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  1. #1
    AussieTandem
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    Converting 10 speed Cannondale to 9 speed for touring

    Looking for advice on converting our 10 speed Cannondale road tandem to 9 speed for touring purposes. After 12 months and 10000 kms we are finding the 10 speed unreliable. The gears always seem to need adjusting, the chain never quite sits perfectly on the gear on the first change, etc, etc.

    The research we have already done shows that the 10 speed chain is much more narrow than the 9 speed and that we could likely expect better performance from a 9 speed. We are currently running Shimano Ultegra. If we change the rear cluster to a 9 speed, change the chain to 9 speed, will we then also need to change the shifter to a 9 speed? Is there another option? Any advice appreciated.
    Cheers

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    I have the same problem with a CD T-1.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

  3. #3
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    Seems like a very expensive replacement that new cables and/or a little adjustment would fix. Suggest you try new cables first. We just upgraded to a 10sp shifter on our Cannondale and it works fine.

  4. #4
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    I haven't used these but I am sure someone on here has and could comment on them.
    http://www.precisiontandems.com/shiftmate.htm

  5. #5
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Before you spend all the money on a change I'd look into a new mechanic. The 10speed stuff should work just fine if installed and adjusted properly. I've had the same problems you described with a 9-speed set-up on my old bike. After a lot of pain and anguish it turned out to be an alignment issue. I run 10speed on the new bike and it works just as good on the tandem as it does on the single.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  6. #6
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    I have a 9 speed and a 10 speed tandem.

    I find that if I ride a stretched 9 or 10 speed chain for any distance at all, that to get it to shift like new once again, I will need new chainrings, chain and cassette. Much less forgiving than riding a single. If you switch to a 9 speed you may find that it shifts much better with a new chain and cassette and then to your dismay you will find yourself right back where you started, but with a 9 speed.

    I would put my money in a new cassette, chain and chainrings and leave the shifters alone. Maybe replace the cables and housing.

    Having said that, my Campagnolo 10 speed shifters on my single just blew up and need a rebuild. The repair guide indicated that a telltale sign of wear is that when you have to shift up two and down one to get in the gear and stay there is a sign that your shifter needs a rebuild.

    If you are still set on switching to a 9 speed, if it were Campagnolo you might be able to change a few parts for less than the price of new shifters, but you will need to do some research on that. I don't know about Shimano.

    Sounds like a question for TandemGeek.
    Last edited by reversegear; 02-01-10 at 06:54 PM.

  7. #7
    I'd rather be riding DKMcK's Avatar
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    I have the Ultegra 10 speed on my Cannondale and the shifting is fine. I have a chain checker and replace the chain at the recommended stretch to minimize the wear on the cassette and chainrings, and keep the drive train clean and lubricated. I also stay consistent with manufacturer (Shimano cassette with Shimano chain) even though "they" say you can mix Sram and Shimano. If your chain is really stretched, it can open up the cogs on the cassette and hurt shifting performance. If this is the case you will need to replace both chain and cassette.

    To convert to 9 speed, you will need to change out the right brifter and the cassette. Chain too if it has any wear. Given the cost of all that, I would certainly go with the the above recommendations first (another mechanic, new cable, etc).

    Now, having said all that, you mention touring. You can get bigger cassettes with 9sp (mountain bike cassettes), which gets you into lower gears.

    Good luck and let us know what you end up with.

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Recommendation #1: So, with just over 6,000 miles (10,000 km), how many times have you replaced your chain? As others have noted, before doing anything give the chain, cassette and chain rings a good look-see if you haven't been replacing your chain on a regular basis (2k - 3k miles isn't unusual at all, 1,500 miles can even too much for some chains / teams). How about the derailleur cables and housing? When were those last checked?

    Recommendation #2: Also as others have noted, make sure a good mechanic looks everything over if you're not your own mechanic. The 10 speed should work just fine IF the aforementioned drive train components are in good shape, the derailleur hanger is straight, the derailleur cable housing was installed correctly, the derailleur cable is in good shape and not excessively worn (particularly at the tight bend inside the shifter) and the shifting has been dialed in correctly.

    Recommendation #2: If you have a spare 9 speed cassette and chain laying around and would like to experiment, there is a stupid bike trick that folks have used for many years to spoof Shimano derailleurs & cassettes into working with newer shifters: it's called the 'Alternate B Cable Routing'. Sheldon Brown's website discusses the trick, but a quick Google search also disclosed a thread here at Bike Forums on the same subject that includes links to Sheldon's web page as well as some worthwhile discussions & links to the JTek Shiftmate mentioned above. Again, if you have the cassette you can experiment for Zero Cost. But, bear in mind, if you have made sure that your derailleur cable and housing are in good shape and that your derailleur hanger isn't bent a little out of plum, nothing will fix the sloppy shifting.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 02-01-10 at 08:01 PM. Reason: Forgot to add link.... http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?535447-10-speed-shifters-with-9-speed-cassettes

  9. #9
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    Is anybody using Gore Ride On cables?
    I have heard good and bad things about them.
    Worth the money for a tandem?

  10. #10
    AussieTandem
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    Thanks for the suggestion. We tried a new cable and only get about 2000 kms out of it before the problem starts again. The adjustment is never quite right unfortunately.

  11. #11
    AussieTandem
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    Thanks for these great suggestions. We'll give them all a go. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your view, we are in Australia and tandems are not very common. Therefore, tandem mechanics are virtually unheard of so we are slowly training them and ourselves also! :-)

  12. #12
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evan&sue View Post
    We tried a new cable and only get about 2000 kms out of it before the problem starts again. The adjustment is never quite right unfortunately.
    Now I'm confused. Do you get about 2,000 km of trouble-free shifting before it starts to mis-shift? If so, that's not at all unusual and it should only take a minor (and I do mean minor) twist of the in-line barrel adjuster to tidy up the shifting.

    If the shifting is always a bit flakey, even with the new cable, I'd be more inclined to think the cable housing ends weren't fitted with ferrules, are too long or are otherwise buggered-up and interfering with the smooth movement of the derailleur cable. If the derailleur hanger is even slightly bent shifting will be imprecise and checking the alignment is not unique to tandems; it's something every good shop should be able to do.

    Lastly, I'd still be interested to hear back on my questions from Recommendation #1: how well-maintained is the chain, other drive train components and when was the last time you replaced the cable housings?

  13. #13
    AussieTandem
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    Thanks for your reply. Sorry for the delay. Let us try and explain. Yes, we agree that it should be a minor adjustment but, one would think this adjustment should not have to occur every second day after the 2000km mark. One would think an adjustment would last a little longer. The hanger was checked and realigned early in its lifetime. Can the alignment change over time from wear?

    The theory here in Australia is that you should be able to get 8000kms from your chain and cassette which are the parameters we have been working within. Since your advice, we are trying to find a new cassette (more difficult than you can imagine) and new chain. We don't have any experience with cable ferrules, length or other to even know where to start looking. If you can give us any more detail here that would be appreciated. It is also quite possible that the cables we are using are inferior bearing in mind we get very little tandem gear in Australia.

    Tandems are not very common here so often we are working on our own. Your advice is very helpful and very much appreciated. We are heading to Europe in July for 6 weeks on the tandem and would really like to resolve this issue before we go. We have replaced the derailleur cable when we got so frustrated with the changing that we had to do something. This definitely helped but again, only for a short period of time when we needed to constantly adjust the barrel again.

    The cassette is an IRD 11-32 Shimano compatible, 10 speed, not available in Australia. We can get it from the USA but at a cost of $200 plus $75 for freight! Albeit a little expensive. We will be in New York in early March and are trying to locate a bike shop that will be able to provide the cassette for us. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    Many thanks
    Sue & Evan

  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evan&sue View Post
    The hanger was checked and realigned early in its lifetime. Can the alignment change over time from wear?
    All it takes is a bad knock against the derailleur, such as from the tandem falliing over on its right side or the like. However, in light of the other info you've shared, I don't think that's the problem: you're trying to get too many miles out of your drive chain.

    Quote Originally Posted by evan&sue View Post
    The theory here in Australia is that you should be able to get 8000kms from your chain and cassette which are the parameters we have been working within
    That sounds like even a tough benchmark for a single bike ridden hard by an average size cyclist. Cut it in half for a tandem and it will be a bit more accurate unless where you ride is dead flat and you and your stoker don't weigh much more than 250 lbs. Seriously, the only way to know when your chain needs to be replaced is by checking it for wear every few hundred miles (see below).

    Quote Originally Posted by evan&sue View Post
    We don't have any experience with cable ferrules, length or other to even know where to start looking.
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cables.html


    Quote Originally Posted by evan&sue View Post
    It is also quite possible that the cables we are using are inferior bearing in mind we get very little tandem gear in Australia.
    You might consider getting cable splitters, as they allow you to use two regular length derailleur (and brake) cables instead of searching out a tandem-length cable. Just for reference purposes: http://www.sandsmachine.com/ac_cable.htm

    Quote Originally Posted by evan&sue View Post
    The cassette is an IRD 11-32 Shimano compatible, 10 speed, not available in Australia.
    Perhaps the strongest argument for running 9 speed would be lower-cost for cassettes, as 9 speed LX and XT cassettes or house-branded models from places like Nasbar Bike are readily available and much less expensive. Of course, if you change your drive chain when it stretches past 1/16" your cassettes and chain rings will last much longer. It's the chain's enlogation and change in pitch that causes wear on the cassette cog and chain ring teeth. So, if you don't let the chain stretch too far, it doesn't wear down the teeth: pretty straight forward.

    Measuring Chain Stretch: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-chain-stretch
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 02-08-10 at 05:13 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by evan&sue View Post

    The cassette is an IRD 11-32 Shimano compatible, 10 speed, not available in Australia. We can get it from the USA but at a cost of $200 plus $75 for freight! Albeit a little expensive. We will be in New York in early March and are trying to locate a bike shop that will be able to provide the cassette for us. Any suggestions would be welcome.
    I agree that it is probably a wear problem. However, a lot of people seem to have problems with the 11-32 and the 11-34 IRD cassette. . (Although, we don't have problems with the 12-30 version.) My theory is that in the wider range cassettes there are some very large jumps that cause the problems. Could you substitute a Shimano for awhile and see if you have the same problems?
    Last edited by rmac; 02-08-10 at 07:11 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    If you're going to be in New York in March why not shop online and have some parts shipped to your hotel? US freight is pretty inexpensive and you'll save a good deal of money versus walking into a bike shop. If you're bringing your tandem that's a different matter, but sounds like March is a bike-less trip.

    If your LBS in Australia is otherwise competent and you're a good customer he should be willing to take some time to learn a bit about tandems. It's not rocket science for a good bike wrench.
    Rick T
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  17. #17
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    Some good points above.
    1) 10 speed if installed properly works fine. It should not require excessive re-adjustment. A cable tweak after the first few long rides is all mine ever needs. Shimano and others spend $$$$ millions so that their equipment works. In 99% of cases it's the installation not the equipment.

    2) Cables don't need to be expensive. Just installed properly. First get the length as short as possible without over-tight bends. Cut only 1/2cm off as it's easy to make them too short. Cable cutters are a must, but then you also need to use a dremel or grinding wheel to get the ends to 90 degrees and install ferrules as needed. Then spend time to ensure the inner liner is not squashed / melted. Then thread the inner, cut with cable cutters and add an end cap. Then any cable will be A1. No need for expensive exotica.

    3) Need to ensure the derailleur hanger and derailleur are in line, not bent etc. A decent bike shop will have a proper derailler alignment stick, which sets the hanger relative to the wheel. Most commonly derailleurs are bent inwards from dropping the bike or transporting it badly. A poor shop uses a wrench, which you can do youself if needed. Just make sure the wheel is tightly in the bike when setting. Similarly check the RD pivots freely when chain off.

    4) Cable tension, end point adjustments, upper jockey wheel spacing and chain length also affect shifting. My favourite method to put the RD on the frame with a wheel installed and no chain. Then use the following steps.
    a) Back out the spacing screw as far as it will go (mostly it's too far in, but in general not critical either way)
    b) Set the lower end screw so that the jockey wheels are exactly in line with top gear, the 11 sprocket.
    c) Wire up the derailleur to the shifter set in top gear
    d) Shift up one gear. Add/subtract tension until the derailleur lines up with the 12 sprocket.
    e) Check the derailleur moves one sprocket per click and still lines up in each gear. If it doesn't, repeat steps b and d until it does. Generally the trick is that as soon as the shifter starts to pull cable, the RD needs to start moving, i.e. no slack at the start of the RD movement.
    f) Add the chain. To shift perfectly you should only need to add / subtract 1/2 turn on the cable tension (due to float in the upper jockey wheel). Just fine tune while riding so that the chain climbs the block promptly without rubbing when in gear.

    Easy with practice!


    4) Not really sure why you want / need IRD cassettes. I have heard these can be problematic. Not sure why, they just can! Given they are very expensive I would personally go for an Ultegra road 11-28 cassette and use the inner ring a little more. Over the long term this will also be much cheaper. Also you could try using a 105 or Ultegra cassette to check shifting works correctly. Then try the IRD again.

    Final point - there are numerous sources on the web, plus many helpful people out there. You need to learn this stuff as it pays back very very quickly. Also you can take the time to do things properly. Unfortunately bike shops here are not staffed by competent, detail oriented people, and are rushed to do as much as possible in as little time as possible as the pay is rubbish. Thus most bikes I see are 'within tolerance' rather than perfectly adjusted. Thus DIY is the only route if you really want things to be right.

    If you need help, choose someone whose bike is always clean and always works perfectly and ask them, rather than the person who is always adjusting things or takes spanners on rides because his bike is unreliable.

  18. #18
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    Get rid of the IRD cassette

    I had similar problems with my Cannondale. I thought about switching to 9-speed as well. Instead I switched to an Ultegra cassette and a 24 tooth Granny gear. Ever since I removed the IRD, the tandem shifts like butter. I also run an XT Shadow derailleur. Could not be happier. Best of luck.
    08 Cannondale Road Tandem 2 (ours)
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  19. #19
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    Obviously many have issues with the IRD cassettes.

    While I have as well, we busted the spiders for two of the gears at about 180 kilometers on a 400k ride. Finished, but not having all the gears did not make for happy shifting.

    On the other hand, I have found that with proper chain maintenance, etc. they seem to work well enough. It might be that the IRD cassettes wear faster than others, particularly under a tandem load.

  20. #20
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    I bought cheap $5 mountain bike friction shifters from NIagara cycle, replacing my ultegra 10 sp shifters. They work well and require less adjustment. Easyier to change wheels/clusters etc. I hessitate to throw money at a problem I don't understand. $5 and all my problems were solved.

  21. #21
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    I don't have a 10 spd, but my 9 spd daVinci has required no RD adjustment through four different cassettes: 11-32, 12-27, 13-30 and (finally) 11-34. Not a completely standard setup with Campy shifters and a modified SRAM X9 RD, but shifting has been flawless. What about a 10 spd (tolerances a bit tighter) would make things much different?
    Rick T
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