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I've been thinking of getting a larger cassette for my bike to tackle hills better, and I'm just looking for some thoughts.

I have a 2011 Honky Tonk (http://www.evanscycles.com/products/kona/honky-tonk-2011-road-bike-ec026518), with an IRD 12-28 on the back (the IRD is kind of meh, shifts rough).The setup is pretty middle of the road components wise (Sora on the front, Tiagra on the back, 9 speed).

Harris Cyclery offers a 13-30t cassette. Which would fit my current derailleur. But if I wanted to get something like a 13-34t cassette which long cage derailleur would people suggest swapping to?

  • What do you have up front? That bike comes with a 50/34 chain-rings. A 34 30 is a pretty low gear. From your current lowest gear how much more do you feel like you need. – paparazzo Jun 29 '14 at 22:25
  • 50/34 is what I have up front, I feel I could use maybe 2 more from my current 28. Me + bike + saddlebags = heavy. – miss_n Jun 29 '14 at 23:07
  • If you need a lower you need a lower. But stretching it out that far you are going to have bigger gaps. youtube.com/watch?v=HRFNKhNhhJQ – paparazzo Jun 29 '14 at 23:19
  • Yeah, re: gaps. I think Harris has 13/15/17/19/21/24/27/30/34 for its ratios which is decent. Building strength and technique really helps…but it doesn't make my joints any younger. ;) – miss_n Jun 29 '14 at 23:30
  • 30/34 on that wheel is 24 gear-inches, not way low at all if you're in hilly country or loaded. My first touring bike had a 45-gi low. In my thirties I was strong enough (and naive enough! but that's another story...) to get away with it for a few years, but eventually got it re-geared to 40-gi. Now, at the bottom of a New England mill town, where any direction but down-river means climbing, I pull an 18" granny and thank goodness for it! And I could probably make good use of a couple of steps lower. The only gear that's too low is the one you can't spin fast enough to keep it upright. – JRobert Jul 1 '14 at 16:42
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This ships with a Tiagra SS.

Derailleurs come in 3 lengths: SS (narrow range) , GS (medium range), SGS (wide range).

If you want to move past 30t, you need to switch to a SGS derailleur, likely from the Shimano mountain range (e.g. Deore M591) - its 9 speed so the cable pulls are the same between the 9 speed deore and 9 speed Tiagra. This is what I'd likely do if i wanted a bigger cassette.

  • Do you think the Deore is basically the same quality as the Tiagra? Or is there another 9 speed Shimano derailleur you would suggest? – miss_n Jun 30 '14 at 16:11
  • Deore occupies the same place as Tiagra, except in the mountain division (and the part is more robust since its from the mountain group) and is commonly spec'd on touring bikes. Its what I'd suggest - I don't see much point in going higher or lower than deore. – Batman Jul 1 '14 at 4:10
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I tourer on a Surly Long Haul Trucker and I wouldn't consider a 30-34 "a pretty low gear", not when climbing hills on a loaded bike. My bike which has done a lot of touring including outback touring when the load is pretty big (trailer + six panniers = 35 litres of water, 20 days of food) is configured with a Shimano Deore XT CS-M770 11-34 rear cluster and up front an Andel 26-36-48t crankset.

My rear derailleur is a Shimano Deore XT RD-M761 SGS long cage. In my experience the Deore level is more than acceptable from a touring perspective.

One thing I would consider is getting is getting down to 11 or 12 on the rear. You will be surprised how handy that is coming down the other side :)

On the other hand you really want a decent granny to get up and this is where the 26-34 comes into play.

If you want to use this bike for loaded touring as opposed to credit card touring I would at least change out that rear cassette and see how it goes, but I suspect you may want to fit a MTB style front chainring as well.

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