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I'm in the market for a new cassette for my road bike and I frequently see cassettes listed as mountain bike or road bike. Since they're usually interchangeable and can be used on either type of bike, what makes manufacturers designate them as one type or the other?

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Road typically has a smaller range. A road bike will typically come with a short cage derailleur. Where a mountain will typically come with a medium or long cage derailleur. Yes the mount on the freehub is compatible. It is about the range capacity of the derailleur.

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    The mount on the freehub is mostly compatible. Road cassettes tend to have more individual gears and the splinging in the hub is deeper to accomidate the greater force. Mountain cassettes tend toward multiple gear groups on a carrier, so the force is more evenly distributed and manufacturers can save weight by making the splines shorter. Long story short they will fit on either, but you MAY encounter issues. I have destroyed a couple of lightweight aluminium mtn freehub bodies running titanium road cassettes on them. The cogs cut through the splines. – Deleted User Aug 31 '15 at 23:28
  • @ChrisinAK: WOuld you say that installing a MTB cassette (paired with a long cage deraileur) on a road hub is safe compatibility-wise? – Jahaziel Sep 1 '15 at 4:18
  • Yes. Because the splines on the road hub are deeper and will easily pair with the distributed forces the carrier imparts. – Deleted User Sep 1 '15 at 5:00
  • Most hybrids have mountain bike cassettes (and chain rings) – Gordon Copestake Sep 2 '15 at 8:37
  • Road cassettes do not generate greater force. It's the other way around. Given the same 100 pounds of tension coming from the chain, a 34T cog will generate more torque than a 23T. Simply put, it's a bigger lever around the hub. That means more force on the splines. The effort that you feel at the pedal is not what determines what the hub is "feeling" from the cogs. And if the cog is equal, then it doesn't matter. A 13T is a 13T no matter what cassette it is in. – Kaz Apr 25 '16 at 5:13

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