I first explored the world of Microshift a few years when I built my Tsunami. I purchased the Performance Forte version, and only got a few hundred miles until the bike was stolen. A review from then can be found here: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/655879-Forte-Microshift-Gruppo-My-review-with-pics
After that, I ended up securing a set of Nashbar Microshift shifters for my Spooky Skeletor. I run them with Dura Ace 7800 and they have been awesome. It’s an odd mix (Nashbar and DA), but it works. When I decided to buy my Van Dessel Rivet, I opted to try the new Microshift Arsis gruppo. I used the Microshift website and was put in touch with a US rep, and ordered everything through Paypal. Total cost was: $360. The process was easy, and I received the parts within a couple weeks.
The Arsis Gruppo:
I’ve run some research, and this is how Arsis stacks up to the other major players in terms of weight and price. I’ve not weighed any of this myself, the Microshift weights are claimed from their site and the others (including price) are from Competitive Cyclist. The Arsis is the ”flag-ship” gruppo, and is available in a variety of colors. I opted for white. In fairness, I felt I should disclose other contact points for this group, since my experiences may be different from others based on equipment. Other parts include: 105 cranks and chainrings (50/34), Ultegra 11-27 cassette, Ultegra chain, and FSA Compact 42cm bars. The color of the group matches my bikes scheme well, so that’s a plus.
Microshift Arsis (Claimed) ($360)
Shfters - 417g
FD - 78g
RD - 190g
Shifters - 447g $416
FD - 104g $72.21
RD - 189g $109.95
Shifters - 497g $306
FD - 118 (w/clamp)G $46.74
RD - 228g $72.74
Shifters - 302g $495.95
FD - 89g $74
RD - 173g $139
Shifters - 354g $356
FD - 89g $45.05
RD - 186 g $88.40
Shifters - 330g $335.75
FD - 74g $119
RD - 185g $254.96
The shifters are similar in size to the 7800 group by Shimano. They are carbon fiber, with plastic paddles for shifting. I’ve included some pics of sizing dimensions. This is a contrast to the Forte and Nashbar shifters I’ve used, all of which were similar in size to the old Shimano 9-speed group. I have small hands, and once set up they fit my hands fine. The white “caps” are the colored pieces, and these will change if you get a different colored gruppo. The hoods are a soft rubber with a textured surface. They are holding up well so far after 600 miles, but I do expect they will smooth out over time. The hoods fit flat to the bars, which is important for me. Other bar set-ups may be different. Quality and finishing seem very good so far, with no notably weak parts. It’s important to note that the shifters have unconcealed routing, so the front of the bike may not look as clean as other gruppos.
The FD is a metal cage with a carbon plating on the outside. I suspect the Carbon is for looks alone. It is carbon weave finished, with white Arsis lettering. My bike uses a clamp on, so I did incorporate that into the comparisons with the big 3. Quality and finishing seem very good so far, with no notably weak parts.
RD had white colored bits and a carbon cage. Looks like every other derailleur I’ve seen, so I don’t have much to add here based on looks. Quality and finishing seem very good so far, with no notably weak parts.
Shifting performance is very unique on the Microshift gruppos. Shifting is accomplished by pressing one of two paddles on each shifter, and the brake lever remains stable. I have no issues shifting up or down from the drops, while others might. I like the static posture of the brake levers during shifting, something that would make me nuts when I ran Shimano and the brake would move while shifting. For reference, I have run 9 speed Shimano 105 in the past. I’ll try to break this down as best as I can.
FD – The FD shift has 2 trim levels for each chainring, which I really like. This can help avoid cross-chaining in both chain rings.. The throw is longer than I was used to with Shimano, and this may bother some people. That said, I don’t mind it. I enjoy the extra trim options, as when properly tuned this can help avoid cross chaining on the front. Shifts have been crisp with an audible click, and I’ve yet to throw the chain or have any problems with it not functioning properly. Shifting under load works well, although it may be slightly slower than other systems.
RD – The RD also shifts well. As mentioned, each shifter has 2 paddles that control shifting up and down. Running the 11-27 cassette the derailleur has functioned well. I have had no missed shifts, and have not thrown a chain in either direction. I did need to make a trip back to the mechanic after a couple hundred miles for a minor adjustment, but besides that it’s been great. Similar to the front, there is an audible click when the system is shifting. Shifting under load works well, and I can’t cite any issues.
Areas for improvement:
While I like it, I do think it could use some improvement. For example, the non-concealed cabling is not as aesthetically pleasing as other systems, and makes it look dated. I would prefer they go back to the old style levers for 10 speed, as they were a bit smaller and fit smaller hands well. The long FD throw is the most notable issue, but with that comes 4 trip options which can be nice. The system does not come with barrel adjusters, so be prepared to get this on your own for micro adjusting. Also, I run DA cables on my other bike, and they may improve shifting performance a bit. The stock cables do seem of lesser quality (I’m running them until they are no good then I’ll upgrade).
I really like Microshift. The system shifts, and the entire system costs less than shifters on most of the major three. The system’s claimed weights are impressive, and even with a small discrepancy they would be significantly lighter than other similar cost systems. I’ve both trained and raced on this system, putting it through a variety of rides and terrain. I have not ridden it in the wet yet, so I’m not sure if there might be any issues there. I like the color customization options, and you can really match the gruppo to the bike. Shifting performance is fine for me, but may not compare to the top offerings of other systems (I’ve no experience with other top end sustems). However, the price to weight ratio is certainly a strong suit, provided you can deal minor shortcomings. I really like the value Microshift offers, think it’s worth a shot for those looking for something affordable.
Hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions or want more pics.