Bicycle – how many speeds? - article comments

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To prevent article pages from being miles long, but preserve all the useful questions and answers provided over time, I've decided to copy/paste the website comments to the forum - and "move" further discussions here.

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Bicycle – how many speeds?

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  1. mike
    02/05/2021 at 02:34
    there are special alloy spacers that are made to fit cassette freehubs,this allows you to use a custom 5,6,or7 speed cassette on a 8 speed freehub,these spacers come in many different thickness.
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    17/10/2021 at 14:32
    good conclusion!! I love your website and yt videos.
    what is my main concern is that online and even to my lbs it’s hard to find 9 speeds and lower component, expecially regarding XT (or XTR): in this way if you want mid-high grade product [in my opinion (small experience!) shifter is #1 component to be precise] you have to stay on 10 speed at least [see for example LinkGlyde!]. In particular, looking at 9 speed (for me the more suitable for me) it’s very difficult to find Alivio: you can have an Altus. For 8 speed only Acera!!.
    The most important question, giving all my hopes (in doing an upgrade of my 2×7 [22-32 x 11-28]) to your experience is: in terms of fluidity and above all reliability in time it’s better to have a brand new deore or xt 10 speed or have an 8 speed Acera? how would you compare the shifting?
    Bonus question: do you think clutch derailleur could help to retain the chain (on bumpy real mountain tracks!! -not for going down the sidewalk of my city-) or it was “invented” to compensate the cross chainrings and so to overcome a problem create by the not-so-innovative big-hoax of 1x drivetrain?
    thank you for your time and experience. I accept honesty: if you don’t have a reliable reply to my question based on your experience I will accept your educated guess and I’ll have in mind “in capital letters” when I’ll do the upgrade of my trasmission.
    thanks again for your yt channel and forum: I appreciate it more than the other forum’s PUBBLICITY to Brands and “innovative tech” disguised as technical review.
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      17/10/2021 at 15:34
      Thank you for the kind words.
      Here’s my reply – to be taken as “to the best of my knowledge,” and “based on my experience” (i.e. my, personal opinion):
      My choice are friction shifters. High-quality, used (“2nd hand”), Shimano, aluminium, or steel made.
      That’s durable, robust and cheap. Also, they last for about 50 years… then you need to clean them a bit. 🙂
      Deore 10 speed vs Acera 8 speed
      Deore 10-speed will shift better and faster when it’s all properly tuned and aligned.
      Acera 8-speed, on the other hand, is less sensitive to any imperfections, especially the RD hanger misalignment. Wack on a rock? No problem, straighten it with your hand to the best of your ability and get on. With 10+ speed stuff, even a minimal misalignment causes poor shifting.
      Number of “speeds”
      I prefer 7 and 8-speed stuff because chains and cassettes are cheaper (and still easily available in my country).
      RD clutch
      It is a fact that it does help retain the chain on very bumpy terrain.
      Having said that, I did ride up and down our local mountain paths (and down 20 or so stairs on a regular basis, near our local pub 🙂 ) – very seldom did I have problems with chain drops. Not once did I think “oh, my chain drops quite often, I should find a way to keep it in place better.”
      Maybe I didn’t ride hard enough (I definitely didn’t do any really high jumps with my bike). But I do think that there’s a lot of “hi-tech marketing” involved and that you can ride with no problems even if your RD hasn’t got a clutch (with a note that your chain will bounce more, and scratch the chainstay more, which can be prevented with some stickers for protection if you mind scratches, or have a carbon fibre frame).
      Clutch definitely makes more sense for the 1x drivetrains, but it does help with the 2x and 3x as well (though, again, in my experience chain drop has never been a real problem with those systems).
      What to buy?
      There is a problem with parts supply that started when Covid broke out, and is still not sorted out.
      Also, manufacturers are trying hard to get us all to buy new parts – that’s how they make a living.
      That is another reason why I love friction shifters – they’ll work with any cassette (or chainrings).
      Everything else is more risky. I have no Idea whether decent-quality, reasonably-priced 10-speed, or 8-speed shifters will be available next month, or next year, in case one’s current shifter breaks, or similar.
      With all that in mind – if friction shifters are not an acceptable solution (or are not available on your local 2nd hand market):
      If my budget were high, I’d go with Deore (expecting higher maintenance/part replacement costs in the future, not just the initial higher price).
      On a budget, I’d go with the 8-speed Acera. Acera is good quality equipment. Not a superlight “pro-class,” but still good.
      Hope that answers your dilemmas. 🙂
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    18/10/2021 at 12:32
    Hello Relja,
    thank you for your suggestions. It is a fantastic reply because I was thinking last night more on buying a 8 speed shifter to do a mid-upgrade: I’m continuing using my old rear wheel with 7 speed, but I have the opportunity to do an upgrade to buy a new wheel with a 8-11 speed freewheel body adding 32 teeth to my rear sprockets.
    Good hint about the derailleur mount!!
    regarding the friction shifters you mean non indexed, right? I know there are indexed ones even for 10, 11 or 12 speeds (microshift) but the price is similar to the other shifters. My question is: have you tried to use non-indexed friction shifters with 9 or more speeds? Can you feel and adjust the chainline in order to make it smooth or do you risk to damage the chain/derailleur?
    I think I’ll be on 3×8 forever! (2×8 offroad) but I feel the attraction of modern tech even if I think it is only a “status quo” thing and practically the feeling of the transmission would be not so impressive.
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      18/10/2021 at 14:16
      Hi Fabio,
      Yes, by friction I mean the non-indexed (or the ones that can be set to work in a non-indexed mode).
      (A more detailed friction shifter explanation)
      Chainline has nothing to do with friction shifter performance (in fact, they are among the most forgiving in terms of running an imperfect chainline).
      For 9 or more speeds, it’s better running friction shifters with a RD that requires longer cable pull (i.e. models that have a shift ratio below 1.5 in this table). With “normal” RDs, it is difficult to tune a gear just right using a friction shifter, because the RD moves too much for a tiny movement of the lever, while all the cogs are tightly packed.
      Whichever number of rear cogs is used, damage can occur only if one is really careless (shifting under load with a hard push/pull on the shifter etc.).
      Shiny new things can feel good, and sometimes even work well, especially while they’re new. 🙂
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    19/10/2021 at 12:05
    Thank you a lot! precious suggestions.
    So, just to be sure, to have a “better” performance should I buy a SRAM RD with 1.1 pull? (and of course not the fancy stuff of Shimano/SRAM 10/11 speed; for a $ reason).
    A part from shifting under heavy load and break chain/RD and God knows what else… I was referring to a not aligned shifting in which you can’t hear the noise of the chain rubbing on nearest cog BUT not perfect so the chain will work slighty aligned for a LONG time so maybe (?) this little bad alignment could cause damage in the long run. I know it’s only a suggestion that I imagined, so what do you think in reality will occur?
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      19/10/2021 at 17:14
      Friction shifters will work with practically any RD. If a RD moves less per one mm of cable pull, it is easier to fine-tune the gears (this goes for indexed shifters as well).
      For 9+ sprockets, combined with a friction shifter, I think it would be a good idea to use the cheapest decent-quality RD with 1.4 or lower movement ratio (the lower, the better) – including SRAM 1:1.
      The potential problem you are describing is not something I have faced. As long as there’s no chain noise, it works just fine, even when using friction shifters.
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    19/10/2021 at 20:41
    ok thank you: for the moment when I’ll try the friction shifter I’ll use a normal Shimano RD with 1.7 pull…as I said I’m planning to use 8 speed so I’ll only keep in mind your suggestion of 1:1 pull of Sram X4 for example.
    P.S. regarding sram rd, what do you think of the routin of the wire wih the “plastic curve”? It will improve the shifting as they say?
    thanks again
  1. fabiomaria
    20/10/2021 at 07:34
    Hello Relja, (sorry if seems I’m bothering you). I was thinking about friction shifters and pull ratio of 1:1.1 : and I worried that maybe the friction shifter would finish the “run” before all the cassette is “finished”.
    given that there is a limited amount of cable to be pulled I’m worried that the shifter would need a large diameter = is not able to shift all sprockets.
    let me know if I wasn’t clear. Bye
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      20/10/2021 at 09:21
      Hi Fabio,
      Good thinking and quite sensible questions. To answer:
      Friction shifters have a lot of total cable pull, so I’d be surprised to see that happen.
      To be on the safe side, the calculation is, roughly:
      ( (Cassette width) minus (one sprocket width) ) all divided by the (RD movement ratio) = total amount of needed cable pull to shift across the entire cassette.
      (CS_WD – SP_WD) / RD_MR = TN_CP
      Measuring a shifter’s total cable pull can easily be done by having the shifter pull the cable all the way, marking where the cable exits the shifter, then using the shifter to release as much cable as it can release. The distance between the marking and the shifter’s cable entry/exit is the total cable pull of the shifter.
      Make sure to put some tension on the cable when marking and measuring.
      I’m not sure what you are referring to by “plastic curve” in your other comment.
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    20/10/2021 at 10:41
    Ok, thank you. I’ll think about it.
    Regarding the SRAM RD differently from Shimano, when the cable exit the housing it goes to the screw to be “pinched”. On the other hand, with SRAM the cable before reaching the “final screw” it goes in a sort or arch.
    If I’m not clear jet, I’ll attach a pic to the mail regarding the rear hub mech.
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If you can't find the answer to your question in this thread, please open a separate thread with your question/problem, in an appropriate forum section (this is the Drivetrain section).

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