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  1. #1
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    New question here. 8 speed vs. 9 on build up

    I'm building up a Rush and would welcome input as to the pro's or con's of an 8 speed setup instead of a 9 speed.
    If I was to go 8 speed, what issues would I be faced with? I have already gotten an X9 RD and X9 triggers - are they incompatible with 8 speed?
    I have had 8 speed LX/XT and more recently XT setups that shifted the best of any bikes I've had, and am thinking maybe I don't need anything more....
    Thanks for the input.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToastR
    I have already gotten an X9 RD and X9 triggers - are they incompatible with 8 speed?
    Yes, you would need new shifters for 8 speed. Nine speed isn't too bad, most of the kinks have been worked out, so as long as you keep your bike well maintained, it should perform fine.

    I hear Liam Killeen uses 8 speed though...

  3. #3
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    you can buy shimano 8spd rapid fire shifters for 2006, according to shimano. Equivalent to about an LX or XT part level.

    But, the spacing difference between 8 and 9 speed is miniscule, so bad experiences with 9spd are usually just bad setups that wouldn't work well with 8spd either.

    The X9 rear derailer would be compatible with SRAM shifters only, so you have to find SRAM ESP (1:1) 8 speed shifters.
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  4. #4
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    8 speed is very slightly more reliable than 9 speed because the chain is slightly thicker and the cogs have slightly more seperation between them. The differences are extrememly minimal though. 8 speed drivetrains have the cogs at 4.8mm center to center from each other, 9 speed has them at 4.35mm. The same with the chain its only fractions of a millimeter thicker.

    Quite honestly I find the the difference between them are almost null for most practical purposes. There are people who swear by 8 speed but I find that both setups have always been prone to exactly the same nuances and both work as reliably when properly set. If it were me and I had a good 8 speed setup, didn't care about being able to use cassettes with a more even spread and didn't care for upgrades I'd probably keep 8 speed around as long as it was realistically practical. If I were building up a bike with new parts I wouldn't even bother looking for anything other than 9 speed. In my opinion its just a waste of time to fish around for parts that are no longer easily available and hardly provide any tangible advantage over 9 speed. Doing stuff like that MBA article where they spent like $500 to downgrade to 8 speed is an excercise in stupidity in my opinion. Spend less than that in a drivetrain overhaul and new cables and you get about the same effect. But thats just my 2 cents.

  5. #5
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    8 is better

    I ride east coast single track, lots of roller coaster stuff with plenty of rocks and roots. I find that the 9 speed systems wear out a little faster. and the closer cog spacing is a pain. I really prefer 7 speed - but it's too hard to find good cassettes. So now, after wearing out my 9 speed system in 4 months - I'm going back to Sram 8 speed. It's much cheaper to replace chains and cassettes and much lighter. And you have one less useless gear to shift. Now if I was running one chainring , I would surely want a 9 speed in back- probably 10.

    As far as that MBA article goes, only a fool would spend that much money upgrading to 8 0r 9 speed-at least for mountain biking. I have not had any operational problems with my 9 speed other than premature wear. My riding buddies replace their 9 speed LX drivetrains once a year for a cost of 120.00 - I replace my 8 speed Sram drivetrain once a year for a cost of 60.00 and I ride almost twice as much as they do. It's a no brainer - 8 speed is best for mtb - at least in the conditions that I ride in.













    UOTE=Hecubus]8 speed is very slightly more reliable than 9 speed because the chain is slightly thicker and the cogs have slightly more seperation between them. The differences are extrememly minimal though. 8 speed drivetrains have the cogs at 4.8mm center to center from each other, 9 speed has them at 4.35mm. The same with the chain its only fractions of a millimeter thicker.

    Quite honestly I find the the difference between them are almost null for most practical purposes. There are people who swear by 8 speed but I find that both setups have always been prone to exactly the same nuances and both work as reliably when properly set. If it were me and I had a good 8 speed setup, didn't care about being able to use cassettes with a more even spread and didn't care for upgrades I'd probably keep 8 speed around as long as it was realistically practical. If I were building up a bike with new parts I wouldn't even bother looking for anything other than 9 speed. In my opinion its just a waste of time to fish around for parts that are no longer easily available and hardly provide any tangible advantage over 9 speed. Doing stuff like that MBA article where they spent like $500 to downgrade to 8 speed is an excercise in stupidity in my opinion. Spend less than that in a drivetrain overhaul and new cables and you get about the same effect. But thats just my 2 cents.[/QUOTE]

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbeck
    I ride east coast single track, lots of roller coaster stuff with plenty of rocks and roots. I find that the 9 speed systems wear out a little faster. and the closer cog spacing is a pain. I really prefer 7 speed - but it's too hard to find good cassettes. So now, after wearing out my 9 speed system in 4 months - I'm going back to Sram 8 speed. It's much cheaper to replace chains and cassettes and much lighter. And you have one less useless gear to shift. Now if I was running one chainring , I would surely want a 9 speed in back- probably 10.

    As far as that MBA article goes, only a fool would spend that much money upgrading to 8 0r 9 speed-at least for mountain biking. I have not had any operational problems with my 9 speed other than premature wear. My riding buddies replace their 9 speed LX drivetrains once a year for a cost of 120.00 - I replace my 8 speed Sram drivetrain once a year for a cost of 60.00 and I ride almost twice as much as they do. It's a no brainer - 8 speed is best for mtb - at least in the conditions that I ride in.
    You might get a little better life out of a wider 8 speed chain but I wouldn't consider it anything too dramatic over a 9 speed. The difference is just too small. As far as the cassette is concerned I doubt your premature wear has anything to do with it being 9 speed. The 8 to 9 speed conversion was probobaly one of the less obtrusive ones. All that was done was basically use up the available space more efficiently. What 9 speed really did was bring the cogs closer to each other by 0.45mm. It makes a difference but its small enough to not be as troublesome as claimed. The important thing is 8 and 9 speed cogs are still the same 1.8mm thickness. There was no change there. If anything I could see a 9 speed cassette lasting a bit longer because it has an extra cog to distribute the wear on. 7 to 8 speed however saw the cogs shrink from 2.0mm to 1.8mm and 10 speed shrank them from 1.8mm to 1.6mm. No notable change from 8 to 9.

  7. #7
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    I just upgraded from 8-speed to 9-speed, X9 DR with X7 shifters. I'm really happy with them, I'd go with 9-speed on a new build. Quality 8-speed gear will only get harder to find in the future.

  8. #8
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    Wrong. Quality 8 speed setups will always be around. Generally speaking I think 8 speed is better.
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    ... and if we just ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kona0197
    Wrong. Quality 8 speed setups will always be around. Generally speaking I think 8 speed is better.
    Well, then maybe we should go seven speed, for an even more reliable drivetrain. Or wait, six speed! No, let's go with 5x2, like the old 10 speed road bikes, that was the way to go. On the other hand, if you had three speeds, like the old english bikes, you could get an even BETTER drivetrain. So, three speed it is.

    Well, might as well go with singlespeed and get rid of those pesky derailleurs and those cable changes, oh my! what a headache! no, singlespeed is, definitely, generally speaking better.

    Now, thing is, that freewheel, well, they last so much less than fixed cogs! yeah, fixie is the way to go! yeah, that's the "generally better" drivetrain: fixed gear with a BMX chain!

    But, those chains do wear out! and what about having to replace the cogs? and chainrings! we musn't forget the chainrings that MUST be replaced when they wear out. No, I think I have found the final solution: a gearless bike! yeah! no drivetrain at all! like those velocipedes of yonder! we must return to the origins! Down with the marketing slavery, purists unite! Bring the draisine back! Yeah!

    But wait! we could even get a more reliable drivetrain if we eliminate those annoying, maintenance demanding wheels and frame! yeah! that's the most reliable bike there is, the one you won't have to worry adjusting or maintaining: the bikeless bike!

  10. #10
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    I was just pointing out that 8 speed is better. If 9 speed cogsets were as spaced out as 8 speed they to would be more better then they currently are. I have a bike with 9 speed and although it shifts fine most of the time I find myself using the rear derailluers barrel adjuster to keep it shifter great without ghost shifting. On my 8 speed bike I set it up once and have yet to touch it again. And by the way I have never used all of the 27 speeds offered by my 9 speed setup. I use maybe 3 or 4 out of 9 in the rear so yes less is better.

    Oh Frozen - your drama wasn't needed. All you did was to make yourself look foolish.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hecubus
    Quite honestly I find the the difference between them are almost null for most practical purposes. There are people who swear by 8 speed but I find that both setups have always been prone to exactly the same nuances and both work as reliably when properly set.
    My experience differs. My 8 speed setup shifts noticably better than my 9 speed does. The 9 speed has SRAM X9 shifters and X0 derailleur whereas the 8 speed is Shimano XT.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kona0197
    I was just pointing out that 8 speed is better. If 9 speed cogsets were as spaced out as 8 speed they to would be more better then they currently are. I have a bike with 9 speed and although it shifts fine most of the time I find myself using the rear derailluers barrel adjuster to keep it shifter great without ghost shifting. On my 8 speed bike I set it up once and have yet to touch it again. And by the way I have never used all of the 27 speeds offered by my 9 speed setup. I use maybe 3 or 4 out of 9 in the rear so yes less is better.

    Oh Frozen - your drama wasn't needed. All you did was to make yourself look foolish.
    Read what Hecubus wrote about cog spacing. If you are telling me that .45mm (that's 0.018inches, by the way) is making such as noticeable difference, you are fooling yourself. Honestly, have you looked at all other possible factors? (you use the two bikes the same way and in the same weather, the same ammount of time, are the quality of components comparable etc...)

    And if you are only using 3 or 4 cogs on the back maybe you should look into 7 speed, or maybe into 5 speed...

  13. #13
    Ebo
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    I agree. Simply put, more durable, stronger, less finicky. 6 bikes. All 8spd except for one 7 spd. No thanks and no need for inferior 9 spd drivetrains. 2 cents of course.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hecubus
    You might get a little better life out of a wider 8 speed chain but I wouldn't consider it anything too dramatic over a 9 speed. The difference is just too small.

    7 to 8 speed however saw the cogs shrink from 2.0mm to 1.8mm and 10 speed shrank them from 1.8mm to 1.6mm. No notable change from 8 to 9.
    Oops, made a small mistake here. 7 speed H.G. cogs are actually 1.85mm thick. The old I.G. ones were 2.35mm. That makes the change in thickness on curent HG systems almost insignificant goinf all the way back to 7 speed cogs.

    Also on the issue of the wider chain. I believe the 9 speed chain only uses tiny fractions of a mm shorter pins and rollers than 8 speed ones. The plates which are usually what wears out and stretches first are the same thickness on both far as I'm aware. That pretty much makes the durability of 8 vs. 9 speed drivetrains a moot point and pointless debate.

  15. #15
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    Go 9 speed easier to get parts

    Quote Originally Posted by ToastR
    I'm building up a Rush and would welcome input as to the pro's or con's of an 8 speed setup instead of a 9 speed.
    If I was to go 8 speed, what issues would I be faced with? I have already gotten an X9 RD and X9 triggers - are they incompatible with 8 speed?
    I have had 8 speed LX/XT and more recently XT setups that shifted the best of any bikes I've had, and am thinking maybe I don't need anything more....
    Thanks for the input.
    down the road.
    like another poster said, the difference in 8 speed and 9 speed performance is next to nill so maybe 8 speed drive train lasts a little longer?
    I can tell no difference in my all old XTR 8 speed set up bike and my newer XTR/XT set up bike, both shift great, as good as SRAM? I wouldn't know.

  16. #16
    Ebo
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    The 8 spd drivetrain DOES last longer. Not MAYBE. Keep buying those available 9 spd parts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ebo
    The 8 spd drivetrain DOES last longer. Not MAYBE. Keep buying those available 9 spd parts.
    How do you know? Have you done scientific studies on the durability of different drivetrains? Have you analyzed data from many different riders and concluded that 8 speed is significantly more durable? Have you done lab tests on 8 speed drivetrains? Have you read published studies(which I apparently missed) on the inferiority of 9 speed? Or have you just concluded from you own limited experience that 8 speed is better? Because that isn't fact, thats your opinion.

    This is what pisses me off about the "8 speed is better" arguement (or 9 speed for that matter): no one has conclusive facts. Attacking one another over what your opinion is doesn't help either of you. Just ride your 8 speed, he'll ride his 9 speed and when someone asks, give your opinion, but don't claim you have absolute fact!

    Rant over, thanks.

  18. #18
    Ebo
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    Don't get your panties all ruffled now. How you ever seen a 9 spd cassette fold over? Have you ever read how fast chainrings are wearing out? Ever hear riders *****ing about their POS 9spd chains breaking? Does experience count for anything with you or does it have to be a "scientific" study.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ebo
    Don't get your panties all ruffled now. How you ever seen a 9 spd cassette fold over? Have you ever read how fast chainrings are wearing out? Ever hear riders *****ing about their POS 9spd chains breaking? Does experience count for anything with you or does it have to be a "scientific" study.
    Well, an 8spd setup with the same thickness rings would fold over just as easy, so that has nothing to do with it being "9 speed".

    The chainrings wearing out are usually a direct result of the rider not changing out the chain when he changes the rings.

    I don't hear anything about POS 9spd chains breaking. I've broken a few sram chains, back in the day I used old shimano chains, which broke more often. I now use shimano chains, and I find the XTR variety to be extremely strong, and I haven't been able to outright break one yet. Usually if chains are breaking it's some other problem, and has nothing to do with how many gears are on the bike. It usually has to do with improper installation/repair, and the links sliding off the pins. Newer chains made by shimano have pins shaped so that this is much less of a possibility.

    I've seen singlespeed chains break, so does that mean we need to go to no gears?
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  20. #20
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    Sounds good except the fact that chainrings, chain, and cassette cogs are all thinner on a 9 spd. Next.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ebo
    Sounds good except the fact that chainrings, chain, and cassette cogs are all thinner on a 9 spd. Next.
    Prove it. Is this something that you've measured, or just a myth that you believe?
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  22. #22
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    What? You can't read or research by your self. Too funny...

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ebo
    Sounds good except the fact that chainrings, chain, and cassette cogs are all thinner on a 9 spd. Next.
    Is that so... Seeing as how its also a fact that 8 speed cogs are the same thickness as 9 speed.

  24. #24
    Ebo
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    I'll keep running my 8 spd and you can keep pretending that 9 spd is the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ebo
    I'll keep running my 8 spd and you can keep pretending that 9 spd is the same.
    Thats ok. I don't need to pretend

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    This debate is turning into the Hatfields and McCoy's..........


    I've Had both dirve trains as well......my only beef with the 9 speed is on the east coast where its wet and muddy, the grass and mud and other crap gets in the cog causing the drivetrain to skip or ghost shift, this is probably why 9 speeds wear out faster........


    Sure a .45 of a mm is not a big gap however with moving parts that much gap might as well be a mile, .45 mm of mud is not alot of mud either but ya know now it takes that much less mud to clog up your cog and then bang your skipping ghosting etc. causing wear.

    Now I do like the 9 speed because I can walk in any bike shop go to any web site and bang get a 9 speed drivetrain easily. 8 Speed on the other hand require more research in order to find and impliment and you might be using older technology.

    My opinion is that my ld 8 speed bike is more reliable than my new 9 speed bike, however the other benefits that the newer stuff offer outweighs that of my old rig.

    I say we all ride what we like, don't worry about what the other guy is doing, and just ride.

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    Thanks for the good info. I hadn't realized how deeply personal preference ran through the 8sp / 9sd subject - but well-stated pro's and con's certainly came through, and that's what I was looking for

  28. #28
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    if you want to run 8 speed, you only need a cassette. adjust your derailler to stop shifting at the appropriate gear (low gear or biggest cog assuming sram is "high normal"), your shift lever will just not shift into that last cog.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drunkle
    if you want to run 8 speed, you only need a cassette. adjust your derailler to stop shifting at the appropriate gear (low gear or biggest cog assuming sram is "high normal"), your shift lever will just not shift into that last cog.
    Wrong. 9 speed shifters can not be used on an 8 speed cassette.
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    ... and if we just ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kona0197
    Wrong. 9 speed shifters can not be used on an 8 speed cassette.
    Wrong. Depends on what kind of 8spd cassette you have.

    Here's the 8spd SRAM cassette that came with my iron horse. Worked with my 9spd shifters.

    The aluminum spoke guard took the place of the 9th gear.


    And of course, because it was "8spd" it was just a billion miles better than 9spd.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kona0197
    Wrong. 9 speed shifters can not be used on an 8 speed cassette.
    that's odd. i ran a crappy wheelset that came with an 8 speed cassette with 9 spd xtr shifters/xt derailler/sram chain for the summer... maybe i just imagined it...

    i guess i must have imagined setting up my friend's bike as well who has an 8 speed shimano del cheapo cassette and 9 spd sram x7 shifters/deraillers...

    damn, what was i really doing all that time? where have i been? why is my friend's bike still setup for 8 spd's??? why do i still have that crappy wheelset in my garage???

    oh yeah. my friend still hasnt gotten a new cassette and i'd since upgraded to 9 spd ultegra.

    you know what tho... he'd still have to buy an 8 spd cassette, if for some unforseen reason, if he exists in a wormhole that gates to a parallel dimension where 8 spd cassettes dont work with 9 spd shifters... he could just get the shifter at that point.

  32. #32
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    And of course, because it was "8spd" it was just a billion miles better than 9spd. [/QUOTE]


    Now you're talking......even if it is out of context.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    Wrong. Depends on what kind of 8spd cassette you have.

    Here's the 8spd SRAM cassette that came with my iron horse. Worked with my 9spd shifters.

    The aluminum spoke guard took the place of the 9th gear.


    And of course, because it was "8spd" it was just a billion miles better than 9spd.
    An 8 speed cassette with 9 speed spacing - the worst of both worlds.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hecubus
    What 9 speed really did was bring the cogs closer to each other by 0.45mm. It makes a difference but its small enough to not be as troublesome as claimed.
    Maybe I've got a cable problem. I have SRAM cables (the inner wire is teflon coated). I hesitate to lube the cables. The 9 speed I have on my road bike shifts well, in comparison. The 10 speed shifts well too. Maybe the SRAM stuff doesn't shift as well as Shimano (although people seem to say otherwise). I would like better shifting on my mountain bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drunkle
    that's odd. i ran a crappy wheelset that came with an 8 speed cassette with 9 spd xtr shifters/xt derailler/sram chain for the summer... maybe i just imagined it...

    i guess i must have imagined setting up my friend's bike as well who has an 8 speed shimano del cheapo cassette and 9 spd sram x7 shifters/deraillers...

    damn, what was i really doing all that time? where have i been? why is my friend's bike still setup for 8 spd's??? why do i still have that crappy wheelset in my garage???

    oh yeah. my friend still hasnt gotten a new cassette and i'd since upgraded to 9 spd ultegra.

    you know what tho... he'd still have to buy an 8 spd cassette, if for some unforseen reason, if he exists in a wormhole that gates to a parallel dimension where 8 spd cassettes dont work with 9 spd shifters... he could just get the shifter at that point.
    Technically 8 speed and 9 speed are not compatible parts. However, as explained before since the difference is so small you actually can sometimes get relatively reliable shifting out of the mix. Derailleurs, chains, and cogs are designed in such a way to take up a certain amount of shifting slop. As you keep clicking further down the cassette the slop increases with each click. I've seen quite a few people do this and was very surprised to see it actually worked pretty well sometimes.

  36. #36
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    Very well put. Although a bit different story, the old but killer Suntour XC thumb shifters, would work with a Shimano cassette, even though the spacing was a slight bit different than the Suntour. The guide pulley's intentional play helped out, but it was alway off either at the top or bottom depending where you wanted it.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ebo
    Very well put. Although a bit different story, the old but killer Suntour XC thumb shifters, would work with a Shimano cassette, even though the spacing was a slight bit different than the Suntour. The guide pulley's intentional play helped out, but it was alway off either at the top or bottom depending where you wanted it.
    Yikes! I remember trying that.

    Tried setting up a Suntour shifter with a Shimano rear mech and cassette. It NEVER shifted right. The first ride after tking 'em off... it worked fine. It can be a very finicky setup - and take a better mechanic than me, the 1st or the 2nd bike shop that tried.

    I figured the 8 to 9 was the same because of that experience. If someone else can get it to work... more power to 'em.

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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbiker3111
    How do you know? Have you done scientific studies on the durability of different drivetrains? Have you analyzed data from many different riders and concluded that 8 speed is significantly more durable? Have you done lab tests on 8 speed drivetrains? Have you read published studies(which I apparently missed) on the inferiority of 9 speed? Or have you just concluded from you own limited experience that 8 speed is better? Because that isn't fact, thats your opinion.

    This is what pisses me off about the "8 speed is better" arguement (or 9 speed for that matter): no one has conclusive facts. Attacking one another over what your opinion is doesn't help either of you. Just ride your 8 speed, he'll ride his 9 speed and when someone asks, give your opinion, but don't claim you have absolute fact!

    Rant over, thanks.
    9 speed sucks ass, wouldn't use it cause it SUCKS

  39. #39
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    Friction shifters

    I laughed my way through all the posts. I remember pre-index shifter days only too well....these were some of the best mountain biking days I had (many a mountain). I was poor (student) and had to make cassettes/shifters and mechs work regardless of brand or condition - if it was broken then it had to be fixed! I remember suntour XC shifters with shimano cassettes working just fine ("fine" = chain did not fall off!!!) but then again indexed shifting was something of an option! If index shifting wasn't working you just moved a lever to the friction mode and it all worked again!! I never could afford XT shifters for the longest time but used deore thumb shifters when I used to race XC. I still have my only set of 7sp XT thumb shifters I eventually purchased (the ones with the extra click), but they got relegated to my wifes cruiser many years ago.

    What do I ride now? - 9 speed X7/X9 SRAM on bike 1 and 8 speed XT/XTR on bike 2. Love them both but don't do enough miles to wear either of them out too quickly.

  40. #40
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    As for the cost issue, a new XTR cassette 9 speed was $188 CAD at the LBS and the 8 speed was $90 CAD, todd in ebay and there are lots, I have an extra 8 speed XTR cassette and chain for next season and the front chainrings are the same so :-D
    Yes its retro but IT WORKS!

    8 Speed is great and V-Brakes rock!

    Ex-wrench...have a Question just ask!

  41. #41
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    You can run 8-speed with all 9-speed parts

    You can run 8-speed with all 9-speed parts except an 8-speed cassette. You just have to change the cable attachment point at the derailleur. The first picture is from Shedon Brown's website; the second is my bike. It works perfectly well.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  42. #42
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    What makes a derailleur a 7,8, or 9 speed? Why wouldn't an 8 speed rd not work on a 9 or vice versa? Yes I'm a noob....drop some knowledge on me.lol

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