Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: A Latvian in Seattle
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Hope you wife recovers quickly!
Personally, I've found that there is a big improvement in going from 7-speed to 8-speed because you can run a full-range 11t-32t cassette without big gear-to-gear jumps. Going from 8 to 9 speeds doesn't make a big perceived difference, and 9-speed stuff is just more finicky because of the narrower tolerances.
Remember, too, that both 8- and 9-speed left shifters are the same, since they are just shifting the same front derailleur.
I like my SRAM Attack 8-speed gripshifter set.