Join Date: May 2004
Location: Wilmington, DE
Bikes: 2016 Hong Fu FM-079-F, 1984 Trek 660, 2003 Specialized Hardrock, 2004 LOOK KG386i (RIP), 2005 Iron Horse Warrior Expert, 2009 Pedal Force CX1, 2016 Islabikes Beinn 20 (son's)
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
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Quoted: 496 Post(s)
What ways have you heard the 8 speed system was better? I've only heard that the 8 speed chain is beefier and thus less likely to break and the shifters are less complex and thus more robust. If you aren't breaking 9 speed chains, I wouldn't worry about it. You could always go test ride an 8 speed bike at the LBS.
If you really want to try 8 speed on your exact bike, you'd need the chain, cassette, and an 8 speed rear shift lever. You could probably get a 9 speed rear shift lever to shift an 8 speed cassette but any benefit of the 8 speed shifter is lost then.