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  1. #1
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    Whatever happened to 5-speed cassettes?

    Everything is 9 and 10 now for road bikes...and I hear Shimano is going to 11 soon. What gives?
    I don't want to take 5 minutes to run thru my cassette and get repetitive stress injury from all the shifting (joking).
    Is there really any benefit if you aren't a racer?

  2. #2
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    There is no such thing as a 5-speed cassette.
    But there is such a thing as a 5-speed freewheel.
    Different setup/nomonclature.
    The difference between 5 speed vs 11 speed is gear selections/spacing.

  3. #3
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    I mean like the 5-cog cassettes or whatever it is called that one used to see on old "10-speed" bikes.

  4. #4
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    It's very nice to be in a gear that matches the terrain, your ability and your desired speed as closely as possible. Obviously in that regard a ten speed cassette is twice as good as a five speed. It's good stuff.
    2012 Trek 5.2 Madone
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertL View Post
    It's very nice to be in a gear that matches the terrain, your ability and your desired speed as closely as possible. Obviously in that regard a ten speed cassette is twice as good as a five speed. It's good stuff.
    Is it nice to have a gear that matches the terrain? - Yup.
    Is 10-speed obviously twice as good as 5-speed? - Nope.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    Is it nice to have a gear that matches the terrain? - Yup.
    Is 10-speed obviously twice as good as 5-speed? - Nope.
    OK, 10 speeds is 90% better than a 5 speeds

    I started riding and racing in the 5 speed days, and am still racing & riding. I like having the extra gear choices. If I were just riding casually, then fewer would be ok, but I'd still want more than 5, especially for the roads around here. Riding in the flatlands might be different.
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

  7. #7
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Not trying to steal RG's name, but is there any reason you are posting a "question" for every retro grouch stream of conscious thought that crosses your mind?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
    OK, 10 speeds is 90% better than a 5 speeds

    I started riding and racing in the 5 speed days, and am still racing & riding. I like having the extra gear choices. If I were just riding casually, then fewer would be ok, but I'd still want more than 5, especially for the roads around here. Riding in the flatlands might be different.
    The biggest gap with a 9-speed usually comes between the 12 and the 13. They don't make a 12 1/2t cog to fill that.

  9. #9
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    The OP is not a seasoned enough rider to know (by experience) the benefits of a few % gear adjustment versus a 10-14% gear adjustment per jump.


    To LungImSam, imagine that you're keeping pace at 90 rpms in your top chainring and middle cog of a 5-speed freewheel. Say the cluster is 14-28, 14-17-21-24-28. Chainrings are 52 42. So you're 52-21:

    81.0 100.3
    66.7 82.6
    54.0 66.9
    47.3 58.5
    40.5 50.1

    You're running 66 gear inches and are spinning out at say 17 mph. You want to shift up. So it's now 52-17, you've gone to 82 gear inches and you're bogging down by an increase of nearly30% load. What happened?

    Unfortunately in this example, there are TONS of overlap gears due to the case I selected, but you get the picture. You'd need to double shift to find the correct next incremental gear, probably your small chainring and small rear cog.

    I ride a 2 x 6 and the large jumps are frustrating when I want to maintain cadence and smooth out the transitions. If I'm just on a leisurely stroll on the bike, no worries. If I'm riding hard, it's distracting.

    PG
    Last edited by Phil_gretz; 06-20-12 at 09:19 AM.

  10. #10
    Infinite Member ahsposo's Avatar
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    I miss buggy whips, too.

    Oh, and 78 rpm records.
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  11. #11
    Goodbye Leeroy Jenkins tagaproject6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
    Everything is 9 and 10 now for road bikes...and I hear Shimano is going to 11 soon. What gives?
    I don't want to take 5 minutes to run thru my cassette and get repetitive stress injury from all the shifting (joking).
    Is there really any benefit if you aren't a racer?
    Depends on your ability to rationalize.
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  12. #12
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    The old 10 speeds were really 8 speeds 'cause some of the ratios overlapped.

    That said, I ,too, much prefer a 5 speed rear set 'cause they don't dish the wheel (and thus weaken it) as much as the 8,9,10 gear rear sets do.

    Besides what the hell does anyone need more that 5 or 6 gears at the rear for in urban riding anyway???
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
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  13. #13
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Besides what the hell does anyone need more that 5 or 6 gears at the rear for in urban riding anyway???
    Some of us ride hills.

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    I'm with post #7. Read more, think more, your questions are answered.

  15. #15
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    I'm pretty happy with the gear spacing on 6- and 7-speed "touring" clusters (14-16-18-21 rather than 14-17-21). I'll stop there.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    I've got a bike with a 3-speed hub, and another with a 2x5 'half step' setup. You don't need a million gears to get from place to place.

    Replacement 5-speed stuff still exists, but your LBS may give you some funny looks if you ask about it.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  17. #17
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rebel1916 View Post
    Some of us ride hills.
    To be fair, that isn't a question of the number of gears, but of their range. I have an old six-speed 14-32 with 50-36 chainrings. And a road bike with a compact chainset and a 10-speed 12-25 cassette. Guess which one is easier in the steep stuff?

    Increased numbers of sprockets on the back isn't about having harder or easier gears, it's about having closer ratios. And that is a significant advantage, even if one is not racing.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
    Everything is 9 and 10 now for road bikes...and I hear Shimano is going to 11 soon. What gives?
    More cogs let bike companies meet customers' range and spacing desires with fewer SKUs in back and up-front.

    In the 8 speed era Campagnolo sold 12 combinations. With 11 cogs they only need to sell 5 combinations because you no longer need to choose between having one-tooth spacing between the 12 and 19 cogs and having a 25 big cog (which would cost you the 14, 16, and 18 assuming you kept the 12 starting cog, although a 13-26 would return the 15, and 14-26 would get back the 16).

    SRAM gets customers closer to the spacing and range they could have in the 8 speed era with a triple crank and doesn't include those in its line up.

    Is there really any benefit if you aren't a racer?
    Maybe it means you don't want to change gears depending on whether today's ride is in the mountains (where I want a low gear like 42x28, 39x26, 34x23, or 30x21 which are all about the same) or out on the plains (where I want cogs that run 13-14-15-16-17-18-19).

    It probably gets you a more optimal cadence.

    Maybe that's just more pleasant.

    Maybe the reduced fatigue lets you ride hard two days in a row so you burn more calories. Maybe it means you don't need to take the sag wagon on a supported tour.

    More cogs in back with a given spacing (for example, you can now have 11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23 instead of 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19) also mean less shifting with the front derailleur which doesn't work under load and means you're more likely to drop the chain.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 06-20-12 at 06:33 PM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    To be fair, that isn't a question of the number of gears, but of their range. I have an old six-speed 14-32 with 50-36 chainrings. And a road bike with a compact chainset and a 10-speed 12-25 cassette. Guess which one is easier in the steep stuff?

    Increased numbers of sprockets on the back isn't about having harder or easier gears, it's about having closer ratios. And that is a significant advantage, even if one is not racing.
    I know, but I was ridiculously over simplifying in the face of a ridiculous over simplification. And even with a standard crank, I don't ride up every hill in my 23 cog. (yes I am subtly bragging that I ride in the Catskills with a 39-23 as my lowest gear. Oh wait, it's not subtle anymore.)

  20. #20
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Freehubs and Phil Wood Free wheel hubs take care of bent axles.
    but phil can go with a 5 speed Freewheel. even ship it in the 120 wide design,

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
    Everything is 9 and 10 now for road bikes...and I hear Shimano is going to 11 soon. What gives?
    I don't want to take 5 minutes to run thru my cassette and get repetitive stress injury from all the shifting (joking).
    Is there really any benefit if you aren't a racer?
    As someone who is old and fat, I like having all my gears on my mountain bike. I don't need any more on the low end, but would like a little more on the top end when going down hill.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    The old 10 speeds were really 8 speeds 'cause some of the ratios overlapped.

    That said, I ,too, much prefer a 5 speed rear set 'cause they don't dish the wheel (and thus weaken it) as much as the 8,9,10 gear rear sets do.

    Besides what the hell does anyone need more that 5 or 6 gears at the rear for in urban riding anyway???
    Hehehe,....my thought exactly. I'm running 6 in the rear and 3 up front on my Cimarron ('87 Schwinn), and find NO need for more gearing. Fact is the available hill climbing gears will get your legs moving like crazy, yet move you along at a leasurly pace,....but seems like you could almost climb verticle!

    Most of the middle gearing choices move me along as fast as i want or dare to go,... or am able to pull at this point as i'm working up in muscle tone after a few decade long biking hiaitus. The highest gearings i can't pull as of yet, at least not comfortably and maintain.

    One other thing i've noticed is that i don't like to get my chain pulling at a steep crossing angle, say with the smallest inside front sprocket working with the smallest outside rear sprocket, or the reverse of large/large.
    Chains and sprockets don't last as long.

    I find my middle front sprocket handles most of my city rides, and i can work the rear 6 (in the cassette) at a nice and shallow angled chain line. Can't imagine a 10 ring cassette is really needed for most folks, and will end up generally working through the more modest 5 or 6 central rings of the rear cassette to keep a straighter chain line.

    ......one way to know is if you only seem to be wearing out the central gears in the rear,....you may be a candidate for "less" in the rear end. Some weight savings for sure a side benefit, as well as fewer parts to replace over time.

  23. #23
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
    There is no such thing as a 5-speed cassette.
    But there is such a thing as a 5-speed freewheel.
    Different setup/nomonclature.
    The difference between 5 speed vs 11 speed is gear selections/spacing.
    Shimano offered Uniglide cassettes in 5 speed... they are uncommon as they were quickly supplanted by 6 and 7 speed and then in the late 80's Hyperglide freehubs made the UG freehub obsolete because it offered better shifting.

  24. #24
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I like all of my gears and closer steps means smoother shifting and maintaining your cadence is easier... but there is also a plus to running a 5-6 speed on a 126 dropout spacing as you get a stronger wheel with less dish.

    A number of my bicycles run 5, 6, and 7 speeds on 126 spacing with half step gearing which eliminates a lot of duplication but requires that you know how to shift a half step to maximize efficiency.

    I also have 8 and 9 speed bicycles that have a little more gear overlap and a little more dish in the wheels but as higher performance machines this is worth it.

    I also have three 3 speed bicycles with internal hubs and a Pugsley with a 3 by 1 drive that will soon be a 3 by 2.

    They all have their place and purpose but can say that when I am on my road bike with a modern 8 speed set up my travel time from A to B is a little quicker and the 9 speed set up on my XC mountain bike is something I would not want to be without.

  25. #25
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post

    A number of my bicycles run 5, 6, and 7 speeds on 126 spacing with half step gearing which eliminates a lot of duplication but requires that you know how to shift a half step to maximize efficiency.
    Pretty flat where you are, Sixty Fiver. Not many advantages to half-step gearing anywhere one has to climb much...
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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