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  1. #1
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    Aug 2011
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    Cassettes explained please

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    I saw another post on cassettes and that started me thinking that I don't know anything about cassettes! Someone was mentioning that they needed lower gears as they were finding hills a bit tough to climb. And I thought maybe that would be good for me too. But I don't know the first this about cassettes and all of those gear ratios (mine is a 11-25T).

    Can someone please explain what all of that means and is it easy to swap out a cassette to get easier gearing (I'm sure within reason)?

    Thanks!
    2009 Fuji Finest RC - Dark Blue.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2011
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    NW Illinois
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    Wow, 45 views and not one reply????
    2009 Fuji Finest RC - Dark Blue.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    I'm the only one allowed to whine
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    Sheldon Brown (RIP) is always a good place to start: http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_ca-g.html#cassette

    Each of the links in the brief overview are valuable, and you can spend hours reading his clear and well-written articles.

    It was a huge loss when he died.

    I've never changed out a cassette, so I have no experience to share with you there. But I've heard it's fairly easy and cheap to do, and some people do change them on a regular basis as they wear out.

    This thread might be helpful, too: http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showthread.php?t=44560
    Last edited by KnottedYet; 08-25-2011 at 04:46 AM.
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  4. #4
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    You might give us longer than overnight ...

    I think the hesitation is that it is pretty simple, but we're not really familiar with your degree of mechanical expertise or what other components are on your bike.

    There are two special tools required for removing a cassette - a lockring remover, which is like a splined cylinder with a hex head, and a chain whip, which lets you hold the cogs so they don't spin while you're loosening the cassette. They're good things to have and know how to use anyway, since cassettes are a wear item that will need periodic replacement, plus you may well want to swap back and forth between two cassettes if you ride in different terrain.

    I think any rear derailleur that will accommodate a 25T low cog will also accommodate a 27T and possibly a 28 (someone correct me if I'm wrong). If you want to go bigger than that, you probably will need to replace your rear derailleur with a longer-cage mountain bike derailleur. At a minimum, with any cassette change, you'll need to re-set the B-screw on your rear derailleur, and if you make more than a 3-4 tooth change in your big cog, you're likely to need a longer chain, too.

    The short answer is there is no short answer with the information you've given us. How comfortable are you with tools? How much would you like to learn? How much do you trust your local bike shop?

    There's a lot of really handy information on parktool.com and sheldonbrown.com .
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    6,446
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippinalong View Post
    Wow, 45 views and not one reply????
    Had it been a question about sunscreen, you'd have 46 replies with 45 views. But your question required an answer from someone that actually knew what they were talking about.

    Personally, every time someone mentions cassette numbers, my eyes cross.

    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Portland, OR
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    326
    +1 to what the others have provided in terms of great on-line resources for information.

    In addition to bike mechanicals for climbing you also have you. What is your climbing style? What is your current conditioning? Gearing that works for some may not work for your pedaling style. I tend to ride a lower cadence up the sustained climbs than when I am riding on more flat or short rolling terrain, so my bikes are set up with a bit higher gearing than if I only rode hills (not sure that even makes sense).

    Also, what do you have for chainring set up? Double? Triple? Depending on your needs, you might need to do both, lower gearing (bigger rear cogs) on the cassette and a smaller smallest chainring on the front.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  7. #7
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    Dec 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    You might give us longer than overnight ...

    I think the hesitation is that it is pretty simple, but we're not really familiar with your degree of mechanical expertise or what other components are on your bike.

    Yep.

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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    NW Illinois
    Posts
    60
    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    You might give us longer than overnight ...

    I think the hesitation is that it is pretty simple, but we're not really familiar with your degree of mechanical expertise or what other components are on your bike.

    There are two special tools required for removing a cassette - a lockring remover, which is like a splined cylinder with a hex head, and a chain whip, which lets you hold the cogs so they don't spin while you're loosening the cassette. They're good things to have and know how to use anyway, since cassettes are a wear item that will need periodic replacement, plus you may well want to swap back and forth between two cassettes if you ride in different terrain.

    I think any rear derailleur that will accommodate a 25T low cog will also accommodate a 27T and possibly a 28 (someone correct me if I'm wrong). If you want to go bigger than that, you probably will need to replace your rear derailleur with a longer-cage mountain bike derailleur. At a minimum, with any cassette change, you'll need to re-set the B-screw on your rear derailleur, and if you make more than a 3-4 tooth change in your big cog, you're likely to need a longer chain, too.

    The short answer is there is no short answer with the information you've given us. How comfortable are you with tools? How much would you like to learn? How much do you trust your local bike shop?

    There's a lot of really handy information on parktool.com and sheldonbrown.com .
    I think my original statement in my post was obvious: But I don't know the first thing about cassettes and all of those gear ratios (mine is a 11-25T).
    So I was looking for a basic explanation of what all those numbers meant. Also I was asking if they were easy to change out therefore getting an idea if it was something I could do or do I need my LBS to do it. Thanks.
    2009 Fuji Finest RC - Dark Blue.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    California
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    371
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippinalong View Post
    I think my original statement in my post was obvious: But I don't know the first thing about cassettes and all of those gear ratios (mine is a 11-25T).
    So I was looking for a basic explanation of what all those numbers meant.
    In simplest terms, the numbers mean how many teeth are on the smallest and largest cogs. The fewer teeth on a cassette cog, the faster you'll go and the harder it will be to pedal. The more teeth, the easier it is to climb hills.

    As the range smallest to largest increases, the bigger the jumps between gears will be. This means you sometimes might not have the perfect gear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zippinalong View Post
    Also I was asking if they were easy to change out therefore getting an idea if it was something I could do or do I need my LBS to do it. Thanks.
    Changing a cassette requires two special tools. However, this is a very basic thing for a shop to do. If you buy the cassette from them (and bring along the wheel), they might change the cassette for you for free.

  10. #10
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    Dec 2010
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    I am so lucky to have a DH who is a bike mechanic. I am not helpless but changing a cassette isn't on the top of my list. I told him about this thread and after his smart alec remark "isn't a cassette something you put music on in the 80's" he reminded me of the blog post he did about gearing so am sharing to you.
    Sky King
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  11. #11
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    Apr 2009
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    California
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sky King View Post
    he reminded me of the blog post he did about gearing so am sharing to you.
    In that blog post he says: "A gear inch is not a real unit of measure". Actually it is! It's the size of the equivalent front wheel of a penny farthing.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    60
    This thread is old but it's on topic for me as I'm swapping out my cassette from a 12-30 to a 11-28 because I'm upgrading my wheel set. I'm wondering if I'll feel the difference on my climbs. I am going to change the cassette because my bike (2013 Ruby Comp) came with an otherwise Ultegra group set except for the cassette (Specialized snuck in a Tiagra) and the front derailleur is a 105. Bastards. Anyhow, I went ahead and got an Ultegra cassette because I figured since I'm changing out my wheels, it's be easier and inexpensive to install a new cassette without having to remove the 12-30 off my DT Swiss wheels. Those could be my training set and I could leave the 12-30 cassette on them. Even though I won't need a chain whip this time, I might still get one for my bike tool box. I'm going to be doing this myself. There are some good you tube videos that explain quite clearly how to install a chainring. Seems straightforward. I'll be doing this as soon as I get my parts/tools tomorrow, including my bike stand to help with cleaning/lubing from now on.

    Anyone think I'll perceive much change from 12-30 to 11-28? I do a fair share of climbing here in SF area. Thanks.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
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    6,132
    How much of a difference you'll notice will depend on how often you currently use your 30 cog. If you don't use it much, then you likely won't notice it at all. If you use it a lot or some, then you might, but the gear difference between a 28 and a 30 is pretty small. However, if you already feel like you are running out of gears on your 12-30 setup, then the 11-28 is arguably not your best choice.

    If you want to know the exact difference between the 30 and the 28 cogs, use Sheldon Brown's gear calculator.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    983
    +1 on giving everyone more time to respond. The other thing that I would mention is that if you don't get answers as quickly as you'd like, perhaps you should check with your nearest bike shop.

    Another thing that I would mention here is that unless your bike or current chain/cassette is fairly new, you may have to change your chain as well. Your chain and cassette mate together, and replacing one without other may cause serious problems.

    I agree with others, that perhaps a bit more information about you, your riding habits, terrain would be helpful. Hopefully all of the responses have guided you in the right direction.

  15. #15
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    Sep 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridebikeme View Post
    +1 on giving everyone more time to respond. The other thing that I would mention is that if you don't get answers as quickly as you'd like, perhaps you should check with your nearest bike shop.
    The OP in this thread (and the thread started some time ago) is the one that made a snarky comment about people not timely responding, not SFLiz.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

 

 

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