Microshift has been around for a long while, producing very affordable gearing components including the 9-speed Advent set up. With Advent X, the brand literally takes it up a gear in ratio and performance terms, without losing the low-cost wins.
With budget groupsets there’s always a risk of not getting the kind of performance you want, which is why we’ve really put the Microshift Advent X through its paces over the past few months, in a range of weather conditions and ride types.
After a period of pushing it to its limits, we’re satisfied that we’ve got all the experience and information needed to determine how well it stacks up against the best MTB groupsets. This is what we’ve found.
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Unlike the traditional groupset, the Advent X ‘group’ is stripped back to just the essentials: shifter, rear mech and cassette. That means you’ll have to add your own chainset and chain, but it’ll play nicely with any 10-speed equipment from other brands, so that’s a plus.
While there’s only one 11-48T range option, the cassette comes in Shimano HG or SRAM XD formats, so it’s an easy switch onto most hubs. By using two alloy cogs and putting the six larger cogs on two alloy spiders, the cassette is impressively light at 420g. That’s lighter than XT and GX 12-speed, and a ton lighter than NX 12-speed (612g) and the new Shimano Deore LinkGlide (claimed 634g).
Covering an 11-48T spread with just 10 gears (11-13-15-18-21-24-28-34-40-48T) definitely creates obvious gaps in pedalling rhythm. The drop from the 40 to the 48T is a real speed killer going up, and a punch in the quads coming down if you’re accelerating over a summit with aching legs. Compared to SRAM and Shimano, the shift action is grateful if you ease off the pedal pressure to give the chain a chance to clamber across. It’s not at all bad though, and it’s quiet and positive even when properly filthy.
The rear mech uses a large lower jockey wheel with extended teeth for security, and a medium cage to preserve reasonable ground clearance. It sets up fine without needing a specific template, too. The cage is controlled by a ratchet and pawl clutch, which can be adjusted for tension by removing the rubber sealing cover. A slider on the knuckle lets you turn the clutch on or off for a lighter action, and while we thought that would soon rattle loose, it’s still solid and secure just like the mech’s grip on your chain. We’ve suffered no loosening or slop from the rear mech pivots or anchor bolt despite several months of al-weather use. The cable arm keeps the loop short and out of the way of snagging danger too.
While the cassette and mech look as good as other base level models, the side exit gear cable on the shifters is a bit of a budget giveaway. However it makes threading the cable in and adjusting indexing via the barrel adjuster really easy, and also gives the shifts a really clean feel (just like old Shimano side cable shifters did). The shift levers are totally independent of the plastic brake levers, so there’s no danger of an accidental brake pull, while lever swing isn’t excessive even if you go for the maximum three-gear downshift, plus each shift gives a clear and purposeful ‘clunk’. The upshift sits slightly proud of the lever, which makes it really easy to find with fat gloves or frozen fingers, as well as in the drops. While you can only shift one gear at a time it’s also precise and clearly communicated. In terms of haptic comparison, it’s closest to SRAM, with Shimano being softer, and it certainly feels more substantial than the surprisingly plasticky and brittle feel of the Campagnolo Ekar. We had none of the sticky shifter bedding-in issues we experienced with Ekar either.
Brake feel is equally clean, with a strong spring snapback helping to prevent rattle as long as you tuck the hood rubber in properly. The levers are adjustable for reach too, and they’re a lot lighter than Shimano’s 10-speed GRX400 equivalent. The neck is slightly scrawny behind the bulbous lever pommels, but that suits smaller hands and there’s no uncomfortable palm bulge like some of Shimano’s cheaper set ups.
There are two flat bar trigger shifter options available as well: the basic trigger for £19.99 or the Pro with a silicon grip pad on the thumb lever for £25. Both of them feel great in the hand, but we’ve not moved the set up onto a flat bar bike yet.
The Shifters aren’t pretty, gear gaps are significant and the side-loading cable will upset tidy bar fans. Apart from that, Advent X gives a properly wide gear range for spinning where you previously struggled. It consolidates that with solid and smooth shifting, adjustable chain security, and seriously low weight. Pricing is extremely good too, especially if you go for the flat-bar trigger option.
Tech Specs: Microshift Advent X drop bar gravel group
- Rear Mech: £59.99 / $71.99
- Cassette: £34.99 / $64.99
- Drop bar shifters: £130.00
- Flat bar shifters: £19.99/£25.00
- Rear mech: 315g
- Cassette: 420g
- Drop bar shifters: 390g
- Flat bar shifters: 330g