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Can new (2020) 7sp or 8sp MTB be upgraded to 10 speed?

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Can new (2020) 7sp or 8sp MTB be upgraded to 10 speed?

Old 08-14-20, 09:30 AM
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Obeast
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Can new (2020) 7sp or 8sp MTB be upgraded to 10 speed?

there are 2x7 and 2x8 drivetrain mtbs at my LBS under $500 with suspension forks and mechanical disc brakes. Both have 7/8 speed crankset for double chainrings 22/36 with cassette up to 32 teeth. These are perfect for me as a commuter as I need disc brakes for winter conditions since I don't have much confidence with the cantilevers I have now. The 7 speed bikes have bolt on skewers while the 8sp have normal twist type skewers. Can either the 7 or 8sp rear wheel be upgraded to 10sp mtb parts? I have several 10sp sram rear derailleurs lying around as well as cassettes. The 7 and 8 speed crankset should work fine with 10sp cassette as I have tried this before.
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Old 08-14-20, 11:16 AM
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8 speed through 10 speed use the same freehub. Your shifter and derailleur need to match.
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Old 08-14-20, 11:29 AM
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Do they not have anything you want (a 10 or 11 speed bike ) available ?
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Old 08-14-20, 11:44 AM
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yeah they do but it is really expensive. Anything above 9sp we look at over $1200, which is too much for me to shelve out for a bike I leave outside all day. I personally don't see the advantage of heavy entry level suspension forks so the only thing that draws me to new bikes are disc brakes and possibly lighter aluminum frames. I was hoping that the newer 7sp rear wheel would be compatible with 8/9/10 cassettes. But those stupid bolt on skewers on the 7sp probably rules it out. So I will probably buy the 8sp bike.

Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
Do they not have anything you want (a 10 or 11 speed bike ) available ?
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Old 08-14-20, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Obeast View Post
yeah they do but it is really expensive. Anything above 9sp we look at over $1200, which is too much for me to shelve out for a bike I leave outside all day. I personally don't see the advantage of heavy entry level suspension forks so the only thing that draws me to new bikes are disc brakes and possibly lighter aluminum frames. I was hoping that the newer 7sp rear wheel would be compatible with 8/9/10 cassettes. But those stupid bolt on skewers on the 7sp probably rules it out. So I will probably buy the 8sp bike.
OK -- I get what youre saying - Ive heard of all the shortages out there in bicycle inventory and I thought that may have been the issue --- But heck if you already have a 10 speed derailleur , all youd need is a new cassette, chain and shifter.

I upgraded an old Santa Cruz mountain bike from 3x9 to 1x10 a few years ago with Deore and Zee level parts and it brought the old machine back into the somewhat modern age
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Old 08-14-20, 01:00 PM
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The number of gears doesn't matter in the scheme of thing as long as you have enough range. I upgraded from 9 speed to 10 speed on my Fargo a few years back just because I found a complete 10 speed group for less than the 9 speed parts I needed. I still go for the single speed bikes most of the time.
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Old 08-15-20, 01:15 AM
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I think you are right. I may just keep it 8 speed and build a custom cassette but I think the lowest sprocket available with older 8sp cassettes is 12 tooth ring which is still kind of high for where I live.

Does anyone have experience with these sub $500 disc brake bikes? I imagine the disc brake technology is superior than most rim brakes in wet conditions right? Or am I wrong to put too much faith on Chinese manufacturing capability? IIRC the brakes are Chinese on the 7sp and Tektro on the 8 sp which prob also Chinese made. I guess with the 8sp bike I can convert it to a gravel bike with drop bars and with extra inline brakes for the top of the handlebar.

Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
The number of gears doesn't matter in the scheme of thing as long as you have enough range. I upgraded from 9 speed to 10 speed on my Fargo a few years back just because I found a complete 10 speed group for less than the 9 speed parts I needed. I still go for the single speed bikes most of the time.
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Old 08-15-20, 01:23 AM
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I rely on ebay for old parts but it is strange that components are drying up. Either people donīt upgrade as much as they are used to or people just sell through other channels other than ebay.

Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
OK -- I get what youre saying - Ive heard of all the shortages out there in bicycle inventory and I thought that may have been the issue --- But heck if you already have a 10 speed derailleur , all youd need is a new cassette, chain and shifter.

I upgraded an old Santa Cruz mountain bike from 3x9 to 1x10 a few years ago with Deore and Zee level parts and it brought the old machine back into the somewhat modern age
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Old 08-16-20, 08:38 AM
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The cheap disc brakes are on par with rim brakes. Maybe in wet conditions they will be better.

Like bikes, parts are selling like crazy during the pandemic. The high demand is causing low inventory.
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Old 08-16-20, 09:32 AM
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First of all, verify whether the 7-speed bike is using a cassette or a freewheel. Both are available.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/free-k7.html

You can purchase 8/9/10 speed freewheels, but I'd avoid going down that route if possible.

If you have a cassette, as far as I can tell, Shimano is the only company that still makes a 7-speed freehub (the splined part the cassette sits on). So, if you have any hub that is not a Shimano hub THAT USES A CASSETTE, then it is likely an 8-speed hub with a spacer behind it.

For MTBs (as well as large cassette road bikes), the 8/9/10 freehub will also fit a 11 speed cassette.

You'll likely end up with a pile of upgrades to do though.
  1. New Cassette
  2. New shifters
  3. If integrated shifter/brake levers, then the whole things get upgraded.
  4. New Rear Derailleur
  5. Possibly a New Front Derailleur.
  6. New Chain.
  7. Rear wheel upgrade or perhaps both wheel upgrade?
  8. Crankset???? See below
That gets you down to the crankset. In general, your 10 speed, and perhaps 11 speed chain will fit onto the older chainrings. But, it may not be fully compatible. You'll run a greater risk of dropping the chain between rings. At least on road bikes with 11 speed, there is also a chance of rubbing when cross-chaining using old chainrings.

The other thing that has happened is that many older bikes had triple front cranksets, while newer MTBs are moving away from that. Many are even moving to 1x cranksets, and multi-gear on the rear. At least on road bikes, few modern shifters support a triple on the front, and derailleurs are becoming less common.

I tossed in wheels that could also be upgraded, if you want something different.

Originally Posted by Obeast View Post
The 7 speed bikes have bolt on skewers while the 8sp have normal twist type skewers.
Kind of munching words there a bit. Skewers always CLAMP DOWN.
If it is "bolt down", that would be a bolt down axle.
A new "twist type" might be a "thru Axle". That certainly would be a distinction to look at, especially on the more expensive bikes. For a "commuter bike", it won't make a lot of difference.
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Old 08-16-20, 09:41 AM
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I personally wouldn't go out and purchase a cheap $500 bike, do a bunch of upgrades, and expect to end up equivalent to a $1200 bike. Plus, you'll end up hemorrhaging money doing so, even if you try to be cheap.

You'll find a lot of subtle differences. Brakes were mentioned above. Shocks will be different. Just about every part will be different down to the bare frame, and even that will be different. As mentioned, perhaps differences between bolt-on axles, quick release, and thru-axles. Even handlebars will likely be different.

If you choose to go down that path, look for a good used bike, or frame as a donor, then build to suit your needs. Noting, of course, the slow evolution in components over the years that can also impact your frame.
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Old 08-16-20, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Obeast View Post
I rely on ebay for old parts but it is strange that components are drying up. Either people donīt upgrade as much as they are used to or people just sell through other channels other than ebay.
I used to find a lot of good bike stuff on craigslist, but that's mostly died off. From what I've heard, people have moved to something called Facebook marketplace. I'm not on there, so I don't know, but I do know eBay is about all I have left for finding used parts. As for recent months, I imagine the pandemic is part of the short supply problem. I know bike shops have stayed busy and most have low inventory now. But I also think a lot of new bikes just offer a bad value. Prices have gone up and component quality on the same tier bikes have gone down. This is not pandemic-related either, but just the trend I've observed over the years. I did buy a new single speed bike this year, but that was my first new bike in probably 7 years. Most of the time I can make something I like with used/older parts for far less money that functions just as well as far as my uses are concerned. However, as you stated, supply is drying up, and I've seen prices go up and up on old beater bikes to the point where it's not worth it in many cases.

You've got to buy what makes you happy, but I haven't seen anything at a bike shop in the last two years for mountain bikes that's remotely appealing. An 8 speed drivetrain would suit me fine, but the component quality on those are crap now. Or I can spend $2000+ to get decent components and a whole lot of fancy that I care nothing about. I'd rather just find an old 8-speed from the days of yore and fix it up with new fork, new wheels, new derailleur, etc, and I'll typically end up with a much better bike for less money. Problem now, as we noted, is the supply is drying up, and prices are going up, so it's harder to even find a good deal for a starting point. I still feel used + upgrades is the best way to go, but eventually it's going to get to the point (at least for me) where the only thing that will make sense is buying a new frame and all new parts separately.
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Old 01-15-21, 08:07 PM
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I agree 100%. Used bikes made before 2000 are perfect for most conditions. I just need disc brakes for the winter and probably only during January and February with the crazy amount of snow. After that, well adjusted rim brakes work fine.

Originally Posted by crankholio View Post
I used to find a lot of good bike stuff on craigslist, but that's mostly died off. From what I've heard, people have moved to something called Facebook marketplace. I'm not on there, so I don't know, but I do know eBay is about all I have left for finding used parts. As for recent months, I imagine the pandemic is part of the short supply problem. I know bike shops have stayed busy and most have low inventory now. But I also think a lot of new bikes just offer a bad value. Prices have gone up and component quality on the same tier bikes have gone down. This is not pandemic-related either, but just the trend I've observed over the years. I did buy a new single speed bike this year, but that was my first new bike in probably 7 years. Most of the time I can make something I like with used/older parts for far less money that functions just as well as far as my uses are concerned. However, as you stated, supply is drying up, and I've seen prices go up and up on old beater bikes to the point where it's not worth it in many cases.

You've got to buy what makes you happy, but I haven't seen anything at a bike shop in the last two years for mountain bikes that's remotely appealing. An 8 speed drivetrain would suit me fine, but the component quality on those are crap now. Or I can spend $2000+ to get decent components and a whole lot of fancy that I care nothing about. I'd rather just find an old 8-speed from the days of yore and fix it up with new fork, new wheels, new derailleur, etc, and I'll typically end up with a much better bike for less money. Problem now, as we noted, is the supply is drying up, and prices are going up, so it's harder to even find a good deal for a starting point. I still feel used + upgrades is the best way to go, but eventually it's going to get to the point (at least for me) where the only thing that will make sense is buying a new frame and all new parts separately.
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Old 01-20-21, 11:55 AM
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My girlfriend has a Specialized Rockhopper that she loves, except she really struggled with the push/push shifters for the front derailleur because she has small hands (she's 4'11" and 99lbs, so, yeah, she's small!!). Initially I swapped out for SRAM gripshifters but that front mech was still finicky at times and it frustrated her. The bike came with a Shimano Altus 2x8 drivetrain and I've since swapped that out to a SRAM NX 1x12 with a gripshift for the rear mech. The bike is now running a Sunrace MZ90 12 speed HG cassette (11-50t) on the same hub the bike came with. Yes, new chain and new rear mech are mandatory, but you can probably get away without changing the bottom bracket and crankset if you're creative. I sourced parts through both amazon and worldwidecyclery - the cassette, rear mech, chain and shifter came to about $275 (the DUB bb and cranks added to the cost but, again, you could probably skip those parts) and I did all the work myself. She's thrilled now to have such a wide gear range, and only having to shift the rear mech.

So, yeah, you can definitely change a Shimano 8 speed to 10 speeds or more without much trouble at all.
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