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I currently have a 12-30t rear cassette which needs replacing. While I'm at it, I really want to switch to an 11 tooth to get the extra 9% in top speed. But the problem is, even the most expensive (e.g. Ultegra) component that will work with my bike only goes up to 11-28, and if I stick to Tiagra I'm stuck with 11-25. For long steep hills on an off day, it's really nice to have the 30 tooth.

So my second thought was, the bottom 2 or 3 cogs usually aren't fixed to the cassette, they are individual cogs that can come off. So maybe I could get a 12-30 replacement, and then a single 11t cog to replace the 12t or maybe I could even drop the 13t so the stepping goes 11-12-14. This would be ideal as I use the 12t and 14t heavily but I virtually never use the 13t.

Would this work?

From what I can see, I would also need an 11t lock ring. I'm having a difficult time finding both a lock ring and an 11t cog which claims to be compatible. For instance, I found one cog which claimed to only work various cassettes which were already 11-xx and which were 2-3 grades above my Tiagra components.

Update: I found this PDF file on the Tiagra CS-4600 which suggests I need part Y1YF01000 ("Lock Ring for 11T Top Gear"), and Y1Z81100N ("Sprocket Wheel 11T (Built in spacer type)"). But I can't find anywhere (for instance Amazon or Google Shopping) to buy these part numbers or the corresponding parts.

  • Not sure about doing the swap, but you should be ok. The de facto answer is always that you most likely should be spinning faster. What is your cadence like when you are in the hardest gear? If you aren't going over 100 rpm you most likely don't need a bigger gear and just need to spin faster. 100 RPM at 50-12 will mean you are going 52 km/h, which is quite fast. – Kibbee Oct 25 '14 at 17:29
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    It'd be a smidge more range than you're after, but there are lots of options for 11-32 cassettes if you look at mountain parts. You'd just have to make sure that your derailleur can handle the extra couple teeth. You might have to add a link to your chain as well. – jimchristie Oct 25 '14 at 17:42
  • @jimirings can i use an MTB cassette on a road bike? – Michael Oct 25 '14 at 17:42
  • Yup. Touring rigs are often set up that way from the factory. Just check that your rear derailleur can accommodate the bigger cogs. They usually list the maximum range in the tech docs. – jimchristie Oct 25 '14 at 17:44
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    Before you go out and buy anything, when you next go out for a ride, make a note of exactly how much time you spend in top gear. I don't want to damp your enthusiasm, but everything here is screaming "not worth it" = especially when in the same breath you're wanting 30T for climbing. – PeteH Oct 25 '14 at 18:24
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You can replace the smallest cogs on cassette.
For example see Sheldon Brown's Building custom cassette page.

For example, Shimano doesn't make any true "corncob" (one-tooth-jump) cassettes for time-trialists or flatland riders. In 7 speed, the closest is the J (13/14/15/16/17/19/21).

If you remove the 21-tooth sprocket from a J, you can make it into a 13-19 corncob by buying an 18 to put between the 17 and the 19. Alternately, you could make it into a 12-18 by removing the 19 and the 21, and adding a 12 and an 18.

There is also about MTB & Road compatibility:

"Road" vs "Mountain" Hubs There is no interchangeability issue between "Road" vs "Mountain" cassettes and hubs as long as the number of sprockets matches. Although "Road" and "Mountain" hubs are no different as far as cassette fitting is concerned, they are different in terms of overall spacing. "Road" hubs generally use 130 mm spacing, while "mountain" hubs are 135 mm.

"Mountain" hubs will likely be slightly better sealed against dirt and mud than "road" hubs, but this is rarely an issue in practice. The wider 135 mm spacing will generally result in a slightly stronger wheel due to reduced dishing of the spokes.

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