Is the e*Thirteen Helix Cassette Worth It

Yes, I know … “it depends.” Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way :upside_down_face:, let’s geek out on gear ratios.

I have somewhat limited gravel riding experience, mostly just taking my endurance road bike off road with some 31mm tires. Earlier this month I almost didn’t get up a 10% grade in my lowest gear (33/36), grinding away below 60 rpm in some instances and putting out more than 500w just to stay upright at 2.2 mph.

I’m considering a Seigla, and Lauf offers a 30% discount on the Helix cassette (9-45), so I’m wondering if $200(ish) is worth it for the extra range and to have better top and bottom gears. Most of my gravel riding will be in the mid-Atlantic and northeast, although I might be able to swing a mid-west event since our daughter goes to school in Kansas (“no, really honey, I’m going to Unbound and Gravel Worlds Nebraska to see our daughter, the bike is just coming along to keep me company on the drive” :rofl:).

Anyway, here are some charts of my road bike setup (SRAM Rival 33/46 and 10-36), SRAM XPLR, and e-Thirteen Helix. Transmission would be great, but probably overkill, and expensive. Looking for thoughts and especially anyone’s experiences with the e-Thirteen Helix. Thanks!!

What size chain ring will you run? I’d consider a 10-48 Garbaruk (or similar).

I don’t have any experience with the E13, but when I was looking at cassettes for my new bike the information was mixed on it. I know the 10t already feels a bit draggy, I’d be worried the 9 would be so inefficient you wouldn’t use it anyway.

I don’t know about the specific cassette you referenced, but I previously ran an e13 9-50 Helix cassette with a 40t chainring and had no issues whatsoever. The only thing is that it’s a little more difficult to install vs a stock Sram cassette because the one I had came in two pieces that required being locked together then screwed with a tiny little bolt. Do note that I’ve since gone back to a Sram 10-50 cassette for no other reason than I liked the rainbow anodizing.

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@mailman i had not considered Garbaruk . However, it looks like I need an MTB rear derailleur. The e-Thirteen is supposed to work with the Rival/Force RD. Thanks!!

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A full mullet setup is definitely the way to go, but outside my budget right now.

imho 200 extra for a cassette is never worth it but if yo have the money go for it. Personally I prefer cassettes which are closely packed for my preferred cadence and in the big ring around my average cruising speed and prefer spinning out to grinding out


I ran one for a while and really its just a cassette, dont over think it for gravel. The smaller cog is rarely gonna be used in most gravel races not to mention the lower drivetrain efficiency of using a cog that small is not really worth it. Top it off that they’re crazy expensive and they have a funky way of taking them off/putting on that stumped even the most seasoned mechanic at Breck Epic, (could have been just the 11 speed), we both had to look it up how to take it off. And really you need simple and easy for gravel and not something that if you need to take it off (chain caught in between spokes etc) you need first hand knowledge on its nuances and not specific tools to just take it off/on.
There are alternatives and you really don’t feel gear variances as much as you do on the road because you are shifting more to accommodate grade, terrain and more shifty group/traffic patterns that you don’t encounter on the road.


I have a Lauf Seigla Rigid with the standard (Force) XPLR setup which I use as every day riding (with 10-44 cassette) and flip between a 9-46 and 9-50 eThirteen cassettes dependent upon race profiles.

I also flip between 38,40 (which came with the bike),42,44 and 46t chainrings, again race profile dependent which I can use across all 3 cassettes, chainring out the chain and RD (which is GX for eThirteen cassettes).

Against good advice, I have not pushed the boundaries using the XPLR RD when using the eThirteen cassettes.

I have three different wheel sets with a vast array selection of tyres (course and weather dependent) but have remained with the Maxxis Rambler in 40mm with 10-44 XPLR cassette, 9-46 eThirteen with WTB Resolute in 42mm, and 9-50 eThirteen with Specialized Pathfinder Pro in 42mm.

I decided against the 9-52 eThirteen cassette as I found the last jump way too big as I have that gearing on my MTB and have found I prefer the 50t cog over its bigger sibling.

I do enjoy the 9t cog as it helps use a smaller chainring by 4t, as in a 42/10 is the same ratio as a 38/9 but it gives me an easier gear 38/50 than 42/50. Hence a very flat course I use the 46/9 top end which helps stay with those 2x setups running 53/11 or 50/10.

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Be aware that XPLR is contained to itself wrt the chain, cassette and RD but the chainring will work across XPLR and standard narrow/wide chain setups.

Does Wolftooth make a RD hanger adapter for SRAM? Cheap and effective solution to expand your RD range.

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This is a completely valid take, but it’s also worth noting that cassettes aren’t actually a consumable in the same sense if you have a properly maintained waxed drivetrain. I have a 12s SRAM chain with 3 years of solid use that shows literally no measurable stretch on an appropriate 12s chain checker.

A high quality cassette will last me a minimum of 5 years which changes my calculus on whether the advantages of a fancier one are worth it over time.

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I have a Seigla and I bought a helix cassette. It helped me finish a race without getting off two climbs that probably 60-70% of the field unclipped for. So in my case it was worth it. I had also gotten a smaller chainring for this race so had some peace of mind not losing the top end either with the 9t.

@slipdog after I made the original post I changed the front to a 38t chainring and saw that the top end stayed close to my road bike. Thanks!!

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Coming back to this whole discussion, when you change between the XPLR (10-44) and eThirteen Helix (9-45), can you use the same chain length? If not, how much longer is your chain with the 9-45 cassette?

Separately, given all of the different cassette and chainring combinations you have, how many different chains do you have and how do you manage them?


Probably, wrt chain length itself, not chain, as the XPLR (group set) chain is a flattop and for GX/eThirteen deraileur one uses the GX chain or similar, just not the flattop.

I use Park Tool simple ‘measuring’ method of 4 rivets from quick link to next suitable inner plate for this suspension setup - 11/12 speed with no suspension and SRAM.

They have a video out with super easy to understand ‘how to’ for all types of bikes/suspension setups.

I swap between the XPLR and GX deraileurs often and have assigned a chain to each deraileur + chainring + cassette options. I run between the 10-44 XPLR cassette and two eThirteen cassettes 9-46 (not the 9-45) and 9-50.

XPLR is used mainly between races as general social riding group set with either the 40 or 42t chainring. The GX deraileur and eThirteen cassettes get used mainly for taper weeks and the races. As such, so do the corresponding chains.

Depending on the race profile, I swap between the two eThirteen cassettes and the five chainrings. We have races from standard 100miler up to 500km, and hilly or, fast and flat.

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@SirDAN thank you so much for this! Unless I find myself doing some crazy climbing rides, I think a Race Helix (9-45, not the 9-50 or 9-52) and a 38t chainring should give me more than enough gearing for my east coast riding while still maintaining a similar top end (38/9 is very close to 40/10).

According to the eThirteen site the Race Helix does work with flattop chains and, at least for now, do not plan to get an Eagle AXS derailleur. If I go that route I might just go all in on Transmission, but I’ve already spent enough money this weekend. :slight_smile:

Again, thanks for the help!


Well, I don’t know about mid-Atlantic, but I’ve ridden my bike just about everywhere in east Kansas and west Misery and a 34 chainring/ 32 rear cog got me up every hill except one…they put fresh gravel on the top third of swing creek hill once and I had to push my bike up.


I dunno if that was intentional or not, but I literally LOL’d….


Cheers :metal:t3:

For clarity of the second picture, it’s chainrings 38-46t. I have an extra 40t with the same on the bike for a race next week with the 9-50 cassette.

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@Brennus thanks. Last summer I did some “light” gravel using my road bike, which included a 9% climb that in some sections I really struggled to get up in 33/36. In the steepest portion I was pushing 133-167% FTP for way too long. This is my only real experience being at the absolute limit of my gearing (again, mainly because I haven’t attempted to bike anything steeper). Regardless, it’s driving my thinking toward a slightly larger range of gearing … and raising my FTP.

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