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Replacing my cassette

Old 05-31-22, 01:23 PM
  #1  
Random11
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Replacing my cassette

I've bought a new cassette and tools to change it myself (locking tool, and chain whip). I've never done this before. I don't have a torque wrench. How careful do I have to be when tightening the new cassette? Can I just tighten it until it feels tight, or should I get a torque wrench to be very accurate in how tight I make it? My thought now is just to tighten it until it feels tight and it will be OK. Apologizing in advance for my very novice question, I just want to make sure I don't over-tighten or under-tighten the new cassette, and I don't know how much tolerance there is in the amount it is tightened.Any advice is welcome.
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Old 05-31-22, 02:04 PM
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They need to be cranked on fairly well (yes, I couldn't be more vague) so I recommend using a torque wrench once or twice to get a feel for it. The lockrings are fairly forgiving if not exactly torqued to spec. and most cassettes have a serrated interface between the lockring and first cog so an extra bit of safety if not tightened enough.
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Old 05-31-22, 02:53 PM
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Should look up the spec for your cassette, but roughly speaking think 35 nm (campy spec is 50) which is way more than you think it is. this is one where I use my long beam type torque wrench for the leverage
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Old 05-31-22, 03:23 PM
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Thanks for those replies. Is there a risk of damaging the bike because of over-tightening or under-tightening? More generally, what are the consequences of over-tightening or under-tightening?
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Old 05-31-22, 08:48 PM
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Tony Marchand recommends hand-tightening the lock-ring without tools, then a 1/6 to a 1/4 turn with a wrench, to approximate the required torque.


I usually do a 1/4 turn. (I have a torque wrench, but it is set to the torque for Audi wheel bolts.) This method is much more convenient.

Over-tightening leads to extreme difficulty at removal.
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Old 06-01-22, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
Thanks for those replies. Is there a risk of damaging the bike because of over-tightening or under-tightening? More generally, what are the consequences of over-tightening or under-tightening?
Yes. Over tightening can cause damage to the lockring from stripping threads to causing cracks. Under tightening can cause the lockring to come loose or undone while riding but you'll probably notice the crappy shifting from a loose lockring before it comes undone which could possibly cause your chain to get jammed into some part of your drivetrain. But, I'll say again that these have a lot of room for error before you need to be concerned. Anytime I mount a cassette I'll give it a quick check after the first ride to make sure it's tight. Probably overkill but that's just me.
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Old 06-01-22, 02:53 PM
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Thanks so much for the comments SoSmellyAir and Crankycrank. I'm not sure if I'll need to change my cassette right now, but I want to be prepared. I'm about to replace my chain, and the cassette has already survived two chains. My past experience is that the cassette may start skipping after the third new chain. If so, I'm (semi) prepared to replace the cassette.
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Old 06-01-22, 03:04 PM
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your cassette should last way longer than that. unless of course you are using your chain for too many miles.
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Old 06-01-22, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
your cassette should last way longer than that. unless of course you are using your chain for too many miles.
I hope you're right. Cassettes are expensive! But I've worn them out that quickly before. One problem is that I tend to use the smaller cogs on the cassette a lot, and am not using the big cogs. I was using an 11-34 cassette, and the cogs went 11-13-15-17 and on up. I've switched to an 11-28 cassette where the cogs go 11-12-13-14-15-16-17 and on up. So, I'm spreading my riding time over more cogs. In the past, every time my cassette started skipping, it was always on the 11 tooth cog. I'm hoping that by sharing that load between the 11 and 12, I can get more life from the cassette.

But you may be right that I'm keeping the chain too long. I use a chain gauge and its up toward .75. Maybe I should change the chain sooner.
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Old 06-01-22, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
One problem is that I tend to use the smaller cogs on the cassette a lot, and am not using the big cogs. In the past, every time my cassette started skipping, it was always on the 11 tooth cog. I'm hoping that by sharing that load between the 11 and 12, I can get more life from the cassette.
You can always buy single cogs to replace the high wear smaller ones although once you have to buy 3-4 or more you might as well get a whole new cassette. Here's a list of Shimano cassettes and individual cog part numbers which you can use to do a general search. Sometimes your local bike shop can order them for you or Ebay is a good source. Manuals & Technical Documents (shimano.com)
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Old 06-01-22, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
Cassettes are expensive!
Good cycling is expensive.

Poor folks just buy a used big box store bike that the seller found.
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Old 06-01-22, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Crankycrank View Post
You can always buy single cogs to replace the high wear smaller ones...
Thanks very much for this information, Crankycrank. I was completely unaware of this. I know so little about bike maintenance.

My first bike (in 40 years) was an inexpensive Giant and the cassette was all one part, so I had to replace the whole thing when it was worn. (I just started riding 4 1/2 years ago.) I now have two bikes, both with Ultegra drivetrains. When my cassette was skipping, I took it to my LBS and they replaced the whole thing. I just assumed the cassette was one part, as it was with my Giant. Recently, I ordered a replacement cassette and when it came, all the gears were separated, and I thought it was broken! I contacted the seller who explained that they came that way. It does make sense that I should be able to replace individual cogs, but I didn't know where to get them until you posted.

When I started riding, my thought was that I would ride the bike, and I'd have the LBS maintain it. I'm slowly learning my way around some basic bike maintenance. I've replaced tires and replaced a couple of chains. Next step: replace cassette!
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Old 06-01-22, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
When my cassette was skipping, I took it to my LBS and they replaced the whole thing.
When I started riding, my thought was that I would ride the bike, and I'd have the LBS maintain it. I'm slowly learning my way around some basic bike maintenance. I've replaced tires and replaced a couple of chains. Next step: replace cassette!
Yes, cassettes are easy to replace/maintain. In all fairness to the shop, it would have cost near as much in extra labor to replace one cog as just mounting a whole new cassette and you would still have a used cassette of unknown life left in it. Standard practice for shops to do this. Always better to learn how to do your own work if you can.
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Old 06-01-22, 04:32 PM
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I was hesitant about making my initial post but glad I did because now you learned something else.
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Old 06-01-22, 04:45 PM
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In the past I've used a luggage scale on he end of a wrench to set torque in Foot/Pounds.

I'm better equipped now.

Barry
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Old 06-01-22, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
One problem is that I tend to use the smaller cogs on the cassette a lot, and am not using the big cogs.
I am having trouble picturing the type of terrain where one would be riding on the physically smaller cogs so much more often than the bigger ones.

Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
I've switched to an 11-28 cassette where the cogs go 11-12-13-14-15-16-17 and on up.
If your bike has a full Ultegra drivetrain including the cassette, and you have an 11-28 cassette, then it does not have a 16T cog.

Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
But you may be right that I'm keeping the chain too long. I use a chain gauge and its up toward .75. Maybe I should change the chain sooner.
Yes. Ditch chain at 0.50.
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Old 06-01-22, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
Yes. Ditch chain at 0.50.
I know there is some disagreement on this but I change at 0.75 and consistently get 3 chains per cassette and 18K miles total. Your mileage may vary but the 3 chains rule is fairly common.
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Old 06-01-22, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
I am having trouble picturing the type of terrain where one would be riding on the physically smaller cogs so much more often than the bigger ones.

If your bike has a full Ultegra drivetrain including the cassette, and you have an 11-28 cassette, then it does not have a 16T cog.

Yes. Ditch chain at 0.50.
(1) My daily ride is over rolling hills. Nothing flat at all. So I find myself in the 11T cog a lot. I'm not that fast. It's a function of the terrain I'm covering. It's those gentle downhills that beg for the small cogs. The 11-28 works great for my ride. I use all the gears, but don't need any that are beyond the cassette's range.

(2) I wanted the 16T cog so I'm using a SRAM 11-28 cassette rather than Shimano.

(3) Maybe I should change the chain sooner. But there's a small mental challenge. Right now my bike is riding great. Smooth shifting, no issues. But the chain measures as worn so I plan to replace it in the next few days. And then, if the cassette is worn, the gears will skip and I'll need to replace the cassette. And, I'm thinking, everything was riding fine until I put that new chain on. Sure, I know I should replace the chain. But it's easy to put off when the bike is riding great.
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Old 06-01-22, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
(1) My daily ride is over rolling hills. Nothing flat at all. So I find myself in the 11T cog a lot. I'm not that fast. It's a function of the terrain I'm covering. It's those gentle downhills that beg for the small cogs. The 11-28 works great for my ride. I use all the gears, but don't need any that are beyond the cassette's range.

(2) I wanted the 16T cog so I'm using a SRAM 11-28 cassette rather than Shimano.

(3) Maybe I should change the chain sooner. But there's a small mental challenge. Right now my bike is riding great. Smooth shifting, no issues. But the chain measures as worn so I plan to replace it in the next few days. And then, if the cassette is worn, the gears will skip and I'll need to replace the cassette. And, I'm thinking, everything was riding fine until I put that new chain on. Sure, I know I should replace the chain. But it's easy to put off when the bike is riding great.
But, if you wait long enough, you'll be wearing out the chainrings also. Put that into your dollars math. The sooner you replace the chain (and put it on a cassette that won't quickly lengthen it) the longer your chainrings last.
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Old 06-03-22, 08:30 AM
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Update from the OP: If you've followed this thread, you're probably wondering whether this mechanically challenged novice can successfully replace a worn cassette. I replaced the chain and took the bike out for a test ride and all seems well. So it looks like the cassette will make it through (at least) one more chain. The previous chain lasted six months, so perhaps in December I'll have the chance to try. I have the tools and the cassette when the time comes. All I need is the knowledge to do it right,. Thanks very much to all of you who offered information and advice.
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Old 06-03-22, 09:14 AM
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The key to adding hundreds of miles onto those drive train parts is keeping them clean and learning how to take them apart and put them back on is vital.
I have two chains, they swap over at 250 miles. 1 in use, 1 soaking.
At the swap, the chainrings are removed from the crank and cleaned, and so is the cassette.
Even after 250 miles, you would not believe the rubbish and crap that washes out of a chain.
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Old 06-03-22, 09:54 AM
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I'll be the contrarian and say you don't need a torque wrench. I just get it tight by hand and then give it about a quarter turn with the wrench until it's "good and tight", and call it good. I don't get anywhere close to where it feels like I might break something, and I always keep in mind that I'm going to need to get it off someday. I've never had one loosen up, either a cassette or freewheel.
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