microSHIFT is a relatively new player in the performance MTB gear changing game, but the Taiwanese company has been around since 1999, giving them plenty of time to refine their tech and manufacturing, enabling them to bring us the Advent X groupset at a very low price point.
Advent X is their top end product, sitting above the 9 speed, Advent groupset. It is a 10 speed system, designed around a single ring setup, which is pretty much standard these days. Despite being the highest product in the range, this is still really affordable kit. The other thing to consider as I write this in the era of COVID and the Ever Given, is that this kit is actually available online and in shops, unlike a lot of SRAM and Shimano products which people are really struggling to get hold of.
The shifter comes in two versions, the regular trigger shifter, and the Pro which I tested that features a grippy silicon pad on the lever. First impressions are that it is a cheaper, more plasticy-feeling bit of kit compared to the XT or GX units that I more frequently test. It is also a bit annoying that you have to remove the grips to slide this on the end of the bar, rather than have the clamp swing open, but that obviously saves cost and grams.
The mech feels a lot more solid than the shifter and certainly does not feel cheap. In fact, it has a nice low key black finish and appears to be very well-made. It features large jockey wheels for a smooth chain path and has its ratchet and pawl clutch can easily be toggled on/off for riding or wheel removal. Adjusting the limit and B-tension screws was easy and the bolts felt solid without any hint of rounding.
Interestingly the mech and shifter must work together, neither working with Shimano or SRAM shifters or mechs.
I tested the higher-end cassette with alloy spider which weighs in at a respectable 424 grams for the price, and has an 11-48 tooth range. There is also a cheaper and heavier cassette available if your budget is tight. Both versions fit onto a traditional HG driver body which may or may not be convenient depending on what you currently run.
The cassette features the usual ramped design for crisp shifting and works with any 10 speed chain.
On the trail
The Advent X has put in a really good shift this winter, pounding out a lot of muddy miles on my Ragley test bike. It barely did a dry ride and to be honest, I am not a big bike cleaner, so it was often put away wet, which makes its overall performance even more impressive. Shifting was crisp and reliable and I felt like the 11-48 range was more than enough for my steepest local climbs. Personally, I didn’t mind the slightly bigger jumps between gears and they felt well spaced, letting me keep my momentum going over rough climbs and singletrack.
The lever feel is pretty light and I liked the grip pads. In general, the feel at the lever was comparable to mid level Shimano and SRAM, but a bit heavier than XT or XTR that I have been running recently.
In my opinion a good groupset is one that you basically don’t think about. Recently, the best in the game has been the new Shimano XT with its unrivalled smoothness across the cassette that requires very little mechanical sympathy or thought. You just click and it changes. Simple as that. Whilst the microSHIFT needs you to let off a bit for changes under load, it was not excessive and didn’t really take any thought. It felt similar to SRAM mid range group sets under load.
A real gripe of mine is clutches that wear out in about 2 minutes, like most SRAM ones do, but this was not the case with the Advent X, it was effectively retaining my chain and keeping things quiet for the whole test. It is easy to flick off to drop a wheel out too.
What do we think?
With a top performance at a mad cheap price, there is a new player in town. With components in short supply I can see a lot of people trying out microSHIFT, and they won’t be disappointed.
Reliable, solid shifting
Could do better:
You can check out the microSHIFT Advent X groupset on their website here.