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34/50, currently have 11-28, time for new cassette 11-23,11-25,12-25 or 11-26

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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

34/50, currently have 11-28, time for new cassette 11-23,11-25,12-25 or 11-26

Old 11-26-12, 04:34 PM
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34/50, currently have 11-28, time for new cassette 11-23,11-25,12-25 or 11-26

So, I've worn out my cassette on my compact crankset equipped bike and it is time for a change. I have 2 bikes, one 9 speed double (39/53 with an 11-17 cassette) and my main bike 34/50 with an 11-28 cassette. I suspect for me, the 11-28 is overkill (I've only done one ride where I felt I totally needed the 28, and that was Mt Wachusett after riding 70 miles to get there and bonking). My biggest argument against the 11-28 are the huge gaps in the larger teeth. So I want something closely spaced. Can anyone recommend one over the other.

So, ideas? For reference, I weight 173 lbs and tend to spin at 80-90 rpm. I used to be a track sprinter/long jump/high jump so I suspect I am predominantly fast-twich. I'm not a natural climber, so I tend to power over small climbs and suffer on long ones, and as the 34x28 has proven, just like you can't put lipstick on a pig (well, you can, but then its an embarrassed and pissed off pig), you can't turn a sprinter into a climber.
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Old 11-26-12, 04:52 PM
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How to pick a new cassette:
1) Pick the high gear you need. You already have an 11.... do you use it? If so, then you know what you need on that end. Get a 12 if you never use your 11, that will help keep your gaps closer.

2) Pick the low gear you need. You currently have a 28 but don't use it much? So what is the lowest gear that you do actually use? If it's a 25 or 26, then the 11/12-28 cassette might not be such a bad fit since it will leave you with one more "bail out gear".... if you never go any higher than 21 or 23 on your current cassette, then an 11/12-23. Do you intend to travel at all with this bike or otherwise ride it in unfamiliar territory? There might be some justification for the 28 again if you do.
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Old 11-26-12, 04:53 PM
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I know this woul bea more expesive route because yu would be replacing 2 parts instead of the just the rear, but I would say go with a mid compact 52/36 (praxis works) and stick with an 11-28 or maybe 11-27
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Old 11-26-12, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by MegaTom View Post
How to pick a new cassette:
1) Pick the high gear you need. You already have an 11.... do you use it? If so, then you know what you need on that end. Get a 12 if you never use your 11, that will help keep your gaps closer.

2) Pick the low gear you need. You currently have a 28 but don't use it much? So what is the lowest gear that you do actually use? If it's a 25 or 26, then the 11/12-28 cassette might not be such a bad fit since it will leave you with one more "bail out gear".... if you never go any higher than 21 or 23 on your current cassette, then an 11/12-23. Do you intend to travel at all with this bike or otherwise ride it in unfamiliar territory? There might be some justification for the 28 again if you do.
Good points. I honestly can't think of when I've used the 50x11 other than on descents when I've then subsequently spun out. Also, when I sprint I don't think I'm on the 11, I'm probably spinning at 120+ rpm

On the other side, I do know that I have gon above the 23 (I think on that cassette it is 21-24-28. I'm pretty sure I've gone above 21. Maybe what I need is something with a lesser jump once I get over 21. Given the sprocket sizes of the choices

11-23
Sprocket Sizes 11-12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23
11-25
Sprocket Sizes 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-25
12-25
Sprocket Sizes 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-25
11-28
Sprocket Sizes 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-28

It seems that the only difference between the 11-25 and the 11-28 is the last 2 teeth, whereas I feel like sometimes I'd like a smoother transition in the middle of the cassette (1 tooth jumps. That would point me to the 11-23 and the 12-25. I'm a bit leery of the 11-23 because I suspect the 23 mght not be low enough. I'd feel more comfortable with the 12-25. I think I'd rather give up some theoretical high end speed in exchange for some closer middle-cassette gearing and a 25 tooth bailout gear.

I've no plans to do any major bike traveling. If I do decide to do so, I think worst case scenario I swap out the 12-25 cassette for an 11-28.
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Old 11-26-12, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by bianchi10 View Post
I know this woul bea more expesive route because yu would be replacing 2 parts instead of the just the rear, but I would say go with a mid compact 52/36 (praxis works) and stick with an 11-28 or maybe 11-27
That would be more than I'm willing to spend.
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Old 11-26-12, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by baiskeli View Post
That would be more than I'm willing to spend.
understood
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Old 11-26-12, 05:39 PM
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I like 12-27 with 50/34. Assuming you need the 27 that is. There are small gaps for most of the cogs and the larger ones are when you're going slow already.
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Old 11-26-12, 08:30 PM
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If you're doing most of your riding in eastern Massachusetts, I doubt that you'll need anything bigger than a 25 on the rear. 12-25 would seem to be what's best suited for you. If you decide to hit the Berkshires, or tackle the Kankamagus some day, you could always swap it out for an 11- 28. 12-27 might even be better.
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Old 11-26-12, 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by mprelaw View Post
If you're doing most of your riding in eastern Massachusetts, I doubt that you'll need anything bigger than a 25 on the rear. 12-25 would seem to be what's best suited for you. If you decide to hit the Berkshires, or tackle the Kankamagus some day, you could always swap it out for an 11- 28. 12-27 might even be better.
Thanks I did the Kankamagus loop but I feel I didn't need the 28 tooth that much (though it was appreciated on a small section of Crawford notch). Coming down the backside of Kancamagus pass, I really wasn't spinning out the 11 because after 45 mph or so I was essentially coasting.
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Old 11-26-12, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by bianchi10 View Post
understood
Advice is appreciated though. Maybe at some point in the future I might switch cranksets.
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Old 11-26-12, 11:47 PM
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Instead of switching cranksets, why not get two cassettes? Say, a 12-23 or 25 for flat days and an 11-26 or 27 for mountain days. Or whatever you decide on. They're only going to wear out eventually.
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Old 11-27-12, 12:00 AM
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I dunno. I'm 185-187lbs and I use a compact with a 10sp 12-28. The climbs I do merit the big bailout gear and on the other end, my courage runs out before my gearing (bike is just about geared out at around 40mph)

It's such a personal choice that there's no right answer.
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Old 11-27-12, 12:05 AM
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I've done my fair share of hand-wringing over ratios. If you don't think you need the 28, I'd consider an 11-26. SRAM uses the following progression that I really like:

11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-26

For climbing round here the progression from 19->21->23 is very evenly spaced with a 34T chainring for grades up to 8-9%, and the 26T is a good option for the steeps, without being a huge gap from 23T.

Another option could be to go with the SRAM version of the 11-28:

11-12-13-14-15-17-19-22-25-28

This would avoid the 4T gap on your last two gears - it's a pretty popular cassette here in the hills.
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Old 11-27-12, 12:37 AM
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I think you're on the right track with the 12-25, the fewer multi-tooth jumps the better.
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Old 11-27-12, 12:51 AM
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The 11-26 is nice. Nicer gear spacing than the 11-28. I ride the 11-28's but I have steep hills on every ride and weak knees.

I don't like 12's with my 34/50 compacts, I spin out on down hills too fast.
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Old 11-27-12, 02:27 AM
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12-23 for the 18. If you want a harder gear (50x12 is already bigger than what Eddy Merckx used to dominate the spring classics) get a standard double and if 39x23 is no longer enough for you get a triple.
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Old 11-27-12, 03:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
I've done my fair share of hand-wringing over ratios. If you don't think you need the 28, I'd consider an 11-26. SRAM uses the following progression that I really like:

11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-26

Another option could be to go with the SRAM version of the 11-28:

11-12-13-14-15-17-19-22-25-28

This would avoid the 4T gap on your last two gears - it's a pretty popular cassette here in the hills.
After going with the 11-28 on my 2011 purchase (2 x 10), I came to this kind of analysis as well. It works better to consider not just the lower and upper, but all the gears in between.
The Shimano 11-28 I have has the same progression as the SRAM 11-28 above.
The gap between 15-17 was the main reason I decided to go with 12-27 on this bike (for my next cassette, in a few months whenever I decide to replace it).

The 28 was pretty handy but I'm planning to survive ok with the 27. The 11 never really entered the picture - just the environment around here. If I ever pick up that much speed, I'd just maintain more cadence. I can accept that. So I'm prepared to give up both the 11 and 28 and accept the 12 and 27 as the limits, and happily get my 15-16-17 progression back which I use just about every day. (Note: My other bike has the 12-27 so I'm familiar and happy with it. I had thought the 11-28 would give me something more, but I ended up being less satisfied).

Here's the 12-27 progression:
12 13 14 15 16 17 19 21 24 27
Works great for me.
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Old 11-27-12, 07:07 AM
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Buy 2 cassettes, an 11-23 and an 11-28. Ultimately it costs no more, given that cassettes wear out with use.

Use the 11-23 most of the time, which gives you nice tight spacing, and makes the 34 more useable without cross chaining. Have the 11-28 available when you're doing a ride that needs a lower gear.
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Old 11-27-12, 07:44 AM
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12-25.
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Old 11-27-12, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
I've done my fair share of hand-wringing over ratios. If you don't think you need the 28, I'd consider an 11-26. SRAM uses the following progression that I really like:

11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-26

For climbing round here the progression from 19->21->23 is very evenly spaced with a 34T chainring for grades up to 8-9%, and the 26T is a good option for the steeps, without being a huge gap from 23T.

Another option could be to go with the SRAM version of the 11-28:

11-12-13-14-15-17-19-22-25-28

This would avoid the 4T gap on your last two gears - it's a pretty popular cassette here in the hills.
Ah, thanks. I hadn't realized the SRAM cassettes had a slightly different progression. The 11-26 looks mighty tempting.
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Old 11-27-12, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Buy 2 cassettes, an 11-23 and an 11-28. Ultimately it costs no more, given that cassettes wear out with use.

Use the 11-23 most of the time, which gives you nice tight spacing, and makes the 34 more useable without cross chaining. Have the 11-28 available when you're doing a ride that needs a lower gear.
Thanks. I assume that I need to size the chain to fit the 11-28, and then I can still slap on the 11-23 without needing to resize the chain?
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Old 11-27-12, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by baiskeli View Post
Thanks. I assume that I need to size the chain to fit the 11-28, and then I can still slap on the 11-23 without needing to resize the chain?
Yes. Size it for the 11-28. It will work fine with the 11-23.

Key is that the chain is long enough for the 50-28 combination.

The maximum amount of chain that needs taken up is the same with both cassettes (i.e. in the 34/11) Thus, a chain sized for the 11-28 will not be too long for the 11-23.

Sizing for the 11-28, just ends up with a chain that's slightly longer than it would have to be for the 11-23, but works for both cassettes.
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Old 11-27-12, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by baiskeli View Post
Advice is appreciated though. Maybe at some point in the future I might switch cranksets.
just to make sure we are on the same page here, I'm not suggesting a new crankset. Just chainrings. which can be had for under $150. Ultegra cassettes retail for $100 (Though are cheaper on ebay), so it may not be as much as you were thinking IF you were assuming I meant replacing the entire crankset.
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Old 11-27-12, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
12-25.
That would be my choice, but I don't pedal much over 30 MPH either.
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Old 11-27-12, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Yes. Size it for the 11-28. It will work fine with the 11-23.

Key is that the chain is long enough for the 50-28 combination.

The maximum amount of chain that needs taken up is the same with both cassettes (i.e. in the 34/11) Thus, a chain sized for the 11-28 will not be too long for the 11-23.

Sizing for the 11-28, just ends up with a chain that's slightly longer than it would have to be for the 11-23, but works for both cassettes.
Thanks for the info. I think this is the route I'm going to go. I suspect I would have 4-8 rides per season where I would need the 11-28.
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