Cassette help please!

by climbingkev   May 18, 2013  

Hi all, I'm new around here so hello - and go easy on me!

I've got some events lined up for when summer arrives, namely the Dartmoor Classic and Etape du Tour and hills are not my forte (strange choice of events given my weaknesses, but they're the ones we're meant to target right!?). I have a compact chainset and 11-28 cassette. My question is how bigger cassette (sprocket) can I squeeze in on my 105 (5700 short cage) rear mech? Was wondering specifically if a 11-32 would fit and whether the real world gains would be significant?

Any help appreciated,

Kev

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My first road bike (felt f95) came with compact 34/50 and a 11/25 cassette. After struggling up hills a bit I changed the cassette to a cheap 11/32 Shimano one from wiggle (about £9) fitted it with a new chain and it works fine on the 9 speed Sora derailleur. I think it is a medium cage. I was advised by several people that it wouldn't work but it is absolutely fine. Didn't even need to tune the gears! Needed a slightly longer chain.
Just got a new carbon bike with Sram rival 12/28 and it feels about the same on the hills as the 32 on the heavier bike. But been out in the wind so not properly road tested it yet. Definitely faster tho. Wink
Like others have said it is definitely better to apin up the hills than grind away. Your knees will thank you and you will enjoy it more and therefore ride more. Which is what it is all about. When was the last time you checked out the other guys cassette?

posted by Hensteeth [50 posts]
12th August 2014 - 13:36

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I just wrote this in another 'thread' but seems just as applicable here....

I investigated the whole compact/triple 'business' when I bought a road bike and boy were there some megabytes of data on it. Opted for a compact in the end but where I live is pretty hilly so I'm occasionally out of the saddle. I was recently in the Vosges and Swiss Alps and triples were EVERYWHERE! Granted it's a bit more 'hilly' but they were being ridden by 'wiry' locals who looked like they spent most of their spare time riding bikes. I remember a Dutch couple burning past me on a Cat 1 climb; I was in my lowest gear and they still had a few more to play with. I went into a local bike shop and was admiring a row of Orbea bikes (incl carbon); all fitted with triples and not a compact in sight. A friend of mine who has done the Etape and Marmotte said that he'd wished he'd had a triple on the final climbs. Not sure it matters what you're riding but nothing beats overtaking someone on a hill riding a more expensive bike than yours.

Shades

posted by Shades [226 posts]
12th August 2014 - 13:49

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DaveE128 wrote:
If you believe riding fast up steep hills is essential to avoid falling over

No, but if you go slow enough you do fall over. Trust me on this! Smile

posted by truffy [477 posts]
12th August 2014 - 15:27

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Hi

I run a SRAM RIVAL set up, On the front I have 50/34 and normaly a 11-23 Cassette fitted for cummuting and general use!

I also own a 11-32 and Medium cage mech on the cheshire cat 2015 and the cheshire cobbled classics 2014 the 11-32 will go on as they both involve a lot of climbing when I did the C2C in june I didnt have 11-32 on the 2nd day with near 2000m of climbing the extra teeth would have been so welcome

the rest of the time the 11-23 will stay on to keep a certain level of strength in my legs the more you ride and the harder you push the fitter you will get but you still have to enjoy it!

if its going to be a hilly ride its only a 10 minute job swaping over and I dont care when people say about my choice of gears I generally get up the hills quicker on my 34, 23 than they do I just choose to make it easy!

posted by servicemycycle [7 posts]
12th August 2014 - 18:38

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The reason compact chainsets and narrow clusters are in fashion is because "that's what the pros ride" - which is about as sensible as running 23mm tyres for the same fashion-following reason (and equally useful).

These forums have a few "The Rules"-following weight weenies who slavishly follow fashion and denigrate recreational cycling (which just happens to be way more popular with way more people - but they are out riding and not writing).

Triples work fine, MTB gears work fine, too. You might even prefer (gasp!) a flat bar and not a racer drop bar. Maybe some people live in East Anglia and have to look up "hill" on Wikipedia, but there are plenty of steep climbs in the UK - often just pushed straight up a hill and over with no switchbacks as you find in real mountains - making them tougher climbs.

If you think a wider range will help, by all means give it a go. Shimano Tiagra, 105 and Ultegra can all handle 30 tooth rear cogs (with the correct RD) and usually 32 will work. If you intend to swap wheel/cluster combos keep in mind chain length - you may need another chain (use QuickLinks) to match.

Ride your own ride

posted by CanAmSteve [160 posts]
12th August 2014 - 20:17

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I'm kind of high-jacking this out of curiosity now, but I think it's relevant to the OP; which is an easier/cheaper method of easing up gears: throwing a wider cassette onto the back, or going triple on the front?

The front adjustment would obviously require a new front dérailleur, but if the cassette adjustment required a new long mech thing, that might even out the pricing a bit. Also, can you retain the cranks from a double to a triple?

My gut is with the cassette being easier, but there'd certainly be advantages in to having the range of a triple, and it'd prevent the need for any big jumps on the back cogs, wouldn't it?

posted by Quince [195 posts]
12th August 2014 - 21:21

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Quince wrote:
I'm kind of high-jacking this out of curiosity now, but I think it's relevant to the OP; which is an easier/cheaper method of easing up gears: throwing a wider cassette onto the back, or going triple on the front?

Easier/cheaper is the cassette (and rear mech/chain if absolutely necessary).

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [502 posts]
12th August 2014 - 22:42

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Sorry, I am one of the despised (in some quarters so it seems) unfit types pretending to be a cyclist. I will be the red faced fat bloke you pass when going uphill if you are ever in Gloucestershire. Sorry for cluttering up your roads. I don't know if a Specialized Secteur counts as 'a fancy bike'? I suspect not, it's probably too cheap and not exclusive enough - and it has a shameful girly triple gearset! I might as well wear L plates and get some stabilisers and be done...

Anyway....I'm only 4 weeks in with only a couple of hundred miles covered so far and I read this thread with interest as using the correct gears is still a bit of a mystery to me at times - and hills are my nemesis. I frequently find myself either in the wrong gear to start with or change into what feels like the wrong gear halfway up and end up feeling like my thighs are on fire. As a noob I chose my bike more for the 'relaxed' geometry than the gears, not really thinking I would be doing hills. And I live in Cheltenham, which is basically a bowl with hills on 3 sides - doh!

Still, it must be doing me some good; my trousers are a bit looser and I don't look quite so much like a 'condom full of jelly' in lycra anymore according to Mrs Dreddful. Plain lycra obviously, I'm not so much of a twat that I'd wear a team jersey. Even I have standards....

posted by JudgeDreddful [6 posts]
13th August 2014 - 10:05

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truffy wrote:
DaveE128 wrote:
If you believe riding fast up steep hills is essential to avoid falling over

No, but if you go slow enough you do fall over. Trust me on this! Smile

The only people I've seen falling over when riding up hills slowly had run out of low gears.

Perhaps the higher cadence actually makes it easier to stay upright? Big Grin Wink

DaveE128's picture

posted by DaveE128 [77 posts]
13th August 2014 - 10:43

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I have two bikes with triples, including my favourite steel summer bike.

There always seems to be an assumption that triples are basically mountain bike gearing and bought exclusively to crawl up hills.

My triples have 12-25 cassettes which, with a 30 tooth granny, is about the same bottom gear as a compact chainset with a 27 or 28 tooth sprocket.

I am not a big enthusiast of compact chainsets as the chainrings are similar to triples, but without the most useful middle ring! 34 teeth is a bit low unless you are permanently climbing, and 50 teeth is a bit big except for pan flat or downhill.

For normal rolling terrain compact chainsets seem to spend all their time in really bad chain lines for this reason.

My cyclocross bike has a compact of sorts (46/34), but then again I hardly use the big ring even when racing!

posted by Chris James [209 posts]
13th August 2014 - 12:50

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Of the lads I ride with we have a mix of triples/compacts and rear cassettes.

Yep we tease the triple riders but they are big lads and need them and climb well.

I've just had a bigger cassette put on, if it makes it easier for me to get up a hill then I'm all for it.

Pain is just the French word for bread.

S13SFC's picture

posted by S13SFC [102 posts]
13th August 2014 - 17:28

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I am over 90kg. I put a 30t sprocket on to get up Alpe d'Huez, and I did not run out of gears - 34 x 30 is noticeably lower than 34 x 28. This was on my Ultegra short cage rear mech. The Shimano tech dox will say that 28 is the largest tooth capacity but, at least in the case of Ultegra, which as far as I can tell has the same vital statistics as your 105, there is room for a 30t. I understand that this may not work if you have a particularly short rear mech hanger - mine is on a Roubaix if that helps. I'm pretty sure a 32t won't fit though.

posted by deblemund [130 posts]
13th August 2014 - 20:11

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I changed my rear cass to have a 32T also with a gs derailleur. So even if my legs die I can spin up with 36/32 ratio. I too am a big fella weighing 15st, so long hills will always be hard to fly up. Steady pacing wins for me

posted by CXR94Di2 [212 posts]
13th August 2014 - 20:32

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I'm 11 stone 10 (75kg) and 6 foot tall. As I said, I like my triples better than the compact, and I have owned bikes with both. On these threads there is often an assumption that triples are only for fat lads and pensioners.

To be honest, if you are struggling to get up a hill then your only interest is how low your gears will go. A 30 tooth sprocket on a compact is quite a bit lower gearing than the 25 I use on my triples.

People have strange attitudes towards triples. I go out with a social group some weekends, mostly hilly routes in the Pennines. I am the fastest climber of this group and I often get comments about 'cheating' by using my triple as I overtake people on the hills, even if the person on the compact is packing a 32 tooth cassette and a long cage derailleur. And yet I also get comments about how heavy triples are. So some people seem to simultaneously believe triples are both cheating to make things easy, and also a hindrance!

I do think there is a element of fashion to it. I was out last night on a local run around the hills and everyone looks so pro nowadays (top end shorts, aero jerseys, carbon bikes) even if they aren't that good. Compacts looks more hard-core at a glance, but a professionals compact is 52/36 (not 50/34) and they mostly ride 53/39 or similar.

I get a perverse please out of overtaking people on my steel bike with a triple, especially my winter bike which had guards and a Brooks saddle on it. The fast lads in my club can drop me on the hills, but that is because they are stronger and fitter, not really because of their gearing or clothing choices.

posted by Chris James [209 posts]
14th August 2014 - 8:52

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Is it possible to get Di2 in 32? I might get that to go with my World Champion Socks and Sky Jersey. Hopefully that alone will try to keep the 'true' roadies from making eye contact with me while out riding.

posted by dunnoh [176 posts]
14th August 2014 - 21:34

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Rode a triple while on a cycling holiday (not out of choice). It did nothing for me. The lowest crank gear was a complete waste. It just didn't really give that much of a benefit when dropping down to it. It felt pretty silly. It may have been the choice of gears. I can't remember what they were but it felt like 53/39/34 or some such.

But it is horses for courses. You are probably better off riding a gear which doesn't do lasting cartilage damage. But a compact with a 28 is about what most people need.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1186 posts]
14th August 2014 - 22:07

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Now prickgate has died down let me bore you with my thoughts on gearing.

20 years ago I was 12.5 stone and would dash up hill and dale for 100 miles using a 36:25.

Now I'm a stone heavier (most of it leg muscle obviously.. Big Grin ) on a campag 34:30 and it's fine. Anymore more teeth would be unnecessary as the my front wheel is lifting off on the 20%'s anyway. Triples are fine. My regular training mate has one. Personally it's a no no on a road bike on aesthetic grounds and because I also race on the best bike with different gears and wheels.

The only problem is a little cog rub from the top of the inside mech cage on one or two lower gears. My mech is 9 years old so the new cassette isn't totally compatible. Something to check if you have an older group set and buying a newer cassette ratio.

As for the weight weenies and young buckos? There will always be someone younger, faster and thinner coming past you on the hills. Once upon a time it would have been me but you can't freeze time - only buy bigger gears. Comfort yourself with the thought that there's also someone faster than every bugger that passes you on the hill and they'll be passed one day.

There's just never a pro cyclist around when you need them to teach someone a lesson...

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1084 posts]
15th August 2014 - 0:05

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JudgeDreddful wrote:
Sorry, I am one of the despised (in some quarters so it seems) unfit types pretending to be a cyclist. I will be the red faced fat bloke you pass when going uphill if you are ever in Gloucestershire. Sorry for cluttering up your roads. I don't know if a Specialized Secteur counts as 'a fancy bike'? I suspect not, it's probably too cheap and not exclusive enough - and it has a shameful girly triple gearset! I might as well wear L plates and get some stabilisers and be done...

Anyway....I'm only 4 weeks in with only a couple of hundred miles covered so far and I read this thread with interest as using the correct gears is still a bit of a mystery to me at times - and hills are my nemesis. I frequently find myself either in the wrong gear to start with or change into what feels like the wrong gear halfway up and end up feeling like my thighs are on fire. As a noob I chose my bike more for the 'relaxed' geometry than the gears, not really thinking I would be doing hills. And I live in Cheltenham, which is basically a bowl with hills on 3 sides - doh!

Still, it must be doing me some good; my trousers are a bit looser and I don't look quite so much like a 'condom full of jelly' in lycra anymore according to Mrs Dreddful. Plain lycra obviously, I'm not so much of a twat that I'd wear a team jersey. Even I have standards....

I just bought a Roubaix that is very similar to your Secteur, I contemplated the Secteur but went for the Roubaix for the better bits and pieces, I am pleased I went for the triple, despite the majority of cycle shops saying "you don't need a triple" It is just nice to have a fall back for that hill you just know you are going to encounter! I weigh about 108 KG just now so a "compact" or worse as far as I am concerned would have been impossible to live with on a serious incline! I am yet to tackle a "serious" incline as I only picked up my new bike today! Though I must say when I looked down at the rings (as I can't see any markers/numbers etc) I was pleasantly surprised to find out what gear I was in!!

As for "Despised" for myself being unfit, I haven't encountered that in my part of the world, just a mutual respect for fellow cyclists! head nodding and smiling etc. which is great for me! I love it! I feel rather inadequate when I encounter the Time Trial mob on a friday evening, but they don't overtake me laughing and pointing at me!!!

posted by cbrookes75 [32 posts]
15th August 2014 - 0:34

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i just bought a new bike, a Specialized Roubaix, having ridden a cheap halfords "hybrid" for two months with a 30:30 lowest ratio, I said to myself despite my new bike being five to six KG's lower in weight, I wanted the security of at least the same ratio being available to me that had previously been available to me. Ignore the fit people who say "you will manage" and go with your gut. Personally I have yet to use the 30:30 on my new bike, in fact I have not used the 30 ring apart from to come home (as I like to start off in the very easiest gear) but it's there for when I am going up those hideous hills, as I expect to be doing so over the coming weeks! From Selattyn to the Racecourse I am last (on Strava leaderboards) at 24 minutes, but I walked most of that! I hope to cycle the entire length as I have lost about six kg's from the weight I need to drag up that hill! Time will tell, as for folks who say "that ratio should get you up Everest" etc. well we are all different, different strengths and weaknesses play to your strengths and configure your bicycle to play to your strengths!

posted by cbrookes75 [32 posts]
15th August 2014 - 0:56

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Thinking on, if you do get an 11-36 or 12-32 etc etc. You may find the worst that happens is you don't use the easiest gears, in which case you switch to an 11-25 etc. Or you may find if you start with an 11-25 you have to get off and walk, apologies if I am repeating other respondents as I haven't read the entire thread!

posted by cbrookes75 [32 posts]
15th August 2014 - 1:03

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I read the triple-users comments with interest. I've got a compact for riding in the mountains near me in Tokyo with a 11-26 on the back (and I'm fairly fit for a 40-year old). It's perfect for going uphill (34 front) and downhill (50 upfront is fast enough for me), but rides on the flat around town in winter time are constant swapping between the front cogs and never being in the middle of the rear.
Triple sounds one way to go, but I've decided to go the other .....and re-place the compact cogs on my winter bike with a single 42 upfront. Got one yesterday to fit my exisiting 110 SRAM crank and I'll be going 1x10 this weekend. Interestingly it has the added benefit of allowing the existing RD to be able to take a slightly larger granny on the rear if I needed it. I've got a feeling this will become a far more usable (and also slightly lighter) townie-club bike......

posted by macrophotofly [39 posts]
15th August 2014 - 4:06

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dunnoh wrote:
Is it possible to get Di2 in 32? I might get that to go with my World Champion Socks and Sky Jersey. Hopefully that alone will try to keep the 'true' roadies from making eye contact with me while out riding.

You certainly can, straight swap of cass and gs long cage derailleur.

You can even have a 36T cass with a cage from another shimano mtb derailleur. Or there is a company in the USA that will modify your derailleur with their own design.

I did a quick check and I have nearly the same ratios as a triple, so I am totally happy with my setup.

From a personal point , I wish I could climb up long hills more quickly, but what I tend to lose on the way up I tend to gain back on the down.

posted by CXR94Di2 [212 posts]
15th August 2014 - 8:10

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+2 & -1
i have a new trek Domane that has a compact 12-30, and as much as i love the bike and its gears, i have 2 issues, i would like a bigger gear on rear for help on steep hills,and a small one for the flats and down hills,ideally maybe a SRAM 11-32. Is it worthwhile?,or too similar to bikes standard set up?.......

posted by ldb30 [6 posts]
9th September 2014 - 14:41

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It's worthwhile if you struggle with the 30t getting up hills in your area. For the 11t , how fast do you want to go? I can hit 55 mph without even pedalling on steep hills!

posted by CXR94Di2 [212 posts]
9th September 2014 - 17:50

1 Like

Well I have been out on the new carbon bike with 12-28 cassette (as opposed to previous 11 - 32 alloy bike) and done a bit of hill work. 50 miles with 2000ft of climbing, including 4 fords and one cat 4 hill. It is a route I have done quite often, and it is always quite hard but I can ride it all no problem.
The new bike is definitely faster all round but I thought I was having to push harder on the hills, although I haven't done any hills for a while so am no doubt rusty!
However when I got back and looked at Strava it turns out I had new PR's on all the hills and other segments, knocking minutes off some of them.
So it just shows how true the old saying is " it doesn't get easier you just get faster"!
Definitely feel better for pushing the bigger gear.
Got the "Durham Beast" this weekend so will see how I feel after that! Worried

posted by Hensteeth [50 posts]
9th September 2014 - 19:03

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Choose the equipment that suits the situation for you not what's fashionable.
I run 11-25 on a compact (mainly flat area) but if I know i've got some Cat 3 & 4 long climbs i'll swap to my 12-30 takes five minutes to do with practice. I also have a tripple which i've never got on with but if i was doing a mega climb and the gearing worked out lower i'd be walking past the carbon. The only way you'll be decent at climbing is to practice and be as light as you can.

posted by pablo [32 posts]
9th September 2014 - 22:20

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CXR94Di2 wrote:
It's worthwhile if you struggle with the 30t getting up hills in your area. For the 11t , how fast do you want to go? I can hit 55 mph without even pedalling on steep hills!

Well,it would be nice to go just a bit faster down hills,like my triple trek?,and i know its less than 10% difference in real terms,but im chasing 1st spot on Strava,and am currently 3rd out of 471!. More importantly ive joined a new cycle club tonight,who have pushed me hard,maybe i just need to concentrate on fitness more??!!........ Crying

posted by ldb30 [6 posts]
9th September 2014 - 22:22

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ldb30 wrote:
CXR94Di2 wrote:
It's worthwhile if you struggle with the 30t getting up hills in your area. For the 11t , how fast do you want to go? I can hit 55 mph without even pedalling on steep hills!

Well,it would be nice to go just a bit faster down hills,like my triple trek?,and i know its less than 10% difference in real terms,but im chasing 1st spot on Strava,and am currently 3rd out of 471!. More importantly ive joined a new cycle club tonight,who have pushed me hard,maybe i just need to concentrate on fitness more??!!........ Crying

Let me get this straight - you spec your cassette so you can do 90+ km/h to grab a downhill Strava segment ?

Each to their own Smile

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [502 posts]
10th September 2014 - 7:31

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pablo wrote:
The only way you'll be decent at climbing is to practice and be as light as you can.

Pah, cheap talk like that won't sell more carbon to the Mamils Wink

Seriously, as pablo says, shedding the lard and climbing hills are the only two things that really make a difference.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2031 posts]
10th September 2014 - 14:05

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How true chaps,already shed 50lb,but want my 1st on strava,and have ordered my 11-32 cassette. and 18hrs after group ride with new club,sitting here in office with my legs still aching!!, but at least i slept like a baby!!!.........happy cycling.... Rolling Eyes

posted by ldb30 [6 posts]
10th September 2014 - 14:20

1 Like