First Impressions: 120g Recon “Race Day” 11-Speed Aluminum Road 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…
…all in: Main cluster, 11-tooth cog and lock ring.
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.
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.
The teeth are ramped and shaped to facilitate shifting.
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.