Spin Unobtanium Monobloc Cassette  £249.00

7/10

Superlight cassette for weight obsessives looking to shave grams and add some bling

Weight 96g   Contact  www.spincycleworks.com www.velotechservices.co.uk

by Mat Brett   January 5, 2012  

Spin Cassette

Our first question about Spin's Unobtainium Monobloc Cassette was, is it really made from Unobtainium? Sadly no. Our second was, £250 for a cassette. What's so special about it?

Well, the main draw here is the weight. Our 10-speed 11-23 tooth test product, including the lockring, is 96g. To give that some context, a Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 cassette (£179.99) of the same size weighs in at about 163g and a SRAM Red one is about 155g. Superlight, then. To give some more context on price, list on a Campagnolo Super Record cassette is over £300 and quite a bit heavier so while the Spin cassette is a lot of money it's certainly not out of line.

This is a one-piece unit that's milled from a solid block of aluminium. Well, that's not exactly true; the smallest two sprockets are milled separately on the 11-23T cassette. The other cassette sizes are each milled from a single block.

The aluminium in question is what Spin call Spindustrial Unobtainium alloy because they have a special name for just about everything; it's actually 7075-T6, which is strong, high-quality stuff.

The amount of work involved in creating this cassette is amazing. Spin reckon it takes half an hour on the CNC machine to make one of these bad boys. We can easily believe that. Everything that possibly could be removed has been removed, so much so that you can see right through to the freehub body underneath the middle sprockets.

In use, the Spin cassette works just fine. I took off a Dura-Ace cassette to fit this one, and to be completely honest I couldn't make out any change in the function. It shifts up fine. It shifts down fine. Um, that's it. If you can discern any difference, you're more in tune with the subtleties of bike performance than I am. It does its job well and that's good enough for me.

The gold coating is titanium nitride, designed to improve the shifting and durability as well as enhance the looks. The looks thing is a matter of taste, obviously, but I likes it, me.

Speaking of durability, that's just fine too. I've been running this cassette through all sorts of bad weather and the drivetrain has been filthy half the time, but the sprockets are looking in decent nick for the amount of use. If longevity is your number one concern by all means go for steel sprockets but it's not as if this lightweight number can't handle plenty of use and abuse.

The one negative point I would make is that if you do get lots of gunk off the road into the cassette, it can be difficult to clean because of all the milled out space in there. I had to take the cassette off the freehub after a few weeks to remove the gradual build-up of waxy lube and general winter debris. That's not a major problem, but it's worth noting (and I probably won't use waxy lube with this cassette again).

This cassette is compatible with Shimano/SRAM 10-speed drivetrains and comes in 12-25T and 12-27T as well as this 11-23T model. A ceramic gunmetal silver-coated version is available £10 cheaper and Campagnolo 11-speed models are available too.

Verdict

Superlight cassette for weight obsessives looking to shave grams and add some bling

road.cc test report

Make and model: Spin Unobtanium Monobloc Cassette

Size tested: 11-23T

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Spin say, "Spin QuickLight cassettes are at the cutting edge of bicycle component design and engineering. Sculpted by our multi-axis CNC SpinBots, these beautiful cassettes are the lightest on the planet from just 94 grams in 11-23T ratio.

"Available in 11-23T, 12-25T or 12-27T. The lightest, smoothest and most seriously trick cog set in the world."

The main point is that this is an extremely lightweight cassette with no discernible reduction in performance. It's for people who are willing to pay a premium to drop a small amount of weight.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

The level of machining involved here is nuts. Spin have put in loads of work to shave off the grams

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

Shifting across the cassette is as smooth and reliable as with any other cassette but the weight is considerably lighter. I did wonder whether a smaller amount of surface area in contact with the freehub body would result in notches to the splines, but there are no worries on that front.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

The aluminium sprockets probably won't last as long as steel sprockets but they're going fine so far

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
10/10

The lightest cassette I've ever used by a long way.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

Depends how you look at it, I guess. You can get a Shimano 105 10-speed cassette for £55, a Dura-Ace one is £180 and the list price of a Campag Super Record cassette is over £300.

The Spin cassette is much lighter than any of those. You're paying a lot of money to drop a small amount of weight. It takes a lot of work to drop those grams, hence the price.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It works well. I didn't notice any difference in function over any other cassette I'm currently using, and it's considerably lighter.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The benefit is the weight reduction. It's a very small amount in the overall scheme of things, but if every gram matters to you, check it out.

I think the gold finish looks pretty neat too.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

There's no avoiding the fact that this is a whole lot of cash to spend on a cassette.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Too pricey for me

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, wealthy friends

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 41  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

 

11 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

One too many curries and the weight saving over a 'normal' cassette goes south! Unobtainium? Sounds like Latin for 'it's unobtainable by mortals'.

posted by Mooman16 [32 posts]
5th January 2012 - 17:53

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Surely this is an April-fool style mockery of "weight weenies".
Unobtanium : You-knob-tanium?
Either that or the worst made up name ever.

posted by kace19 [22 posts]
5th January 2012 - 17:56

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I think the name comes from the film 'Avatar' who will surely sue.

Elements on the (real) periodic table whose names begin with 'un' are extremely short- lived synthetic radioactive materials, so I would expect it to decay within a few miliseconds. Nerd

Looks pretty though.

posted by wild man [279 posts]
5th January 2012 - 18:07

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That's beautiful. That's what I want my wedding cake to look like.

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [481 posts]
5th January 2012 - 18:55

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Unobtanium was a phrase actually coined in the 50s and has had numerous uses. I think Oakley used it (and still do) to describe one or other of the materials that they use to make their sunglasses.

I actually really like the cassette and I understand that it also comes in a matt grey for those looking for a little less bling.

posted by Winton [65 posts]
5th January 2012 - 19:13

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As Winton says, unobtainium (also unobtanium) is a term used since the 1950s.

Generic word to describe any rare or precious material, initially in aerospace but later adopted by the cycling press and more recently even the mainstream media.

Graeme Obree used it when I interviewed him last year in a catch-all way to describe lightweight bikes 'made of unobtainium' - if he's using the word, that's good enough for me Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7933 posts]
5th January 2012 - 19:26

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Those "un"elements are on the 'new' bit of the periodic table, the weird bit.

Look in the bottom left of the P-block

800px-Periodic_table.svg_.png

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
5th January 2012 - 22:07

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This'll be the cassette that you can find on ebay for a shade over a $100 from Taiwan?

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [358 posts]
6th January 2012 - 10:06

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It would be interesting to see how the costs break down on boutique stuff like this (actually on all kinds of components) and what the markup is.

Let's say it takes 30 mins on a cnc machine (which doesn't seem that long) so you've got the running costs, machine operator wages, materials, plating and cost of the initial investment plus the distribution, admin and so on... still seems a lot of money for 3 pieces of essentially machine carved metal.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [779 posts]
6th January 2012 - 10:37

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"I had to take the cassette off the freehub after a few weeks to remove the gradual build-up of waxy lube and general winter debris."

can't see mysel using a £250 unobtanium cassette on the winter bike.

posted by pj [138 posts]
7th January 2012 - 21:48

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More to the point..should be called 'Outofmygraspobtanium'...can't be spending that amount of dosh on mechanicals when there's R@pha@ to be had for that...that's about three pairs of winter socks dontcha know!

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

The _Kaner's picture

posted by The _Kaner [375 posts]
8th January 2012 - 18:04

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