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Most similar questions are asking about using the same chain with a bigger cluster with more gears (10 speed chain vs 11 speed cluster).

My concern is being able to simply buy a higher gear ratio cassette and still keep the same chain?

I have Shimano Ultegra 10 speed system, but my cassette is an 11-24 cluster. I want to replace it with another 10 speed cassette but 12 to 32, with grannies for massive hill climbs.

Surely I don't need to replace the chain if the number of gears on the cassette is the same - ie: 10 speed?

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    You may need a longer chain. – Daniel R Hicks May 7 '15 at 2:23
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    Even same size cassette it is a good idea to start with a fresh chain. A worn chain will wear a cassette faster. Save the old chain for if you put the old cassette back on. – paparazzo May 7 '15 at 12:50
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    You'll need to re-size your chain (so you'll need a new one) and possibly a new derailleur -- check your derailleur's spec sheet to see if it can clear a 32t. – Batman May 7 '15 at 13:01
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It all depends on how long your chain is currently. Also it depends on if your rear derailleur is a short or mid cage. I would say that a jump up from 24 to 32 is a bit to big for any chain. Of course without seeing how much slack is in your chain right now the right answer will vary. You certainly can put the new cassette on and you will know right away if it work or not. Be warned that you ABSOLUTELY do NOT want to add any more links to your used chain. This is a great resource for drivetrains in general: http://sheldonbrown.com/derailer-adjustment.html#chain

  • Yeah I thought the same thing. I was hoping a simple YES would be ok with standard 10 speed chains, but you're right. If the cluster gets bigger the tension on the chain could be too high and could be dangerous. – Fandango68 May 7 '15 at 1:51
  • So the answer is no really? Standard 10 speed chains for 10 speed drive trains require that the chain be tensioned no more than a certain amount? Is there a way to measure this? Just because the chain is straight does not mean it's "ok", right? – Fandango68 May 7 '15 at 1:52
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    The chain has to fit over the big chainring in front, the biggest cog and through the rear derailleur. If that path gets longer, the chain needs to be longer. To short and you might damage something when accidentally using that combination. Second point: The rear derailleur must be "long" enough to manage the difference between the biggest and the smallest cog. So you might have to change the derailleur as well. – linac May 7 '15 at 7:16

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