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  1. #1
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    8 versus 9 speed for touring

    I was hoping to hear some opinions on 8 versus 9 speed for a touring bike. I am seriously considering having a touring bike built and the LBS has recommended that an 8 speed shifter is best. Their rational is that the thinner chain for a 9 speed is subject to stretching. I have never read about this concern. When I look at the trek 520 or the Cannondales I see that they are 9 speed.

    Anyway I would be interested in hear some opinions. I am aiming to have a bike with a range of approx 20 to 100 gear inches and my feeling is that the additional increments in the lower range would be beneficial. The area that I ride has a lot of hills and unfortunaltely my knees are not getting any younger.

    Thank for your opinions

  2. #2
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Eight speed parts are much cheaper and slightly more durable. For the most part 8 and 9 speed components are interchangeable so if you need to make a field replacement at a shop that only has one or the other, you can get by.

    The advantage of nine speed is that you can have your gearing a bit closer spaced which allows you to keep a more consistent cadence.

    I run 8.

  3. #3
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    All my bikes are 7-speed so 8 would be a luxury. I think 8-speed is a good compromise of strength and versatility, and with 24-36-48 in the front and a "P" cassette (12-32) in the back you are all set with 20 to 108 GI. That ought to cover all the bases and the gaps aren't too wide between gears.
    Last edited by mtnroads; 03-10-06 at 09:12 PM.
    Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc, Cannondale T2000 (touring), Stumpjumper M5 (Mtn - hardtail), Cannondale Rize4 (Mtn - full susp)

  4. #4
    this bike is an aqueduct Matthew A Brown's Avatar
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    8 is fine. Just get a biggish cassette, at least up around a 30 if yr doing loaded stuff.
    Villin custom touring | Raleigh XXIX | Medici Pro Pista | 1978 Schwinn Stingray

  5. #5
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    It's unanimous.

    9 and 10-speed use narrower components and are possibly not as rugged. But they're bling, so the new bikes use 'em. I wouldn't think "chain stretch" is any worse, but certainly the gears would wear faster; all around, 9-speed uses closer tolerances which would have a greater chance to go haywire in tough conditions.

    7 and 8-speed are cheaper, still easy to get.

    I tour on 6 and 7-speed. Tight gear ranges and single-step shifting aren't that important for touring; racers need 'em to keep up with the wheel in front of them. On tour, you just downshift to the best gear and enjoy the view. You want a good range, but the most important gears are the highest and lowest.

    -- Mark

  6. #6
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    My commuter and tourer are 7 & 8 speeds, respectively, and I love them and will continue to use them. My mtb's are 9 speed. But if I were to start from scratch building a new tourer with new components, I'll probably go 9 speed.....as I'm not too tough on equipment and they tend to last a long time, regardless. Some 9 speed components might be more expensive initially, but I don't wear them out frequently, therefore cost is not a factor when equipping a new tourer with 9 speed....
    Last edited by roadfix; 03-11-06 at 09:19 AM.
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  7. #7
    Touring senior
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    Chains don't stretch -- they wear. I doubt a 9 speed would wear faster than an 8. (I have a 9 speed on a Cannondale touring bike - T800)

  8. #8
    More Energy than Sense aroundoz's Avatar
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    I get really tired of hearing from bike shops that 8 speed will soon be obsolete, cassettes hard to find..... We have been hearing that for years about 7 speed and they are still out there and easy to find.

    I just like eight speed because for touring, I like bigger jumps between gears. Personal preference. I have heard the chain argument, that 8 speed chains are stronger, but like stated above, I doubt that's true. 8 speed chains and cassettes are definitely less expensive.

  9. #9
    just 5 more miles 5 more's Avatar
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    I also use 8 speed on my Miyata. I made one cassett out of 3 to get the gearing I liked. Still experimenting with this. The whole set up has standed very well after 1500 km. Was thinking of STI shifters until the idea of being stuck in Nowhere, Canada with a broken STI and since I'm oldschool down tubes were the final choice. My philosophy is KISS (keep it simply stupid).

  10. #10
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    I've toured with 9 speed and for loaded touring found that the increments in gearing were too small to allow for the inertia caused by the weight of luggage. This meant changing two at a time up and down. As long as you have a good range i.e. for me with bad knees this means 17-95 inches, then 8 is fine.
    Last edited by onbike 1939; 03-12-06 at 05:02 AM. Reason: error

  11. #11
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    Well if you go with 9 speed, get a 12-34 cassette and you'll have all the gears you need. When pulling weight, you want a good range of gears to allow for a comfortable cadence. I use a 12-32 8 speed on my tourer with a 52-38 double, and it work fine for me. Of course I am not into hauling exess weight either on a tour; lite is my motto.

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