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  1. #1
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    Thumbs up MicroSHIFT: My Experience

    After doing a considerable amount of research into MicroSHIFT, I decided to purchase the 10-Speed "BONA" group to replace my aging 9-Speed Ultegra set-up. There are plenty of opinions and valid information about MicroSHIFT, but I wanted to share my experiences too, just in case you are considering this as an option for your bike.

    Why Replace Shimano Ultegra?
    My 9-Speed group was showing its age. When it worked, it worked great, but a randomly slipping right hand shifter convinced me that it might be wise to replace it before I am left stranded without access to the full rear cluster. Besides that, the Ultegra group was ridden hard and showed quite a few scrapes with the asphalt. In short, I also wanted something new and shiny. Originally, I hoped to replace just the shifter, but the more I looked, I realized that what was available was rather expensive or in not much better condition than what I had.

    Enter MicroSHIFT
    First of all, I contacted MicroSHIFT directly via email and had a reply within hours that led me to a U.S.-based distributor of the components. He was very helpful in answering my questions and because of his help, I feel I made a well-informed decision. The kit, which includes the brake/shifters, front and rear derailleurs and cables, cost $239 shipped directly from Taiwan. Within a week, my new components were delivered.

    Initial impressions were favorable. All pieces felt substantial with a nice titanium-like finish. The shifter bodies have a very plastic appearance on the inside, meaning the parts that do all the work don't have the substantial appearance that my old Ultegra levers had. However, the assembly appears to be solid and very well manufactured for a budget-oriented group.







    Installation and Set-up
    I'm not a mechanic, not even close, but the installation of the MicroSHIFT components was straight forward and easily accomplished by anyone with access to a set of metric hex wrenches and a quality set of cable/housing cutters. I am sure I took longer than they guys at my local bike shop could do, but if it meant saving the money and having the experience of doing it myself, it was well worth the time spent.

    The included instructions were very clear, with the occasional grammar issue that sometimes happens in translation. After installing both derailleurs, and levers, the most time-consuming task was installing the cables and housing. After this, I was ready to set it up. Once again, the instructions were very clear and I was able to get the rear derailleur shifting well-enough after just the first step of the adjustment phase. A turn and a half of the adjuster barrel had the derailleur effortlessly moving the chain across the cogs with not a bit of noise or hesitation. Click!...Shift...Click!...Shift. It worked perfectly.

    The front derailleur was a bit of a problem. I couldn't get it to center completely to elimitate chain rub. I attributed this to the fact that I also swapped my 53 x 39T rings to a semi-compact 50 x 30T combination, and due to the braze-on tab on my frame, I couldn't get the front derailleur within the 3mm gap above the big ring that MicroSHIFT recommends. After spending a couple hours, I swapped back to my Ultegra front derailluer and with a little fine-tuning, it shifted very well. The Ultegra front derailleur cage has a much lower profile than the MicroSHIFT one, which eliminated the chain rub due to less surface area.



    The Ride
    Getting everything working on the stand is one thing, it's how it performs on the open road that counts. I have only put on about 150 miles on the MicroSHIFT set-up, but every shift has been flawless and I have not had to make an adjustment yet. The hood are comfortable, with a Shimano-like feel. Reaching the brake levers is easy despite having smaller hands and once I became used to the shifting method, it is not only easy, but it becomes second-nature. The shifters are easily reached from the hoods or the drops, but I do spend most of my time on the hoods. Each push of the lever results in a smooth down-shift and a quick, but firm, push of the smaller lever up-shifts quickly, with a sharp click, but nowhere near as loud as some reviewers stated. MicroSHIFT lacks the refined feel of the Ultegra levers, but I was never once disappointed by a missed shift.





    The Verdict
    It's too early to tell, as I have barely any miles on the MicroSHIFT components, but for the first 150 miles, I have not been disappointed. I was curious what my biking buddies think of the group and I waited for comments. Nothing. Not one word. I finally had to tell them about the set up and one guy figured I was riding Shimano. I guess at first glance, maybe...maybe it could be mistaken. I will put the group through its paces at an upcoming race in two weeks as well as the Assault on Mt. Mitchell where it's most important to have access to all the gears I can pack. Let's hope MicroSHIFT doesn't let me down.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
    Bianchi-Campagnolo
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    A good read.



    What about the shifting ergonomics? And is that upshifter as flimsy as it looks?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbwh
    What about the shifting ergonomics? And is that upshifter as flimsy as it looks?
    Thank you.

    I was concerned because I had read the left-hand, or front shift lever had a very long throw. To me, the throw is longer than the Shimano Ultegra and feels reminiscent of the Campagnolo Veloce group I had at an earlier time. I have small hands, but I didn't find the throw to be exceptionally long or even mildly inconvenient.

    As for the upshift lever, it feels solid. It takes very little movement to actuate it, but it does require a firm push. The resulting shift is crisp and precise with no noticeable play in the lever itself.

  4. #4
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    Campy 10sp shifters work great with Shimano 9 speed drive train with the "hubub" rear derailleur cable mounting when those Shimano shifters finally die. A better quality, more economical, nicer looking option IMO. 10 speed Campy shifters work perfectly with Shimano 8 speed drivetrains as well, with normal cable mounting. I've been racing cross and road for several years now with excellent shifting in race conditions using these combinations, I have no real need to "upgrade" as long as Shimano/Sram 8-9 sp cassettes and chains are available especially with all the investment I have on a bunch of bikes in the basement. 8 speed is especially nice for cyclocross, the wider cassette spacing is more mud friendly than 9 or especially 10sp and replacement cassettes and chains are cheap for cross bikes that get abused in mud and sand. Shimano's weak link is the shifters that are hard to find and costly for older drivetrains, so why not the best of both worlds? 2011 10sp Veloce shifters can be found for as little as $130 from online sources in the UK (Probikekit, Wiggle etc) and they have a polished silver color option, the new hood shape is really nice, they are lighter and more robust than Shimano or microshift equivalents and no more ugly exposed shifter cables. I have done a long test ride on Microshift, and it did work well as I would expect any new components would, but I still think the Campy-Shimano mix is a better option. Here's all the how-to you need to know:
    http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=3946
    Last edited by ZenNMotion; 03-22-2011 at 10:22 AM.

  5. #5
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    Nice review.

    I have used them as well on a build for my daughter. They shift well and would be comparable to a sora shifter. Only dislike I had was they don't pull enough brake cable.

  6. #6
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    I spent about $180 for the Nashbar equivalent of those parts for my brother's bike. The quality was very decent, and the placement of the release button is very ergonomic - better, I think, than a thumb button. Shifting is excellent, button feel is loud and stiff, but not unpleasant - just very positive.

    There are cosmetic bits on the shifter that aren't very stout, but I don't think they will ultimately affect longevity. The local shop has some Microshift equipped Felts, and they had no mechanical beefs with them - but they are now found on production bikes.

    I wouldn't hesitate to use their derailleurs on Shimano equipped bikes - very nicely made.

    It's good to have a Shimano compatible alternative to the big three. These parts are sold under the names Token, Sampson, Nashbar, Performance Forte, Bona and Arsis.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HIMEHEEM
    Nice review.

    I have used them as well on a build for my daughter. They shift well and would be comparable to a sora shifter. Only dislike I had was they don't pull enough brake cable.
    Thanks!

    I haven't noticed any brake issues at all, but maybe it depends on the caliper you use. As for my set-up, I am using my existing Ultegra dual-pivot calipers.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LandShark'n
    Thanks!

    I haven't noticed any brake issues at all, but maybe it depends on the caliper you use. As for my set-up, I am using my existing Ultegra dual-pivot calipers.
    I didn't notice a problem, either, using Cane Creek SCR-3s.

    The parts were also paired with Ritchey WSD cranks. Overall, a really light and nicely functioning ad hoc group.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the review, I'll have to keep them in mind next time around!
    "Those who like it, like it A LOT!"

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the review. I'm building up a budget bike and was looking at the Arsis version as my group. Anyone using that group, and if so any differing experience?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by LandShark'n
    After doing a considerable amount of research into MicroSHIFT, I decided to purchase the 10-Speed "BONA" group to replace my aging 9-Speed Ultegra set-up. There are plenty of opinions and valid information about MicroSHIFT, but I wanted to share my experiences too, just in case you are considering this as an option for your bike.


    First of all, I contacted MicroSHIFT directly via email and had a reply within hours that led me to a U.S.-based distributor of the components. He was very helpful in answering my questions and because of his help, I feel I made a well-informed decision. The kit, which includes the brake/shifters, front and rear derailleurs and cables, cost $239 shipped directly from Taiwan. Within a week, my new components were delivered.
    Can you share the contact info on the US based distributor?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by natbla
    Thanks for the review. I'm building up a budget bike and was looking at the Arsis version as my group. Anyone using that group, and if so any differing experience?
    I almost bought the Arsis group, but it came in at about $80 more than what I paid for the Bona (love the name...really ) group.

    From my understanding, the brake levers are carbon-wrapped (not a bad thing) and the derailleur is partially carbon and has a CNC-machined cage. Aside from that, I believe they are functionally the same. Let's not forget that Cofidis used the Arsis rear mech on their TT bikes; it can't be bad stuff.

    I do want to add that the prices can add up, especially when you compare it to prices on the major road groups sold by the likes of places such as Ribble. You can get a full Veloce group for $529 compared to the Arsis group (levers and derailleurs only) for $350 to $370. Start adding in cranks, BB, brake calipers...you get the idea. I think that MicroSHIFT offers a great product and in time they just might prove to be a solid contender in the market. Just bear in mind that things can get costly if you're buying your components a'la carte.
    Last edited by LandShark'n; 03-24-2011 at 10:07 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by natbla
    Can you share the contact info on the US based distributor?
    I sent you a PM

  14. #14
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    Yes, I would like the distributor as well. Any reason not to post their info in the forum?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jswilson64
    Yes, I would like the distributor as well. Any reason not to post their info in the forum?
    I have his name and email address; I just didn't want to cause him to get tons of SPAM because of me. I'd like to clear it with him before I do

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by natbla
    Thanks for the review. I'm building up a budget bike and was looking at the Arsis version as my group. Anyone using that group, and if so any differing experience?
    Arsis is the highest end, followed by White, Bona, Centos and 10, 9 and 8.

    http://www.microshift.biz/ppdtlist.asp?area=51

    As far as I can tell, the differences are cosmetic and the type of jockey pulleys. Arsis has carbon on it, the middle groups have nicer finishes and a lighter looking derailleur plate, and the basic stuff is simpler looking and silver. The cheapest 9 and 8 speed shifters have plastic covered shift paddles, but all the 10 stuff is alloy or carbon covered alloy.

    I think, like SRAM, that the various parts are more similar than different, and there is very little weight difference. The best deal is the Nashbar alloy version which is frequently on sale, but I could see getting the Bona with the dark finish, drilled pulleys and nicer looking RD.

    You can get Bona on Ebay for the prices discussed here.

  17. #17
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    Wow, for something that's not their top end and priced so low, it looks really good. Arsis ironically looks cheap in comparison. Would give this consideration if I wasn't on not-broken-don't-fix terms right now.

    Out of curiosity, how's the spring tension on the RD?

  18. #18
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    Are these compatible with bar end shifters? Anyone know if Microshift will be making their own?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dualpivot
    Are these compatible with bar end shifters? Anyone know if Microshift will be making their own?
    This stuff is Shimano compatible. Click on the link and look around to see their barend offerings.

  20. #20
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    OP sent me the contact info via private message. The guy is very responsive to questions - he sent me a price list and catalog almost immediately. I checked with him and he was OK with me posting his e-bay store here. He goes by the user name Best_Derailleur. Click Here for his ebay store. (Mods, if I'm not supposed to post that link, please let me know and I'll remove it ASAP)

  21. #21
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    Another look from MS

  22. #22
    pmt
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    I have thousands of kilometers on bikes with Microshift ten-speed, and it's as good as my bike with DA7800.

  23. #23
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    I tried out some Forte components from my local performance and they work great. ANd look great also. I used them on a 9 spd cross bike application and only used the rear der and frt der but am ver happy with the shift quality and the looks.

    I believe these are made by microshift, but then again, i could be wrong.

    Bill

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by crossracer
    I tried out some Forte components from my local performance and they work great. ANd look great also. I used them on a 9 spd cross bike application and only used the rear der and frt der but am ver happy with the shift quality and the looks.

    I believe these are made by microshift, but then again, i could be wrong.

    Bill
    They are. Forte, Nashbar, Microshift, Arsis, Token, Sampson, Bona, Centos are all the names I've encountered so far. Specs vary, but the basic parts are all pretty much identical.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rx-79g
    Another look from MS
    RD's look ridiculously similar to 5600....which kinda looks like 6600, which..meh.

    I did like MS's white idea despite it sounding like a funny playoff of SRAM's "Red". Does stand out, but imo not necessarily in a great way.

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