First Impressions: 120g Recon “Race Day” 11-Speed Aluminum Road Cassette

ultra lightweight Recon 11-speed aluminum road bike cassette

In the never ending quest to save weight, I stumbled across the Recon 11-speed machined aluminum cassettes. Sold in the US through Fair Wheel Bikes, they come with three warnings: One, performance isn’t going to be quite as polished as a high end Shimano cluster. Two, it won’t be as durable. And three, shift gently, lest you snap a tooth off.

Jason at Fair Wheel reiterated these via email, then sent along a black 11-28 cassette for testing. Claimed weight is 124g, but ours came in at just 120 grams…

ultra lightweight Recon 11-speed aluminum road bike cassette

…all in: Main cluster, 11-tooth cog and lock ring.

ultra lightweight Recon 11-speed aluminum road bike cassette

Like the original SRAM Red cassette, the main cog cluster is machined from a single piece of metal. Except here, it’s aluminum rather than hardened tool steel.

ultra lightweight Recon 11-speed aluminum road bike cassette

In addition to this Nickel Black cosmetic finish, they also offer Blue and Silver. Gold is shown on FWB’s site, but not included in the price list. They’re also available in 11-23 and 11-25 ranges, with those weights claimed at 101g and 109g respectively.

ultra lightweight Recon 11-speed aluminum road bike cassette

The teeth are ramped and shaped to facilitate shifting.

ultra lightweight Recon 11-speed aluminum road bike cassette

So, how’s it ride? I installed it about a week before I first got out on the road with it. And during that time forgot it was on there. Which is another way of saying shifting is just fine so far. Once my riding buddy asked about it, reminding me it was on there, I paid more attention and noticed it was just a bit slower to move the chain. But only a very, very slight bit. Maybe a hair more hesitation with a half-assed shift lever push, but nothing to discount the cassette for.

Like the first gen SRAM power dome cassettes, it’s a bit noisier than a standard cassette, but not obnoxious. And not as loud as the original SRAM ones, either. It’s far too early to tell how durable it’ll be, but first impressions are good. With retail prices at $200 to $210 each, they’re both cheaper and lighter than top-end cassettes from any of the major three drivetrain brands. If it manages to last through the summer, they might be onto something.

Comments

plebs - 02/06/14 - 4:44pm

I’m told you can save about 60 grams by removing your toes, if your into that kind of thing.

Mark - 02/06/14 - 4:56pm

What’s the point of a “race day” cassette that might break and doesn’t shift as well as Shimano?
Sounds like a recipe for disaster

fourthandvine - 02/06/14 - 4:59pm

For some reason I’m reminded of a Top Gear episode – http://www.topgear.com/uk/videos/track-cars-part-1-series-18-episode-7-

“If I sawed my leg off I’d weigh much less than I do now but I wouldn’t actually function any more, I’d keep falling over.”

I love to see how it wears but personally, I think I’d prefer the reliability of the factory cassette if the only advantage to the Recon is the loss of 60 grams. Just not for me.

pmurf - 02/06/14 - 4:59pm

I’m sure this will get all kinds of hate, but for a race-day option bolted to race-day wheels, this is actually a pretty nice bang-for-your buck product, as slightly heavier titanium cassettes cost about twice as much. Especially if your bike is <15lbs, 50 grams for $200 isn't all that bad. A broken tooth during an important race would suck, though…

CXisfun - 02/06/14 - 5:00pm

@Mark: not only does it not shift as well, but it very well may break during the race.

John Spartan - 02/06/14 - 5:05pm

The pursuit of silliness. Don’t the weight weenies know the lighter the bike.. the stronger..you DO NOT become.

jimmy - 02/06/14 - 5:05pm

@pmurf…if your bike is less than 15lbs (under the UCI limit) the race probably isn’t important enough to warrant these measures. Reliability and performance is probably worth 50 grams.

Wild Bill - 02/06/14 - 5:35pm

I’m actually experimenting with one of these too. It actually shifts surprisingly good. I don’t expect the durability to be great, however.

evolvo - 02/06/14 - 5:53pm

I’ve increased the durability of mine by using an aluminum chain.

shafty - 02/06/14 - 6:04pm

If you buy this cassette you’re either delusional and somehow believe that at your current fitness level there is no room for improvement OR you really are that fast/strong/fit(professional competitor) and have no use for components that bring your bike’s weight below the UCI minimum. Only a dummy would ruin the smooth shifting of Dura Ace 9000/9070 with such a flimsy cassette.

dude - 02/06/14 - 6:04pm

so it breaks if you shift too hard. ya, thats something I want? Huh? Ill piss before the race to lose 50grams

jimbo - 02/06/14 - 6:27pm

I love that people are commenting on durability/reliability when they’ve never used the cassette and have no idea how long they’ll last or how well they’ll hold up. I’ve had a few of these over the last couple years and gotten about 4000-5000 miles out of them on average. If you should happen to break a tooth it’s no big deal and doesn’t ruin your race. A cassette is still fully functional missing a tooth or two, in fact over the years, quite a few cassettes including Sram have been manufactured with missing teeth to aid in shifting. Chains engage multiple teeth at one time. These cassettes work really well for what they are intended

R0b0tAt0ms - 02/06/14 - 7:09pm

@jimmy – you nailed it.

bin judgin - 02/06/14 - 7:54pm

I would consider using this on my downhill bike in the quest to reduce unsprung mass, but I just use a red cassette. It works well enough and makes my hope hub sound like its amplified!

Greg @ dsw - 02/06/14 - 8:02pm

Not sure about the reliability of this cassette, and I generally like shimano stuff, but there’s no guarantee that shimano stuff will always be more reliable. There are lots of posts online right now about the carbon fiber support spiders of 9000 series DA cassettes shattering after some miles. Enough that some pro teams are going with ultegra 6800 series cassettes instead.

jlrichar - 02/06/14 - 8:04pm

snore, wake me when the magnesium cassette arrives.

Slow Joe Crow - 02/06/14 - 8:11pm

When you consider that pro teams routinely add weight to their bikes in order to make the UCI minimum, the whole idea of an extra light “race day” cassette seems utterly pointless. Truth in labeling would call this a “bragging rights on the weight weenie forum” cassette because no sane race mechanic would use this as long as the 6.8Kg rule is in effect. Even then who wants to risk a missed shift or a dropped chain?

Aaron - 02/06/14 - 8:40pm

Weight weenies gonna ween

isaac - 02/06/14 - 9:18pm

This kind of reminds me of the ultralight bottle cages that don’t hold bottles if you hit a bump. If it doesn’t serve its purpose effectively, then what’s the point? Who would buy a cassette that you have to always remember to shift “gently” lest it break? However, from a weight weenie design exercise, I can appreciate the thought and effort.

Rbroccoli - 02/06/14 - 9:34pm

Is the point of an 11 speed cassette to make climbing easier? I always thought they would have a sprinting gear or something, but my 10 speed cassette is 11T at top speed. However, I’ve noticed that the slow gears are even bigger (28T on this one for example).
So is it like a less-obvious/weighty granny gear?

Sorry for the ignorance behind my question, I just almost don’t see a point unless you’re doing Category 1-HC climbs on a daily basis

pornitswhatlwouldratherbmaking - 02/06/14 - 9:40pm

if you want it buy it.

CXisfun - 02/06/14 - 10:03pm

@Greg @ dsw – I am one of those people who has shattered 3 Dura-Ace 9000 cassettes. Installed by 2 different mechanics on two different sets of wheels. One of the cassette explosions nearly caused me to get run over by a bus.

Also, the Ultegra 6800 cassettes use carbon in the spider in the middle of the cassette, but not on the largest few cogs.

Tim - 02/06/14 - 10:25pm

@CXisFun – sorry to hear about your broken DA 9000 cassettes. Not that I’ve tried it (yet – but it’s on order), I’ve heard that the SRAM 1190 cassettes with a KMC X11SL chain solve the problem of smashed cassettes on dura ace 9000 systems. Might be worth looking into. As for light carbon spidered cassettes, I’m not a fan. That’s the one place where I want it strong for reliability and power transfer. Especially as I weigh 108kg. I’d snap that in no time.

Jason Spiker - 02/06/14 - 11:14pm

It’s not worth it to say it’s not worth it on all these exotic parts. 90 percent of this industry is funded by regular joes buying parts they don’t “need”.

DeeEight - 02/07/14 - 12:28am

I’ve got several hundred kms of winter fatbike riding on a recon 10speed aluminium cassette, 11-36 range without tooth loss or for that matter, any perceptible wear in the Ti-Nitride gold surface treatment.

JimmyZ - 02/07/14 - 1:41am

If they can make goggles with a lens that stops (admittedly just pistol) bullets, then that is what they should make the cassette out of, and a 10-42 teeth range one at that.

Madm3chanic - 02/07/14 - 6:22am

i tried one of these a few seasons ago (on my XC bike) and it failed horribly; at least 6 or 7 teeth ripped off on the highest three cogs within a month, never shifted well and was basically just a massive waste of my hard earned cash. absolutely nasty product for a general user, but admitedly it might be fine for a “race day” product, if you can afford that kind of extravagance.

saywhat? - 02/07/14 - 8:28am

@CXisfun
” I am one of those people who has shattered 3 Dura-Ace 9000 cassettes.”

Say what? That is absurd…

CXisfun - 02/07/14 - 9:35am

@saywhat? – I’m not alone. Search the bike forums, I’ve come across quite a few people with the same issue. I talked to Shimano about it and they are well aware. NQA warranty when I told them the reason I was calling. New cassettes each time along with some bar tape and a few other goodies to smooth things over.

Now my bikes have SRAM 11sp cassettes (who would have ever thought SRAM would be the durable choice?) and everything is peachy.

bin judgin - 02/07/14 - 10:19am

aluminum cassettes are absolutely worthless. the weakest link in the sram cassettes are the alloy big ring but atleast its JUST the largest cog which helps spread load but even then, they typically wear before the rest. absolute failure of a product.

Topmounter - 02/07/14 - 10:33am

I thought that anyone on a reasonably high-end CF bike needed a power meter just to get back up to the UCI minimums now? At least you can’t say the manufacturer didn’t warn you if this thing goes kaput.

NASH - 02/07/14 - 11:26am

Gravely disappointed that they didn’t drill little holes in the teeth to make it that bit lighter. They should have produced a matching light alloy chain and carbon fibre chain ring. We can all live and hope, right guys?

Mike - 02/07/14 - 12:39pm

I rode a 9-speed Recon alloy cassette on my XC bike 3 years ago. The weight saving could definitively be felt, but the lousy shifts and poor durability were far worse than having the weight of a regular cassette. It’s the first time I actually wore out a cassette before the chain…

i - 02/07/14 - 12:45pm

it sounds like the manufacturer is basically saying this is meant for the weight weenie crowd that don’t actually ride bikes.

For me, in a race having to “shift gently” whatever that means would more than offset the handful of grams this saves. I guess the price isn’t too ridiculous compared to some of the non-functional weight weenie stuff out there…

Rico - 02/07/14 - 1:33pm

The weight weenie crowd does ride bikes. Join our group on strava and see if you can hang. I doubt it.

Derek - 02/07/14 - 1:35pm

How many of you guys are doing UCI races? The 6.8kg limit won’t affect 99% of the people who race (in the US at least)

Colin - 02/07/14 - 2:22pm

until you ride an 11 pound bike with a 1000g wheelset (including tires and cassette) you have no idea what you are missing.

it’s like explaining sex to an alien, if you have to explain it, you just wont understand.

BCope - 02/07/14 - 4:14pm

SRAM cassettes come from the factory missing teeth at shift points so what’s the big deal if a few snap off here and there? The cassette gets lighter with each tooth it jettisons. Good luck Di2 users as you try to shift “gently.” Might require a servo hack to soften up the action on that beep bop boop.

BeeJay - 02/07/14 - 6:20pm

Is it April 1st already? Aluminum cassette?!? Really?

I once removed all of my non-drive spokes…….

I once drilled flutes in my seatpost, stem, and handlebar…………

I once replaced my down-tube with a cable [oh wait]……….

I only race with only a rear brake…………….

Derek Smalls - 02/08/14 - 4:30pm

I’ve had a 12-27 10sp one on my race wheels for probably the last two years now, done over 2000km on it (time for a new one actually), haven’t lost a tooth, haven’t lost shifting performance. Nothing wrong with it. My bike currently weighs just under 6kg with it. True I don’t race UCI races but I race against guys who do.

These cassettes work fine, and shift fine if you have everything set up properly, but with it being aluminium it may wear faster – I wouldn’t recommend it for CX of course, but I will be buying another one in black for sure.

Dereksmalls - 02/08/14 - 8:16pm

I’ve got 2000+km out of my Recon 10sp 12-27 cassette, no broken teeth, excellent shifting – my LBS is great at setting things up – I race on it, ride everyday on it in summer. I’ll be buying another one soon. I would not recommend this for CX though, the dirt and crap would wear it down too much. Sure it’s not Dura-Ace and it’s not meant to be. I use mine with a gold KMC X10SL chain, tuned Campag Record RD, Aican Bungarus cables, so weight weenie stuff. You can have light stuff with reliability

molina - 02/17/14 - 3:08am

Well, who knows, maybe the durability will surprise us all.That is why it is being tested.I do like the price, but I feel they should of focused I bit more on durability than weight, 60g would add a lot of durability and the weight would still be super competitive.

DanielsDad - 03/11/14 - 11:21am

My son recently won a TT by 1.6 sec. So shaving 50g here or there on a bike used on a hilly TT – adds up and does make a difference. While it may be easy to get a road bike under UCI weight, not so much for a TT bike.

I just ordered one of these. Actually bought a 13-25 11speed. The 13T will be ground off so this is really a 14-25 10 speed with better chain angle for junior “race day” wheels. It seems like a great setup. It will be paired with Di2 shifting, so if a tooth breaks – its the electronics.

My son has used the 9-spd 12-25 Token solid cassette for 5 years in TTs and it works great. We ground off the 12-13.

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