JIM LANGLEY REPLIES: The 10-speed Shimano stuff is so new that the only way to be sure about compatibilities is to try swaps. That’s what Uncle Al recently did in his bike shop. His findings are below.
But first, according to Shimano’s tech book, you can install the 10-speed cassette on the company’s 9-speed Freehub. But you can’t install the 9-speed cassette on the 10-speed Freehub. So, the 10-speed is backwards compatible.
According to a Campagnolo tech guy, the spacing between 10-speed Campy cogs is 2.4 mm vs. 2.34 mm for Shimano 10. That’s so close that we’re betting you’ll be able to swap wheels and get either system to accept the other’s wheel, although you might have to use the chain that matches the cassette brand.
Now, here’s Uncle Al. He did some experimenting to see what works, and he also comments on a cassette adapter kit.
- A 10-speed Shimano cassette will fit on a 9-speed hub body, but you must use a 1-mm spacer behind the cassette. A 10-speed cassette will not fit on all 9-speed bodies due to design variations.
- You can not put a 9-speed Shimano cassette on the new 10-speed body. It’s too wide, so the smallest cog has no splines to sit on.
- In a pinch, you can throw a 10-speed Shimano wheel onto a 10-speed Campy bike (or vice versa), such as a neutral support mechanic might do in a race. But do not expect good, reliable shifting. The cogs will not line up correctly on the chain/derailleur interface, but a rider would have enough useable gears to stay in a race until his team support changed him back to the correct wheel.
The mechanic I spoke to said he’s more inclined to stick a 9-speed wheel on a 10-speed bike in a race situation to prevent overshifting into the spokes. Some gears will still work. But for the real world, this is not a good solution.
Wheels of Boulder makes a rather expensive modified cassette kit that uses Shimano Dura-Ace and/or Ultegra cogs spaced to match Campy exactly. They do this for both 9- and 10-speed. This allows you to use aftermarket wheels with a Shimano spline pattern on an all-Campy bike — at a cost of $175-$200 per cassette.
My recommendation to Conrad and everyone is to stick with Shimano or Campy. Don’t try to mix them. I’m sure a lot of the stuff measures up pretty closely, but everything sits in a slightly different spot.
Here’s an example. I’m right in the middle of a Campy add-on job to a Shimano bike (all 9-speed Dura-Ace). The customer wants Campy carbon Ergo levers (because they look cool?!). We found they will not index a Dura-Ace rear derailleur, period, and will barely shift a D-A front derailleur. We’re going to end up with a Campy bike, piece by piece.
Jim, if you get any other queries about this subject, strongly suggest that the guy fugetaboutit! To quote the Shimano tech guys, “We don’t care if our stuff is compatible with Campy; all we care about is that ours works perfectly.” Not a bad concept and one I’m sure Campy shares. We need to discourage the people who are never satisfied with anything and have money to burn.
As my buddy Richard says, “Shut up and ride!” Or as Big Tex would say, “It’s not about the bike.”
Cheating’ to a Bigger Cog
DEAR JIM: Is it possible to run a bigger cog than Shimano states, but without replacing the short-cage rear derailleur with a long one? Shimano’s road cassettes only go up to 26 or 27 teeth. Can I run a 28 without causing damage? — Jim G.
JIM LANGLEY REPLIES: The short answer is: yes . . . probably. There’s reason to hedge just a bit.
The way to figure what works with a derailleur is to check its specifications. Every derailleur has a large-cog limit and a chain-wrap capacity.
The large-cog limit means that if you go to a larger cog, there’s a chance the top pulley will bump into it. This might prevent the chain from moving onto the cog, or refusing to shift back down if it does get on.
As you shift to different chainring/cog combinations, the chain develops more or less slack. Chain-wrap capacity tells you how much chain slack the derailleur can handle. The formula:
(large chainring – small chainring) + (large rear cog – small rear cog) = chain wrap capacity
For example, 53/39-tooth chainrings with an 11-27-tooth cassette produces a 30-tooth chain-wrap capacity: (53 – 39 = 14) + (27 – 11 = 16) = 30.
You didn’t mention which Shimano derailleur you have, but it’s easy enough to find the specs by visiting Shimano’s website and clicking on your derailleur.
If it’s a Shimano Ultegra rear derailleur for double chainrings, it accepts up to a 27T cog, and it can handle a chain wrap of 37T. This means it’s not supposed to work with a 28-tooth cog.
However, depending on your bicycle, it may be possible to “cheat” and get the derailleur to accept the extra tooth. It’s most likely if you have an old-style frame with horizontal dropouts. These allow you to slide the rear wheel back, which raises the cassette a touch. It might be just enough to allow a derailleur with a large-cog limit of 27T to handle a 28T.
If your frame has vertical dropouts (no fore/aft wheel adjustment), look for a screw at the back of the derailleur that when turned clockwise moves the derailleur backwards. (This screw will be above the side-by-side limit screws, which shouldn’t be messed with.) If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get just enough adjustment with this screw to move the top pulley down and provide the clearance to shift onto the 28.
Maybe your local bicycle shop has a wheel with a 28T large cog on it. If so, you could simply slip the wheel into your frame to see if these adjustments do the trick before you buy that bigger cassette.
Balky STI Shifter
DEAR JIM: I just read your Tech Talk in newsletter issue No. 125 on 8/9-speed chain compatibility. A friend of mine in a bike shop says a 9-speed chain on an 8-speed drivetrain will not only cause bad shifting, it can actually stick because it’s narrower.
On another note, I have Ultegra STI shifters that seem to “tighten” every 30 or 40 shifts. Using a Teflon-based lube seems to help, but the problem always returns. Any ideas what’s causing this? My buddy at the shop says I’m doomed and will soon be replacing the shifters. — Doug M.
JIM LANGLEY REPLIES: I know that STI levers can have problems because it happened to me and a friend. In both cases, we contacted Shimano and they replaced the shifting mechanism (not the entire lever). It’s not too difficult to install.
So, I think you should ask your shop buddy to inquire about a replacement from Shimano. That way you’ll be certain not to break down during a ride.
If you’re interested in investigating further, check the Shimano Europe page that includes instructions and an exploded view of the lever.
Also, check this home-grown page by a cyclist who is trying to figure out how to fix his lever. It includes some interesting tips and ideas.
Replaceable Front Derailleur Cage
DEAR JIM: I read on the tech sheet at Shimano’s website that the Dura-Ace 9-speed front derailleur has a replaceable cage. Since mine is getting pretty worn, I inquired at several local bike shops about replacing the cage instead of the entire derailleur. None of them said they could do it, or even order a new cage. Is it really impossible to do this? — Chuck W.
JIM LANGLEY REPLIES: Close inspection of my rather worn-out Dura-Ace front derailleur reveals two small snap rings that are obviously there to make cage removal a no-brainer. And close inspection of my Quality Bicycle Products catalog shows that the Dura-Ace FD-7700 replacement cage, nickel-plated aluminum is available, part number DP6249. (QBP is a large bicycle parts distributor that any bicycle shop can order from.)
The bad news is that the cage is expensive at about $50. So, it might be smart to simply replace the derailleur and get everything new.
Tandem Granny Rings
DEAR JIM: I recently purchased a go-fast tandem with FSA Carbon Pro Team cranks mated to a Campy Record 10 drivetrain. It sure looks good and shifts nice, but the 30-tooth granny chainring would not hold the chain on the first hill of its maiden voyage.
FSA assured me their rings are 100% Campy compatible with no problems reported. They were very apologetic and responsive in mailing a replacement ring (28T per my request). They were also quick to shift the responsibility for this issue to their vendor used to source the ring. All said, I was impressed with their service level.
While waiting for the FSA replacement ring, I substituted a cheap, generic 28T alloy ring from my parts bin. After 200 miles, not a problem. I switched out the rings when the FSA replacement came, and within 200 miles (about 15 or them in the small ring) it began to slip on steep climbs.
Now FSA’s story is that Campy chains are the problem and the fix is to buy someone else’s chain or find a stainless-steel chainring. So much for FSA’s 10-speed-compatible $800 crankset!
To date I have also tried SR and Boone Ti rings for 150-200 miles with no problems.
To my understanding, 1/2-inch roller pitch is the same SAE spec for any chain. Width and proprietary side plate design may vary, but pitch is an international standard that transcends industries.
Have you ever experienced the issue I’ve described? What is the maximum tooth thickness that will accept a 10-speed chain without risking chain suck? — Scott B.
JIM LANGLEY REPLIES: Before answering, I talked with my RBR colleague Uncle Al and with Ric Hjertberg at FSA. I’ll cut to the quick: Our consensus is that you did the right thing by finding replacement granny rings that solve the slipping problem.
Tandems are notoriously hard on equipment, particularly drivetrains, so when there’s a problem the only smart thing to do is fix it by using parts that work better. If installing a different chainring solved the shifting trouble, then I say good job, problem solved.
Besides preventing a breakdown that could strand two riders, you’ve also ensured that you don’t break something while riding and crash, which is at least twice as unpleasant on a twofer.
That said, FSA (one of the largest aftermarket chainring sellers in the industry) reports no consistent problems with their rings. They only occasionally hear of skipping, and their advice is to switch to SRAM or Shimano chains because that’s been found to work. FSA is also willing to exchange chainrings to try to solve the problem, as you found.
So, if you’d like to keep your FSA crankset complete, you might try changing chains. Otherwise, you could continue to run a chainring you’ve found that works.
To answer your other point, the width and pitch of chainrings (1×3/32-inch) hasn’t changed as cogs have multiplied. What’s changed is the width between the chainrings. Another variable is tooth shapes. Manufacturers tweak them to improve shifting. So, it might be interesting to compare the tooth shapes of a Campagnolo granny chainring with the FSA for clues.
I’ve definitely seen my share of defective components right out of the box. Clipless pedals that explode on the first ride, frames that break and, yes, sketchy chainrings and chains. My approach is the same as yours: I find something that works and use it instead.
DEAR JIM: Any advice for diagnosing and fixing hard-to-find squeaks? I’ve got a new one that is symmetrical with my pedal stroke and seems to occur whether I’m standing or sitting. Can’t tell if it’s from the seat, crank or some other place. But I am pretty sure it’s not the wheelset because it happens with either my training or “event” wheels installed. Any help would be greatly appreciated. — John F.
JIM LANGLEY REPLIES: If it’s really a squeak (not a click or clunk), I would suspect either a dry chain or the pulleys on the rear derailleur.
I have seen chains that are lubed so lightly that they squeak a bit because the parts doing the work, the bushings and rollers, are dry. When you lube a chain, you have to apply enough to get down into those parts. Apply a drip to each link near the edge, then pedal the bike by hand to help the lube penetrate. Wipe off the excess.
If it’s not the chain squeaking, check the derailleur pulleys. They can make an intermittent chirp, almost like an annoying little bird is flying along next to you.
For aquick fix, lay the bike on its side and drip some lube into the middle of the pulleys where they turn (not where the chain contacts them). Turn the pedals by hand to help the lube penetrate into the center of the pulleys where they spin on the bushings. Then flip the bike over and repeat. If you get excess lube on the pulley, wipe it off.
If this doesn’t work, it may be because the lube didn’t reach the bushing. Sometimes corrosion has set in, too. To fix the pulley for good, unscrew the bolt holding it and carefully remove it (don’t let it fall apart). Work on one pulley at a time. Pay attention to how the chain is routed before taking them off. Refer to another bike if you forget. If it’s your only bike, make a sketch.
Lay the parts down in order of removal so you’ll know how they go back together. Remove the dustcaps and poke the bushing out of the center. Clean everything with a rag. Then lightly lube the bushing and dustcaps with grease, reassemble the pulley and reinstall it on the derailleur. Repeat with the other pulley.
If that doesn’t fix the squeak, at least you’ll sleep better knowing you’re pedaling more efficiently now!
The next thing I’d check is the cleat-to-pedal connection. That’s another common squeak source. Inspect all the cleat and pedal bolts, turning them with the appropriate tool to ensure they’re tight. And apply something slippery but not tacky to the pedals and cleats. Silicone spray or spray-on furniture polish will stop most pedal/cleat squeaks for a while.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.