Thanks to its tiny 9t smallest sprocket, e*thirteen’s second-generation TRS Plus cassette provides a massive 556 per cent gear range.
Its 50t largest cog is the same as SRAM’s top-end 12-speed cassettes (10-50t) but one tooth smaller than Shimano’s (10-51t). e*thirteen says the 9t sprocket lets you run a smaller chainring, giving you an easier first gear than Shimano’s system. It also boasts this gives you more ground clearance, as well as a small weight saving.
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The 09-11-13-15-17-20-23-27-31-36-42-50t spread gives a similar jump between gears to SRAM’s Eagle cassettes, with the exception of the 31-36t shift (SRAM uses a 32-36t step).
While the sprocket spacing is relatively even for the most part, there’s still a big step to the 50t when compared to Shimano’s 12-speed cassette, making it feel like more of an emergency bailout gear.
With 10 steel and two aluminium sprockets, the cassette weighs a respectable 397g, not quite beating SRAM’s X01 Eagle or Shimano’s XTR models, but lighter than their GX Eagle and XT offerings.
It fits onto an XD Driver body using a standard cassette lockring tool, but was a bit more of tricky to install than the GX Eagle cassette it replaced because of its tight press-on fit and an extra pinch bolt to fasten.
On the trail, performance is excellent, with consistently smooth and precise shifts up the cassette. Even under load or when shifting across multiple sprockets, it didn’t produce any horrendous crunching noises – certainly no more than the GX Eagle cassette, anyway.
I never found there was a delay shifting into, or out of, the 50t sprocket either. Changing into harder gears is rapid but can feel a little clunky on smooth surfaces, although this wasn’t noticeable off-road. I never had any issues with dropping the chain as I shifted into or out of the 9t sprocket.
On the subject of that 9t sprocket, it does feel noticeably harder to push than a 10t cog, so I was able to switch to a 30t chainring (great for my ageing knees!) without ever running out of gears or spinning my legs out. I never really found myself using the 9t cog when off-road though.
Overall, I was impressed by the performance and weight of e*thirteen’s latest TRS Plus 12-speed cassette. It’s not cheap, but it’s more wallet-friendly than Shimano and SRAM’s top-tier equivalents, and offers a greater range with perhaps a few other benefits too, if you don’t mind the steps between gears.