Tested – OneUp Components RAD Cage
There was a time when many of us were happy running regular 1×10 setups on our trail bikes. In return for an end to dropped chains we were happy to live with any compromises in regards to the range of gears we had on offer, but then along came SRAM with their fancy 1×11 systems and all that changed. The super wide ratio cassette (10-42) that SRAM introduced was nothing short of a game changer, but the system didn’t come cheap, and it still doesn’t. With our eyes opened though to just how much of a difference a wide range cassette can make, people were soon conjuring up ways to achieve similar results but on a much smaller budget.
OneUp Components were one of the first to start offering an ‘expander sprocket’, and these extra large replacement sprockets have become incredibly popular because they substantially reduce the gear ratio compromise that you have to make if you want to run a single ring up front. Unfortunately though it turned out that they themselves bring about a few new compromises. The first was that you ended up with a big jump between gears in the middle of your cassette (because you have to remove a cog in order to fit the big one), but OneUp have since solved that one by also including a 16t sprocket with each expander ring that they sell (it replaces the 15 and 17t sprockets and smooths out the jump). The second compromise was that you lost out on shifting performance simply because standard rear mechs were never designed to work with a 40t sprocket, let alone a 42t one. It didn’t matter how good at bodging the mech you were, shifting still wasn’t great. Now though that too is a problem of the past thanks to OneUp Components and their RAD Cage.
Essentially this is yet another idea stolen from SRAM because what it does is offset the upper jockey wheel from the main spring pivot, just like an XX1 mech, and that’s where the RAD (Radial Appositioned Derailleur) name comes from. With the jockey wheel being offset it moves out of the way of the cogs as you move up the cassette, and therefore removes the need to wind the hell out of your ‘B-tension’ screw. Does it work? Yes it definitely does. If you fit one of these you’ll find that shifting performance is back to exactly how it should be, i.e. fast and precise.
Because of the offset jockey wheel this RAD Cage is only designed to work with a single ring up front, and it will only work with medium cage (GS) Shimano rear mechs. If you’ve currently got a long cage SLX, Deore, XT or XTR rear mech then you can purchase the required spare part to convert your mech to a medium cage from any Shimano dealer, and likewise if you’ve got a short cage Saint or Zee mech you can convert them to a medium cage too. Once you’ve got your medium cage mech fit the RAD Cage as shown in the video below…
The video makes it look pretty simple, and as long as you are fairly mechanically minded then it generally is. The only slightly tricky bit occurs if the clutch mechanism falls apart whilst you’re fitting the cage. It’s not the end of the world if it does though because Shimano provide the instructions on how to put it back together. If you need them you can download them here. Once you’ve got everything back together you are ready to go. Actually, you might want to give your B-tension screw (or Angle of Dangle screw as I prefer to call it) a tweak, especially if you’ve previously wound it all the way in to try and deal with a larger sprocket.
As I said before, this RAD Cage delivers exactly what it promises, i.e. considerably faster and more precise shifting if you’ve fitted a large 40 or 42t cassette sprocket. I know people running these kinds of setups are looking to save money compared to buying a SRAM 1×11 system, and not spend any more than is absolutely necessary, but I think this makes a big difference for relatively little cost. So, if you’re currently running a ‘stretched’ cassette with a Shimano rear mech, or are considering doing so, then I would definitely recommend also running one of these.