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Ultimate upgrades - Recon Racing cassette

Recon racing cassette
James Spender
7 Jun 2016

This is one for all you weight weenies out there...

Campagnolo Super Record you say? Well there’s a lovely groupset if ever there was one. Or Sram Red? My, that is light. Or Shimano Dura-Ace? One marvels at the sheer function. But wait one second, how much did you say your cassette weighs again? 

It doesn’t matter which of the big three you’ve gone with, chances are your cassette isn’t as light as the Recon Racing. True, if you’re a Campy-phile you might have spent £296 on that cluster of sprockets, if you’re Red you can admire those little elastomers that dampen drivetrain noise, and if you’re turning Dura-Ace you’ll be impressed by the intricate machining. However, all that pales into insignificance when you consider that this 11-23t Recon Racing Cassette barely moves the scales at 94g. That’s 57g lighter than Red, 71g lighter than Dura-Ace and 83g lighter than Super Record. Incredible stuff, so how – and moreover, why – does the Taiwanese company do it?

‘We started making cassettes 20 years ago from steel, but it got harder and harder to find room in the market given Shimano’s product range,’ says Recon managing director Harry Fang. ‘Yet there was one area where we could compete: weight. Here we use 7075 aluminium that takes around an hour and a half to machine from a single piece of aluminium billet [although the final 11t sprocket is machined separately]. It’s finished with a special ceramic coating to make it harder and give it colour – either gold, nickel, rainbow or blue.’

Shaving nearly 100g off the weight of a top-end bike just on the cassette is no mean feat, so it’s little wonder that the Recon comes boxed with the following instructions: ‘Please exercise gentle and average shifting. Make sure the chain is in the proper position when applying power. If chain is not in correct position, teeth can easily be damaged or broken.’

Fang is at pains to point out that this warning is perhaps overkill, and rather is there to guard against mechanically unsympathetic riders ham-fistedly punching through the gears under load and snapping off teeth. Yet there’s no denying that the possibility of that happening is greater than with a heavier cassette, but it’s a necessary evil: Recon has unapologetically pushed the limitations of design and materials in pursuit of marginal gains – hence the name Racing Cassette. This is a piece of equipment primarily designed for your best bike on race day, where long-term durability isn’t a concern. 

So who’s buying it then? ‘In Japan our cassettes sell quite well,’ says Fang, ‘especially to middle aged men.’

Recon Racing Cassette RS11AL, approx £120, recon-harry.com.tw

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