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  1. #1
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    9 speed versus 8 speed

    I am thinking of converting at least one of my mountain bikes to 9 speed. Basically it is just because i want to upgrade my shifters so I figure now is the time. I currently have always ran 8 speed and have had people tell me i should stick with it since 9 speed is more "finicky" to set up and that the chains don't last as long.

    So I am trying to decide whether to look for a set of XT 8 speed shifters on Ebay and carry on with 8 speed or if i should go ahead and go 9 speed. My crankset is already 9 speed, so i'm good there. I'll just need to add the cassette. I'm planning on doing the front der. at the same time if i go 9, just because it really took some rigging (bending) to get it to shift on the new 9 speed crankset anyway.

    I guess my concerns are that i ride a lot of miles on my mtbs and chew up chains and cassettes fairly quiickly compared to a lot of people. I don't really wish to increase that, if i can avoid it.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    I am thinking of converting at least one of my mountain bikes to 9 speed. Basically it is just because i want to upgrade my shifters so I figure now is the time. I currently have always ran 8 speed and have had people tell me i should stick with it since 9 speed is more "finicky" to set up and that the chains don't last as long.

    So I am trying to decide whether to look for a set of XT 8 speed shifters on Ebay and carry on with 8 speed or if i should go ahead and go 9 speed. My crankset is already 9 speed, so i'm good there. I'll just need to add the cassette. I'm planning on doing the front der. at the same time if i go 9, just because it really took some rigging (bending) to get it to shift on the new 9 speed crankset anyway.

    I guess my concerns are that i ride a lot of miles on my mtbs and chew up chains and cassettes fairly quiickly compared to a lot of people. I don't really wish to increase that, if i can avoid it.
    As someone who rides 9 speed.... stick with 8. If I could have gotten a new bike at the component level I wanted in 8 speed I would have gladly done so.

    NOS good quality 8 speed shifers aren't that hard to find if you look. That and the new Alivios are pretty good, if pretty ugly.

  3. #3
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    A lot of people claim a significant difference in durability between 8 and 9 speed drivetrains, particuarly chains, and theoretically I can see why. In reality, having used eight and nine speed drivetrains extensively in real world mountain biking conditions, I've never noticed a difference in durability. I've also not noticed anything "finicky" about a nine speed setup. Others will undoubtedly disagree-

  4. #4
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    I've noticed no durability issues with the 9-speed gear on one of my bikes. The SRAM stuff shifts nicely with a wide-range cassette and a double crank.

  5. #5
    pedal head
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    I switched to 9 because I got a good deal on XT shifters and my chain was almost worn out anyway. Just had to buy a cassette. I think that the difference is practically worthless. If anything it just takes longer to get across to a much higher / lower gear and slows you down.

    That being said... you might as well go with 9 spd because 8 will be extinct soon.
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  6. #6
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    Another thing i might mention is that it looks like 9 speed cassettes are higher priced. Is this generally true?

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    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    Another thing i might mention is that it looks like 9 speed cassettes are higher priced. Is this generally true?
    Yes-

  8. #8
    cab horn
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    I'd just stick with the 8 speed unless you really want to spend money: http://www.probikekit.com/display.ph...ed%20Cassettes
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked
    A lot of people claim a significant difference in durability between 8 and 9 speed drivetrains, particuarly chains, and theoretically I can see why. In reality, having used eight and nine speed drivetrains extensively in real world mountain biking conditions, I've never noticed a difference in durability. I've also not noticed anything "finicky" about a nine speed setup. Others will undoubtedly disagree-
    +1, We don't have the miles well-biked has, but our 8 speed seems to be headed for replacement while the nine speed bike is doing fine. Both systems have about the same miles.
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  10. #10
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    My crankset is already 9 speed, so i'm good there.
    Uhh? You have to change the crankset for 9 speed? Is that correct? I thought the only changes were the cassette, chain and right shifter.
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    I haven't understand why you want to "upgrade" your shifters. If they work fine and are comfortable, there is no point in changing them unless you want to go to 9 speeds.

    On the other hand, if you need to change your shifters because they are dying, then it's the time to either stay at 8 or move to 9.

    May I then suggest a hybrid drivetrain?
    Buy and install 9-speed shifters, then route your rear derailleur cable according to the "Altenate Cable Routing" seen on [url=http://sheldonbrown.com/dura-ace.html]this page[/url) and you will be able to use your 8-speed cassette.

    BTW, staying at 8 or moving to 9 speeds has no effect whatsoever on either derailleurs or the chainrings. I have a bike with "8-speed" crankset and another one with "7-speed" crankset, and both work fine with a 9-speed system.
    Michel Gagnon
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Steev's Avatar
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    Don't know if you just missed saying it, but you need a new narrower chain to convert from 8 to 9.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steev
    Don't know if you just missed saying it, but you need a new narrower chain to convert from 8 to 9.
    I understand that. That's why i posted asking if the 9 speed chains wear out faster.

    As far as not understanding why i would want to upgrade my shifters, that's really not important. Just like it isn't important for you to understand why i might go out to dinner and spend $60. I would be doing it because I want to and because i can.

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    From personal experience, I preferred the feel of my 8 speed drivetrains. I swapped from 8 to 9 on both my cyclocross and mountain bike for various reasons. In the case of the cyclocross bike I was upgrading the levers, and 8 speed units were too difficult to source. I also wanted to avoid 10 speed. The mountian bike was upgraded because I bent my crank, and took the advantage to replace the entire drivetrain. Both the old and new drivetrains (on the MTB) are full XT, except for the chains and the new SRAM PG-990 cassette.

    While I wouldn't say I dislike 9 speed, I don't see any significant advantage or disadvantage other than parts availability. Unfortunately even 9 speed road components are getting scarce...

    As far as chain durability goes, I have snapped a SRAM 9 speed chain (new chain on a new drivetrain). The chain failure resulted crash that trashed the rear wheel and a small blood loss. I swapped to Wipperman 908s on both 9 speed bike and have had good luck (just make sure you install the Connex link right-side up).

    FWIW, my single speed drivetrain has been problem free; I don’t see a need for derailleur or shifter replacement anytime soon.

    9 speed on the cross bike:


    Broken 9 speed SRAM chain on the MTB:


    SRAM PR-990 9 speed cassette:
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    I've been running a 9spd drivetrain since 1999ish. I've not had any problems I could attribute to the one extra gear. This summer, I converted it to a 1x9 and run a 32t up front with an 11-32 in the rear. The 9speed cluster gives me a nice wide range of gears.

    Oh, and until this summer, the crank was the same crank that shipped with the bike when it was an 8spd. The only things I changed were the shifters, cassette, and chain.

    Chris

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    I thought 9 speed had a ring on the cassette that allowed for better climbing on the steeps. Personally, I run 8 speed and one speed on my mtbs.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Steev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dake13
    I thought 9 speed had a ring on the cassette that allowed for better climbing on the steeps. Personally, I run 8 speed and one speed on my mtbs.
    That is entirely dependent on the cassette you choose, it has nothing to do with the number of cogs on the cassette.

  18. #18
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    My 9-spd bike has proven much more finicky and high-maintenance in the drivetrain than my 8-spd bike.

    If I pull the rear wheel to change a flat, it seems I need to readjust the 9-spd derailer. It also has a cranky, so to speak, front derailer. 8-spd drivetrain is bulletproof. I swap out wheels (one set of rims w/ knobbies, one w/ slicks), change cassettes, I am good to go, no other changes needed.

    One thing I haven't seen on the 9-spd, though, is measurably shorter chain life (my variation between chains on each bike is greater than variation between bikes). If 8-spd is truly dodo-ing, I am going to want to start to stockpile parts.

    (everything else is less finicky on the 8-spd bike too, though, brakes, shifters... it could be that I just have a way high-strung 9-spd)

  19. #19
    cab horn
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    I think 8 stuf fhas been decliing for a while now. I remember when 9 speed came out and it was all the ****.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    As far as not understanding why i would want to upgrade my shifters, that's really not important.
    Sorry, I re-read your opening post and realized I had forgotten the first sentence where you said you want to move to 9-speed. So all I had in my head was "Basically it is just because i want to upgrade my shifters so I figure now is the time", which made me wonder what was the problem: shifters getting old and temperamental, great deal on a friend's 9-speed system, lust over XT, etc.? Basically, the suggested solution might depend on the exact problem one wants to correct.

    Evidently, since you want to move to 9-speed, you need 9-speed shifters.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  21. #21
    2wicky
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    might as well upgrade.

    all shifters/casettes are essentially 9sp.

  22. #22
    Lost in the Black Hills mx_599's Avatar
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    i have been running 9 speed higher end Sram GripShift and RDs without problems. on one of my bikes i use only 7-cogs for a 7-speed set-up. they are still 9-speed, i just eliminated 2 cogs. i am building up my Hadley SingleSpeed hub as a 5 speed. should be mint.

  23. #23
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    I'd just stick with the 8 speed unless you really want to spend money: http://www.probikekit.com/display.ph...ed%20Cassettes
    Generally maybe that's true, but I can get a H50 9 speed cassette for exactly the same amount of money.

  24. #24
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by wroomwroomoops
    Generally maybe that's true, but I can get a H50 9 speed cassette for exactly the same amount of money.
    You're forgetting the fact, that he does not already have 9 speed capable everything. I only posted that link to show that 8 speed cassettes are still available.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  25. #25
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by PapaLegba
    might as well upgrade.

    all shifters/casettes are essentially 9sp.

    Please explain. If this were true then he wouldn't need to upgrade anything and this thread is as pointless as debating bike lanes.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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