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Old 05-18-09, 05:37 AM   #1
damnable
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Drivechain compatibilities

Hi there,

Search isn't giving me any love do I'm posting here even though I have a feeling this has been done to death before or hopefully nicely explained on a website somewhere.

So basically I have been offered a bike from a friend to get me into road cycling. It's an older frame with a two year old ultegra groupset that is well used and have been told parts may need replacing soon, particularly the right shifter. It's currently a 9 speed, regular double set up.

I plan on using this set up until it starts to fail but in the meantime I'd like to keep an eye out for some good deals on replacement parts as it's still cheaper than a new bike. But if I wanted to change something how do it know if it is compatible with the rest of the gear?

For example, the main points I am considering are switching the rear cassette to 10 speed and possibly the front cassette to a compact double or perhaps triple. I know changing the front chainrings will require more changes, but exactly what I am not sure or if it has to be replaced with the same range (eg. ultegra).

Is there any guide or rule of thumb as to what parts or what style parts fit with what?
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Old 05-18-09, 06:41 AM   #2
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A lot of your questions are way too vague; the answers would need to be far too complex to cover all possible combinations of parts. You are better sticking to more specific questions to get better answers. Therefore, here are a couple of responses to some of your slightly more specific questions.

Changing the rear cassette to 10-speed will require you to change the cassette, chain, and right-hand shifter, which normally makes it quite expensive. The brand (e.g., Shimano) of the shifter and rear derailleur normally have to match but the model (e.g., Ultegra) normally doesn't matter, but there are many exceptions to this. Shimano and SRAM cassettes and chains are interchangeable, as are KMC chains, it is only the number of speeds on the cassette and chain that you have to match.

Changing the front crankset to a compact instead of your standard double shouldn't require any changes to the rest of the drivetrain, except that you'll probably need to also change the bottom bracket. The brand of the new crankset shouldn't matter, unless you're re-using the old bottom bracket, and then it might - there are a lot of variations.

Changing the front crankset to a triple instead of a double will also probably require changing the bottom bracket. If you have Ultegra 6500 STI brifters, then these should be able to handle a triple crankset (if it's 6600 then you'll need a new left shifter). However, you will need to change your front derailleur and possibly also your rear derailleur. Remember, derailleur brand should match shifter brand, in general.

Last edited by Chris_W; 05-18-09 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 05-18-09, 06:53 AM   #3
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What do you have against 9 speed? I'm still riding and racing 9 speed drivetrains. I'd stick with that set up. If and when you need a new shifter (odd to need one so soon unless a wreck), you can always snag one off eBay cheap. A cheaper option than changing out the crank would be to get a larger range cassette. Not sure what you have now but if it's a 23 go up to a 25.
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Old 05-29-09, 09:08 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
A lot of your questions are way too vague; the answers would need to be far too complex to cover all possible combinations of parts. You are better sticking to more specific questions to get better answers. Therefore, here are a couple of responses to some of your slightly more specific questions.

Changing the rear cassette to 10-speed will require you to change the cassette, chain, and right-hand shifter, which normally makes it quite expensive. The brand (e.g., Shimano) of the shifter and rear derailleur normally have to match but the model (e.g., Ultegra) normally doesn't matter, but there are many exceptions to this. Shimano and SRAM cassettes and chains are interchangeable, as are KMC chains, it is only the number of speeds on the cassette and chain that you have to match.

Changing the front crankset to a compact instead of your standard double shouldn't require any changes to the rest of the drivetrain, except that you'll probably need to also change the bottom bracket. The brand of the new crankset shouldn't matter, unless you're re-using the old bottom bracket, and then it might - there are a lot of variations.

Changing the front crankset to a triple instead of a double will also probably require changing the bottom bracket. If you have Ultegra 6500 STI brifters, then these should be able to handle a triple crankset (if it's 6600 then you'll need a new left shifter). However, you will need to change your front derailleur and possibly also your rear derailleur. Remember, derailleur brand should match shifter brand, in general.
Thanks, that actually answers a lot of questions.

One thing I have come across in my vague looking is that some cranksets (both double and triple), front shifters and derailleurs for that matter are advertised as '10-speed'. Are these front components really only compatible with 10 speed rear components? If so, then why?

Also, is there anyway to tell whether I have Ultegra 6500 or 6600 brifters? Or other components for that matter?
I was under the impression that Ultregra 6600 parts = 10 speed
And 6500 parts = 9 speed
But I can't actually find any info on the brifters themselves.
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Old 05-29-09, 09:19 PM   #5
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I was under the impression that Ultregra 6600 parts = 10 speed
And 6500 parts = 9 speed
But I can't actually find any info on the brifters themselves.
Shimano stamps/imprints the part # on components. Check the backside of the lever.
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Old 05-29-09, 10:15 PM   #6
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Shimano stamps/imprints the part # on components. Check the backside of the lever.
Hmm the only printing on the lever (other than 'Ultegra' on the front) is indeed on the back. It says 21 F. Not sure what that tells me though. The rest of the Ultegra parts I find markings on are all 6500 though.

Last edited by damnable; 05-29-09 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 05-30-09, 09:17 AM   #7
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Every part on a bike works with every other part.

Just assume that every time you upgrade a part you'll also have to change something else to make it work. Once in a while you'll be wrong and it'll come as a happy surprise.
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Old 05-30-09, 09:42 AM   #8
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Hmm the only printing on the lever (other than 'Ultegra' on the front) is indeed on the back. It says 21 F. Not sure what that tells me though. The rest of the Ultegra parts I find markings on are all 6500 though.
Oops, sorry. The part # is molded onto the side of the lever body. Roll the brake hood away from the bar to see it. It'll be on the outer side, and there may be a bit of bar tape partially or fully concealing it.
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Old 05-30-09, 08:56 PM   #9
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FYI, 9-speed Ultegra shifters will work with either a double or a triple crankset. 10-speed Ultegra shifters are specific to either double or triple, although a 10-speed triple shifter would probably work with a double crankset, but not the other way around.

The best time to upgrade to 10-speed is when the old shifters are totally worn out because the shifters are the most expensive and most difficult to replace.

You may find that the old 9-speed shifters will work fine if you flush them out with WD40 and replace the cables and cable housings.

Al
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Old 05-30-09, 10:48 PM   #10
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Or you could just convert it to a single speed and ditch all that shifting junk. Single speeds are lighter, leaner, cleaner.....and don't have compatibility issues!
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