Check out Phil Wood’s 13-speed drivetrain

The ultimate 1x drivetrain hack

Component maker Phil Wood has been playing around with 13-speed drivetrains for several years. At Interbike 2014, the company showed off a fat bike with a 1x13 drivetrain. For this year’s tradeshow, Phil Wood used a gravel bike with a 13-speed drivetrain to showcase its drivetrain experimentation.

How Phil Wood's 13-speed drivetrain works

Among the California-based company’s offerings are hubs, headsets and cranksets, but not cassettes.

OneUp's 45 and 50t upgrade cogs have been added to an 11-speed cassette to get the extra range
OneUp's 45 and 50t upgrade cogs have been added to an 11-speed cassette to get the extra range

To build this 13-speed drivetrain, the tinkerers at Phil Wood used an 11-speed Shimano XT cassette with an 11-40t range and stacked OneUp’s 45t and 50t upgrade cogs top of it. The Shimano XTR rear derailleur’s cage was replaced with OneUp’s Shark cage to allow it to reach all the way to the 50t cog.

In addition to the longer cage, they added a custom adapter to the derailleur to allow it to pull enough cable to move the 11-speed derailleur across a 13-speed drivetrain.

Phil Wood used an offset adapter to increase the cable pull capacity of the 11-speed Shimano derailleur
Phil Wood used an offset adapter to increase the cable pull capacity of the 11-speed Shimano derailleur

Indexed 13-speed shifting isn’t available…yet. So, a Genevalle shifter set to friction mode controls the rear derailleur.

Friction shifting from a Genevalle shifter swings the derailleur across the 13-speed cassette
Friction shifting from a Genevalle shifter swings the derailleur across the 13-speed cassette

If you’re shaking your head and thinking there’s no way 13 cogs can fit on a standard freehub body, you’re correct. Phil Wood also machined a custom freehub body mated to a 150mm-spaced rear hub.

Upfront, a there's a Phil Wood crankset with a custom machined narrow/wide track chainring
Upfront, a there's a Phil Wood crankset with a custom machined narrow/wide track chainring

This custom drivetrain required a custom bike. SyCip supplied a gravel bike with an extra wide rear end to complete the package.

SyCip built a gravel bike with an extra-wide rear end to accept the 150mm rear hub
SyCip built a gravel bike with an extra-wide rear end to accept the 150mm rear hub

So, will this cobbled together drivetrain make it to production? It’s highly unlikely. More than anything, it seems to be an exercise in creating something just because one can.

But who knows? Maybe this is a sign of things to come.

Phil Wood's 13-speed cassette: engineering experiment, or the future?
Phil Wood's 13-speed cassette: engineering experiment, or the future?

Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998. Being stubborn, endurance racing was a natural fit. Josh bankrolled his two-wheeled addiction by wrenching at various bike shops across the US for 10 years and even tried his hand at frame building. These days Josh spends most of his time riding the trails around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, cyclocross, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Anywhere with rock- and root-infested technical singletrack. He also enjoys unnecessarily long gravel races.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Remedy 29 9.9, Yeti ASRc, Specialized CruX, Spot singlespeed, Trek District 9
  • Dream Bike: Evil The Following, a custom Moots 27.5+ for bikepacking adventures
  • Beer of Choice: PBR
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO, USA

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