to £19.99 if you’re prepared to forego the pad. Weight is ??g. Inside there are Internal cartridge bearings to keep it smooth, and you can shift up to four easier gears at a time (NX will do five). Drop down the block and it’s just one, unlike XT and XTR where you can ditch two at once.
Microshift doesn’t make a crankset, so you’ll have to look elsewhere. I used a Shimano Deore 32t chainring and chain without any problems, and Microshift says every chain it’s tried works just fine as long as it’s a 10-speed model. That said, Ace Bicycles in Guildford and Monmouth has been using 11-speed chains without issue.
Just for the record, you can’t run a Microshift mech and cassette with a shifter from any other brand, and your SRAM or Shimano setup won’t work with an Advent X shifter either.
Setting up the Microshift drivetrain was uneventfully easy, the shifter comes with a gear cable preinstalled and you thread it through a port in the side and clamp it to the mech. The cassette mounts to a standard HG splined freehub body, and the mech screws into a hangar just like any other derailleur does. There are a bunch of setup videos on the Microshift site too, if you need help.
The only slight niggles are that the shifter clamp doesn’t open fully, so you have to take your grip off to fit it, and the cable obstructs the high adjustment screw on the mech just when you want to use it.
Advent X doesn’t look like a budget drivetrain; it’s more akin to a higher end groupset like XT or GX. This isn’t strictly performance related, but I still want everything in my life to look great, and that includes the view from behind bars.
Looks are subjective though, you want to hear about the shifting… which is very reliable. Once I’d sorted out a bent mech hanger, the chain danced up and down the cassette without interference. It also proved very resilient to mud and just kept shifting without the delay or forced double shift some drivetrains can fall foul of. My guess is that with just 10 sprockets to cover, there’s less lateral movement for the chain and mech to accommodate, and precise chain tension is probably less important too. Either way, it never missed a gear.
Shifting on Advent X does take more finesse than you’ll employ using SRAM Eagle though. Changing down to an easier gear is a slower process, it requires you to wait a fraction longer with your thumb on the paddle for the chain to derail. I took a closer look at the shifting ramps on both rivals’s cassettes and Advent X looks far less sophisticated in comparison, which probably explains the delay.
I like the feel of the shifter with its excellent silicone pad. The action is solid and crisp, but could never be called light – you certainly have to apply more force than on a SRAM NX or GX drivetrain, and you have to move the levers further to perform a shift. It’s still a very reasonable action though, and if you have strong digits (thumbs up to the gamers out there) you’ll never even notice. The paddles are made from plastic rather than aluminium, meaning there’s bound to be some inherent flex and vagueness there.
The clutch mech worked perfectly, although SRAM’s locking feature really helps when removing wheels and I missed not having it on the Advent X. I also added a smidge of extra resistance to the clutch to provide just a bit more chain control.
My setup weighed a meagre 869g, that’s around 200g lighter than NX and is partly due to the smattering of aluminium on the cassette, and partly because there are fewer and smaller sprockets.
Did I miss the extra range? Not really, but then it depends where you ride. My local trails have short but occasionally punchy climbs, meaning higher gearing isn’t really a problem – just get out of the saddle for a few seconds and power up. That might not be the case in, say, the Lakes, where you have an hour’s steep ascending to do, cursing your lack of a 52t all the way. Certainly it would be best to experiment by dropping down a chainring size to make up for it, boosting your low gear power by sacrificing some high gear speed.