Iím seeking advice on a new cassette for my road/touring/bike-path bike. My current 7-speed 11-27 cassette doesnít give me a low enough gear now that Iím an old man and doing some light touring. Iíve ordered a new, longer range rear derailleur that will handle up to a 34-tooth low gear Deore SGS RD-M591, since my current derailleur is about maxed out with the existing 27 low gear. I am changing to Vuelta Tourist wheelset, which the manufacturer says accepts 7,8,9 and 10 speed Shimano cassettes. This is a 1970s frame with downtube friction shifters, so I donít need to worry about indexing compatibility, etc. When I first converted to 700c wheels, the wheelset I bought came with a 7-speed 11-27 cassette, and the shifting has been just fine Ė although the 27 isnít low enough for some of the hills I frequently ride. I will be replacing my chain with whatever chain is recommended for the cassette I buy. Iím using the stock road double chainwheels of 39 & 53 and I donít want to bother with changing to a triple or a compact double.
So, the question is, since Iím not racing, and since all Iím seeking to achieve is a really low climbing gear, and since I donít demand all the gear options of a 10-speed cassette, if I find a 7 speed with a 32 or 34 low gear, should I go with that, or hunt around for an 8, 9, or 10 speed cassette with a 32 or 34 low gear? And is the quality difference between a $50 cassette and a $250 cassette of much importance to an aging recreational cyclist who rides only about 100 miles/week? Will my downtube friction shifters have enough precision to handle the tight spacing of a cassette with more than 7 cogs?
Any recommendations on a Shimano cassette with 32 or 34 on the low gear?