TRP 12-speed Drivetrain First Ride

The TRP EVO 12 mountain bike drivetrain gives riders everything they need from shifter to crank and cassette. We gave it a quick spin to see how it feels.
Photo: TRP

When it comes to mountain bike drivetrains, two brands that start with the letter S tend to dominate. A few years ago TRP started developing their own 7-speed derailleur and cassette for DH racing, and this year they released their first full 12-speed drivetrain for trail bikes with everything from crank to cassette. Last week I got out for a quick test spin on the new group, and here’s what I learned.

TRP EVO 12 specs

The TRP EVO 12 is a premium drivetrain that can be configured in a number of ways with various finishes and sizes available. I tested a group with the top-end Gold/Black finish on a Commencal T.E.M.P.O. trail bike for a quick lap on the trails at Fort Ord near Monterey. The bike was set up with a 34t chainring up front and a 10-52t cassette in the rear. While brands like Box and Microshift sell partial MTB drivetrain systems with shifters and derailleurs, TRP is making everything including the cranks and even the bottom bracket. Only the 12-speed TRP chain is made by KMC and is configured to match the group.

The derailleur features a clutch system to minimize chain slap, and TRP says the cage is designed to make rear wheel swaps easy. While I haven’t had a chance to test the latter claim yet, Singletracks should be getting a group for long-term testing soon to confirm. The TRP EVO 12 derailleur is capable of shifting into an easier gear up by one to five gears at a time. (Downshifts Shifting to a smaller cog is limited to one gear at a time.)

TRP EVO12 ride impressions

Right out of the gate the TRP EVO12 shifts well, with a definitive feel more similar to a Shimano drivetrain than a SRAM. Shifting up a single gear is smooth and quiet, while jumping multiple gears is a little noisy. Still, even when I shifted five gears at once the cassette didn’t miss a beat, even under load.

The derailleur clutch did a great job keeping the chain quiet even over washed out descents. My test bike didn’t have any sort of chain retention device and that was just fine; the TRP EVO 12 chainring with Wave tooth profiles held the chain tight.

I used every bit of the 520% range on the cassette due to the steep climbs on my test route. The 34t chainring is likely too big for me and/or the trails at Fort Ord, so a 32t or even 30t would have been a better match. More than once I was in the largest cog but wasn’t sure, so I pressed the shifter for “just one more.” Of course there wasn’t another gear, and fortunately the system didn’t allow me to throw the chain over the cassette and into the spokes.

The TRP EVO12 shifter paddles appear to be slightly larger than those from SRAM and Shimano. I’ve been riding bikes with Shimano shifters lately and one thing I miss about the TRP shifter is the ability to downshift using the back of the paddle; you can only downshift by pressing the front of the lever forward using your thumb.

Overall the TRP EVO12 drivetrain worked flawlessly during my test ride. Of course there’s no such thing as a perfect mountain bike drivetrain so I’m looking forward to spending more time on the group, and also seeing how easy it is to install and tune. Look for a more detailed, long-term review later this year.

  • Price: About $1,300 as tested (includes bottom bracket, cassette, carbon crankset, chain ring, derailleur, shifter, and chain)
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