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Currently I have a 7 speed cassette (13-23) running with a spacer on a new Tiagra hub. After I changed my chain, the wear has made two of the gears unusable.

I am considering changing the cassette to increase the number of gears. The simple option would be 8 speed (12-23). The other alternative looking at the chainrings would be a complete change to 9 (11-23) or 10 (11-25) speed and drop a few teeth at the front.

Will my current chainring be incompatible with a new cassette and chain? In other words, can I use a 9 or 10 speed chain with a chainring designed for a 7 speed cassette and chain? Is there a significant difference in durability between the setups?

I mainly use by bike for commuting and light road touring.

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By the way, I made an edit which I hope clarifies the question as you described in a comment on my answer. Feel free to change if this doesn't seem right. –  amcnabb Jul 3 '12 at 16:11

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Your chainring and front derailleur should work just fine with a 10 speed chain and cassette.

The primary concern with your upgrade will not be the chainring and front derailleur, but rather the rear shifter and derailleur. A 7 speed shifter or derailleur will not work with an 8 or 9 speed cassette, so you will need to buy new ones. But at least your upgrades will be limited to the rear components.

EDIT: After seeing user973810's answer, I prefer it to mine. However, since my answer was accepted, it looks like I can't delete it.

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Thanks. It was more would a 10 speed cassette and chain work with existing chainrings or do I need to change the whole lot together. I still use a downtube shifter set on friction so that will be alright to start with and the derailleur was changed recently for a 10 speed one chosen on availability rather than specifications. –  DanS Jul 3 '12 at 13:43
    
Thanks for the clarification. I just edited my answer; let me know whether this more directly answers your question. –  amcnabb Jul 3 '12 at 13:52
    
Just to update - I have now added the 10 gear cassette and chain. It's been working fine since July with no change to the chainrings (to date). –  DanS Mar 12 '13 at 9:22
    
@DanS, I'm glad it's working, though user973810 has convinced me that it won't necessarily work for everyone. –  amcnabb Mar 12 '13 at 15:52

7 speed systems use slightly wider chains, and the teeth on the chainring are slightly wider too. You might run into an issue with a ten speed chain not fitting over the teeth, or at least not fitting well.

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