It seems like only yesterday that the aggressively capitalized microSHIFT ADVENT group proved there’s a demand for an unpretentious wide-range 9-speed drivetrain. ADVENT X followed, stacking one more gear and two more teeth, while still holding fast to microSHIFT’s commitment to simplicity, serviceability, lower prices and upper cases. Today, they launch the decidedly more mature microSHIFFT Sword group. Aimed at the gravel and adventure road market, Sword is drop-bar only, cable-brake only, and comes in 1x, 2x, and dropper-post-compatible configurations. We cover all the details below…
- RH: $94.99
- LH Double: $94.99
- LH Dropper: $89.99
- LH Brake Only: $64.99
The shifters represent the biggest departure for microSHIFT. Notably, they have gone to non-external cable routing. This isn’t technically a first for microSHIFT. Their top-end Shimano-compatible Centos shifters use internal routing. But this is the only shifter within the microSHIFT ecosystem to do the same. Some of you may be cheering right now, but some of you may be booing. Though long abandoned by Shimano’s STI, and never embraced by Campagnolo’s Ergo, external cables do offer easier service and fewer bends. If that’s high on your list of priorities, the externally routed ADVENT X drop-bar shifter isn’t going anywhere, and Sword components are compatible with ADVENT X (which means Sword shifters and derailleurs are NOT compatible with Shimano). But if you like the cleaner look of under-wraps routing, Sword has it.
Aside from the cable routing, the Sword shift / brake levers feature some raised texturing on the hoods for better grip, and an updated shape made to work better with flared drops. That won’t make them worse for vertical drops, microSHIFT claims, but we’ll see for ourselves once we get a test group in hand. That fancy shaped lever blade itself is made of a glass-fiber-reinforced polymer, molded around an aluminum core. That ought to keep it from having a plastic-y feel, but again, we’ll wait until we’ve given them a squeeze before we bring you a verdict.
There’s also the addition of a dropper-compatible left lever, actuated by a traditional paddle behind the brake lever. It features an extremely clever tension adjustment system that eliminates the need for an inline barrel adjuster, though it does require you use a dropper that captures bare cable at its base, not the cable end like OneUp.
The brake lever itself features some clever updates. The pivot location has been moved up slightly, which allows for more power and better ergonomics when on the hoods, and more power in the drops. On the other side of that pivot, the cable end is now captured slightly higher, which means slightly more (barely 1mm) cable is pulled when braking. This allows the pads to sit a little further from the rotor or rim, and paired with the refined lever ergonomics, makes for a more “hydro-like” feel, microSHIFT claims.
- All configurations: $114.99
The second biggest departure is that microSHIFT now offers a crank. The two-piece system uses a 24mm hollow spindle, just like Shimano, two pinch bolts on the non-drive arm, just like Shimano, and a 110mm / 80mm 4-arm bolt pattern, just like Shimano. The two-ring setup is available in 31/48 or 29/46 setups, and the 1x in 40 or 42t. That 1x crank is still threaded for a small ring, so if you like it, then you can put another ring on it. Or, you can use your own crank and ring, but keep in mind the 2x setup is optimized for a 47mm chainline, and the 1x for 50mm. The 1x ring uses a narrow-wide tooth profile for chain retention, but no proprietary tooth shapes. Crank arms come in 165, 170, 172.5, and 175mm lengths.
- Clamp or Braze-On: $28.99
The new front derailleur features an ingenious cable adjustment method. If you run full-housing, with the housing stopping in the derailleur’s housing stop, there’s an adjustment that essentially moves that housing stop up or down, effectively like a barrel adjuster, but more durable and easier to reach. Or, you can run your cable under the bottom bracket, traditional-style, and adjust the cable the old fashioned way. The derailleur is designed to work with either 2x crank configurations, and comes in either a braze-on or band-style mount.
- Mid-Cage and Long-Cage: $79.99
The rear derailleur is sleeker and lighter, but hides a pretty impressive longevity boost. The pivots in the parallelogram run on Igus bushings, which also ought to make for better lateral stiffness and more precise shifts. The clutch gets a new, lower-profile on/off switch. Instead of the “lightswitch” style on the ADVENT series, it’s a flush “dial” around the clutch itself. Behind that clutch, the pulley cage is easily replaceable. Behind the derailleur itself, the barrel adjuster mounts on a sort of semi-spherical surface that we’ll have to see in person to fully understand. Basically, it allows for a smoother lineup from the housing to the derailleur, no matter which direction it’s coming from. There’s a mid-cage for the 1x setup and a long-cage for 2x.
- Sword G-Series: $69.99
- Sword H-Series: 44.99
- ADVENT X G-Series $64.99
- ADVENT X H-Series: 44.99
The Sword 1x setup is designed to work with the existing ADVENT X 11-48 cassettes. G-series gets an aluminum spider and largest two rings, with steel cogs the rest of the way down. H-series is all steel. The 2x setup brings that same configuration to an 11-38 platform. Both are still meant for an HG freehub body.
We’ve got a kit coming for a review, so stay tuned for our first impressions. Or, more specifically, stay tuned for my first impressions, just a few weeks after I said SRAM GX Transmission renewed my faith in the bike industry. What could go wrong?
See more at microSHIFT