Ever wished you could hook your Shimano STI shifters up to a MTB clutch mech and a nice, wide cassette? Well, you can with a Tanpan!
With 1x setups increasingly popular for simplicity and less maintenance, especially out on the road less travelled, they make the ideal set up for the gravel/adventure bike. SRAM are currently the brand committed to the 1x trend, producing groupsets across MTB, CX/gravel and most recently road. Shimano are sticking to their 2x guns in the CX and road market for now, as after all, their front shifting is THE benchmark.
SRAM’s MTB rear mechs and road shifters all work in harmony with each other, whereas Shimano’s precise tech means that there is no such mix and match option, their drop bar, STI shifters and road rear mechs having a different pull and throw respectively to their MTB counterparts. Hence why we see 2x set ups on adventure bikes specced with Shimano components.
Once you have become used to riding with a 1x setup, it is hard to go back to having 2 rings up front and shifting between them, even on a gravel/adventure bike, where sometimes you are wishing for that one extra, lower gear as the loaded bike seems to be getting increasingly heavy up long gravel climbs. For all Shimano drivetrain owners there is a neat solution from Wolftooth Components to convert over to a 1x set up with a full MTB gear range.
The Wolftooth Way
For a minimal outlay, Wolftooth offer the Goatlink, a bolt on hanger that allows use of a road long cage mech with an 11-40 cassette, but if you want the full 11-42 or 11-46 range and the chain security of a clutch mech, the Tanpan is the only solution.
Wolftooth Tanpan Installation
The Tanpan isn’t cheap, but it is a precise piece of engineering that works. For the weight weenies, it only adds 17g to the bike, so pretty insignificant really. Installation is a bit fiddly and takes some time, but it is worth doing properly! Depending on whether you have internal or external rear mech cable routing will determine where it has to be installed. For internal, it has to be up near the shifter, using the additional supplied noodle. For external, the Tanpan inserts directly into the rear mech where the cable stop would normally be, Then it’s a matter of cutting outer cables to fit.
Have the cable adjusters on the Tanpan screwed all the way in to allow for adjustment and cable stretch. Once that’s all done, thread the inner cable through and around the pulley of the Tanpan (full instructions can be found on the Wolftooth website and are well worth following). This is the fiddly part, especially getting the tension right. Once the cable is clamped tight at the rear mech, tighten the tiny grub screw on the Tanpan against the cable. This stops it slipping. I would suggest doing this over a towel as you don’t want to drop that grub screw and have it bounce off somewhere… It is really, really small!
Run through the gears as you normally would when having fitted a new cable and/or new rear mech. Dial it in with the adjuster on the Tanpan and adjust as the inner cable stretches over those first couple of rides. Shifting should now be precise and seamless, not far off that of Shimano’s characteristic silky smooth shifting.
Set up has been either a 40T Q Ring for loaded bikepacking or a 42T and an 11-42 cassette for off road adventures. Over the few 1,000km ridden through all weathers and across various terrains, I have never had to re-adjust the cable around the pulley of the Tanpan, just the cable tension in the first few rides as it all settles in. Periodic checking of the grub screw to make sure that it is tight, and it’s still there, is worthwhile. Just make sure the mech clutch is on too.
One advantage of this Shimano set up over SRAM is the cassette options. For purely road rides, I’ll opt for an 11-32, with the 11-40 or 42 reserved for gravel/adventure/bikepacking rides. You do lose that top gear not having a 10T as with SRAM, but the trade-off for cassette choice is not a bad feature.
The Tanpan is the perfect solution for those with a Shimano drivetrain who want to convert to a 1x set up. Light and unobtrusive, initially set up is fiddly, but the net result is crisp and precise shifting on a par with the feel of Shimano’s 105. Even through bikepacking events where the luxury of cleaning the bike is rarely an option, shifting hasn’t been affected. A highly recommended product that works.
Sourcing in the UK can sometimes be tricky, hence why we’ve linked to the US website. Google is your friend though and with a bit of luck, you should find a UK source for £40-£45
Last modified: 12th March 2018