One of the biggest problems with running a mid-drive motor is that you end up having to throw away your front derailleur and gearset. This means you have to settle for whatever gear range you end up getting from your cassette. Most cassettes go from an 11T to 32T (for a 21 tooth ‘range’) which is sorely inadequate for any electric fat bike. If you have a 10-speed cassette then there are a host of 36T Cassettes on the market which will allow you to have a 25 tooth ‘range’. The market has been flooded with ginormous overprices X1 cassettes for 11 speeds with 42T but the Sunrace CSMX3 is the first 10-speed cassette I’ve found with a 42T granny giving you a whopping 31 tooth ‘range’. That is about a 47% increase over running a 32T granny cassette. Not bad granny, not bad at all.
I bought my CSMX3 from Universal Cycles for $67 here with $4.99 pick-a-product shipping. Although that is a lot of dough to blow on a cassette, the only other option is the all-steel cog CS-MS3 for $58 located here which was 445g vs the 392g for the CSMX3. The CSMX3 has a 7075 aluminum granny (every other cog is steel) which I may regret buying in the not too distant future when it bends in half. I actually recommend the cheaper CS-MS3 which looks nearly identical but with black aluminum brackets and a steel 42T granny.
For a long time, many people just opted for a 42T Wolftooth granny cog and would throw it on their 10-speed cassettes. This created a bunch of problems because not all 10-speed cassettes can just take a different granny gear, especially one that is such a massive jump in size from the next gear down. Then there is the cost, the Wolftooth 42T granny is not cheap at around $75 street price. This solution fits quite firmly in the sub-optimal category.
Installation of this cassette was more of a pain than I anticipated. I knew I was going to have problems adjusting the derailleur and I was skeptical that the massive 42T granny was even going to fit. When I mounted the cassette the first problem I noticed was that my all steel cogs on my Phat Phuk build were actually eating into the cassette splines pretty bad. It was so bad that I had to tap the new cassette on with a rubber mallet because I couldn’t get it to go on. This should not be a problem with this cassette because the granny gears share a wide chunk of metal with a large contact area. I’m glad I caught this problem before it got much worse.
If your bike ships with a 32T granny there is a very good chance that your derailleur will just not be able to accommodate a 42T granny unless you get a longer angle adjustment screw. When I fit the new cassette and tried to adjust for the 42T granny I screwed the angle adjustment screw down as far as it would go and it still was not really quite enough. The derailleur then sits MUCH farther away from the cassette for the higher gears, but if it is properly tensioned & aligned then it should not be a problem. I had to adjust my low limit screw so the chain would not commit Hari Kari and throw itself into the spokes (I’ve had enough, life is just too hard ….)
Once you have mounted the cassette it is important to go through all the gears one by one to make sure the chain is not getting hung up and is shifting correctly. If you are having problems with the wheel is spinning freely you can be assured that you are going to have massive problems when you are pumping 1500W through the drive train and try to shift.
On the trail, your derailer must be tuned perfectly or you are guaranteed to have chain problems. It seems like when you are using a normal X7 derailleur meant for a standard 11T-36T spread that putting a cassette like this on really tests its patience. Pay attention to what direction the chain is trying to skip to under load and then tighten or loosen the barrel nut adjuster at the trigger shifter accordingly. Do not ride your bike without the derailleur adjusted properly or something will break.
I found the 42T gear a perfect match on the super steep inclines with the 42T Lekkie Bling Ring. I’m quite certain that this cassette would also be a fine match with the Luna Eclipse 42T Chainring as well or the monstrous steel 46T crappy chainring that Bafang gives away free in their cracker jack boxes. I found the torque to be far superior to the stock 46T ring especially if you rode the BBSHD at higher RPM speeds that were way too fast to keep up with pedaling. The only downside was the insane wheelie popping torque, which I found myself having to shift into a higher gear in order to avoid. This cassette and a 42T chainring can take your singletrack riding to a whole other level.
Thanks to Dale for turning me onto this cassette, we both agree that the worst kind of cassette was the old Kenny Rogers 8-track that my old man used to torment me with when riding in his car.
You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run……. *AHHHHHHH* Make it stop.
Kenny Rogers was one of the many reasons I moved out at 16 and lived in abandoned buildings and ate out of dumpsters for several years. (true story)
Update: Forget about the aluminum version of this cassette, only buy the steel version CS-MS3 do NOT buy the CSMX3 which will catastrophically fail under any real power. You have been warned.