Until recently, riders seeking cassettes larger than 36 teeth had two options: aftermarket extender cogs or SRAM’s XD-based freehub/cassette system. Now, there’s a third option with SunRace‘s line of wide-range cassettes. The company’s cassettes fit standard Hyperglide-compatible freehubs, and are available in 10- and 11-speed versions.
My first exposure to SunRace‘s wide-range cassette coincided with the arrival of a Gestalt 2 demo bike from Marin. The aluminum-framed Beyond Road model featured an 11-42t SunRace cassette paired with SRAM’s X7 MTB rear derailleur controlled by Apex DoubleTap levers. That combination performed so well that I was inspired to install a SunRace wide-range cassette on one of my personal bikes.
SunRace offers their wide-range 10- and 11-speed cassettes in two versions: the all-steel CSMS3, and the CSMX3 which features an alloy 40t or 42t cog. The aluminum large cog saves approximately 60 grams, with my sample 11-42t MX3 cassette weighing 389 grams (two grams over the claimed 387-gram weight). SunRace doesn’t specify a retail price for the MX3 cassette, but they can usually be found online for less than $70.
Installing the CSMX3 cassette was easy thanks to SunRace’s use of alloy spiders for the six largest cogs. In addition to saving some weight over separate steel cogs, the machined spiders are less likely to damage the splines on lightweight aluminum freehub bodies. Other niceties include alloy cog spacers (as opposed to plastic), and an alloy lockring anodized to match the spiders’ red color.
Testing the SunRace cassette took place on the aforementioned Marin Gestalt 2, and my full-suspension Transition Scout MTB. Both bikes feature 1×10 drivetrains and are spec’d with SRAM rear derailleurs and shifters. The Gestalt was a member of Marin’s demo fleet, and despite having seen previous use, the SunRace 11-42t cassette shifted with quiet precision. Replacing the Scout’s stock (SRAM) 11-36t cassette with the wide-range MX3 required only a quick adjustment of rear derailleur’s b-tension screw.
Having used Shimano and SRAM cassettes exclusively for as long as I can remember, I was initially concerned that the SunRace unit wouldn’t offer the same level of performance. The bottom line is that I was dead wrong–the SunRace cassette sacrifices nothing when it comes to shifting performance. And despite being removed and reinstalled multiple times (on different bikes and wheels), I never encountered any creaking or popping when pedaling (and shifting) under load.
Much of my testing took place in between heavy snow storms, which meant wet and gritty conditions. It’s too soon to comment on the CSMX3’s long-term durability, but I haven’t noticed any premature wear on either of the sample cassettes. Look for a future update to see how the SunRace unit holds up to typical Colorado winter riding.
Disclosure: SunRace provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.