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9 speed road or 10 speed road?

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9 speed road or 10 speed road?

Old 02-07-08, 06:11 AM
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9 speed road or 10 speed road?

So I'm shopping around for a road bike, and have it narrowed down.

My big question: What drivetrain is better for Clyde Riding? 9 Speed, 10 Speed, or either one?

The ten speed gears go down to 30/25 (front/rear), and 28 is about the biggest rear cassette you can get for a 10 speed. On the nine, I could go down to a 34 on the rear and get the gear range way down there, but is that just silly?

The old roadie I am trading in has a 39/27 and that is not quite low enough for some of the hills I do.
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Old 02-07-08, 06:42 AM
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Depends on how you'll ride, assuming you're asking about gear range. If you're a fit clyde or willing to invest the pain in getting there, you can get by with a double or even better a compact double up front, and the range of the cassette in the back doesn't matter too much...depending on hills around you. The bigger question on gear range is double or triple up front (18/20 speed vs 27/30) or if a double, compact or regular.

9-speed gears are a little older and ubiquitous. 10-speed newer.

I'd recommend a compact double on 9 or 10 speed if it gets you the right range. It's lighter than a triple and will give you about 90% of the gear range. I have a compact double and a 9-speed rear, and use the full gear range on hilly rides, but don't feel undergeared for downhills. Going up i often ride the smallest cog, especially in Feb when I'm not as fit because I can't get out as much...
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Old 02-07-08, 07:17 AM
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I have a triple on my 10 speed, but I could easily get away with a 9 speed cassette. As I very rarely use the two smallest rings on the rear.

So the next time I'm going with a compact double, since the triple makes it very difficult to adjust the front dérailleur and it's really not needed as you can comfortable ride on a smaller big ring when you just start out training.

I definitely needed the granny ring on my triple when I was at the Hilly Hundred in Bloomington, but a compact double will satisfy that request from my legs and I rarely go into the big ring on my triple as I'm not a very strong rider yet.

So to answer your question, it depends on your physical fitness and if you want to ride road races/crits or long distance rides.
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Old 02-07-08, 08:48 AM
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The choice of 9 speed or 10 doesn't make a huge difference in terms of overall gearing. The extra cog does give a little closer spacing, which allows a little more fine tuning when you're trying to maintain a specific cadence. Since the technology is moving toward 10 speed being the standard, it seems likely that over time the 9 speed replacement parts will become more difficult to find. However, I can still get parts for the 7 speed that's on my 18+ year old beater bike, so it seems likely that the 9 speed parts will be around for a good while.

I'll be a bit of a contrarian on the triple vs compact double debate. I have a triple and I use the entire gear range on every ride. The area I'm in is hilly. When I'm climbing, I am always in the granny ring. On slight inclines and the flats I'll be in the middle ring. When I start descending, and I know I'll go more than 22 mph or so, I shift to the big ring. I encounter all three of these in the first/last mile of any ride I do from home.

The shifting on my triple works just as well as a double or a compact. In fact, I think the smaller difference in rings up front actually gives slightly better shifts.

Before I bought the triple I did a significant amount of comparison between it and the compact. I found that with a compact I would have to do more shifting of the rings at times I considered annoying.

An example is slight incline changes on a relatively flat stretch. The range of the compacts was such that I would have to get in the big ring and then do lots of cross chaining when needed to go a bit slower, or shift between the rings.

Another annoyance, IMO, is that the wider gap between the rings of the compact meant that changing rings would also require several more shifts in the back. The closer spacing of the triple rings reduces the rear shifts to one or at most two gears.

For example, let's say I'm cruising along at 17 MPH on a stretch that's relatively flat. I see that the road will decline some, and past experience tells me that I'll be going 22 mph soon. Let's compare the difference between a compact and a triple. On the compact, let's say I was in the small ring and the 6th cog in back. On the triple I would have been in the middle ring and the 4th cog in back.

On the compact, I know I would soon be out of the range of the small ring, so I need to shift to the large one. In order to maintain a similar cadence, I would also have to shift the back from 5th down to 2nd (and spin faster) or 3rd (and increase my speed or be at a lower cadence). That's a minimum of 3 gears in the back to maintain cadence.

The same scenario on the triple actually gives me two choices. If I was going to shift the front ring, I would need to drop the rear from 4th to 2nd (maintaining the same cadence) or 3rd (resulting in a decreased cadence or having to increase speed to compensate). In all likelyhood, I would not actually change the rings. I know that the gear range on the middle ring of my triple allows me to easily get into the 24-25 MPH range without even having to go to the smallest cog in the back. So, in this scenario, I would stay in the middle ring and just shift the back as I increased speed.

Note that these scenarios are based on the way I ride and the area that I ride in. If I rode in an area that was flatter I might be happier with a compact or even a standard double. For example, when I ride at the beach I either take my old bike standard double or just never use the granny gear on my triple. Interestingly, the gearing on my triple is essentially a standard double with a granny ring thrown in.
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Old 02-07-08, 09:01 AM
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Dan Towle of R+E Cycles says this:

One great advantage to being a manufacturer who has a large
customer base and a repair shop is the opportunity to see the
durability of components first hand.
In the 9-speed vs. 10-speed arena, there are some important
things you should know.
10-speed chains are very thin, as are the 10-speed cogs. This
means that they don’t last near as long as a thicker chain and
cogs. In cases of heavy commuting or touring we’ve seen many
customers who get about 700 to 800 miles out of their chain
and cogs. For some of those customers, that’s about 1 month
of commuting. That’s 12 chains and 12 cog sets per year. For
a customer riding across the United States, that’s 4 chains and
4 cog sets. When used on a tandem, the mileage decreases by
about 30%.
By contrast, these same customers would be getting 1,200 to
1,500 miles on a 9-speed chain and cog set. Does this mean
that an 8-speed chain and cog set would be even more durable?
Yes, but 8-speed shifters are not available in anymore,
so 9-speed shifters are the new durability choice.
Increased Cost:
A 9-speed chain sells for $25. A 9-speed cog set sells from $30
to $60. By contrast a 10-speed chain costs $50, and 10-speed
cog sets are $100 and up.
When you multiply the frequency of replacement by the cost of
equipment, your maintenance costs are increased by 200%.
A 200% increase in maintenance costs are not the direction that
most of our commuting and loaded touring customers want to
Some people have no problem with the increased costs or
service. Rest assured we still build touring bikes with 10-speed
shifting quite a bit. We just want
to share why 9-speed shifters are
standard on our touring bikes."
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Old 02-07-08, 12:25 PM
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If you have a triple up front, I'd stick with a 9 speed. You can't use all the gears on either set up.
9 speed is a bit more robust, cheaper and less finicky to keep adjusted.
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Old 02-07-08, 07:05 PM
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Campy 10 speed can go 13/29 in the rear and 52/42/30 up front. It is neither finicky nor fragile. I'm not easy on my bikes, and they all operate just fine. Granted, I only ride about 3500 or so miles a year, but I love the solid performance and gear range I get. But I can't do 10 miles around here without climbing at least 1000 feet.

If I lived on flat land I might feel different about it, but my chosen terrain and riding ability dictate that I have a triple. I don't use it a lot, but I do use it. And when I need it, nothing else will do.
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Old 02-08-08, 09:22 AM
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Because I don't want ANY pain while riding, I just got a 10-speed Campy Centaur drive train with a triple crank (plus a Sheldon Brown Tripleizer and some other bits) for $120 on Craigslist, and the LBS said it was in near mint condition. Picked up the brakeset and hubs for another $160 off Nashbar. All I need is the cassette and ergo shifters, which I hope to find at the swap meet this Sunday.

Now I just need to figure out which frame to put them on.
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Old 02-08-08, 01:43 PM
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I have no problems with my vintage bikes at all. My road bike has 6 cogs on the back, and my mid-90s mountain bike has 7. They shift clean and smooth. As parts wear out, I will probably switch to 9-speed, though. They have those more dialed in. I like a smooth shift.
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