Taiwanese company Microshift has unveiled a new gravel groupset called Sword that’s set to undercut Shimano and SRAM in terms of price and potentially disrupt the market. Sword is a 10-speed system with mechanical (cable-operated rather than electronic) shifting that’s available in 1x (single chainring) and 2x (double chainring versions. The levers work with mechanical (as opposed to hydraulic) disc brakes.
Microshift acknowledges that competitor brands are doing fine things in the gravel market with electronic shifting and hydraulic braking, but it says that the idea behind Sword is that “the world still needs a really good cable-actuated group”.
“[Sword] has modern ergonomics, wider cassette range for big climbs, and a fully mechanical design that’s easy to service and adjust,” says Microshift.
Sword is also pretty cheap compared to other dedicated gravel groupsets.
So what exactly can it offer?
Microshift SWORD-Release-shifters, by microshift
Firstly, Microshift offers a 1x system that it describes as being for “adventure, bike-packing, [and] rowdy days”. This has an RD-G7005M 1x clutch rear derailleur at its heart – with a 37T capacity and a maximum cog size of 48T – operated by an SB-G7000-R 10-speed right shifter. The cables run underneath the bar tape rather than externally.
On the left, you have the choice of either an SB-G7000-L shifter – which doesn’t actually do any shifting, this being a 1x setup – or an SB-G7000-LD which can be used to control a dropper seatpost.
You can have a chainset with either a 40- or 42T chainring matched with an 11-48T cassette from Microshift’s existing Advent X mountain bike range.
2023 Microshift SWORD-Rear mech, by microshift
If you want a 2x system, you need an RD-G7025L rear derailleur – with a 44T capacity and a maximum cog size of 38T – and a FD-G7020 front derailleur. This time, you’ll need the SB-G7020-2L left shifter as well as the SB-G7000-R 10-speed right shifter.
You get the choice of either a 48/31T or 46/29T chainset, either of which is used with an 11-38T cassette.
The 2x setup is described as being best for “fast gravel group rides [and] long days”.
Aside from the chainrings, the crankset is the same whether you go for a 1x or 2x system so it’s pretty simple to swap between them. Like Shimano, Microshift uses bolt circle diameters (BCD) of 110/80mm so you’ll have no trouble getting hold of aftermarket chainrings.
Microshift SWORD-chainring.jpeg, by microshift
You shift via two levers that sit behind the brake lever – the brake lever isn’t dual-purpose, as it is with Shimano, it’s used only for braking, as is the case with SRAM and Campagnolo. This allows Microshift to offer independent reach adjustment for the shift and brake levers via bolts underneath the hoods.
Comfy ergonomics for better braking and shifting
Microshift says that the hood sections “have a rounded outer curve to support the hand without any hard edges to create pressure points”.
The hoods and shift levers come with “raised traction patterns and grippy rubber” to prevent slipperiness in the wet while the brake levers have a high pivot point on the lever body, the idea being to provide more leverage and reduce reach.
Microshift says it has updated the brake lever design over a standard road lever. It is designed to pull slightly more cable to give you a little extra braking power.
In terms of gearing, Microshift says it has been careful to provide the low gearing that you’ll often need off-road.
With a 2x Microshift Sword setup, for example, your lowest gear option is 29 x 38. That gives you a gear ratio of 0.76 (or 0.76:1, if you want to be correct/pedantic).
With a 1x system, your lowest option is 40 x 48. That’s a gear ratio of 0.83.
For comparison, a Shimano GRX 10-speed 2x system is available with a 46/30T chainset and an 11-36T cassette. The maximum sprocket size that the rear derailleur can (officially) work with is 36t. A 30 x 36 combo gives you a gear ratio of 0.83 – the same as Microshift’s 1x option and not as small as Microshift’s 2x setup.
Microshift Sword chainsets come with 24mm spindles so they’re compatible with Shimano bottom brackets, for example.
As mentioned up top, Microshift Sword is a cable-only groupset. That goes for both shifting and braking.
Like other cable-controlled systems, the Sword’s rear derailleur has a barrel adjuster that allows you to fine-tune tension in order to index your gears correctly, but Microshift’s product is a little different from existing designs.
“We’ve developed an industry first: an orbital barrel adjuster that allows 15 degrees of rotation in any direction,” says Microshift. “This allows the cable housing to find the path of least resistance and lessen cable friction in the process.”
The idea is to cope better with internal cabling which can make it challenging to route the derailleur housing.
The rear derailleur features a clutch system to control unwanted chain movement over rough ground.
“We redesigned our ratchet and pawl clutch from the ground up with two goals: instant engagement, and quiet operation,” says Microshift. “The new Sword derailleur delivers both. When it’s time to remove the rear wheel, just rotate the integrated switch on the cage pivot to deactivate the clutch.”
microshift sword rear mech cage change.jpeg, by microshift
If you ever damage the rear derailleur cage, Microshift says that you can replace it easily via three screws. You can also swap between 1x and 2x simply.
“The only difference between the Sword 1x and 2x derailleurs is the cage,” says Microshift. “With an aftermarket replacement cage, you can easily switch between the two without the need to buy a whole new derailleur.”
Up at the front derailleur, the cable housing stop is adjustable. Once the cable is attached, you can alter the tension via a 3mm hex bolt on top of the derailleur.
Microshift Sword - Pricing and availability
Microshift’s UK distributor Hotlines says that Sword stock will be arriving in this country in a few weeks.
Microshift Sword prices are as follows:
Chainset (1x or 2x) £99.99
Front derailleur (clamp or braze-on £24.99
Rear derailleur £74.99
Shifter (right) £89.99
Shifter (left, double) £89.99
Brake lever (left) £64.99
Brake lever, dropper remote £84.99
Obviously, no setup would require all of these components. A simple 1x setup would start at £371.95 (chainset, rear derailleur, right shifter, left brake lever, cassette). That doesn’t include a chain and the Microshift Sword groupset doesn’t contain brake callipers so you’d need to source those separately.
We don’t have claimed weights for everything, but here’s what we do have:
Shifter (right) 276g
Shifter (left, double) 276g
Shifter (left) 190g
Brake lever, dropper remote 270g
Rear derailleur, 1x 308g
Rear derailleur, 2x 329g
Front derailleur, braze on 108g
Cassette, Advent X G-Series, 11-48t 424g
Cassette, Sword G-Series, 11-38t 336g
Cassette, Sword H-Series, 11-38t 453g
Chainset, 1x 40t, 172.5mm 790g
Chainset 1x 42t, 172.5mm 810g
Chainset 2x 46/29t, 172.5mm 925g
You might also like: