Review: Recon’s 120g Cassette is Light, But Maybe Not Right

ultra lightweight Recon 11-speed aluminum road bike cassette

This past spring, I installed the alloy Recon 11-28 cassette despite it’s warnings that weight savings come at the expense of durability. But at just 120g, it was worth a shot, so I tested it for a couple hundred miles split evenly between a Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 and SRAM Red 22 group. Check actual weights in the original post here.

It started on the Shimano group, and first impressions were good. Shift quality was close to Shimano, albeit a bit noisier with just a fraction of a second hesitation before shifting. The biggest caveat with the Recon “Race Day” cassettes was that shifting should be done gingerly to avoid snapping teeth off. So, my shift efforts were a bit softer, which could have explained the every so slightly slower chain movement. Honestly, its performance in getting the chain from one cog to the other is just fine.

Despite that, I still managed to break a tooth on the 14-tooth cog, followed shortly thereafter by the tooth right next to it…

recon race day 120g ultra lightweight road bike cassette long term review

That caused some skipping under moderate pedaling efforts and made that cog unusable under effort. But, it’s kinda hard to see, and I thought it might just need some fine tuning at the rear derailleur because the feeling was similar to when the chain is trying to jump to the next higher cog.

About that time, I moved it to the SRAM bike. Recon says best shifting performance is achieved with high end Shimano and KMC chains, and indeed, shifting with SRAM’s PC Red 22 chain was not as crisp. It got the job done, but not at the level I expect from top shelf components.

recon race day 120g ultra lightweight road bike cassette long term review

Somewhere along the line, another tooth broke, this time on the 15-tooth cog, and directly above where the other two had snapped off.  Two consecutive broken teeth made the one cog unusable and the other cog not great. That, plus the diminished shift performance on a SRAM system was too much after another 100 or so miles. So, it’s found a new home:

recon race day 120g ultra lightweight road bike cassette long term review

The Wahoo trainer (reviewed here) lets you adjust resistance via their app without actually having to shift, so this gives me 11-speed compatibility on the trainer, which works out quite well since most of my bikes are now 11-speed. Actual tooth wear on the rest of the cassette is fine, it doesn’t look abnormally worn, so I don’t suspect it’ll wear my chain abnormally.

Can I recommend it? Not for regular riding, no. And not for SRAM equipped bikes, particularly since the RED 22 cassette is only 30g heavier. It’s also about $150 more expensive too, though. For weight weenies looking for something that actually works if it’s treated very kindly, sure, why not. It really just comes down to how important weight savings is to you and what you’re willing to give up. At least it won’t rust.

Retail through Fair Wheel Bikes (who provided the cassette for review) is $200 to $210 depending on tooth counts.

Comments

AlanM - 08/13/14 - 12:06pm

“Shifting should be done gingerly to avoid snapping teeth off.” Yeah, that’s what I want to hear about an expensive piece of my drivetrain that will be under heavy loads.

Colin - 08/13/14 - 12:10pm

Don’t run Sram chains.

I have one of these on my 10spd Red bike and it works great, it lives on my superlight wheels that dont get a ton of use, but its worked fine so far. I would say exactly what Tyler has say except more of an emphasis on the sound.

Gunnstein - 08/13/14 - 12:43pm

Isn’t it time someone made a cassette with titanium teeth and carbon everything else? Would be a nice way to shed some grams from the cassette, and some hundreds of $ from weight weenie wallets.

Zach Overholt - 08/13/14 - 1:01pm

@Gunnstein, the KCNC Ti/Alloy cassette (that is also available from Fairwheel bikes) is pretty close. At 107 – 127g per cassette, the weight is pretty close to the Recons, they’re just almost double the price. But I also didn’t break any teeth testing it on the Big Warp (on the production cassette).

Rustydog - 08/13/14 - 1:31pm

Not sure I get it. Just go poop, if feeling really weight weenie fill your water bottle 2/3′s. Run your Dura-Ace or XTR cassette and not have to give a single thought to how hard or if you miss a shift causing a DNF.

Von Kruiser - 08/13/14 - 1:40pm

My bike was 13.5lbs… then I added Vision 55 aero wheels (wide/tall), stiffer crank, stiffer bar, 25c tires and it now weighs 15lbs. Bike rides better up and down the hills and carries speed way better on the flats; lowered the psi in the tires as well. I’m over this kind of weight weenie items. My bike is rock solid and at 15lbs w/ pedals, that is super light anyway… over it.

Jim - 08/13/14 - 1:41pm

Ran one of these in 11-25 on SRAM Red 10 speed with a KMC X10SL chain. The shifting in the smallest three cogs and the largest three cogs was great, maybe quieter than the OG-1090 SRAM cassette but the shifting in the middle cogs was very bad. They required a conscious overshift at the lever. I think they just need to work out the tooth ramp profiles. When does that Hyperglide patent run out so these aftermarket guys can just copy it?

Guy - 08/13/14 - 1:43pm

So a race day cassette that you have to shift lightly? These two things do not go together.

Colin - 08/13/14 - 1:54pm

Von Kruiser, my bike is 12 pounds with aero wheels, pedals and garmin, it does make a difference

Von Kruiser - 08/13/14 - 2:09pm

Colin – Depends on the size of the person on how a fly bike rides. I’m 225lbs w/ a lot of muscle, the lighter weight parts did not ride as good as the stiffer parts. So guess it depends on a lot more then, “if it’s light it ok to use.” Performance trumps weight, especially on the downhill sprinting through corners. If you’re 150lbs, into climbing and careful on the DH, then 12lbs is fine.

Stendhal - 08/13/14 - 2:22pm

Colin — I echo Von Kruiser’s comments, based on very similar circumstances. After getting below 14 lbs on my bike (by, ironically, adding a super light cassette, which actually worked well), I started to sense diminishing returns. Sub-14 is great going up a long climb, but an extra pound is worth the weight in terms of security going back down. I have a new bike now that is about a pound heavier (14 lb 11 oz).

Good job, Mr. Von Kruiser!

goridebikes - 08/13/14 - 2:25pm

“So a race day cassette that you have to shift lightly? These two things do not go together.”

I am 125lb and a very experience mechanic, I ordered one of these for kicks – red 20, kmc dlc chain (<500 miles), and the recon cassette shifted terribly even in the stand. After 30 mins of trying to adjust, checking hanger, etc. etc. – I swapped back to my Red cassette, gained 30 grams and had perfect shifting.

If you want light cassette, run sram red – shifts perfectly, lighter than anything produced by a big brand..

Colin - 08/13/14 - 5:30pm

I forgot to mention, its an aluminum frame.

MaLóL - 08/13/14 - 6:42pm

As someone metionend already, it would be great to have a cassette with ti or steel teeth profile, and then the rest in aluminium. Shimano has started that philosophy in the the 2015 XTR chain rings, carbon-ti made it already in chainrings too, just with carbon instead of alu.

I hope it’s done soon in cassettes too, can’t be that hard to combine steel with alu, and not too expensive.

BTW, we all knew this Recon cassette was cr*p back in 2005, 9 years later cant improve anything if it’s exactly the same material…

Durianrider - 08/13/14 - 9:36pm

I bet 99% of the users of this cassette I could out climb them on my 29er Anthem up a 30min road climb.

Save your $ and get a power meter and learn how to pace better. Or more EPO.

Psi Squared - 08/13/14 - 11:18pm

Tyler, how about a review of Recon’s Ti cassettes? There used to be a company–Cycle Dynamics, I think–that made Ti cassettes that you could cobble together as you liked from their individual cogs. They shifted alright and had a decent lifespan, at least way better than aluminum cassettes.

Ripnshread - 08/13/14 - 11:33pm

Ouch.

Bryin - 08/13/14 - 11:54pm

This is a perfect example of something that not one person on earth needs and (deleted). It saves 70 grams over a DA cassette and is a POS. A complete and total waste of money.

brad - 08/14/14 - 10:14am

30 gram savings, and fragile. sure that makes sense. weight weenies are weird.

Aaron - 08/15/14 - 3:44pm

Give me a 10% hill and I’d snap some teeth off in the first 50 yards’ worth of a sprint, guaranteed.

File this under ‘waste of money’ and go back to a cassette from one of the big three.

Aaron - 08/15/14 - 3:45pm

@Psi Squared: You may be thinking of Action-Tec, and they still sell them: http://www.actiontec.us/ticog.htm

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.