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Are 9 speed systems becoming obsolete?

Old 07-21-13, 04:49 AM
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Are 9 speed systems becoming obsolete?

I have been considering upgrading my 9 speed Trek DS to a Shimano SLX crank set -- but finding that 9 speed SLX crank sets are becoming hard to find. I understand that a 10 speed crank would work (or could be made to work) -- but the 9 / 27 speed system is more than adequate for my needs and I figure it is probably more reliable.

But, I fear that in 5 years or so, if the trend towards more and more gears continues I won't be able to replace worn out 9 speed components with high level parts and will either be forced to upgrade the system to 10, 11, or 12(?!?!?!) speed components or make due with lower quality components...

Should I worry about this "Planned Obsolescence"? Or should I go with the 10 speed crank and plan to slowly upgrade all the other components to 10 speed as they wear out?

I like my 9 speed drivetrain and I'd like to keep it! But it seems that the industry is pushing me ever higher if I want to stay with higher end components (SLX or better).
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Old 07-21-13, 04:58 AM
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9 speed for MTB's is becoming relegated to lowed end components, wouldn't worry about availability of chains or cassettes for may years, but 9 speed XTR shifters are long gone, with XT sure to follow soon.

Not seeing the issue of 'planned obsolescence' MTB components, if used only last a few years, and the cost of replacing with the current spec parts will be the same as if you had to search for NOS parts.

MTB's have stuck with legacy parts for so long now, that change is hard to accept, we still have 135mm OLD rear wheels, 9mm QR's on the front, 1 1/8 inch headsets, 27.2mm seatposts etc, none of which are really suitable for modern riding.
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Old 07-21-13, 06:06 AM
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GBM, Parts for your 9S are going to be around for a long time to come, don't worry.

jmc101, There are thousands of mountain bikes with "legacy" parts working just fine every weekend.

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Old 07-21-13, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by bradtx
There are thousands of mountain bikes with "legacy" parts working just fine every weekend.
They may work just fine, doesn't mean that they are good, take a 5 year old bike vs a 2014 bike, which would you rather be riding? I ride bikes from aht mid 90's to current spec, and there is a noticeable difference, old bikes, nice as they are, just aren't as good as modern ones
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Old 07-21-13, 06:22 AM
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jmc101, The only aspect I see that is significantly better is the suspensions on the new mountain bikes.

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Old 07-21-13, 06:55 AM
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Nine speed gearing is only obsolete if you talk to component mfg. They want to sell you their new 10 and 12 speed stuff. Logically even 8 speed gearing with a triple has more gears than the ave cyclist will use.
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Old 07-21-13, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent
Nine speed gearing is only obsolete if you talk to component mfg. They want to sell you their new 10 and 12 speed stuff. Logically even 8 speed gearing with a triple has more gears than the ave cyclist will use.
I agree...

But my question is: Will I be able to buy high quality 9 speed components in 5 years?

My 20+year old Cannondale 7 speed has all the range I need -- but it seems I am only able to buy lower end component parts for it. If I want 105 or higher quality, I have to replace the whole groupset (which I can't do anyway because the chain stays are 126mm)

So on my Trek DS, I wouldn't want to invest in a higher quality 9 speed crank set then have to throw it away in 5 years because I can't replace the shifters, cassette, chain and derailers with SLX quality when they wear out...

Very frankly, I would be very happy keeping the whole bike 9 speed forever -- but it seems that the Shimano God has decreed that (quality) 9 speed stuff is riding off into the sunset like a cowboy on a 50's western...
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Old 07-21-13, 08:01 AM
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Cranksets really have micrometer like differences .. 2 or 3 rings some distance apart, each with a number of teeth.
still chains are 1/2" pitch, an 8 speed chain is wider and, a bit more robust than a thinner chain,
to fit in the tightly packed neighborhood on the back wheel of 10 cogs fitting in the same place as 8 .


Yea, the top priced bikes will no longer be running 9 speed , which they are not , even now.

The manufacturing tooling has made enough pieces to have paid for its acquisition .

so 9 speed stuff can move down market..

Different companies have less keeping up with the joneses marketing drives...


but the road racing derailleur companies are locked into a competition amongst themselves .

to have some New!, Improved! Latest ! thing going for the next set of trade shows and press releases..

Rohloff introduced anodized red instead of powder coated red hub shells , a 9 bolt casing for 36 spokes ,
in addition to the 8 bolt casing with 32 spoke holes , a different grip shifter that worked on carbon bars .

small changes , on something solidly reliable in the 1st place, by design ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-21-13 at 08:14 AM.
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Old 07-21-13, 08:20 AM
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Funny, my Ergo levers are 9 speed and because my FSA octalink crankset is old and cranky I'm debating what to do. Go 10 speed? Have Branford rebuild the shifter & convert? Switch BB68 to outboard? Go compact or triple? Make it more Campy than cannibal gruppo? Switch out front deraileur for a compact or triple? Keep 9 rear dr cause it can go 10....And $$$ cha ching. Then I look at new bikes and cha cha ching!

Suddenly I'm thinking is this '03 Colnago a C&V bike 'cause in 10 more years it'll be two decades old? During the STP guys would ride up to me and say, "hey..I used to have one of those", " and I'm thinking "wow" ten years is a long time. My gut sorta tells me that 9's & 10's will be "classic enough" that parts will be available. 6-8 could be a mix. Then there is always CL & Ebay.
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Old 07-21-13, 08:35 AM
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Fietsbob, Yes, that sounds about right. I guess where I see it going is:
-- Fewer and fewer rings up front and more and more in the back
Until they either run out of room back there or the frame manufacturer makes a wider frame.

But, ultimately, it will all be electronic and increasingly computerized with a shaft drive instead of the old, inefficient chain.

And, the ultimate ultimate: automatic transmissions. All you have to do is steer and pedal...

But, in the meantime, we will continue to see the annual micro changes...
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Old 07-21-13, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by jimc101

......we still have 135mm OLD rear wheels, 9mm QR's on the front, 1 1/8 inch headsets, 27.2mm seatposts etc, none of which are really suitable for modern riding.
Huh! I can't see that any of these is unsuitable in any way, but there's alays room for different opinions.

The sad thing is that we are locked into a game of "can you top this" adding another gear every few years. Discounting the issue of obsolescence, and high cost of retrofitting the "upgrades" there's the question of whether more is better. Extra gears are a nice thing, but we may have reached, and passed, the point at which the drawbacks exceed the benefits (except for those needing buzzwords to sell new bikes).

The newer hardware is more expensive to maintain and has a shorter service life than what it replaces. This may be worth it to someone who wants the "best?" but for the bulk of people who ride only makes bicycles more expensive to own and ride.
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Old 07-21-13, 09:16 AM
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No worries, man. Three-speed freewheels are still manufactured, even though they were 'obsolete' by the late 1930s. Shimano's highest sales volume derailleur - by far - is the Tourney. ebay.
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Old 07-21-13, 10:43 AM
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Bike shops are still selling 7 speed, so I wouldn't worry.
They have to have something lower on the food chain to make their other bikes look worth the money.
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Old 07-21-13, 10:53 AM
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In the TDF two BMC riders had mechanical failures at inopportune times, with race losing results. Movistar had failures, Valverde especially, where the 10-speed stuff failed (rear wheel "broke") causing a 10 minute loss. 10/11 speed chains are fragile, they break when the racers really crank on them without realizing that fact. The whole upgraditis racing has to endure is tragic when you consider that it really is unnecessary. One of the TDF commentators, a past racer during the 8-speed era, lamented the fact that the racers are increasingly hobbled with the new, not-so-improved, junk out there.

I for one will continue to use 8-speed chains and cassettes, despite the fact that the so-called higher quality stuff is at least 10-speed. Now that the 12 speed is out, it's becoming even more problematic. Mechanical failures will be more commonplace I fear in the races. We will be seeing more instances of that poor racer in the TDF left on the side of the road with that missing chain! I consider the situation pathetic!
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Old 07-21-13, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac
I agree...

But my question is: Will I be able to buy high quality 9 speed components in 5 years?
Yes, if the mountain bike market place follows the roadie market.

Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac
My 20+year old Cannondale 7 speed has all the range I need -- but it seems I am only able to buy lower end component parts for it. If I want 105 or higher quality, I have to replace the whole groupset (which I can't do anyway because the chain stays are 126mm)
You may wish not to, but I've run a 130 mm OLD rear hub in my '89 Cannondale since the mid '90s.

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Old 07-21-13, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bradtx
....



You may wish not to, but I've run a 130 mm OLD rear hub in my '89 Cannondale since the mid '90s.

Brad
Thanks Brad - I knew that I could fit one in. But I was worried about fighting with it while out in the middle nowhere on a cold, winter day with a flat tire.... (And the bike just doesn't get a lot of attention lately anyway)
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Old 07-21-13, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac
Thanks Brad - I knew that I could fit one in. But I was worried about fighting with it while out in the middle nowhere on a cold, winter day with a flat tire.... (And the bike just doesn't get a lot of attention lately anyway)
Really it's just a matter of a little thumb pressure on the drop outs to remove and install. I have an '88 SR500 with a chain stay bridge and it's even easier. As long as there isn't a pre existing issue with the chain and seat stays there isn't a problem with the extra 4 mm.

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Old 07-21-13, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by bradtx
Really it's just a matter of a little thumb pressure on the drop outs to remove and install. I have an '88 SR500 with a chain stay bridge and it's even easier. As long as there isn't a pre existing issue with the chain and seat stays there isn't a problem with the extra 4 mm.

Brad
Thanks, that's good to know.

I haven't been using the old road bike much because I have been ticking to the rails-to-Trails. But my cardiologist tells me I've dogging it -- and the only way I can safely get my heart rate up to where he wants it is to ride on the roads. So I will keep that in mind because I like the bike -- but the down tube shifters and such are a pain. It would be nice to put a 105 group on it. (It still has all the original 20 year old RX-100 components on it now - even the chain!).
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Old 07-21-13, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac
Thanks, that's good to know.

I haven't been using the old road bike much because I have been ticking to the rails-to-Trails. But my cardiologist tells me I've dogging it -- and the only way I can safely get my heart rate up to where he wants it is to ride on the roads. So I will keep that in mind because I like the bike -- but the down tube shifters and such are a pain. It would be nice to put a 105 group on it. (It still has all the original 20 year old RX-100 components on it now - even the chain!).
Shimano has come out with a new set of 2X7 integrated shifters, ST-A070. Treat yourself to that and some maintenance items and your R500 will be much more user friendly. I feel that 7S and 8S are sweet spots in drivetrain technology.

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Old 07-21-13, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by rydabent
Nine speed gearing is only obsolete if you talk to component mfg. They want to sell you their new 10 and 12 speed stuff. Logically even 8 speed gearing with a triple has more gears than the ave cyclist will use.
Really, because I regularly use my lowest few gears, my highest few gears, and all my gears when in the middle cog. Obviously, that's on the MTB. I'm guessing you rarely ride your bent off road, but hey, I use all of my gears on my road bike too. I'm sorry that 16 year old tech is too new fangled for your taste, but your point is kinda silly.
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Old 07-21-13, 03:49 PM
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Hi,

9 speed will always be under pressure as the first rear size than cannot
use a generic 5 to 8 speed chain, but it will always work with a 10 speed
crank and 10 speed chain.

So long term expect 10 speed chains and cranks to predominate over
9 speed in terms of the choices available, it is common sense that
it will pan out that way, which will lead to more choice of 10 speed
rears and 10 speed shifters in performance parts.

It makes sense that bikes group around 8, 10 or 12 speeds and
that 9 and 11 speed are somewhat superfluous to requirements.

6 and 7 speed will last as long as freewheels, a long time.
5 speed is now effectively dead AFAICT.

8 speed needs a freehub, but uses the standard chain and cranks.
(7.1/7.2mm width). Its future is assured.

6.8mm (9 speed) chains versus 6.2mm (10 speed) chains long term not so IMO.

I agree with the OP, I think 9 speed will endure a slow lingering death.

rgds, sreten.

Last edited by sreten; 07-21-13 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 07-21-13, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by sreten
Hi,
9 speed will always be under pressure as the first rear size than cannot use a generic 5 to 8 speed chain, but it will always work with a 10 speed crank and 10 speed chain.

So long term expect 10 speed chains and cranks to predominate over 9 speed in terms of the choices available
This is a really good point. Although a 9-speed chain would still work on 8-speed (it just wouldn't shift as well on HG ramps/gates, the same way that a narrower 10-speed chain wouldn't shift well on 9-speed stuff).
Older chains designed when 5- and 6-speed drivetrains were new, were wider than current "8-and-below" chains.
But I think the way things have shaken out, with 7/8-speed HG and lower (non-HG) stuff all using the same chain, and 9/10/11 each requiring successively narrower chains to shift as designed, the higher-geared stuff lacks the same sweet spot as 8-speed stuff. Maybe 10-speed stuff will start to go obsolete 5 years from now, as 11 predominates. But 8-speed will probably remain on lower-end bikes, and thus remain in currently-manufactured supply.
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Old 07-21-13, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac
the 9 / 27 speed system is more than adequate for my needs and I figure it is probably more reliable.
If you were talking road gear you'd be on the money there, but I'd guess the 10s MTB stuff may actually be more precise than the 9s stuff because Shimano revised their cable pull; that stuff is called Dyna-Sys or something IIRC.

Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac
But, ultimately, it will all be electronic and increasingly computerized with a shaft drive instead of the old, inefficient chain.
I guess a shaft drive would be more efficient if you didn't have to have meshed cogs at each end (LOL)... but there's no beating a clean chain's 98% efficiency.

Originally Posted by FBinNY
Extra gears are a nice thing, but we may have reached, and passed, the point at which the drawbacks exceed the benefits (except for those needing buzzwords to sell new bikes).
If you agree that front shifting sucks next to rear shifting, then there's a pretty good reason for continuing to add cogs... but yeah, chains certainly don't need to get any narrower.

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Old 07-21-13, 05:43 PM
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Yeah, shafts reduce maintenance and efficiency both. They are popular on touring motorcycles because reducing maintenance is valued more than wringing every last drop of power out of the engine.
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Old 07-21-13, 05:50 PM
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9 speeds are so yesterday. Ours goes to 11.
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