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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

8spd Cassette Change?

Old 04-23-16, 08:44 AM
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studum
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8spd Cassette Change?

Hi guys, new to the forum and new to road-ish type of biking. Please don't hesitate to re-locate this post if it isn't in the right spot.

I'm new to "road" type riding and have just got myself my first drop bar bike. It's a Giant Revolt 3, 2015 model. The goal is to have it be a commuter for evenings / weekends, leisure bike as well as for my to dabble my feet into road riding for excercise/fitness. I plan to have the majority of my seat time out for fitness on 20-35km rides, with the intent to work up to and try out longer rides on weekends here and there.

I've got 180km on the bike so far in the few weeks that I've had it. Note: I'm a fair weather rider only and I'm not a small guy, 5'8" - 240lbs. I've also never ridden drop bars before this bike.

The bike came with a 11-32 8spd HG51 cassette on the rear (11-13-15-18-21-24-28-32t) and a 30/39/50 triple on the front. Typically when I'm out on a ride for exercise I find myself flipping between 3 or 4 gears on the rear (18-24 sprockets, or 15-24 sprockets).

What I'm finding is that the steps between those gears are larger than I would like. One gear pedaling is too easy, the next gear my pace is a little slower than I think I want it to be.

Would swapping the cassette at the rear to a smaller range with slightly smaller steps help smooth out my cadence for me when I'm trying to push a little harder? Ideally I would've bought a higher end 9 or 10 spd drive train, but this bike was already a fair step up over what I initially wanted to spend and I couldn't make the next jump. The current setup is fine when I'm being lazy or just around town. It's when I'm out on a 20-30km+ ride for exercise that I want to be a little smoother.

What I've found available at my LBS is a Shimano Claris cassette that I can get in an 11-28, or for a couple $ more a SRAM PG850 cassette that I can get with a 11-28, 12-26, or if I go crazy a 12-23. I'm not sure if there's any real world difference between the 2 brands / models.

Can anyone offer any input? Would the SRAM shift any worse than the shimano with the rest of my stuff being shimano Claris? If so I won't consider it at all. I'm planning to keep the chain on the bike right now as it's still new (with the rest of the bike).

As of right now I'm leaning towards the PG850 in the 12-26 configuration (unless the shimano is recommended) with the idea that 12-23 might be too big of a jump. I found this page: Shimano and Shimano-compatible 8-speed cassettes and it lists that 12-26 cassette as 12-13-15-17-19-21-23-26 so it looks to be a little tighter than the stock one with mainly 2T steps vs 3 or 4T. This comes with the expectation that I would step into my middle and smaller rings up front more than I currently do which I'm OK with.

If you're interested the rest of the bike is great. The shop helped me adjust the seat and swap the stem to fit me better - swapped the tires to something more road-rolling friendly and a little wider to keep me more comfortable with the transition from MTB to road type bike. They also fitted a Topeak rack to the back so I can use my existing bag easily when I'm romping around town with it. I threw on my lights, bike computer and the clip less pedals from my XC hardtail (was never comfortable off road with them, but on road I love them). I'm really happy with it so far.

Sorry for the long post, but thanks in advance for any input.
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Old 04-23-16, 09:15 AM
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I've used SRAM cassettes on otherwise Shimano equipped bikes. No problem.

The big question is this: hills? If where you ride is mostly flat, by all means swap to a different cassette. If it's really flat where you ride, go with the 11-26.

Also keep the original cassette. If you do find yourself going to somewhere hilly, you can swap it back on quickly. You could even do it yourself with a couple of special tool like a chain whip and cassette lockring tool plus a wrench to fit on the lockring tool. Here's some instructions:

Cassette and Freewheel Removal and Installation | Park Tool
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Old 04-23-16, 09:16 AM
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You can swap out your cassette for one that has a spacing that better suits your needs. Universal Cycles has a good selection. https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...17&category=42 You can also buy individual cogs to customize a cassette but shifting, reportedly, may be compromised. I've removed and then added cogs of my choice for a custom cassette and my shifting has been fine. Universal also sells individual cogs so you might poke around their web site for ideas. I don't need 11T or 12T cogs so I've gone to a 13T starter that lets me tighten up the gaps in the middle where most of my time is spent and add a 30T at the top, suitable for any hills in my riding area.
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Old 04-23-16, 09:17 AM
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The SRAM 850 should work just fine with Shimano everything else. However, I recently built up a bike with my old 7 speed Shimano parts and I have both HG50 and PG730 cassettes and the HG50 shifts much better than the SRAM PG 730. I've heard others say the same thing when they tried it.
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Old 04-23-16, 09:20 AM
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I have a PG850 and it's a fine cassette. With a triple you would probably be good with a 12-23.
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Old 04-23-16, 09:21 AM
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Wow, long first post, but nonetheless welcome to the forum. You're in the right place.First of all, you’ve got a triple up front, have you tried double shifting—i.e. shift both front and rear at the same time, to get into a gear to maintain your cadence? I don’t have the numbers to back it up, but you can try doing this first to see if you can close the gap.

If you’re set on getting a new cassette, which isn’t a bad idea as they are relatively inexpensive, then go with the 12-26 SRAM. I’ve used that one on my previous 8-speed. I’ve also used the Shimano as well. They both work fine, but the SRAM is lighter.
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Old 04-23-16, 09:30 AM
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Thanks for the input guys. There are definitely some hills in the area, even just from one end of town to another.

I think maybe I'll stop into the LBS and get see if we can get a 11-28 to try, I don't think it would be worth going with the available 11-30. It's also a few $ cheaper than the SRAM (not that it's a huge deal, but enough to go towards the required tools). I don't think hills will be an issue with me with the triple up front.

Or maybe I ride some more and see if I really need it or if I just think I need it.
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Old 04-23-16, 09:35 AM
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Holy crap you guys post fast.... In the time I was typing there's 2 more posts. Sorry about long post - I try not to but its kinda the way I am.

I haven't tried double shifting. Where I was feeling this is mainly when I'm on the big ring up front cruising along and trying to find the sweet spot on the rear.

I'm going to go for a couple more rides this weekend see if I'm making this all up to myself or if it's what I really want. Will make a conscious effort to try changing the front along with the rear to see if that helps when I hit an in-between spot. Not set on anything at this point, just asking thoughts / opinions. My gut was simply telling me the SRAM 12-26 had nicer spacing but didn't have a clue if there would be a real world difference.

Weight savings on the SRAM is a non-factor for me. I'm already a big dude and I've done silly things like fitting a rack to it.
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Old 04-23-16, 09:54 AM
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Are you shifting up front or are you staying in the middle? With an 8 speed or less I find that you need to simultaneously shift both the front in the back to hit the normal gear order. Input you setup in a gear calculator when you see it the oder probably becomes a pattern
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Old 04-23-16, 05:22 PM
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Most people don't need an 11 tooth cog. Starting with a 12t will give you 1 extra usable in the middle.

Figure out what the lowest cassette cog that you use while in the smallest of the 3 chainrings.
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Old 04-23-16, 05:24 PM
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HTML5 Gear Calculator

You should play around with that tool, I think you'll find it insightful.
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Old 04-23-16, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by PepeM View Post
HTML5 Gear Calculator

You should play around with that tool, I think you'll find it insightful.
This is a family forum.

Reported.
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Old 04-24-16, 06:42 AM
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With a triple unless you face some ridiculously steep and long hills a 12-26 should be prefect. On you next ride through the hilliest roads around you, never shift into your biggest two cogs and see how that works. If you can get by with 30x24, then the 12-26 should give you an added margin of safety for long/windy/tired days, and of course if you travel to hillier regions you can swap out for your old cassette.

I did a group tour through some exceedingly hilly regions, and everyone's lowest gear was 30x23, and while it was really tough in some places, it was doable, so i'd image 12-26 would be fine for you.
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Old 04-24-16, 08:16 AM
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Thanks for all the help guys. That gearing website is really neat - very clear visual of what I was feeling and what I was hoping to see when I compared the OEM cassette to the 12-26. I think I might go for that one to try it out.

Here's the comparison I did up

HTML5 Gear Calculator

Thanks for the Parktool link as well - solid info. I'm not afraid to do this swap myself, I just need the tools. Looks like I'll have to get a FR5-g and a chain whip (please correct me if I'm wrong) then I know I can easily swap back to the original like you say if I need the taller gears back.

Thanks for not ragging on me for only buying an 8spd, should've got better, etc. Honestly can't believe I haven't tried 700c wheels earlier.
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Old 04-24-16, 09:04 AM
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I have a Claris triple with 12-23 and I like it. It might be a bit stiff for someone your weight, but, you have a triple.
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Old 04-27-16, 11:19 AM
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Thanks for the help guys. I'm definitely going to change cassettes. I tried finding the right gear by double shifting as suggested but it seems like a lot of work and possible extra wear & tear (over the long term? Maybe I'm crazy).

Just have to decide if going 12-26 or 11-28. Heart says 12-26 for tighter spacing, mind & gut are saying 11-28 for that extra couple of teeth, just in case.

I also found out that the bike I didn't buy when I bought this one (Trek Crossrip Comp) comes with a Claris drivetrain and SRAM PG 830 11-28 cassette. I guess if I were to have looked at that before posting I could've avoided bugging you all. Regardless thanks for the help, it's much appreciated from a casual Clydesdale biker who's a drop bar noobie.
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Old 04-27-16, 07:57 PM
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Another possibility is a 13-26 cassette. It tightens up the shifting a bit more:
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    Old 04-27-16, 07:59 PM
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    Originally Posted by studum View Post
    The bike came with a 11-32 8spd HG51 cassette on the rear (11-13-15-18-21-24-28-32t) and a 30/39/50 triple on the front. Typically when I'm out on a ride for exercise I find myself flipping between 3 or 4 gears on the rear (18-24 sprockets, or 15-24 sprockets).

    What I'm finding is that the steps between those gears are larger than I would like. One gear pedaling is too easy, the next gear my pace is a little slower than I think I want it to be.
    I really enjoyed 50-40-30 x 13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21 in the 8 speed era, combining a 13-19 straight block for plains rides east of Boulder, CO and low like 42x28 for mountains west.

    That got me from Grand Junction, CO to Golden, CO on a 420 mile 7 day supported tour with 28,000 feet of climbing between the two, and up plenty of other nice climbs.

    14-23 junior gears would work almost as well - just tuck down steeper hills.

    You could combine loose cogs and spacers from Miche to get those combinations.

    Shimano also still sells a 13-23 which comes close, missing only the 18 cog. They start at the Sora level, for about $16.50 imported from the UK. US prices will be somewhat higher.

    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/u...te/rp-prod1864

    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 04-27-16 at 11:54 PM.
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    Old 05-02-16, 09:11 AM
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    studum
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    Thanks again for the tips guys. Unfortunately I'm in Canada, so prices are even higher than in the US.

    Regardless, I've got a new cassette on the bike but haven't had a chance to ride it yet.

    On Saturday before committing I went for another ride (ended up being 36km) and chose a new route I hadn't tried before. I know probably not long at all compared to most of you, but 4 weeks ago 15-20km was a lot to me.

    At about 2/3 thru the ride when I was a little worn down from the hills I wasn't used to I took myself up another short but steep hill on the way home to give myself a real test. I thought I had to bail to the 32 tooth cog to get up the hill, which pissed me off while I was climbing, but when I got to the top I realized I was on the 28T cog and not the 32. This basically told me that I couldn't comfortably go any smaller than a 28T granny gear, at least not yet. I like to roam around and I really want to make sure I can do so without putting my feet down.

    From there I rode to my LBS where the only cassette they had in stock was the SRAM 11-28, and it was $10 cheaper than the 12-26 and a few $ cheaper than the Shimano 12-28. Not a huge deal, but saved enough to buy the lock ring tool.

    I swapped it onto the bike during the rain storm yesterday. Gears were shifting good while on the stand, can't wait to see if I notice a difference. I'm hoping to ride this for the rest of the year then determine where to go from there. I really wanted to do the 12-26 but I honestly don't know I could've made it up that hill on anything smaller than the 28 tooth. I tried attacking it on the 24T and I was off of that gear no further than 1/4 way up the hill.
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