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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-13-12, 07:23 PM   #1
Jeff Pedals
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Shimano Ultegra 11-28 to a 12-30 how much of a difference will it make?

My new bike has ultegra 11-28 cassette, I had heard all along that I would not miss my tripple front chain rings that i had on my old bike as the double compact would hit the same area's in general. I had a 26 tooth cassette on the old bike & it was good enough for me on hills as I have done the Hilly Hundred twice with it & made it up all those hills each time without walking.

Well today I attempted one of my hill climbing interval sessions on the new bike & I completed the task but it left me knowing I'm in need of another higher gear or two as it was way more tough on me to pull it off this time, in fact i was not sure I was going to be able to make the 10 climbs but I mashed it out & completed them.

My question is: how much of a difference am I'm going to feel switching out the rear cassette for the new 12-30 vs the 11-28... what are the pro's & con's. I like to do hill repeats but on this steeper longer one that I sometimes visit, I remain seated most all of the time as it's around a half mile to the top & remember I'm not a light weight person, (I'm a lower level clydesdale on a good day, so i sit & spin to save energy most off the time) with the 11-28 I'm in the easiest gear practically all the way up & my cadence ends up not being where i would like it to be & it's feeling to hard, I feel i need atleast 1-2 more easier gears than the 11-28 gives me so i can settle in & spin it out to the top.

Last edited by Jeff Pedals; 08-13-12 at 07:34 PM.
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Old 08-13-12, 07:55 PM   #2
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What do you have on the front, Jeff? Compact or Standard?

I'm running the Ultegra 12-30 on both my compact Dura-Ace bike and Ultegra triple bike. I really like it. Don't need to use that 30 sprocket all that often, but just having it there gives me assurance that I can get up just about anything. The major disadvantages, I've been told, are that you lose the 11T on the bottom end so your top-end speed will suffer a bit. Me? I'm at an age where bombing 45-50 mph down a steep hill is not as thrilling as it was in my youth. As I hit my 60's, I started being aware of my mortality and try to avoid tempting fate and the results of a high speed crash. Also, there are larger gaps between the sprockets. Me again? I'm not a racer, so having a tight gear ratio isn't all that important to me. When I'm in those larger sprockets, I'm moving so slow that being tight is of no consequence.

I guess the other disadvantage is that they are difficult to find. I lucked out on my two. When I went into my favorite LBS one day, I asked about them. Of course, nobody believes that they are even made, but I showed the Shimano spec sheet that is freely available on the manufacture web site, and its existence couldn't be denied. One of the owner's suppliers was in the shop at the time and checked his computer to see if he had any. Sure enough. The owner ordered two, one for me and one for stock. When I picked it up, I purchased the other one too for my other wheelset.

For me, and my compact double, the 11-28 I used to have was good up to about a sustained 10% grade and shorter grades a few degrees more. I feel the 12-30 is good, (while seated), up to about a sustained 13-14% hill. On my triple I wouldn't hesitate to tackle 15-16% grades.

Oh, one last disadvantage ... your RD has to be able to handle a 30T. No problem with the Ultegra triple RD. That has a long cage. Also, no problem with my Dura-Ace RD, which only comes in mid-cage. I had to play with the limit screws a bit on the D/A, nothing needed to be done on the triple.

One last thing ... if you really want to keep an 11T, it is easy enough to purchase the sprocket and lock ring from a LBS that is willing to order parts. I did that on a cassette that I ran on my D/A, (before getting the 12-30). I had an 11-27 and really missed the 16T on that cassette. I had a LBS order a new 12T lock ring and a 16T sprocket. Rebuild the cassette with what I wanted and rode happily into the sunset.

Good luck. I'm a believer in that new Ultegra 12-30. Tech docs say it can't be done, but I've had no problems. (Tiagra makes a 12-30, but as you know, the quality is not the same as the Ultegra line.
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Old 08-13-12, 07:58 PM   #3
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Very recently I went from a 11-23 to an 11-28 and it made a HUGE difference, much more than I even expected it to.. 15%ish difference?

but a 28 to a 30 is what? 5-6%?
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Old 08-13-12, 08:13 PM   #4
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Bike has - FSA Team Issue Compact, 50/34T ...... & Shimano Ultegra SS short cage..... 1 or at the most 2 easier gears than I have seems like it might be enough to get me to feel like it did on my old bike..just stinks that I may need another derailer to make that happen

Last edited by Jeff Pedals; 08-13-12 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 08-13-12, 10:44 PM   #5
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i have one. I used it on two total climbs now. I suppose I like knowing its there, and I also suppose if I used it more I wouldnt be so tired on long climbs, but I feel as though I go too slow now on clmbs, so I make EVERY effort to stay in my 28 rear.

I am not sure where most people seem to ride with all the post I see on here about double digit grades all the time. I have now ridden every single pass into lake tahoe out of carson valley or any other road that goes in, and have yet to see a posted grade sign over 9% I just did a posted 6 miles 6% climb and never once felt like I needed to switch into my 30. On the other hand, when I got to another climb where it was posted 9% I STRONGLY considered it.

I can say I dont think it makes night and day difference, but hey, when your hurting, every little bit helps.

I also ordered mine from my lbs and had it in 3 days...not sure if they had any difficulty finding it or not.
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Old 08-14-12, 08:30 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jeff Pedals View Post
Bike has - FSA Team Issue Compact, 50/34T ...... & Shimano Ultegra SS short cage..... 1 or at the most 2 easier gears than I have seems like it might be enough to get me to feel like it did on my old bike..just stinks that I may need another derailer to make that happen
You'll need an Ultegra GS RD, (long cage). So, in addition to a C note for the cassette, you have to pay about $80 for a RD-6700-GS ... and maybe even have to get a new, (i.e., longer), chain, (~$40-45). You're looking at $220-$250, not including installation labor and adjustments. You might just want to ride with the 11-28 for awhile to see how you do.
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Old 08-14-12, 01:58 PM   #7
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Okay, so on a semi-related question. . .
(Probably could do some online gear calculator thing but when it comes to math I'm slower than when I try to go uphill. . .)
All things being equal, do you gain more of a climbing advantage by going down on the front (chain rings) or the back (cogs)? For instance, my Schwinn has 52/42 rings on the front. (The 42 small ring is quite an adventure) On the back I have a 6 speed 13-26.
So, just mathematically, if I drop from say 42 to 40 teeth on the front, will that make more or less difference than if I went from 26 to 28 on the back? Is going from 42/26 to either 40/26 or 42/28 any different?
(If someone wants to attempt an explanation of how to use a gear calculator and what the values mean I would be appreciative. No guarantee I will understand it, but I would be appreciative.)

Just as an aside, I am about to order a new Velo Orange 46/30 front crank. That SHOULD help!
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Old 08-14-12, 02:25 PM   #8
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Okay, so on a semi-related question. . .
(Probably could do some online gear calculator thing but when it comes to math I'm slower than when I try to go uphill. . .)
All things being equal, do you gain more of a climbing advantage by going down on the front (chain rings) or the back (cogs)? For instance, my Schwinn has 52/42 rings on the front. (The 42 small ring is quite an adventure) On the back I have a 6 speed 13-26.
So, just mathematically, if I drop from say 42 to 40 teeth on the front, will that make more or less difference than if I went from 26 to 28 on the back? Is going from 42/26 to either 40/26 or 42/28 any different?
(If someone wants to attempt an explanation of how to use a gear calculator and what the values mean I would be appreciative. No guarantee I will understand it, but I would be appreciative.)

Just as an aside, I am about to order a new Velo Orange 46/30 front crank. That SHOULD help!
It is just simple division. Especially if we are talking about the same bike.
42/26=1.615
40/26=1.538
42/28=1.5
The smaller the number in your answer the easier the gear.
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Old 08-14-12, 04:22 PM   #9
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So looking at this simple mathematical explanation, it appears to my untrained eye that for the same reduction in number of teeth, the bigger (albeit slight) impact is made by going smaller on the rear cogs as opposed to the chainring.

Last edited by DTSCDS; 08-14-12 at 11:44 PM. Reason: clearing up mental moment
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Old 08-14-12, 05:49 PM   #10
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You'll need an Ultegra GS RD, (long cage). So, in addition to a C note for the cassette, you have to pay about $80 for a RD-6700-GS ... and maybe even have to get a new, (i.e., longer), chain, (~$40-45). You're looking at $220-$250, not including installation labor and adjustments. You might just want to ride with the 11-28 for awhile to see how you do.
So, a Shimano Ultegra 6700A GS Mid Cage Rear Derailleur won't work? was looking online & found one & in the description, I thought it told me that a 11-30 would work.. or a 30 tooth cog maximum.
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Old 08-15-12, 02:46 PM   #11
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I ride with a 12-32 50/34 SRAM setup. There are times I kinda wish I had an 11T cog on the rear, but only when I'm flying downhill at 30+ MPH. I almost never use the 34/32 combo - so far, only going up long hills at the end of 100mi+ rides.
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Old 08-15-12, 04:29 PM   #12
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So, a Shimano Ultegra 6700A GS Mid Cage Rear Derailleur won't work? was looking online & found one & in the description, I thought it told me that a 11-30 would work.. or a 30 tooth cog maximum.
Sorry. I guess I didn't communicate clearly. A RD-6700-GS will work. The RD-6700-SS will not. The Shimano tech docs list the SS as "Short Cage" and the GS as "Long Cage". No "Mid Cage" terminology in their tech docs. You can find the RD-6700 PDF formatted tech docs at:

Shimano, North America RD-6700 product page

The linked tech docs list a 28T maximum for both the SS and GS. However, as I stated previously, I've been using the Ultegra 12-30 with a RD-6700-GS and a RD-7900 just fine for the past several months.

- - - -

Oops. I'm not sure what a RD-6700A-GS is. Never seen that "A" nomenclature before.

- - - -

Oops again. I plugged in "6700A GS" into my browser Google search window, and looked at a few of the hits. You are correct in that the vendors call it "mid cage", but it is really a "long cage". Several of the sites also say it is for a triple. The "GS" is the important thing ... you don't want a "SS". Yes, it will work fine with the 12-30.
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Last edited by volosong; 08-15-12 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 08-15-12, 04:50 PM   #13
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I'm getting to old, crotchety and impatient to read all the replies, so if someone has already said this... sorry.

The way to get lower gears on your bike is to swap the rd to an ultegra long cage, and swap in an 12 - 32, or 12 - 34 touring cassette. They make them in 10 speed now.

And as for me being able to use a compact... phwaaaaaaach. I live on the middle ring of my triple, using the small ring on most hills. I could take the big ring off, and call that a compact. 48 - 38 - 28 chain rings become 38 - 28. Now that's a concept.
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Old 08-15-12, 05:47 PM   #14
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If your experience morrors mine, you'll notice the loss of the 11t more than you'll notice the addition of the 30t.
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Old 08-15-12, 08:26 PM   #15
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And as for me being able to use a compact... phwaaaaaaach. I live on the middle ring of my triple, using the small ring on most hills. I could take the big ring off, and call that a compact. 48 - 38 - 28 chain rings become 38 - 28. Now that's a concept.
I've thought the same thing on my hybrid go anywhere bike. I might as well toss the big ring. Heck, give me an even easier gear.
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Old 08-15-12, 09:01 PM   #16
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I sincerely doubt you'll feel a noticeable difference between 28t and 30t. That's only a 7% difference and not worth it imo. You'd be going from 32 to 30 gear inches:

http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=3...5&UF=2099&SL=2


Unfortunately any gearing solution you pick is going to hurt you in the pocketbook. I'd recommend a triple crank first:

http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=3...5&UF=2099&SL=2

But that's only 4 gear inches lower, so it'll hardly be worth the cost. In which case I it might make sense to put a custom granny on, say a 26t:

http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=2...5&UF=2099&SL=2

Now you're looking at 2 full gears lower than your old setup, while maintaining a tight cassette.


The other option of course is replace the rear cassette and derailleur with a long cage and a mountain cassette:

http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=3...5&UF=2099&SL=2

That'll give you about 1 and a half lower gears without having to change the crank.
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Old 08-17-12, 05:09 PM   #17
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According to a shimano rep which was contacted thru one of my lbs's.....the newest offering of the 6700A ultega midcage/long cage rear derailleur will work with a sram 11-32 cassette as the rep himself is running this setup so he told my lbs & it is working fine he said. I guess Shimano's tec doc's do not show that this is possible but it clealy must be.

I rode a friends bike today that has sram group with the 1070 11-32 cassette....we rode up the same hill that I have been hill training on recently, he rode my bike- I rode his. I think the difference is definately noticable & worth it to me. My friend verified that he would not want to ride my 11-28 cassette verses his own cassette if alot of hills were on the menu. From this test, (we clmbed the hill twice on each others bikes & then we switched back to our own for an additional climb up) I think the 11-32 will be enough of a jump to make me feel much better...of course it don't make it super duper easy..climbing hills isen't suppoed to be really but I know from that short test that it will have me feeling pretty close to the way I used to feel on my old bike...maybe not exactly, but close enough to manage hill repeats in the seated position like i most times do them on that hill in question (it's .4 miles in length).

Last edited by Jeff Pedals; 08-17-12 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 03-27-14, 09:52 PM   #18
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I'm glad it worked out jeff.

I've felt that road bike gearing has been too high ever since I've been involved with the sport (late 80's). Almost laughably so. For example, my first 'nice' road bike was 53/42 + 13-23, and a lot of road bikes at the time were spec'ed with a 21 'low' gear. I lived and rode in a very hill area, and a 42/23 was sufficient, but it just seemed 'wrong' to have a 42/21 or 42/23 as a low gear for bikes that would be ridden by recreational riders like myself.

I feel like most riders in the US should have something closer to a 30/30 low gear or even a 30/32 or 30/34. The average man in the US weighs just under 200 lbs, and since most road cyclists who buy nicer bikes are not in their teens or 20's, this makes low gearing doubly important. I'm looking for a new bike now, and I would like a 30/30 low if possible.

It's perplexing that road bike manuf. have taken so long to accommodate to the US cycling market. Higher head tubes, stems with any amount of rise and lower gearing have been slow to arrive on the road bike scene. It's been a bad match for several decades.

Even after the enormous popularity of mtn bikes, road manuf still took a long time before developing more upright riding, more comfortable bikes.
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Old 03-27-14, 10:16 PM   #19
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the 6700a-ss short will accomidate the ultegra 12-30 cassette as that is what i run. i am an uber climb and find the 30 tooth to be very helpful over my previous 28
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Old 03-28-14, 12:15 AM   #20
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zombie thread. Just say no.
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Old 03-28-14, 09:12 AM   #21
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zombie thread. Just say no.
Coming from the man who just put a 32 on his bike.
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Old 03-28-14, 09:14 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
I sincerely doubt you'll feel a noticeable difference between 28t and 30t. That's only a 7% difference and not worth it imo. You'd be going from 32 to 30 gear inches:

http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=3...5&UF=2099&SL=2


Unfortunately any gearing solution you pick is going to hurt you in the pocketbook. I'd recommend a triple crank first:

http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=3...5&UF=2099&SL=2

But that's only 4 gear inches lower, so it'll hardly be worth the cost. In which case I it might make sense to put a custom granny on, say a 26t:

http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=2...5&UF=2099&SL=2

Now you're looking at 2 full gears lower than your old setup, while maintaining a tight cassette.


The other option of course is replace the rear cassette and derailleur with a long cage and a mountain cassette:

http://www.gear-calculator.com/#KB=3...5&UF=2099&SL=2

That'll give you about 1 and a half lower gears without having to change the crank.


Why wouldn't you notice a 7% difference or 2 teeth? You don't notice when you shift from 19 to 21? Or if that's the case then why would you notice the change from 12 to 11?
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Old 03-28-14, 09:47 AM   #23
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Coming from the man who just put a 32 on his bike.
I meant "no posting in a zombie thread" not "no 32 tooth cassettes."

Tell me you weren't jealous as I was easily spinning up the mountain. C'mon, fess up. I wasn't even using it until we got to that blasted ski lift hill anyway and then i wished I had a 42.
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Old 03-28-14, 10:37 AM   #24
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I meant "no posting in a zombie thread" not "no 32 tooth cassettes."

Tell me you weren't jealous as I was easily spinning up the mountain. C'mon, fess up. I wasn't even using it until we got to that blasted ski lift hill anyway and then i wished I had a 42.
I was totally jealous. I would have used a 30 on the whole mountain if I had one. I was jealous enough that I started pricing what it would take to make the swap.

1) Cassette $89
2) Derailleur $100
3) Chain $45

ah screw it...

4) New bike to hang all this stuff on $2500
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Old 03-28-14, 10:40 AM   #25
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I was totally jealous. I would have used a 30 on the whole mountain if I had one. I was jealous enough that I started pricing what it would take to make the swap.

1) Cassette $89
2) Derailleur $100
3) Chain $45

ah screw it...

4) New bike to hang all this stuff on $2500
You shouldn't need a new RD for a 30 and chains are disposable - my last ultegra chain cost me $26 at chainlove or nashbar or something like that. keep your eyes peeled. Oh, and I recently saw a 105 cassette for about half that too.

Aaaaand the jump to "I need a climbing bike". Makes sense to me.
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