New for this ’cross season is the Retroshift ‘Blatantly Upgraded Rebranded Derailleur’ (B.U.R.D.). Retroshift manufactures shift/brake levers which were designed to perform under the sloppiest situations, and now the company has expanded its product line into rear derailleurs.
The B.U.R.D. is what Retroshift’s Adam Clement calls “the ultimate cyclocross-specific derailleur.” It’s designed to work with Shimano or Retroshift shifters, but we’re confident innovative wrenchers will also be able to pair the Retroshift B.U.R.D. with Campagnolo shifters in a new take on Shimergo (Retrogo?).
What makes the B.U.R.D. a cyclocross-specific derailleur? It’s not a SRAM Type 2 or Shimano Shadow-Plus-type derailleur with a clutch to prevent chain slap (although we saw this employed successfully on the 2013 Marin Cortina cyclocross bike). It doesn’t have a Grunge Guard or a steel plate to protect against side impact, and certainly won’t help you hop the barriers. Instead, Retroshift is simply focusing on making an affordable, high-quality rear derailleur with strong spring tension and high quality pulleys that can easily be repaired or replaced when the inevitable happens. Standard units go for $69, crash replacement will get you going again for just $34.
Unlike an office park criterium, a cyclocross course can fill your drivetrain with mud, grass and leaves, or a combination of them all. Try pedaling while a chunk of mud is stuck in your derailleur and you’ll very likely rip it from your dropout.
This is where the B.U.R.D. stretches its wings. It’s a combination of Shimano Ultegra pulleys built into an affordable, Microshift-manufactured derailleur body. We all know it’s only a matter of time before you hit the deck in a race, which means you’ve got a 50-50 chance of crash landing on your drive side. But even stellar bike-handling skills can’t keep grass, mud and other organic material from becoming tangled in your derailleur.
Some of us make a habit of destroying rear derailleurs all season long. If you fall into this category, then the BURD may be very attractive to you. When paired with their ’cross shifters, the two components may present an attractive, reliable option for a serious cyclocrosser. [See our review of Retroshift's CX2 shifters from last season.]
For the same price of a single SRAM Force rear derailleur (MRSP $159.99), you could have a B.U.R.D. in each hand (MSRP $69). Compared to a Shimano Ultegra rear derailleur (MSRP $119.00), you could get a brand new B.U.R.D. plus a replacement if you crash. Crash replacement for SRAM is typically around 50% of MSRP, which means that for the cost of a single SRAM Force crash replacement derailleur, you can get two B.U.R.D.s rebuilt.
Clement told Cyclocross Magazine that the B.U.R.D. should also perform better in cyclocross because the derailleur “will provide approximately 7% more chain tension as compared to a measured Dura-Ace 7900 unit.” We’ve all seen the catastrophic derailed chains that hindered Jonathan Page, Kevin Pauwels and Katerina Nash at Worlds in Louisville, and Clement says, “This little extra tension is a plus for keeping the chain planted. We are currently looking at some of the wide then narrow chainrings for 1X systems and believe this extra tension in conjunction with this type of chainring will be of good benefit for anyone wanting to run [a single ring] setup.”
Retroshift places their emphasis on the importance of derailleur pulleys for good shifting and durability, and swaps the standard Microshift pulleys for Ultegra pulleys. Destroy your derailleur? Your originals will be transplanted into a new body as part of the crash replacement, keeping the heart and soul of your old derailleur with you even after death.
What’s the big deal with Ultegra pulleys? Clement explains, “The difference in performance of pulleys between 105 and Ultegra and Dura-Ace, for example, is greater than the performance gains of the main body.” His theory, based on seeing countless broken derailleurs at Portland’s Cross Crusade series, is that derailleurs typically break not due to crashes but when the pulleys can’t keep up with the chain and jams. “Pulley health won’t cause a death by itself but a stiff pulley will contribute greatly,” he theorizes.
Expanding on that theory, the company plans to offer an upgraded version for racers who want to go higher-end. For $20 more, Retroshift plans to offer a second model with FSA ceramic pulleys.
As someone who’s broken numerous rear derailleurs throughout the season, the thought of an easily replaceable derailleur will be attractive as long as shift performance is up to par. We’re anxious to test a unit, and hope mother nature cooperates early this year so that we can see if the Retroshift B.U.R.D. makes this a distant memory:
Retroshift ‘Blatantly Upgraded Rebranded Derailleur’ (B.U.R.D.) Specs:
MSRP: $69 with Shimano Ultegra pulleys, $89 with FSA ceramic bearing pulleys, $34 crash replacement
Derailleur: Microshift rear dearailleur, CNC cage, Retroshift engraving
Pulleys: Shimano Ultegra or FSA ceramic bearing
Weight: 193g (5g more than Ultegra 6700)
Speeds: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10-speed compatible (any 10-speed or earlier Shimano index system except 8-speed Dura-Ace and 10-speed Dynasis, 11-speed not tested yet )
More info: www.retroshift.com
Mat Shimoko and Andrew Yee contributed to this report