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Cassette Recommendation

Old 04-30-19, 11:17 AM
  #1  
TKJava
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Cassette Recommendation

I currently have a road bike with 50/34 chain rings and a 11/28 cassette. As I have added additional roads and courses to my riding I'm up against a few more really tough hills. I can make it up the tougher ones but it's not easy. Last year during a club ride fearing persecution I resisted an enormous temptation to dare I say get off and walk.

I would like to change my cassette to make things just a touch easier and I was debating on my cassette choice between a 11/30 and 11/32. From what I have gathered since I have the Shimano short cage derailleur I would need to change that out regardless of which size cassette I get. What are the thoughts on this, wold going from 28 to 30 be perceptible? Do I loose some of the smooth shifting going to 32? I don't think I want to go to 34 just yet.
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Old 04-30-19, 11:26 AM
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It ain't a crime to get off and walk. Anyone can have a good or bad day.
Try a 30 see if it works, it should do.
Don't run big big.
Should shift the same but you may have gap in the range which wasn't there before.
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Old 04-30-19, 11:47 AM
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A lot of unknowns here. We know that you have a 50 34 crank and an 11 28 cassette. What we don't know is how many speeds on the cassette, or which model shifters and derailleurs you have. We do know that your derailleur is made by Shimano, but it could be one of dozens of models.
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Old 04-30-19, 11:53 AM
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Suck it up - go big with a 34.
If you need a MTB style derailleur, you might also need an in-line adjuster... if your shifters don't have them.
Lower gears help if your problem is you just can't turn the pedals on the steep bits... but if your problem is you're just not fit enough, you still won't make it.

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Old 04-30-19, 12:07 PM
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My new bike has 11-34t (11sp), my old bike has 11-32t (10sp), both compact chainrings in front. I've been very happy with the new gearing. I've become more flexible with my cadence so the gaps between the smaller cogs don't bother me as much.
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Old 04-30-19, 12:28 PM
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I run an 11-32 and use a sub compact 46/30 crank myself. If you want to keep the tighter cassette spacing, I did, the sub compact might be the right option for you. Assuming you have a shimano crank absolute black makes rings that will fit your crank, 48/32 and the 46/30. My bike does double duty as my gravel and road bike and I NEED that help on the gravel roads but the 30 is also really nice on the long steep road climbs as well. As an added bonus the 46 puts me in the tighter section of my cassette when I am riding around at 16-22ish mph where normal humans spend most of their time.
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Old 04-30-19, 12:31 PM
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+1 to getting lower gears. They can be really helpful while you get in shape, and you can keep using those low gears as you seek out steeper hills to climb.
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Old 04-30-19, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Canker View Post
I run an 11-32 and use a sub compact 46/30 crank myself. If you want to keep the tighter cassette spacing, I did, the sub compact might be the right option for you. Assuming you have a shimano crank absolute black makes rings that will fit your crank, 48/32 and the 46/30. My bike does double duty as my gravel and road bike and I NEED that help on the gravel roads but the 30 is also really nice on the long steep road climbs as well. As an added bonus the 46 puts me in the tighter section of my cassette when I am riding around at 16-22ish mph where normal humans spend most of their time.
^this. 100%. Brilliant in its simplicity.
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Old 05-01-19, 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by TKJava View Post
I currently have a road bike with 50/34 chain rings and a 11/28 cassette. As I have added additional roads and courses to my riding I'm up against a few more really tough hills. I can make it up the tougher ones but it's not easy. Last year during a club ride fearing persecution I resisted an enormous temptation to dare I say get off and walk.

I would like to change my cassette to make things just a touch easier and I was debating on my cassette choice between a 11/30 and 11/32. From what I have gathered since I have the Shimano short cage derailleur I would need to change that out regardless of which size cassette I get. What are the thoughts on this, wold going from 28 to 30 be perceptible? Do I loose some of the smooth shifting going to 32? I don't think I want to go to 34 just yet.
when shimano were 9 and 10 rear their regular rd's could handle a 28 at max in the rear according to shimano. TALKING road RD's!
I have however built several bikes with 6sp cassettes made out of 8sp ones and spaced out. I can confirm that all RD's ive tried will clear a 32 in the 6position. so I'd say it very likely your RD will handle a 32 in the inner position. I also run the shortest cages that shimano makes.

I'm not 100% sure but I guess most shimano short road cages will handle a 32 even in the 5position if you crank the tilt screw.
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Old 05-01-19, 02:57 PM
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MTB RD might be a required part of your scheme to go bigger than 28 t on the new cassette & chain..

demanding bigger chain length.. wrap up..
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Old 05-01-19, 07:55 PM
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My 2015 Defy had an Ultegra 6800 SS (short cage) and handled an 11-32 with no problem at all even though the published max spec. is 28t. The corporate Giant store setup it up that way for me when I bought it and I never had an issue at all. It always shifted well. Shimano is notoriously conservative.

My new bike that I just picked up last week came with an 11-34 and I am going to swap that out for an 11-32 which just arrived today. I don't like the 11-13-15-17 gearing on the 11-34 and much prefer the 11-12-13-14 on the 11-32. I'll keep the chain the same length and will be able switch back to the 11-34 if the need arises.
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Old 05-01-19, 09:38 PM
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Get the 11-32.

The jump from 28 to 30 isn't much and you are going to wish you went with the 32.

The wider space between gears will be noticeable but you will get used to it after a ride or two. Shifting should be just as smooth as with any other cassette.
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Old 05-01-19, 09:51 PM
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I like my 11-32. I can stay seated on steeper hills now, and stand up on the extremely steep grades.

The 11-32 worked on my short cage Di2 derailleur. And there's many reports of it working. The top pulley is very close to the largest cog, but it shifts fine.

I'd put one on and try it. Make sure your chain is long enough -- with the back wheel off the ground, turn the cranks by hand and with the chain on the big chainring, carefully shift to the largest (32) cog. You want to see a jog in the chain where it follows the pulleys, it can't be stretched out straight.

Then, in a quiet parking lot, use the big ring and carefully try shifting in and out of the 32 cog.

You don't normally use this crossed-chain 50-32, but it's easy to shift to it accidentally.
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Old 05-02-19, 05:32 AM
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28 to 30 is not that big of a jump,IMO. It is a change, but a nuanced one. Good for fine tuning your cadence.

28 to 32 is more like a full gear change.

Let me put it this way: you know when you are struggling up a hill and keep pushing on your shifter, hoping (in vain) that there is just one more low gear left? That missing gear is the 32.
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Old 05-02-19, 01:32 PM
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What's the grade of these hills you are struggling on and how long a climb are they? As mentioned knowing what your front is currently would be helpful.

If you are riding 6% grades and only 1600 feet of distance for a 100 foot gain, then a 32 on the back with a 52 on the front really shouldn't be a problem if it's just you on a 17 - 24 pound bike. Running a front with much smaller than a 50 for the large will leave you spinning out on a modest down slope. I find that when I'm tired the 36 small on my front and the 32 back is more than sufficient for anything less than 8 to 10% depending on how long I'm actually on that steep stretch.

If you are pulling a load with paniers and/or a trailer then that would be good to know too.

I've been running a 52/36 front with a 11-32 rear for several years and am thinking of going to a 53/39 front and 11- 34 rear. It surprises me when I see others recommending smaller fronts and bigger rears.

Last edited by Iride01; 05-02-19 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 05-02-19, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by TKJava View Post
I currently have a road bike with 50/34 chain rings and a 11/28 cassette. As I have added additional roads and courses to my riding I'm up against a few more really tough hills. I can make it up the tougher ones but it's not easy. Last year during a club ride fearing persecution I resisted an enormous temptation to dare I say get off and walk.

I would like to change my cassette to make things just a touch easier and I was debating on my cassette choice between a 11/30 and 11/32. From what I have gathered since I have the Shimano short cage derailleur I would need to change that out regardless of which size cassette I get. What are the thoughts on this, wold going from 28 to 30 be perceptible? Do I loose some of the smooth shifting going to 32? I don't think I want to go to 34 just yet.
I don't think a new derailleur would be an unreasonable thing to add if the current one isn't meeting your needs. They're not terribly expensive. If you are swapping within the same model/year it's just a straight swap, almost as easy to do as swapping a cassette. There will be a little fiddling to do with limit screws, etc., of course. And you also do have to break the chain and reattach it, but it could be going to a larger cassette you'll need a new chain anyway.

I don't know what level your components are, though.

A new 105-level derailleur: $45. New cassette, $35. New chain, $35. Total: $115. If you need to buy some tools (chain breaker, cassette whip, cassette socket) that will add another $50. So for $165 you have an almost new drivetrain, that suits your riding needs better, and some tools that you'll use again and again over the years. In fact, don't count the tools; you'll offset their cost the next time you save shop labor costs by swapping out your own used-up cassette and used-up chain.
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Old 05-02-19, 02:05 PM
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The rare times I do spin out with my 46 front guess what, I just quit spinning. I spend about 0.37% of my average ride at over 40mph here in Wv so it isn't a huge thing to worry about anyway. I'd like to be wearing motorcycle leather if I'm hitting those kinds of speeds anyway. The idea of wrecking at those speeds on asphalt with nothing but spandex on is terrifying.
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Old 05-02-19, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
As mentioned knowing what your front is currently would be helpful..
He has 50/34 in the front.
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Old 05-02-19, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Canker View Post
The rare times I do spin out with my 46 front guess what, I just quit spinning. I spend about 0.37% of my average ride at over 40mph here in Wv so it isn't a huge thing to worry about anyway. I'd like to be wearing motorcycle leather if I'm hitting those kinds of speeds anyway. The idea of wrecking at those speeds on asphalt with nothing but spandex on is terrifying.
This. Unless you are racing and really need that downhill speed (on a TdF road where all car traffic is removed and the asphalt is really smooth) a smaller chainring will be better for mere mortals.

OP: find out if you can install smaller chainrings or a subcompact crank assuming you don't spin out
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Old 05-03-19, 02:46 PM
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I'll just continue to disagree on the smaller chainring side. What is needed is larger gears on the back and rear DR's that can handle them. I prefer to keep my legs moving while going down hill. And by having a high enough gear to add some resistance to my cadence, I know whether I can add power and go or whether I have to shift. Coasting downhill for more than a couple seconds I find my legs sometimes are slow to want to get going again. And simply spinning without any resistance while going downhill is just as bad as coasting. Frequently it finds me in the gear that I really don't want to be in when I do put on the power. And that is a waste of energy that I'd rater save for the next climb.

Last edited by Iride01; 05-03-19 at 03:05 PM. Reason: left out a key word "don't"
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Old 05-03-19, 03:01 PM
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Grabbed one of these for $20 on Ebay, will take a 34 tooth gear in the back. Best $20 I ever spent (at least since I got my $20 Tange Levin headset that I had been putting off replacing for years).



It's a little heavy, but shifts GREAT. Does not look out too of place on my road bike. I don't know why I didn't replace my old bent RD much sooner.

Road RD's will often handle more gear teeth that the official specs say, but they can also get noisy and sometimes ghost shift when run out of spec on steep hills.

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Old 05-03-19, 03:08 PM
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Unfortunately, larger sprockets mean bigger steps between the gears. As a result, it'll be much more difficult to maintain speed on the normal (more or less level) terrain as "comfort zone" will frequently fall somewhere between the gears. This will be annoying for solo rides and a real deal breaker for group rides. However, very few people accelerate on steep downhills in real life... Well, in races they do but in regular riding?
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Old 05-03-19, 05:39 PM
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larger sprockets..... on the front or back?

I don't entirely disagree with your reasoning about comfortable speed, but the standard today is 11 gears on the back with 12 on the back emerging quick. Out of that stack of gears, it's only the middle 4 maybe 5 that need to be fairly close ratios, because these are the ones you should be riding the most if your bike is correctly geared for you. IMO!!!!

Riding in groups does add somewhat to the issue as you do want to find a gear that allows you to output the power you can maintain at a comfortable cadence.

For me I ride solo or with another that we just constantly play catch up with each other. Groups are rare. So guess what. That another excuse for another bike so you can have each bike for a more unique purpose. Group rides and solo rides. <grin>
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Old 05-03-19, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
This will be annoying for solo rides and a real deal breaker for group rides.
Maybe for you!
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Old 05-03-19, 07:10 PM
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It looks like TKJava has 2 feasible options. Either replace the 11/28 cassette with a 11/32, Going to the 11/30 isn't even worth the effort IMO, Or replace the 50/34 chainring with the 46/30. Do the math with the original 11/28 cassette and the 11/32 and use the one that keeps the ratio increase in the 10- 14% range. They might both be fine. The larger sprocket ratio's might be OK at the higher end of this range, But try to keep the smaller ones in the low end.

I might be inclined to change the chainring because the 11/28 cassette should have closer ratios in the all important higher speed gears if it is compatible with the derailleurs. The resulting approximate 29 - 113 gear inch range should be enough for most hills and still be fast on the downhill side. Its only suicide hill around here with its rough gravel trail that requires my lowest gear of 21 gear inches with the 28/38/48 chainring.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 05-04-19 at 01:36 AM.
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