Cassette Ratio Question- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Cassette Ratio Question

    I've been using the same cassette - a SRAM PG960 11-34-9. I'm going to buy a new one this week and wondering whether someone can direct me to a site that explains the differences/benefits/etc on using cassettes with different ratios.

    Also, I put on about 63 miles a week on my MTB - these SRAMS are wearing out pretty fast. Any other suggestions?

    Thx in advance!

    z

  2. #2
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    Most riders have a power band, like any other engine. A closer-ratio cassette means you're more likely to find the perfect gear. A wide ratio cassette gives you a bigger range of gears to choose from. Narrower ratio cassettes also allow the use of shorter-cage derailleurs, which can shift more smoothly. If you use your full range of gears, stick with an 11-34 or 11-32. If not, you might consider getting something with closer ratios.

    If you're wearing out your cassettes really fast, it may be because you're not taking care of your chain. Cassettes and chains wear sympathetically. For a good service life, you really need to at least wipe down your chain after every ride, and make sure to throw it out when it stretches too much. On my bikes, one cassette usually lasts a couple chains. One of my friends can't get it together to take care of her chain, and she usually has to replace her cassette at the same time, and quite frequently.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    I'm pretty careful about wiping down/lubing my chain so it' s not that. Thx for the info though that really helps. What would you suggest as an upgrade in quality from the SRAM 960?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by zenmster
    What would you suggest as an upgrade in quality from the SRAM 960?
    I'm not familiar with the 960. On their web site, they appear to skip straight from the 950 to the 970.

    Within SRAM, going up a number increases quality. I don't know if the shifting or service life are any different between the 950 and 970.

    I've had good luck with Shimano cassettes, but that's relatively meaningless. I have a 105 10-speed cassette on my road bike and a SLX 9-speed cassette on my mountain bike. I think the one on my 'cross bike is a 9-speed SRAM cassette, and it works perfectly well too. They're all better than the 6-speed freewheel on my commuter. The previous cassette, 105 9-speed, on my road bike lasted for many years, but mountain biking wears things out a lot faster.

    What lubricant are you using? What are your riding conditions like?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    Hey - I'm using T9 (http://www.boeshield.com/lube_oil/bike_chain.php) and I lube after each ride. Says to let stand for 2 hrs so I end up wiping it down the next day (I usually ride every day). Conditions vary because I'm riding all year round - muddy in the winter and now it's primarily dusty trails. China Camp, Pine Mt, Olmstead Loop, Joaquin Miller, and Henry Coe are most frequented locales.

  6. #6
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    Are you wiping down your chain before you lubricate too, or just after? I use a similar lubricant, White Lightning Clean Ride, but it comes in a dripper bottle instead of as a spray, and I wipe down after every ride but I don't relube, necessarily. Does your chain usually look fairly clean, or is it a greasy, oily, black mess? A friend of mine insisted on Boeshield, but his chain always looked pretty nasty and he went through chains, cassettes and chainrings like popcorn... which I think speaks more to chain cleaning, or not, than to the lubricant itself.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
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    You know I'm only wiping down AFTER I lube...? Also as a side note I was talking to a Shimano rep and he was telling me that the actual process of using those chain cleaners contributes more to premature chain demise than not using it...anyone?

  8. #8
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    More expensive doesn't always mean longer lasting. It could mean better performing (smoother shifts), lighter weight or that it is built using an aluminum carrier to house the larger cogs so you can use lightweight aluminum freehub bodies with minimal damage to them from the cogs digging into the splines.

    I have never been able to afford a $200 XTR cassette so I can't comment on how I would get along with them. I have had three XT cassettes meet premature ends due to duarability issues (bent two 2nd gear cogs and had four teeth ripped off of another) so I have not been using them. I have been having excellent luck with the mid-tier cassettes from Shimano (LX and Deore). I don't use aluminum freehub bodies so I don't have to worry about cogs ruining them and I haven't had durability issues either. They are a little heavier, but so am I so I don't stress about that.

    SRAM cassettes of the same range used to use a large 1st cog and then have quite a larger step down to 2nd gear than Shimano had (similar to the old Shimano "Mega-Range" cassettes but not quite that drastic), but it looks like they have gone away from that in recent years and have a more even spread. To each their own on that subject.

    Some people like to get three or four chains and rotate their chains feeling that rather than have the cassette wear out along with just one chain, They will use each chain for let's say a month, then switch to chain #2, another month then switch to #3, and another month before going to chain #4, then start the rotation all over again.

    I haven't tried that, so I have no idea if it is more economical.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by zenmster
    You know I'm only wiping down AFTER I lube...? Also as a side note I was talking to a Shimano rep and he was telling me that the actual process of using those chain cleaners contributes more to premature chain demise than not using it...anyone?
    If you lubricate a dirty chain, you may flush out some of the dirt but it's better to get it as clean as possible/worth the effort first. I give my chain a wipe after every ride, but I don't necessarily relubricate. If the chain's not making noise, I just hang up my bike and go take a shower. I keep a rag on the rack I keep my bike on so that wiping the chain only adds an extra 30 seconds or so.

    Chains ship with a very thick, sticky lubricant. It's arguably slower, but it's great at staying on the surfaces it needs to protect. The Great Sheldon Brown suggested leaving that stuff on for as long as it lasts. His reasoning was that the chains are lubricated disassembled, so you'll never get coverage that good again. Supposedly, some of the cleaners people use actually eat away at the chain a little bit, which would be very obviously counterproductive. I'd still wipe down a new chain, because the outside really doesn't need to be lubricated and that just attracts dirt. But I wouldn't take it off and degrease it. I don't remove my chains until I'm ready to throw them out, though. I think it's a lot of trouble and I don't think I actually got a longer wear life out of it - just an apartment smelling of degreaser.

    My attitude is that chains are a $15 part and cassettes are a $30-$45 part. Even if my time's not worth that much, going to a lot of trouble to extend the life a little bit doesn't make much sense. Look for my bikes to keep having SLX, 105, PG-970, etc. cassettes, rather than the more expensive stuff, and whatever my shop guy gives me when I say I need a 9-speed or 10-speed chain.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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