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8 speed vs 9 speed?

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8 speed vs 9 speed?

Old 07-17-19, 10:27 AM
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8 speed vs 9 speed?

My friend let me try his Dahon Mu D9 folding bike and rode it around town. It's a nice looking folding bike, quite speedy, but I don't really have anything to compare it to since there's no bike shops within a 3 hour driving distance to even try other folding bikes.

I've been reading up on the topics in this folding bike section of the forum, and I think I know what folding bike I want to get. The one I want to get just hits the sweet spot in terms of price affordability and speed. I will be getting an 8 speed folding bike because the 9 speeds are $300-350 more expensive. and this is where my question leads me to. Before I buy the folding bike, I want to know something.

Can someone enlighten me on the difference between an 8 speed vs 9 speed for a folding bike? how significant of a difference is it in terms of speed/mph etc? Is 8 speed good enough for the price I'm willing to pay I plan to take this bike on weekend trips out of town (san francisco, southern california, national parks, joining the local bike rides that the LBS sets up that goes through rolling hills, practically all the riders have road bikes, but i dont want to get a road bike.)
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Old 07-17-19, 10:43 AM
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The rear spacing on 8-speed and 9-speed clusters is the same at 130mm. So you can swap 8-speed and 9-speed clusters, but you must also match the shifters to each cluster if you do. Can't run 8-speed shifters on 9-speed clusters and vice versa, it won't work.

So is a 9-speed cluster worth the $300-350 extra cost? Doubt it, but I don't know exactly what you're comparing, so I'll reserve judgment.
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Old 07-17-19, 11:21 AM
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Since you're familiar with California locations, I'll answer with that. I wouldn't try to ride Mt. Diablo with either an 8 or 9 speed. However, it totally depends on your physical condition and what cluster you have on the bike. You can get cogs for a folder typically running anywhere from 28-32/34 for the largest and typically 11 for the smallest.
If you use an online gear calculator, you can figure out (based on your physical ability) what speeds your gear range will give you.
I ride an 8 speed in the Bay Area - it's fine except for the bigger grades. Anything over around 11% is too much for me, but ymmv, if you aren't nearly 70 years old, lol. If you can wrench a bit you can change out the 8 speed for a different gearing range (and not change the shifters) or change out the shifters and go 9 speed, or change them both along with your chain and go 1x10. The only way you're gonna know for sure is to ride it and see what you need and then make the changes.
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Old 07-17-19, 07:53 PM
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And a nine-speed chain is narrower than a 6-8 speed chain.
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Old 07-19-19, 01:19 PM
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The Gear range is much more important than the number of years. If you have an eight speed in a nine speed with exact same gear range the only difference is if you have one more step in the middle between the fifth and sixth gear. Itís typically not noticeable
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Old 07-21-19, 04:45 AM
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15 years ago I built up a touring bike, at that time I had a choice of 8 or 9 speed. Some people on forums commented that the 8 speed stayed in adjustment better than 9 speed because the cable pull was slightly larger per shift on an 8 speed.

I knew that I was going to use a 11/32 cassette, so I compared the sprockets between the Sram 8 and Sram 9 speed cassettes. The 8 speed was 11/12/14/16/18/21/26/32. The only difference between an 8 and 9 was that the 9 speed did not have the 26, instead it had a 24 and 28. Otherwise, both cassettes had 7 of the same sprockets. I decided that since most of the time I would be using the 14, 16, 18 and 21 sprockets, that the 9 speed cassette was unlikely to provide any real benefit to me.

Thus, I decided to use 8 speed instead of 9. Since then I have built up several other bikes, to keep my box of spares simpler, I used the same 8 speed cassettes on those bikes too. And the same 8 speed chains.

I agree with the others that commented that the range is more important than number of sprockets.
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Old 07-22-19, 03:58 PM
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The important thing is that the number of cassettes is high 11-36.
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Old 07-29-19, 05:08 PM
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Gearing is something that's personal. It depends on what you want to do and your physical strength.

If you buy the bike with 8 speed cassette, you can change it later to a 9 or 10 speed cassette.
You will need a new shifter since the cable pull per gear will change. And it has to match the rear derailleur's pull ratio that you choose.
Some SRAM rear derailleurs are the same pull ratio for 8 and 9 speed, so you only have to switch the shifter. I'm not sure about Shimano. You should look it up in the forums. SRAM and Shimano usually have different cable pull ratios so you cannot mix SRAM and Shimano shifters with derailleurs.
10 speed is usually a different pull ratio from 8 and 9, so you have to change both the rear derailleur and shifter if you decide to go for 10 speed.

I recommend going for a Shimano 10 speed. You could stick with 8 speed if you are fine with wide steppings, but I hate having 16-18% steppings on the high gears. I find them too far of a jump and I would constantly shift back and forth trying to find a comfortable gear to use. 16-18% is ok on the lowest gears as the effect is less noticeable, at least for me.

If you have a 1x single chainring setup,
11-32T cassette = 291% gear range
11-34T cassette = 309% gear range
11-36T cassette = 327% gear range

Some people in this forum use the 11-36T on their dahon as a 1x setup with a Shimano Zee rear derailleur which has a very short and compact cage that is small enough to clear the ground for 16" wheels. There are some other mountain or gravel GS derailleurs with longer mid cages that fit 36T cogs but with more chain capacity if you want to upgrade to a double chainring in the future. You should check the Shimano specs page.

However, the 11-36T has very large steps, which is a no-no for me.

I have a custom 12-34T 10 speed cassette that I mixed together from 3 different cassettes to get a custom combination of cogs. I match it with 44/24T double chainrings on the front. This gives me 519% gear range. And the stepping on the high gears is very close, and wider stepping on the low gears. I have from 14 to 72 gear inches because I want to be able to climb slopes fully loaded. But for city commute on flat land, you could try to aim for 20-80 gear inches. I'm only on the 72.6 gear inches when going down a gentle slope, and I can only get up to 29 km/h at 84 RPM. If I'm on a steeper down slope, I'd prefer a little bit higher gearing, but down slopes last very short times that it doesn't make much difference if I simply cost down the slope without pedaling. On flat ground at 76 RPM, I am usually using between the 51 and 67 gear inches, between 18 and 24km/h.

I use the RD-4700-GS which has the widest 41T chain wrap capacity for Shimano road 10 speed derailleurs with GS middle length cage, and handles up to 34T largest cog. GS middle length cage is just long enough before it touches the ground for 20" tires. The long SGS mountain and trekking series length is too long and will hit the ground.

I built my own front derailleur adapter. It was quite a lot of work to setup. You can find my documentation somewhere on this forum. I also had to use a Sugino OX crank in order to get the small 24T inner chainring. You could use a cheap triple JIS square tapered crank with 74/110 BCD, and use the inner 2 with a bashguard on the 3rd, but you'll have to push out the crank further from the bike to adjust the chainline to fit the front derailleur, because of the fat seat tube. The Q-factor will go up to somewhere around 168-175mm or more. I chose the Sugino OX because I can offset it to around 148mm Q-factor.

I have a very large 20 teeth jump between the double chainrings, which means I can't use the top 3 outer gears when on the inner chainring, because the chain will rub on the outer chainring, but those 3 aren't so important because they're overlapped by the lower gears on the outer chainring. The chain will drop though, but I prevent that with a chain catcher.

If you don't want the hassle of installing a front derailleur, then you can use the Patterson, EFNEO, or Schlumpf Drive Mountain. The Patterson is 1.6 overdrive, EFNEO is 1.79 overdrive, and Schlumpf Drive Mountain is 2.5 reduction. Patterson and EFNEO are cheaper, but overdrive means you'll be almost all the time on the less efficient overdrive. The Schlumpf Drive reduction means that you'll usually be on the 1:1 neutral, and only switch the the 2.5 reduction when going uphill, and 2.5 is really great for expanding your gear range. With 2.5, you could even go for 11-25, 12-27, 12-28 10 speed cassette for really close stepping while still maintaining 563% gear range. But the Schlump Drive is very expensive, around $800. All 3 of these have wide crank arms, greater than 175mm Q-factor.

Also, if you go for a 1x single chainring setup, then I recommend getting a narrow-wide chainring like from Race Face. It helps to reduce noise and keeps the chain from dropping off when on the lowest or highest gear.

Last edited by tomtomtom123; 07-29-19 at 05:44 PM.
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