Bike cassettes explained (2023)

The vast majority of modern bikes, whether mountain bikes,road bikes or gravel bikes, come with derailleur gears. The rear derailleur moves your chain up or down a set of sprockets attached to your rear wheel. Those sprockets – or gear wheels, if you prefer – are your cassette.


Cassettes come in a wide range of sizes to suit all disciplines. The size of a cassette is usually expressed by quoting its smallest and largest cogs. As an example, a typical modern road bike cassette may be an 11-32t (teeth) cassette. For a mountain bike cassette, the range may be something like 10-52t.

In this guide, we’ll talk you through what a cassette is and how to tell the ‘speed’ of your cassette, explain the typical range of a cassette for all disciplines, compare the key difference between cheap and expensive cassettes, and much more.

What is a cassette?

Bike cassettes explained (1)

Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Although it might seem straightforward, there’s a lot of engineering that goes into a bike cassette.

Rather than just being a collection of cogs, the sprockets in a cassette are designed to work together as a whole, with the individual sprockets positioned precisely relative to one another to ensure the chain will shift smoothly between cogs.

Individual teeth on the sprockets have shapes that differ from one another and there are usually ramps built into the sides of the sprockets. This helps ensure smooth shifting between gears.

The designs of these ramps have been honed over time.

Shimano, for example, uses a system it calls Hyperglide, which is engineered to provide smooth shifting. Its latest cassettes have a newer system called Hyperglide+, which Shimano says reduces shifting time by up to a third relative to Hyperglide, and improves shifting performance under power, up and down the cassette.

Other cassette suppliers, such as SRAM and Campagnolo, have equivalently honed cassette designs.

Bike cassettes explained (2)

David Caudery / Immediate Media

Since they’re designed as a whole system, the sprockets in a cassette are sold as a set rather than individually, and usually need to be replaced as a complete group, too.

You usually can’t just swap out one sprocket from a set for one with a different number of teeth without compromising shift performance.

We have an explainer on how to change your cassette in five simple steps.

What ‘speed’ is my cassette?

Bike cassettes explained (3)

Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

A cassette might have anything from 7 up to 13 sprockets.

These days, it is increasingly common to see higher-spec road bikes with 12-speed gearing, Shimano having joined SRAM and Campagnolo with 12-speed groupsets in 2021 with the release of its Dura-Ace Di2 R9200 groupset.

For mountain bikes, 12-speed cassettes are largely the default for higher-spec groupsets, paired with a single-ring chainset.

The number of sprockets on your cassette must match the number your other components are designed for.

That’s because almost all gear systems are indexed, and shifters are designed to move the derailleur a set distance for each click of their mechanism. This means they won’t work with cassettes that don’t have the same number of sprockets, because sprocket spacing is narrower on cassettes with more sprockets. The chain has to be the right width to match the number of sprockets, too.

Bike cassettes explained (4)

Nathan Carvell / BikeRadar

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In general, lower-spec groupsets offer fewer gear ratios and so have cassettes with fewer sprockets.

There are exceptions though, with SRAM’s X01 DH and GX DH downhill mountain bike groupsets using seven-speed cassettes, which work with 11-speed chains. The lower number of gears is designed to give closer gear ratios and allow shorter cage derailleurs for better ground clearance, on bikes where climbing capability is not required.

Cassette gear ratios

Bike cassettes explained (5)

Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Alongside the number of sprockets, the range of different tooth numbers offered is a key determinant of a cassette’s compatibility with your drivetrain.

In general, cassettes start at 10, 11 or 12 teeth. Again, there are exceptions, with options available with 9-, 13- or 14-tooth smallest sprockets.

You may sometimes see brands refer to their cassettes as having a certain range in the form of a percentage.

For example, SRAM boasts a 520 per cent range with its 10-52t cassettes. How has SRAM arrived at this figure, and how do you work out your gear range percentage?

Well, the smallest cog is a 10-tooth, and the largest cog is 52-tooth, which is 520 per cent larger than the 10-tooth cog, thus giving a 520 per cent range.

It’s important to note that this figure is only indicative of the range of gears you have on your cassette, and is not the same as working out how far you will travel with your chosen gear ratio.

Likewise, it can’t tell you if it is suitable for the type of riding you do. For that, you would calculate gear inches, which is another topic in itself.

Road bike cassettes

Bike cassettes explained (6)

Simon Bromley / Immediate Media

Road bike cassettes have mushroomed in size in recent years.

Where an 11-28 would have been considered an ‘easy’ training cassette a few short years ago, the smallest cassette available for a Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 is an 11-28. That might not sound like much but, when you consider pro riders would typically ride on 11-23 or 11-25 cassettes, it’s a sizeable difference.

The reason for this development is firstly due to the increase in cassette speeds.

Now that 12-speed road bike groupsets exist, cassettes can have a larger range and the jumps between each gear can be relatively small.

For example, at the lower end of the cassette, you can have as little as a one-tooth jump between the early cogs, and still have the range at the easier end. If you were running a 7- or 8-speed system, for example, in the same range, the jumps would be bigger.

Attitudes towards gearing have also changed – it’s no longer seen as a badge of pride to needlessly grind away at a lower cadence, and our knees are all the more happy for it.

Bike cassettes explained (7)

Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

Both Shimano and Campagnolo have stuck to pre-existing gear ratios in their transformations to 12-speed, and have used the additional cog as a means of bridging the gap between the bigger jumps of the cassette, so that the ratios are closer together. SRAM has gone down a different route (more on that in a moment).

Shimano’s latest R9200 is offered in 11-28, 11-30 and 11-34 options. These ratios also existed in Shimano’s 11-speed configurations, although it’s important to note that Dura-Ace R9100 did not have an 11-34 option.

Campagnolo offers an 11-29 option for all of its 12-speed groupsets, which was the largest range offered in its 11-speed ecosystem.

In addition, there are now 11-32 cassette options across the board. There is also an 11-34 cassette, but that is only available and compatible with Chorus.

Bike cassettes explained (8)
(Video) How To Choose Your Chainrings + Cassette - GCN's Guide To Selecting Road Bike Gear Ratios


SRAM, on the other hand, has shaken up what we have come to understand as conventional gear ratios with its latest 12-speed eTap AXS groupsets.

Its addition of a 12th cog instead acts to increase the range of the cassette. SRAM road cassettes start from a smaller 10t (which requires the use of the XDR freehub body, which we’ll come onto later).

SRAM has also revamped its chainring sizes, that are smaller than convention at 50/37 (Red only), 48/35 and 46/33. This compares to the more conventional gear ratios of 53/39, 52/36 and 50/34.

SRAM cassettes are available in 10-26 (Red only), 10-28 (Force and Red only), 10-30 (Rival only), 10-33 (Force and Red only) and 10-36 (Rival and Force only).

Mountain bike cassettes

Bike cassettes explained (9)

Alex Evans / Immediate Media

Mountain bike cassettes have similarly increased in size. This is largely down to the advent of 1x drivetrains – with no small inner ring for climbing in a 1x setup, cassettes need to offer a wider range in order for riders to be equipped with a suitable climbing gear.

Unlike road bikes, mountain bike cassette options are usually more limited.

Shimano offers just two cassette sizes in its 12-speed line-up – 10-45 (not available for Deore) and 10-51. The 10-51 option can only be used on a 1x setup, but the 10-45 can be used on either 1x or 2x systems.

Bike cassettes explained (10)

Alex Evans

SRAM also offers just two cassette sizes in its Eagle lineup – 10-50 and 10-52. The 10-52 is the widest-range cassette made by either manufacturer. Although there are currently two options, it’s likely the 10-50 will be phased out in time because it has been superseded by the 10-52.

You need to ensure you’re using a compatible rear derailleur if you’re using the 10-52 option, because the previous-generation Eagle mechanical rear derailleur’s cage is slightly too short.

There are new rear derailleurs on the market that are identifiable as being compatible because they have a ‘520% range’ graphic printed on the derailleur cage. SRAM Eagle AXS rear derailleurs are compatible with the new 10-52 cassettes.

For users of SRAM’s two entry-level Eagle groupsets, SX Eagle and NX Eagle, SRAM offers an 11-50 cassette. This allows the cassette to fit onto a standard Shimano HG freehub (again, more on this later) because the 10t options require the use of an XD freehub.

Gravel bike cassettes

Bike cassettes explained (11)

Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Gravel bikes are best viewed as a crossover between a road and mountain bike. As such, it’s normal to see them specced with either a road or mountain bike cassette.

However, as groupset manufacturers have jumped onto the gravel bandwagon, there are now gravel-specific gearing options available on the market.

SRAM’s eTap AXS XPLR groupsets are designed specifically for gravel riding. SRAM XPLR cassettes have a range of 10-44 and require their own compatible rear derailleur. It is also possible to mix and match drop bar shifters with mountain bike Eagle eTap AXS components if you want an especially wide-range 1x build. SRAM dubs this a ‘mullet’ setup.

Campagnolo is the only mainstream groupset manufacturer to have a 13-speed groupset for gravel. The Campagnolo Ekar 13-speed gravel groupset offers cassettes that start with just nine teeth in their smallest sprocket. Cassettes are offered in 9-36, 9-42 or 10-44 options. Ekar is 1x only.

Shimano GRX users can choose to spec one of their own 11-speed road or mountain bike cassettes. The road cassettes go up to an 11-34 and mountain bike cassettes are offered in 11-40, 11-42 or 11-46. Shimano’s cassette range might sound more limited than its competitors, but it is important to note that you can run GRX either as a 1x or 2x system.

Cassette compatibility explained

Bike cassettes explained (12)

Simon von Bromley / Immediate Media

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Freehub compatibility

A freehub has splines that mesh with notches in your cassette. These ensure that your cassette’s sprockets are positioned correctly relative to one another and are in the right orientation for the whole system to work properly.

Each manufacturer has its own freehub design, meaning that not all cassettes will work with every wheel (or groupset).

A full explainer on freehubs, how they work and their compatibility can be found in our beginner’s guide to freehubs.

Shimano freehubs

Bike cassettes explained (13)

Felix Smith / Immediate Media

The most common system is the Shimano 11-speed HG-style freehub, which has 9 splines. Most Shimano groupsets up to the 11-speed era used this style of freehub. SRAM groupsets prior to the current generation of 12-speed groupsets also used the same freehub design, although there are a handful of exceptions with the larger cassette ratios on their 1×11 groupsets.

Shimano recently released an updated freehub design for its road bike groupsets with Ultegra’s and Dura-Ace’s move to 12-speed, although this is backwards-compatible with 11-speed Shimano freehubs.

On the mountain bike side, Shimano uses its Microspline freehub standard for its 12-speed Deore, SLX, XT and XTR groupsets.

If you are specifically using a Shimano HG freehub, you need to consider how wide the cassette you are buying is. Road wheels have slightly wider freehubs than MTB ones – by 1.85mm – and 11-speed Shimano HG road cassettes are slightly wider than 8- or 9-speed ones, again by 1.85mm.

You can fit a mountain or road cassette with fewer ratios on an 11-speed road hub by adding a 1.85mm spacer on its inner side, but you can’t fit a road cassette on an MTB freehub. Since 10-speed road cassettes are narrower than 8- or 9-speed ones, you need to use a 1.85mm spacer, plus an additional 1mm one for it to fit.

Campagnolo freehubs

Bike cassettes explained (14)

Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

Campagnolo has also used its own freehub design that’s different and incompatible with Shimano and SRAM cassettes.

The brand has also brought out a new freehub standard called N3W to support its 13-speed Ekar cassettes. An adaptor for this freehub allows it to work with Campagnolo’s older-standard cassettes too.

SRAM freehubs

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Russell Burton / Immediate Media

SRAM introduced its XD freehub standard when it started rolling out cassettes with a 10-tooth smallest cog. It recently ported this design over to the road with XDR, which also allows the use of 10-tooth cogs, but is slightly wider than the road bike standard.

SRAM XDR road cassettes are 1.85mm wider than SRAM XD MTB cassettes. With a spacer, you can run an XD cassette on a road wheel with an XDR body, but you can’t use an XDR cassette on an XD freehub.

Mountain bike versus road cassettes

Some people may wish to use a road bike cassette on a mountain bike or vice versa. Here, we’ll go over why you may (or may not) choose to do so, and look at the compatibility issues both options may present.

Most people won’t want to use a road bike cassette on a mountain bike. The range of a typical road cassette is much smaller than a mountain bike, and riding off-road requires a wider spread of gears to winch your way up technical climbs but still have a low enough gear for the descents.

Bike cassettes explained (16)

Dave Caudery / Immediate Media

If you are still using a triple crankset, you may have sufficient overall range with a road cassette, but this is a fairly specialist application these days.

You may want to consider using a mountain bike cassette on a road bike if you require an easier climbing gear, or if you’re bikepacking. However, you will need to ensure your freehub and derailleur are compatible with a larger-range cassette.

The cage of a rear derailleur is designed for a certain range of gears. For example, Shimano’s outgoing Dura-Ace R9100-SS rear derailleur is designed for use up to an 11-30 cassette.

This means it wouldn’t be compatible with an 11-34 cassette because the cage of the rear derailleur isn’t long enough to allow the derailleur to take up enough slack from the chain when riding in the smallest cog of the cassette, given that the chain’s length needs to be long enough to accommodate the larger 34t sprocket.

(Video) Freewheel vs Cassette - What Are They? Can I Convert?

Bike cassettes explained (17)

Simon Bromley / Immediate Media

If you wanted to use an 11-34 cassette, as well as buying the relevant cassette, you would need to buy a compatible rear derailleur. In this example, it would be an Ultegra R8050-GS or 105 R7000-GS rear derailleur. The GS denotes that these are ‘medium cage’ derailleurs. The same rule applies to Shimano Di2 derailleurs.

SRAM eTap AXS rear derailleurs can take up to a 33t for road, and this is denoted by the ‘Max 33t’ written on the inside of the derailleur cage. There is also a ‘Max 36t’ option to pair with the 10-36 cassette, as well as an XPLR rear derailleur, which can take up to a 44t.

Campagnolo 12-speed rear derailleurs can accept up to an 11-32. The only exception is Campagnolo Chorus, which can take up to an 11-34.

If you’re changing to a larger cassette ratio, you’ll also want to make sure that your chain is of a sufficient length.

Cassette materials: steel vs aluminium vs titanium

Bike cassettes explained (18)

Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

The least expensive cassettes are typically made of pressed steel, which is hard-wearing but heavy. Move up the price range and you’ll usually get flashier materials and better finishing.

For example, the top-spec Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 cassette has five of its 12 sprockets made of titanium. Steel is still used for the smallest sprockets on the cassette because there are fewer points of contact with the chain. A softer material would wear out more quickly.

Bike cassettes explained (19)

Jack Luke / Immediate Media

SRAM saves weight in its highest-spec SRAM Red AXS 12-speed road cassette by machining it as one piece from a single block of steel, which allows the removal of a lot of material. Rotor and Miche both save weight by making their cassettes, which are compatible with major road bike groupsets, out of aluminium alloy.

Larger sprockets are often joined together in clusters that are supported by a single carrier – or ‘spider’ – that meshes with the freehub.

This saves weight and, since it isn’t subject to wear from the chain, the carrier is often made of a lighter material – carbon fibre in the case of Dura-Ace cassettes

Where cassettes have individual sprockets, the mid-range ones are usually separated by spacers, which may be made of alloy or in some cases plastic. The smaller sprockets are built with the spacer incorporated into them.

Most cassettes (but not SRAM XD and XDR) are secured to the freehub body with a locknut, which comes as part of the cassette. Again, the default is steel but aluminium alloy is a lighter alternative that may be used.

Cassette prices: what do you get for your money?

Bike cassettes explained (20)

Russell Burton / Immediate Media

You can pay a lot of money for a high-end cassette; the most expensive cassettes now cost over £300. So what do you get for the price?

Higher-spec cassettes will usually be made from more exotic materials, such as titanium or carbon fibre for some sprockets and their carriers. Others, such as SRAM Red road cassettes, are machined in one piece. In general, higher-spec cassettes are more intricately finished and weigh less than cheaper ones.

Beyond weight, there’s not much difference in performance between a Dura-Ace 11-28 cassette and one from a Shimano Ultegra or a Shimano 105 groupset, so you can save yourself considerable expense by down-speccing.

There are equivalent options with SRAM, and with the advent of Rival eTap AXS those now extend to its 12-speed road groupsets, offering a much cheaper alternative to Red and Force-level cassettes. The same can be said of equivalent mountain bike groupsets.

It’s worth remembering that a cassette is a wear component and will need periodical replacement though.

If you change your chain when it is at .5 on a chain checker tool (11/12/13-speed) or at .75 (for 10-speed and below), you can – as a very rough rule of thumb – run three chains on one cassette. Some riders will fare better, others will go the other way. It all depends on how clean you keep your chain and your local riding conditions.


(Video) Why Are Road Bike Gears Getting Smaller? | SRAM RED eTap AXS Ratios Explained

If you let the chain wear further than the recommended intervals, the cassette will also wear as the rollers on the chain elongate. As there’s a considerable expense in replacing a top-end cassette, you’ll want to keep on top of maintenance to avoid unnecessary costs.


What do the numbers on bike cassettes mean? ›

Sprockets vary in size according to the number of teeth they have. A cassette may therefore be sized as 11-32t. The first number refers to the number of teeth on the smallest sprocket (the highest gear, for fast pedalling at speed) and the second number to the biggest sprocket (the lowest gear, for climbing hills).

What does an 11-32 cassette mean on a bike? ›

The rear cassette is 11 speed 11-32. This means there are 11 cogs ranging from 11 teeth up to 32 teeth (the exact cogs are 11/12/13/14/16/18/20/22/25/28/32). The combination of your selected chainring and cog determine the gear ratio.

What is the difference between 11-32 and 11 36 cassette? ›

Comparing the 11-32 versus 11-36, SRAM started the progression to the 36 well down in the higher gears so the jumps are pretty even, but the average jump is a little higher—12.6 percent versus 11.3 percent—compared to the 11-32. For comparison, the average jump on a SRAM 11-speed, 11-26 cassette is 9.1 percent.

What is the difference between 11 40 and 11 42 cassette? ›

XT will be available with either an 11-42 or 11-40 tooth cassette; the 11-42 is designed specifically for 1×11 use, while the 11-40 is designed for 2×11 or 3×11 configurations. The cassette is concave on the rear to clear the spokes without requiring a new freehub design.

Is 11-28 cassette good for climbing? ›

The mountains that they climb are huge and often very steep. Many pro riders at the Tour de France use an 11-28 cassette, some are even using an 11-30 cassette. The reason is to help to control their effort and their cadence so they don't blow up on a steep climb.

Is 11 32 cassette good for climbing? ›

For hill climbing and mountainous terrain, we recommend a road cassette such as the 11-32T SRAM Red 22 XG1190 11 Speed Cassette (A2), or the 11-34T Shimano Ultegra R8000 11 Speed Cassette.

Is a 12/25 cassette good for climbing? ›

Regular riders – For most people a 12-25 will get you over most hills, especially when combined with a compact chainset. Hill dwellers – If you live in a hilly area or simply want to make climbing easier, you should go for a 28+ tooth cassette.

What is the difference between 11 32 and 11-34 cassette? ›

One thing to consider is that the distribution of the 11-34 is different. It's not just a 2T bigger big cog. It eliminates the 12T cog but has tighter gaps when you're climbing. The 11-32 has tight gaps when you're riding fast and bigger gaps when you're climbing.

What is the difference between 11-28 and 11 30 cassette? ›

The difference is pretty easy to quantify mathematically. Going from a 28 to a 30T sprocket gives a 2/28th reduction in gearing - so about 7%. What that means is that if you're going up a hill on your current 28T spinning at 100RPM, you'd need to pedal at 107RPM for the same speed.

How do I choose the right cassette? ›

The rule of thumb for choosing the right bike cassette is that the closer the number of “teeth” from the largest and the smallest cogs, the smaller the variation between gears, which ensures a smooth gear change.

How do I know what cassette to get? ›

"The easiest way to determine if your cassette is worn out is to install a new chain. If the chain skips under pedalling load then it's time for a new cassette.

Are all 11 speed cassettes compatible? ›

And, as I've said before, there is 100 percent shifting compatibility between 11-speed cassettes. In other words, Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo 11-speed cassettes work just fine on each others' drivetrains.

Is 42T good for climbing? ›

For gravel, I know a 42t chainring will work because it has a similar range to the compact while providing an easier low gear for climbing. If you have another drivetrain as a point of reference, this tool is great for finding the optimal 1x chainring for your needs.

Which cassette ratio is best for climbing? ›

Climbers gearing - 34/50 with 11/32 or 11/34 Cassette

It's what we recommend for beginners or existing road riders who want plenty of assistance on the climbs. With both a small and large chainring at the front, there's no need for a massive cassette at the rear.

Can I use 11s Rd in 10s cassette? ›

No, that will not work. The shifts will not line up across the entire range, because an 11-speed cassette is not just a 10-speed cassette with an extra cog stuck on at the same spacing.

What size cassette do pro cyclists use? ›

The most common cassette size used in the peloton is an 11-28t. That is positively humongous compared to the 11-21t cassette that was common a few decades ago when you'd be lucky if you got an 11-23t for the mountains. Since Shimano went to 11-speed though, the 11-28t cassette has become popular.

What bike gears to use on hills? ›

Low Gear = Easy = Good for Climbing: The “low” gear on your bike is the smallest chain ring in the front and the largest cog on your cassette (rear gears). In this position, the pedaling will be the easiest and you'll be able to pedal uphill with the smallest amount of resistance.

What is the most common cassette ratio? ›

Currently, the most common gearing setup on new road bikes is a 50/34 chainset with an 11-28 cassette. This means that the big and small chainring have 50 and 34 teeth, respectively, and the cassette's smallest cog has 11 teeth and its largest cog has 28 teeth.

Is a 11 30 cassette good for hills? ›

Different Types of Cassettes

There are different cassette ratios. There are 11/25 and 12/25 for flat riding, while 11/28 or 11/30 cassettes are suitable for hilly courses and for some riders, suffice in the mountains. For most cyclists, however, the 11/32 and 11/34 cassettes are best suited for steep climbs.

What sprocket is best for uphill? ›

Teeth Grinder

The largest sprocket on the rear cassette is usually your steep-climb-bail-out gear. If your largest rear sprocket is 23, 25 or 28 teeth you may find it easier to switch cassettes. A larger 28 or 32 tooth sprocket bottom gear would make things easier on the climbs.

Why is my bike hard to pedal uphill? ›

The most common reasons you might find it hard to pedal your bike are that you are in the wrong gear, your tire pressure is too low, or the bike wheels are rubbing against the brake pads or frame.

How many teeth should my cassette have? ›

In general, cassettes start at 10, 11 or 12 teeth. Again, there are exceptions, with options available with 9-, 13- or 14-tooth smallest sprockets. You may sometimes see brands refer to their cassettes as having a certain range in the form of a percentage.

Do I need a new chain if I get a bigger cassette? ›

Generally Yes you have to change your chain. The only time you might get away without changing chain is if its JUST been replaced. That is, under a hundred km of riding or in the last ~week. Running an elongated chain on a new cassette dramatically increases wear on the cassette.

What gearing is best for road bike climbing? ›

A common setup on a road bike adapted for climbing is a compact road crankset with 50-34 chainrings and an 11-32 cassette, which gives a lowest gear of 34:32 or a ratio of 1.06:1.

Do I need the spacer for the 11 34 cassette? ›

So, to answer the question: the 11-34 cassette is a "MTB" cassette and the 11-28 cassette is a "road" cassette, so the old cassette required the spacer but the new cassette doesn't, because apparently your hub is a 11-speed "road" hub.

Can I put a bigger cassette on my bike? ›

Most road bikes have either an 11-tooth or 12-tooth smallest cog, and a largest cog with 23, 25, 26 teeth. Cassettes (and freewheels) come as a complete set; in most cases, it's not possible to swap individual cogs; you have to replace the entire cassette.

What size hub do I need for an 11 speed cassette? ›

The introduction of 11-speed road cassettes required a new freehub with the same spline pattern as Shimano HG, but an extra 1.85 mm of length to accommodate the additional sprocket (now measuring 36.85 mm). This is commonly just called “Shimano 11” or “HG 11”.

Can I replace an 11 28 cassette with an 11 30? ›

I put an 11-30 cassette on my Madone (Ultegra Di2 short cage) to replace an 11-28 and didn't need to change a thing: chain was fine, didn't need to touch the indexing.

What is the best gear combination for a bike? ›

For regular terrain on a flat road, the middle gear is ideal. You can shift to the middle gear if you need strength, but not enough to ride on undulating roads. Combine the middle chainring with a triple rear cog to bike ride smoothly on a flat road. For beginners in biking, it is best to keep the bike in middle gear.

What is the best gear ratio for a road bike? ›

Gear ratios for road bikes
  • Standard: 53 tooth big chainring / 39 tooth small chainring.
  • Semi compact: 52/36.
  • Compact: 50/34.
Nov 5, 2022

How do you match a cassette to a derailleur? ›

The rear derailleur must be matched to the size of the largest rear sprocket. This capacity, which is expressed in terms of teeth, accounts for both the difference in size between both chainrings (e.g. 14T for a 53/39T crankset) and the largest and smallest sprockets on the bike (e.g. 17T for an 11-28T cassette).

What are the different bike cassette types? ›

The most common however are 9, 10 and 11 speed cassettes. Cassettes are an important part of your drivetrain, and the one that is on your bicycle can have a big influence on your ride and cadence (the revolutions per minute your legs spin).

How do I know what cassette is compatible with my bike? ›

The number of cogs determines the type of chain (10 cogs = 10-speed chain) and of course the type of cassette you'll want to order. (in our case a ten-speed) The two teeth counts tell you which cassette you'll need. In our case it would be an 11-42 cassette. Don't forget to check the front chainrings for wear.

How many miles should a cassette last? ›

If you are running a well-worn chain, it will hugely impact the life of a cassette. If you change your chain every 1500 miles, you can expect a cassette to last around three chains which will be 4500. If you don't change your chain, you may only see 3000 miles out of a cassette.

What is the difference between 11-speed and 12 speed cassette? ›

Since the 12-speed cassette has the same total width as the 11-speed, the space between cogs is narrower. This leads to “faster” shifting since the derailleur doesn't need to move as far to switch gears. Obviously, this is all dependent on cadence, and a higher cadence will maximize the advantage.

How often should you change a bike cassette? ›

Once the chain wear is approaching 1% “stretch”, it's usually time to replace the cassette as well. Because the teeth on the cassette will have worn down to more or less match the chain wear, if a new chain is fitted to a worn cassette, it won't mesh properly and may jump or skip, especially when changing gear.

Can you put 11 speed cassette on any bike? ›

Luckily, many common and not-so-common wheelsets, as long as they're at least 10-speed, can be upgraded to 11-speed by purchasing a new cassette body. The body is the part that attaches to the center of the hub and drives the wheel and bike when you pedal.

Do you use spacer with 11 speed cassette? ›

For SRAM Eagle 12-speed 10-50T, Eagle 10-52T cassettes, or 11-speed 10-42T cassettes, you will need to install a 1.85mm spacer on the driver body before installing the cassette.

Do shifters and derailleurs have to match? ›

As a general rule of thumb, it's best not to mix and match drivetrain components from different brands. While cranksets, chains and cassettes are mostly inter-compatible between brands, generally speaking, shifters and derailleurs aren't.

What is the difference between 11 42 and 11 51 cassette? ›

The 11-51t cassette gives you a slightly lower low ratio of 0.67 while the 11-42 yields 0.8. That lower ratio is great for grinding up steep hills but maybe you don't need the extra gear.

What is the ideal weight as a climber? ›

In The Rock Climber's Training Manual, the Anderson brothers recommend that climbers be generally fit, with 10 percent body fat for men and 20 percent for women. At 5'7” and 158 pounds, the upper end of a healthy BMI, I'd need to drop 28 pounds, or roughly 18 percent of my body weight, to get close to a 20 BMI.

What grade is the average climber? ›

Most casual boulderers climb between V4 and V7 routes. Intermediate routes are usually considered equivalent to climbs 6A/+ through 7A on the Font Scale. 3. V7 through V10: The routes with a V grade labeled 7 through 10 are advanced.

What does 11 42t cassette mean? ›

Sprockets vary in size according to the number of teeth they have. A cassette may therefore be sized as 11-32t. The first number refers to the number of teeth on the smallest sprocket (the highest gear, for fast pedalling at speed) and the second number to the biggest sprocket (the lowest gear, for climbing hills).

What does the number on a cassette tape mean? ›

They're like page numbers for tapes, so you can create an index and easily find particular sections. So you can locate a song on a mixtape, or a quote in an interview, for example. They were also vital in the early days of home computing, when programs were stored on cassette.

What is the difference between a 10 33 and 10 28 cassette? ›

SRAM's 10-28 cassette is essentially a 10-33 cassette where the 33 cog becomes a 16 cog, giving you 2 more gears at the top end that are 1 cog apart. So you still have a 17 % jump (24 —> 28) at the end.

What does an 11 30 cassette mean? ›

Switching the cassette to an 11-30 decreases the speed from 14.1 to 13.2 km/h and switching to an 11-34 decreases it to 11.6 km/h. These cassettes have the same 11 tooth small cog, so maximum speed is not affected.

How do I identify my bike cassette? ›

The size of a cassette is usually expressed by quoting its smallest and largest cogs. As an example, a typical modern road bike cassette may be an 11-32t (teeth) cassette. For a mountain bike cassette, the range may be something like 10-52t.

What are the 4 types of cassette? ›

Since then, the four cassette tape types were known as IEC I, IEC II, IEC III and IEC IV.

Does the number of teeth on a cassette matter? ›

A higher amount of teeth makes it easier to pedal than a low number and vice versa. Most road bikes come supplied with a 12–25T cassette, where the smallest sprocket has 12 teeth and the largest sprocked has 25 teeth.


1. Everything You Need To Know About Gear Ratios | Choosing Cassettes, Chainrings & Shifters Explained
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2. Gear Ratios Explained For Triathlon | Choosing The Right Cassette, Chainrings & Shifters
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3. What Are The Drawbacks Of An 11-34 Cassette? | GCN Tech Clinic #AskGCNTech
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4. How to know your cassette size!
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5. SRAM Eagle 52-Tooth Cassettes Explained
6. Smaller Gears, Slower Riders? Tour de France Gears Explained | Tour de France 2017
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