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XTR 11-40 11-spd cassette with SRAM road shifter and SRAM MTB derailleur

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XTR 11-40 11-spd cassette with SRAM road shifter and SRAM MTB derailleur

Old 10-14-14, 03:14 PM
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XTR 11-40 11-spd cassette with SRAM road shifter and SRAM MTB derailleur

I had a crazy idea about the gearing on our tandem while out riding on the weekend (we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary - there is no better way to do so than going for a 100km tandem ride).

Basically, I'm thinking of using an XTR 11-40 11-speed cassette instead of our current 11-34 10-speed cassette.

We currently have a SRAM Red 10-speed right-hand shifter, with a SRAM X-9 10-speed rear derailleur (long cage), which works very well (it's well-established that SRAM Road and MTB 10-speed groups play well together). I've read that if you want to go to 11-speed on a SRAM-equipped road bike then you only need to change the shifter (plus the cassette and chain) because the 10-speed and 11-speed SRAM road rear derailleurs are the same except for the logos/graphics, see one report here, for instance.

I'm therefore thinking that with a SRAM 11-speed road shifter and a SRAM 10-speed MTB rear derailleur, you could shift across an 11-speed cassette without any problem. There is no bigger 11-speed road cassette than an 11-32, and that wouldn't help anyway because our hub body will only take 10-speed road cassettes. However, the new Shimano XTR 11-speed 11-40 cassette mounts on any Shimano body. I therefore checked the clearance of the X-9 rear derailleur; I believe that it would need to be about 10 mm lower to clear a 40-tooth cog compared to the current 34-tooth, and I had already gained that much before I had finished turning the derailluer's B-screw all the way in, so clearance there should be OK. However, I am worried that the RD might be quite far from the cogs when in the smaller cogs, so shifting might not be so crisp in those gears.

I'm also assuming that the XTR 11-speed cassette has the same spacing between the cogs that road 11-speed cassettes do. I haven't found any info confirming this yet, but I believe it should be.

As for the front gears, we have a Gates CenterTrack timing belt in the outer ring position of a pair of single-bike road triple cranksets (130/74 mm BCD), so only have the middle and inner ring positions available. We currently have 26-42 chainrings, which give us the gear range that we want with the 11-34 10-speed cassette because we ride in rolling to mountainous terrain in Switzerland and France, typically averaging around 25 kph / 16 mph, and have no need to pedal when going above 50 kph / 30 mph. The front shifting compatibility is not an issue because we have a non-indexed bar-end shifter that has so far been able to make any shifts with any chain and any chainring combination that we've thrown at it.

With the 11-40 cassette, I'm thinking that we could go with either 32-46 or 30-46 chainrings. We'd have a very similar total gear range as we do now, but would have an even lower gear still staying on the big/middle ring than we currently have, which means even fewer front shifts are necessary (the middle ring of a road triple crank is nicely lined up with the center of the cassette on a 145-mm OLD tandem rear hub, so I have no qualms about cross-chaining when using the entire cassette while on the big ring, but I have to avoid the 4 smallest cogs when on the small chainring). The chainring size ratio would also be closer together meaning that front shifts wouldn't be as dramatic as they are when going between our 26- and 42-tooth rings. In addition, we could either have a faster top gear than we currently have if we keep the 11-tooth cog, or I'm hoping that I could switch the 11-tooth cog for a 12-tooth cog from a Shimano 105 12-25 11-speed cassette, and that would give us the same top gear as before but with closer gear spacing. Overall, this setup seems to have several advantages in terms of gearing options.

However, although most of what I've read about compatibility means that this combo should work, I haven't read any direct reports of people using it, so I thought I'd ask the readers of this forum for any insights they might have. Just to clarify, here is the combo that we'd have:

SRAM 11-speed right-hand road shifter (probably a Force model, but that's not important)
SRAM 10-speed X-9 MTB long cage rear derailleur (with B-screw tightened all the way)
Shimano XTR 11-speed 11-40 cassette (or modified to be a 12-40)
Shimano 11-speed chain (edit: XTR version to maximize cassette compatibility)

Last edited by Chris_W; 10-15-14 at 12:26 AM.
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Old 10-14-14, 03:52 PM
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As a less drastic solution have you considered trying a 10 speed 11-36 MTB cassette either as is or with an aftermarket 40T cog conversion? This would save you the cost of the 11 speed shifter and an XT or even SLX cassette would be cheaper than an XTR 11, although the 40T cogs run around $100 US.
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Old 10-14-14, 04:01 PM
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From what I've read the new 11spd XTR uses an asymmetric chain. If you go with the XTR cassette, you may need to use that specific chain and not the road chain (I like the durable Ultegra 11spd chain for the tandem).
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Old 10-14-14, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by SlowJoeCrow
As a less drastic solution have you considered trying a 10 speed 11-36 MTB cassette either as is or with an aftermarket 40T cog conversion? This would save you the cost of the 11 speed shifter and an XT or even SLX cassette would be cheaper than an XTR 11, although the 40T cogs run around $100 US.
We've had good luck with 11-36 cassette (Sram mtb 10 sp cassette with Sram red shfiters and X.O long cageg deraileur)
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Old 10-15-14, 12:19 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions, but the 11-34 cassette has the widest spacing that I'm happy with; the 11-36 has too many large gaps, and that would be made worse if I removed a cog to put a 40 tooth on the back.

I'm pleased that no-one has yet stated a reason why this won't work.

As for cost, I work in a bike shop so can get everything at wholesale prices instead of retail - the cassette would be about $210 and the Force shifter $130 IIRC, but we have a shifter in stock at the shop that I could use to do a test before buying one myself. I'd prefer it if I could get an XT 11-speed cassette (with steel instead of titanium cogs), but that won't be available for another 12 months. The XTR chain is only about $40, so that's probably the model that I'll go with.
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Old 10-15-14, 03:36 PM
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The M9000 is: 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40. For comparison the largest Shimano road 11spd cassette (Ultegra 11-32 CS-6800) is: 11-12-13-14-16-18-20-22-25-28-32.

Shimano 10spd XT cassettes were: 11-13-15-17-19-21-23-26-30-34T and 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-28-32-36T, so as you can see, the M9000 spacing in the larger cogs falls between the 10spd 11-34 and the 11-36.

I would be concerned about using the M9000 on a tandem due to the spider body being carbon. I've read of CS-9000/Dura Ace carbon spider failures, but have not had those issues on my single bike. One would hope the mtb version is built to withstand higher torque loads, but given the DA track record, for me this would still be a concern for tandem usage. Glad to see early adopters such as yourself take up the challenge!


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Old 10-15-14, 05:20 PM
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Shimano did fix the carbon spider issue on the Dura Ace 11-speed cassettes a while ago by adding a second mounting pin on each spider arm, see this Bikerumor article. I assume that they took what they learned from that and designed the XTR cassette so that the issue wouldn't re-occur. The XTR has 7 spider arms instead of the DA's 4 so maybe that helps to solve the problem. As I said, I'd love there to be an XT 11-40 11-speed cassette with no carbon or titanium parts, but for the next year the XTR is all that is available.

As for the spacing, the 11-40 11-speed cassette is basically the same as the 11-34 10-speed cassette that we're using now with the addition of a 40-tooth cog (plus a slightly larger jump from the 21 to 24 instead of 21 to 23). As I mentioned above, this would give 3 improvements to our gearing options: (1) we could use larger, more closely spaced chainrings while still having a similar low gear (current 42/26 = 1.62 ratio, new 46/32 = 1.44, or 46/30 = 1.53) meaning that front shifts would be less dramatic in terms of cadence change, (2) we'd get a slightly lower bottom gear while staying on the big ring than we have now (we could stay on the "big" ring down to around 12 kph instead of the current 13 kph), and (3) we could switch the 11-tooth cog for a 12-tooth on the new cassette and still have a similar top gear as now while having tighter spacing in the fast gears (the current 13-11 jump gives an 18% cadence change that is far from ideal). All three of these improvements are small but would be nice to have, but I'm not certain that they are worth the cost, plus there is a small risk that it might not all work together.
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Old 01-13-15, 01:50 PM
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Any update on this? I was thinking of trying this on a cross bike, but have been told the new 11-speed shifters (SRAM and Shimano) are not compatible with the old 10-speed derailleurs due to the cable pull being different. One of the Shimano reps indicated the the XTR cassette might work with their 11-speed road shifters as long as a road derailleur was used. The unanswered question was whether or not the derailleur could work on the 40T (using a longer B-tension screw). The other option was to use Di2 road shifters with an XTR Di2 rear derailleur, but it would be crazy expensive and I'm not sure I want to rely on anything battery operated when I am out in the boonies.
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Old 01-30-15, 12:25 PM
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The update on this is that Lennard Zinn has used the same logic as I did to state that the setup should work (SRAM 11-speed road shifter, SRAM 10-speed MTB rear derailleur, and 11-speed cassette & chain), see the last answer in this post that he made earlier this week.

Fortunately, the exchange rate for the Swiss Franc shot up recently, so most of our distributor's prices just went down by at least 10%, which made it tempting enough for me to order the parts. I should have everything next week and will report back then.
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Old 02-06-15, 03:51 PM
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So, everything is now installed and works pretty much as it should. The cable pull ratio is correct for the 11-speed SRAM road shifter to control the 10-speed SRAM MTB rear derailleur and shift nicely across the XTR 11-speed cassette. Also, it was no problem to switch the 11-tooth cog on the XTR cassette for a 12-tooth cog from a 105 12-25 11-speed cassette to give us a very nicely spaced 12-40 cassette. I've only used it on the bike stand so far since it hasn't got above freezing all week here, so the wife isn't eager to jump on for a test ride. Anyway, I have already found a few small issues:

When the chain is on the big chainring (which is now a 46-tooth) and one of the smallest 4 or 5 cogs, then when you shift down to the small chainring (which is now a 30-tooth) then the chain often jumps off of the rear derailleur's tension pulley (the lower one) and ends up between that and the cage, creating a lot of resistance. Correcting the chainline by shifting to a larger cog normally makes the chain re-engage with the tension pulley. This is probably partly caused by the 11-speed chain being narrower than the RD cage was designed for and partly due to the wide, 145mm rear tandem hub coupled with us using a single-bike triple crankset to give us single-side drive, although it is spaced out a couple of extra mm - the "middle" ring position where our 46-tooth ring is is probably at about 47mm chainline. This makes the degree of cross-chaining quite extreme on this setup, and this probably wouldn't be a problem on a bike with a 135mm or 130mm rear hub. Fortunately, making such a shift shouldn't actually occur very often when riding on the road, so hopefully this won't be an issue. I'm used to only using the larger half of the cassette when in the inner ring, so I'm going to have to be even more vigilant about doing that.

When shifting from the 40-tooth cassette cog to the 35-tooth, the chain sometimes gets hooked up on the 40-tooth, doesn't release properly, makes quite a bit of noise, and doesn't shift to the 35-tooth straight away, although it normally does after 1 or 2 crank revolutions. This happens when the chain is on both the big and small chainrings. The guide pulley (the upper one) of the rear derailleur appears to be at a decent height, and I've tried a few different settings using the B-screw - there is certainly more than enough adjustment to easily get the guide pulley more than low enough to clear the 40-tooth cog. Putting the guide pulley a bit lower improved things slightly, but it still didn't completely solve the issue. I'm interested to see whether this is an issue on the road - I think that a bit of power going through the drivetrain may cause the chain to drop onto the 35 much more quickly because it won't like to be only half-engaged on the 40-tooth for long like it currently does with me turning the cranks by hand.

The rear derailleur is a SRAM X-9 which is about 5 years old. Like many other SRAM derailleurs that I've seen, it has already developed quite a lot of play in the pivots, long before a similar level model from Shimano would have done so. The other mechanic who I work with rides Enduro MTB and says that he expects to only get 1 or 2 years out of a SRAM RD before there is too much play in it and so he gets a new one. The play is probably adding a bit of sloppiness to the shifting. I don't want to buy a new RD because what I really want to do eventually is get a Shimano electronic rear MTB derailleur and Ultegra Di2 shifter, but that is too much cost right now so I want to make this cassette work with what we have. There may be a much cheaper XT Di2 RD out by the end of this year, which will make this conversion a lot cheaper if we can wait that long. In the meantime, I may try buying a cheap X-5 SRAM RD to see if that improves things.

I moved the front derailleur (an Ultegra 10-speed double model, 6600 IIRC) up to compensate for changing from a 42-tooth large ring to a 46-tooth, with the normal 1-2 mm of clearance between the ring and the cage. When I put the chain on the largest cog and the large chainring (46-40 combination), the chain was rubbing on the front derailleur, not on the inner cage as you would expect, but instead it was rubbing on the underside of the TOP of the cage. The 40-tooth cog is so tall that the front derailleur is not designed for the chain to enter at that angle vertically. I've therefore had to move the front derailleur up, so there is now probably about 4mm between the outer cage and the large cog. Front shifting is absolutely perfect, and I think better than it was with the 28-42 chainring setup that we had with the 10-speed chain. If you had a 50-tooth or large big ring, then you probably won't need to worry about this.

So far it's generally working OK on the repair stand. There are just a couple of situations where it isn't shifting like it should, but I'm hoping that out on the road these will not become real issues.

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Old 02-06-15, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris_W
When the chain is on the big chainring (which is now a 46-tooth) and one of the smallest 4 or 5 cogs, then when you shift down to the small chainring (which is now a 30-tooth) then the chain often jumps off of the rear derailleur's tension pulley (the lower one) and ends up between that and the cage, creating a lot of resistance. Correcting the chainline by shifting to a larger cog normally makes the chain re-engage with the tension pulley. This is probably partly caused by the 11-speed chain being narrower than the RD cage was designed for and partly due to the wide, 145mm rear tandem hub coupled with us using a single-bike triple crankset to give us single-side drive, although it is spaced out a couple of extra mm - the "middle" ring position where our 46-tooth ring is is probably at about 47mm chainline. This makes the degree of cross-chaining quite extreme on this setup, and this probably wouldn't be a problem on a bike with a 135mm or 130mm rear hub. Fortunately, making such a shift shouldn't actually occur very often when riding on the road, so hopefully this won't be an issue. I'm used to only using the larger half of the cassette when in the inner ring, so I'm going to have to be even more vigilant about doing that.
In order to narrow up the RD cage, I bet you could install 11spd pulleys and bolts on the old 10spd RD.

Are you currently using the asymmetric 11spd XTR chain for this new setup, or a SRAM chain?

I moved the front derailleur (an Ultegra 10-speed double model, 6600 IIRC) up to compensate for changing from a 42-tooth large ring to a 46-tooth, with the normal 1-2 mm of clearance between the ring and the cage. When I put the chain on the largest cog and the large chainring (46-40 combination), the chain was rubbing on the front derailleur, not on the inner cage as you would expect, but instead it was rubbing on the underside of the TOP of the cage. The 40-tooth cog is so tall that the front derailleur is not designed for the chain to enter at that angle vertically. I've therefore had to move the front derailleur up, so there is now probably about 4mm between the outer cage and the large cog. Front shifting is absolutely perfect, and I think better than it was with the 28-42 chainring setup that we had with the 10-speed chain. If you had a 50-tooth or large big ring, then you probably won't need to worry about this.
Since you should probably never use that big-big combination anyway, why not leave the FD in the normal height and use the chain rub as a reminder not to go there?

Last edited by twocicle; 02-06-15 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 02-07-15, 11:58 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions.

I had thought about using different pulleys to get the RD cage spacing narrower, but I'll wait to see if we encounter any problems on the road before doing so.

I used an Ultegra 6800 chain, which is symmetric. I hadn't realized that the new XTR/Dura-Ace 9000 chain is different and asymmetric, because the first Dura Ace 11-speed chain was symmetirc like the Ultegra still is. I may therefore try it with the new version of the chain, but I think that the sluggish shifting between the 35 and 40 tooth cogs is more due to inappropriate derailleur geometry than it is due to the chain.

As for using the big-big combination, that is not cross-chaining on our setup because our 46-tooth "big" ring is mounted in the middle position of a single-bike triple crank (the only way I've found to let us use two cranks of our preferred length - 165mm - with integrated axles and external BBs is to use Shimano 5603 triple cranks with the timing belt rings in the outer ring positions). The cranks are spaced out an extra 2mm on the driveside, making the chainline 47mm when on the big/middle ring, compared to 50-53mm on the middle ring of the FSA Gossamer or Shimano R600 tandem triple cranks. So with our 145mm rear hub, the big ring is lined up with the center of the cassette, so we use the whole range and going big-big doesn't really involve any significant cross-chaining. In addition, with the 44 cm chainstays on our Co-Motion Speedster, there is really nothing to worry about there. With the 40-tooth rear cog, we should be able to stay on the big ring down to about 12-13 kph, and so shifts down to the small ring will not be needed very often.
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Old 02-26-16, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris_W
So, everything is now installed and works pretty much as it should. The cable pull ratio is correct for the 11-speed SRAM road shifter to control the 10-speed SRAM MTB rear derailleur and shift nicely across the XTR 11-speed cassette. Also, it was no problem to switch the 11-tooth cog on the XTR cassette for a 12-tooth cog from a 105 12-25 11-speed cassette to give us a very nicely spaced 12-40 cassette. I've only used it on the bike stand so far since it hasn't got above freezing all week here, so the wife isn't eager to jump on for a test ride. Anyway, I have already found a few small issues:

When the chain is on the big chainring (which is now a 46-tooth) and one of the smallest 4 or 5 cogs, then when you shift down to the small chainring (which is now a 30-tooth) then the chain often jumps off of the rear derailleur's tension pulley (the lower one) and ends up between that and the cage, creating a lot of resistance. Correcting the chainline by shifting to a larger cog normally makes the chain re-engage with the tension pulley. This is probably partly caused by the 11-speed chain being narrower than the RD cage was designed for and partly due to the wide, 145mm rear tandem hub coupled with us using a single-bike triple crankset to give us single-side drive, although it is spaced out a couple of extra mm - the "middle" ring position where our 46-tooth ring is is probably at about 47mm chainline. This makes the degree of cross-chaining quite extreme on this setup, and this probably wouldn't be a problem on a bike with a 135mm or 130mm rear hub. Fortunately, making such a shift shouldn't actually occur very often when riding on the road, so hopefully this won't be an issue. I'm used to only using the larger half of the cassette when in the inner ring, so I'm going to have to be even more vigilant about doing that.

When shifting from the 40-tooth cassette cog to the 35-tooth, the chain sometimes gets hooked up on the 40-tooth, doesn't release properly, makes quite a bit of noise, and doesn't shift to the 35-tooth straight away, although it normally does after 1 or 2 crank revolutions. This happens when the chain is on both the big and small chainrings. The guide pulley (the upper one) of the rear derailleur appears to be at a decent height, and I've tried a few different settings using the B-screw - there is certainly more than enough adjustment to easily get the guide pulley more than low enough to clear the 40-tooth cog. Putting the guide pulley a bit lower improved things slightly, but it still didn't completely solve the issue. I'm interested to see whether this is an issue on the road - I think that a bit of power going through the drivetrain may cause the chain to drop onto the 35 much more quickly because it won't like to be only half-engaged on the 40-tooth for long like it currently does with me turning the cranks by hand.

The rear derailleur is a SRAM X-9 which is about 5 years old. Like many other SRAM derailleurs that I've seen, it has already developed quite a lot of play in the pivots, long before a similar level model from Shimano would have done so. The other mechanic who I work with rides Enduro MTB and says that he expects to only get 1 or 2 years out of a SRAM RD before there is too much play in it and so he gets a new one. The play is probably adding a bit of sloppiness to the shifting. I don't want to buy a new RD because what I really want to do eventually is get a Shimano electronic rear MTB derailleur and Ultegra Di2 shifter, but that is too much cost right now so I want to make this cassette work with what we have. There may be a much cheaper XT Di2 RD out by the end of this year, which will make this conversion a lot cheaper if we can wait that long. In the meantime, I may try buying a cheap X-5 SRAM RD to see if that improves things.

I moved the front derailleur (an Ultegra 10-speed double model, 6600 IIRC) up to compensate for changing from a 42-tooth large ring to a 46-tooth, with the normal 1-2 mm of clearance between the ring and the cage. When I put the chain on the largest cog and the large chainring (46-40 combination), the chain was rubbing on the front derailleur, not on the inner cage as you would expect, but instead it was rubbing on the underside of the TOP of the cage. The 40-tooth cog is so tall that the front derailleur is not designed for the chain to enter at that angle vertically. I've therefore had to move the front derailleur up, so there is now probably about 4mm between the outer cage and the large cog. Front shifting is absolutely perfect, and I think better than it was with the 28-42 chainring setup that we had with the 10-speed chain. If you had a 50-tooth or large big ring, then you probably won't need to worry about this.

So far it's generally working OK on the repair stand. There are just a couple of situations where it isn't shifting like it should, but I'm hoping that out on the road these will not become real issues.
Hi,

Looking at building a regular touring bike with SRAM. Will the Rival 22 shifters work with a x-9 or x- or x-5 or the new SRAM GS Rd?
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Old 02-27-16, 01:02 AM
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A SRAM road levers, either 10-speed or 11-speed, should work with a MTB 10-speed rear derailleur and a cassette that matches the number of speeds of the shifter; I believe that SRAM MTB 11-speed rear derailleurs won't work. However, I never got it to work that well and we ended up going with an Ultegra Di2 group with the rear derailleur mounted on a Wolf Tooth RoadLink derailleur hanger extension, which works very well on the 11-40 cassette, 11-speed cassette.
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