So, 11 speed groups are great, but as everyone knows, they are old news and manufactures are constantly innovating and upgrading to sell "this year's" new parts.

11 speed has been around for a while now and I was wondering if any of the big names are developing a 12 speed group? Are there any freehubs that could support this?

Personally, I wouldn't rush out to but one but it seems inevitable.

  • 1
    Why not just go to 13? Should be everyone's lucky number. Oct 17 '15 at 13:17

Cannondale with it's new Boost 148mm rear spacing standard could fit some more gears theoretically without making the chain thinner.

But the real question is if more gears are actually needed. What really matters is the cassette range which is determined by the smallest and biggest cog wheels.

Now we have the smallest cog with 10 teeth, and there was a 9T-36T Microdrive cassette from Canfield Brothers, but it's discontinued because the torque transfer on such small sprocket size is very inefficient. So I doubt we will see 9T as the smallest cog.

There could be a bigger cog-wheel added though, for example 44T Sprocket which OneUp already offers as a replacement for 42T one. Such 12-speed cassette would be heavy, even 11-speed cassettes are heavy. Even with 44T as the biggest sprocket I feel like 11-speeds are enough for smooth shifting transitions. I don't think 12-speeds are needed. Maybe only for marketing purposes..So it's possible some brand is secretly working on 12-speed setup.

Edit: Yeah so it seems the 10-42 gears are not enough so here we have the SRAM 12-speed Eagle drivetrain (rumored):

enter image description here

And shimano is not behind, there will be a 12-speed XTR too (picture from BikeRadar article - not real):

enter image description here

Soon we will wrap the chain around the tire:)

What actually could be the next thing and what we know manufacturers are working on:

  • gearboxes: they offer more range than 3x10, the shifting is super-smooth and precise, the system is sealed against elements, it uses a silent belt and the weight is in the right place and not on the wheel. The downsides are now big weight (only metal no-one making it carbon-fibre) and big cost. Both these negatives have huge room for improvement.

    enter image description here

  • hydraulic shifting: we see this already on road bikes and on some mtb. Easier and more precise shifting. Could be the same revolution as with hydraulic brakes. The cost is high because of low volume production now:

    enter image description here

  • electronic shifting: we see this already on road bikes and on some mtb. Shimano Di2 is an example. Faster more precise shifting but more weight and battery dependance. We see also some electronics in suspension now, bluetooth sensors, bikes are getting more battery tech:

    enter image description here

So this is hopefully what will come in near future to the mainstream. It will change the game and shifting so much, that I think we won't look on shifting the same. Thinking about 12-speed cassette might be the same thing as thinking about larger rim-brakes when disc brakes debuted.

  • +1 nice post. I think the Across hydro shifting is by far the most interesting advancement. But, I saw this in 2011 and have never actually seen a system on the road or for sale readily. The gearbox is nice but I can't imagine swapping gears is as easy and changing a cassette.
    – ebrohman
    Jun 10 '15 at 22:34
  • I think the range is the main point. Road bikes currently have almost all the range they need with 11 speeds and a double crank. They also have the gears spaced quite closely together. Mountain bikes are a different story, as they often need a much larger range than road bikes. In this case, there could be a real advantage from more gears allowing smaller spacing between the gears, making them more similar to road bikes.
    – Kibbee
    Jun 11 '15 at 15:51
  • You missed hub gears off your list - the Pinion already exists but so does the Rohloff IGH with 526% range and exactly even shifts, and Shimano offer 300% on their Alfine 11. You could even combine Pinion's 600% with a Rohloff to get 3000% if you were willing to carry the extra weight. Since Shimano don't restrict the input torque but Rohloff do, a Pinion+Alfine wouldn't void the Shimano warranty (for what little that warranty is worth) while it would almost certainly void the Rohloff one.
    – Nuі
    Jan 27 '16 at 7:00

Without any inside information into the R&D efforts of Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo, it's pure speculation at best. I assume that they are looking at the idea of 12-speed, but it'll probably be close to 10 years until we see it (9 to 10 speed took ~7 years; 10 to 11 speed took ~9 years), especially with all the focus on electronic gruppos at the moment.

Same answer in regards to the freewheel standards...it's impossible to say, since 12 speed hasn't even come out yet.

Bottom line: it's hard to know for sure, but it's believable that they (the big three) would be developing 12 speed.


Twelve speed, starting from 9 teeth, would cover a full range of conditions for some of the racers and all amateur riders: 9/10/11/12/13/14/16/19/23/28/34/42 could mesh well with a 36 tooth chainring for amateurs and a 45 for road racers. The jumps between cogs are even.

  • Gidday and welcome to SE Bicycles. This site is question and answer format, you've provided an interesting idea. It would have to have a very long reach deraulereruerueureur to cope with both 9 tooth and 42 tooth. Do you think this is possible with 11 speed chain, or are we facing another increase in the width of the dropouts?
    – Criggie
    Oct 17 '15 at 10:53
  • I would start at 11 or 12 teeth for road. 16 to 19 jump is not good. Same with the rest of the ratios thereafter.
    – ebrohman
    Oct 18 '15 at 16:23
  • Good point - the mechanical losses of small rear cogs go up quickly as tooth count drops, so 9 and 10 tooth would be better replaced by a bigger front chainring. Even 11 could be dropped.
    – Criggie
    Jan 27 '16 at 23:29

Probably they already have working prototypes, but the bigger question is will a narrower chain be able to flex in the max/min position. Currently on 11 speeds on the lowest gear (back) and the highest gear (front) the chain is under a steep angle. And this affects the wear of the chainrings the chain and causes noise. Maybe a new chain type/technology is needed to solve this problem first.

  • Actually, the narrower the chain, the more flexible it is. Oct 19 '15 at 20:15
  • Sure but the more it flexes the harder it gets for the chain to take the load ... so I think the chain is a major limiting factor in the max number of gears possible. Maybe it isn't 12, maybe it is 13, 14 ...
    – Drejc
    Oct 21 '15 at 15:10
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    There was a time when many people would have put the limit at 6. Oct 21 '15 at 16:18

nothing new the 12 speed has been around for at least 3 years already

  • My apologies - your youtube link didn't show up for me to begin with
    – Criggie
    Mar 24 '16 at 23:03
  • tisobike.com has no mention of it, and it looks as though it went straight from vapourware to discontinued. So unless you can find one for sale, I don't think this counts as a real product
    – Móż
    Mar 25 '16 at 10:51

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