There’s a new mixed drivetrain option in town.
Cyclocrossers, monster crossers and gravel enthusiasts have been drawn to SRAM’s roller bearing clutch Type II rear derailleurs for better chain security and less chain slap, especially with the introduction of the single ring CX1 system (reviewed in Issue 27).
Cyclists with existing Shimano drivetrains and Shimano loyalists have been largely left out in the cold because Shimano’s Shadow Plus clutch-based derailleurs were introduced at the same time the Japanese component manufacturer moved to its Dyna-Sys system, which changed the cable pull required of a shifter from the standard Shimano previously used for every single rear derailleur introduced since SIS index shifting was introduced (with the exception of 8-speed Dura-Ace).
With Dyna-Sys, you could no longer pair mountain bike derailleurs with road shifters (or vice versa) due to the different cable pull ratios.
If you followed that technical discussion above, and have longed for a solution to Shimano’s incompatibility between road and mountain drivetrains, you might be excited to know that Gavenalle (formerly Retroshift) has introduced a new GX model of its iconic shift/brake levers that is compatible with Shimano’s Dyna-Sys (including Shadow Plus) rear derailleurs.
Now a cyclist can use Shimano’s clutch-based Shadow Plus rear derailleurs on a drop handlebar bike, and also use Shimano’s wide-range mountain bike 10-speed cassettes (up to a 36t rear cog) for a monster cross or gravel bike, or even on a single-ring system (see our extensive feature and reviews on single ring drivetrains in Issue 27).
Previously, the only real drop bar shifter options for clutch-based rear derailleurs were SRAM’s 10-speed or 11-speed DoubleTap levers, paired with either a CX1 rear derailleur (10 or 11-speed), or mountain bike Type II rear derailleur (X0, X9, X7).
The shifters open up the options especially for the DIYer looking to use some existing components to expand gearing or build up a new adventure bike, and the clutch mechanism is especially helpful when using wide-range cassettes due to the amount of chain slap possible with the longer chain that’s required with bigger cassettes.
The GX shifters are also aimed to be compatible with all cable-pull brakes, as the levers feature two different cable anchor points. That way, Mafac canti users and TRP CX9 mini V-brake users can both use the same lever and find the right leverage and pad clearance.
Of course, like the other Gevenalle shifters, there are some attractive, unique features for cyclocrossers, tourers and adventure cyclists who aren’t blessed with a pit crew and matching bikes. First, there’s the friction option on the right shifter, should shifting really get sloppy because of thick mud.
Second, there’s infinite trim options on the micro-index left shifter, so you’ll always be able to eliminate chain rub, and use most front derailleurs. There also aren’t any shifter springs to break while you’re slogging through peanut butter mud, or 50 miles from civilization.
Also, as found on Tektro, Cane Creek, TRP and Campagnolo ErgoPower levers, there is a brake release button on the lever, which is useful for wheel removal or adding extra pad clearance on muddy days.
Gevenalle’s Adam Clement emphasizes why he thinks his creations are better for non-sponsored cyclists. “Simple is better for riding unsupported backwoods trails, just as simple makes more sense to us for racing CX without a sponsor paying for your gear,” he says. “[It’s] more reliable, less expensive, and not to mention faster and more capable shifting.”
Our past reviews have validated most of those claims, once you get used to the ergonomics of the levers (the shift lever is not always in the same spot, and shifting is easier in the hoods than the drops).
The right Gevenalle GX shifter/brake lever weighs 214 grams on our scale, while the left comes in at 208g.
If you’re a current Gevenalle/Retroshift user, and the GX levers sound appealing, you may be disappointed to learn that the shifters are not available separately for your CX levers, as the shifter mounts are larger on these levers.
Although the levers are made in Asia, all modifications is done in Portland, from the machining of mounts, anodizing, laser engraving, brake lever machining and assembly of the brake levers with upgraded pivot bushings. Tooling for the extra brake mount for the levers was made by Christopher Igleheart, one of the original Fat Chance group, while engineering design update was by Mark Dinucci, a NAHBS award-winning frame builder.
Because Gevenalle uses Microshift shifters and derailleurs for the base of its components, this new shifter also indicates that there’s a bar con shifter available from Microshift that works with Shimano Dyna-Sys shifters, in the form of the BS-M10 shifter (but now even Paul Curley has shed his bar cons and moved to “brifters”). “We have been bugging Microshift for this [Dyna-Sys-compatible] part for a while, and would like to think we helped it get to market a little sooner than it might have!” says Clement.
Stay tuned as Cyclocross Magazine tests out the shifters this gravel season.
Gevenalle GX Shifter / Brake Lever Specs:
MSRP: $219 per pair
Rear Derailleur Compatibility: Current 10-Speed Shimano MTB
Front Derailleur Compatibility: Any (2 or 3 rings)
Weight: 214g right (rear), 208g left (front)
Cable angle: Now 10 degrees lower than CX shifters for lower-profile
Gevenalle Crash Warranty: No Questions asked, Rebuild/Replace as needed for $34 a unit including shipping in USA.
More info: www.gevenalle.com