Interesting thing number 1: these groupset components aren’t made by Shimano, SRAM or Campag.
Interesting thing number 2: they’re very light.
Interesting thing number 3: they’re highly affordable.
Microshift are a Taiwanese company who’ve been around for a few years now and Upgrade Bikes have just begun UK distribution for their products, which cover both road and mountain biking.
Dual control levers
The Arsis dual control levers work with a double chainring and they’re compatible with Shimano 10-speed kit if you want to mix and match. They’re a very similar shape to Shimano’s own equipment with a large, comfortable and secure hand position on the hoods and levers that are angled outwards slightly for easy access. Two different sized paddles, which both sit behind the brake lever, take care of shifting.
On the right hand shifter, the longer paddle allows you to shift up the cassette a maximum of three sprockets with each push, while the shorter one moves you down the cassette one sprocket at a time. It’s a similar principle on the left-hand lever, with a trim to prevent front mech chainrub when you’re in the big ring. The brake lever, which is aluminium with a carbon wrap, isn’t involved with the shifting – like Campag and SRAM setups, it just does the braking.
As with all incarnations except the latest recently launched one of Shimano's workhorse 105 groupset, the brake cables run under your bar tape while the gear cables loop outside. The levers are much lighter than 105s, though. In fact, ours weighed in at just 351g for the pair and that’s lighter than Ultegra and even a touch lighter than Dura-Ace, believe it or not.
With its CNCed alloy outer plate and jockey wheels – which run on sealed bearings – the short cage rear mech is a bit of an eye-catcher. It bears a striking resemblance to the Dia Compe Gran Compe unit reviewed on this very site. In fact, logo aside, they’re identical.
Microshift reckon the outer link is carbon reinforced to enhance stiffness and allow them to bring the weight down. Okay, if they say so. But if they hadn’t told us that, we’d have said it was carbon wrapped to make it look pretty, so we’ve learnt something there.
It’ll work with rear sprockets up to 27T, has a total capacity of 29T, and is compatible with Shimano 10-speed levers. Ours hit the scales at 174g – lighter than Ultegra but not quite as light as Dura-Ace.
The down-pull front mech, which is suitable for double chainsets, is a pretty neat little unit too. It’s CNC machined – slightly – hollow linked, it’ll take a maximum chainring of 56T and has a 16T capacity. Ours came in at 90g – which is a similar weight to an Ultegra braze-on model.
On the road
The Microshift system is pretty simple to setup – there’s nothing particularly quirky here. We just straight swapped it for 105 on an everyday road bike and didn’t even need to re-do the bar tape, so it was all pretty painless.
Once you get out on the road you adjust to the way it works in minutes. Resting on the hoods feels a lot like using Shimano, the levers are simple to use, the action is reasonably light and they click loudly – really loudly – so you’re never left in any doubt about gear changes. Shifting to the big chainring requires quite a long sweep but it’s not a problem.
We tried everything we could think of to unsettle things – multiple shifts, shifting under pressure and just generally arsing about – and it has behaved just fine. We’ve had precise, unambiguous shifting throughout, both up and down the block. And, after eight weeks of use, we’ve not needed to adjust anything. We can’t guarantee the long-term durability yet but it's looking good so far.
It’s hard to comment beyond that – the Microshift kit has just got on with it and we’ve really not had to give it a second thought. And, really, that’s what you want – equipment that reliably does what it’s supposed to do while you concentrate on supplying the horse power.
If we’re really looking for criticisms, we’d say that the various components don’t look like a single group; the styling isn’t particularly consistent. But that’s just a cosmetic thing.
So why would you go down the Microshift route over one of the other brands? Because it’s very cheap for the weight and the level of performance you get here. You can’t really go wrong for the money.
Lightweight shifting components that do a fine job at a very reasonable price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Microshift Arsis Carbon 10spd groupset
Size tested: n/a
Did you enjoy using the product? Fitted them, used them without any drama - that's what you want
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 184cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.