I have a Shimano 9 speed groupset and I want to upgrade to something that's better on the climbs without shelling out and buying a whole new groupset which would be more money than my actual bike.

Would it be possible to just buy a new 11 speed chain + 11 speed rear derailleur + 11 speed cassette + 11 speed shifters (all ultegra 6800)?

I.e. I want to avoid buying front derailleur + hub + crankset. Would this work and be worth it?


  • It should work. The hub is compatible.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 12:33
  • 5
    Why not just pick a better rear cassette? Depending on the range, this may require a new derailleur and chain, but will be much much cheaper than what you're proposing. 9 speeds is plenty for almost all riders.
    – Batman
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 12:38
  • An upgrade of that sort is expensive and generally not worth. Better save the money for a 6800 equipped bike. And yes, as @Batman says, find a cassette with a larger range. But check the tooth capacities of the RD first. Anyway, the easiest climbing gear you'll have with the Ultegra will be front 34, rear 32, you have that with the Sora.
    – Carel
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 13:49
  • The 11-speed chain will be too narrow for the 9-speed chainrings. You'll need a new crankset as well, or at least fitting new chainrings.
    – Carel
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 18:31
  • What do you want out of this change ? More gears? Or lower climbing gears? I'd wear out the current chain/cassette first, and then compare the price of all the parts to the price of a replacement bike and the cost of a 9 speed cassette with larger range+chain+longer cage rear mech.
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 23:21

3 Answers 3


Stay with 9 speed. the beauty of Shimano 9 speed is that the 9 speed road levers are compatible with mountain derailleurs and vice versa. You can get a 9 speed deore derailleur and a 9 speed 12-36 cassette and Bam! way more gear range. That's literally all you have to buy (and maybe a cable if your old one dies on removal) edit: you will likely need a new chain as well as your current one will probably be too short (but hey 9 speed chains are way cheaper than 11 speed chains!)

If you actually want to go to 11 speed, as stated above you'll need at least chainrings, chain, cassette, shifters, and front and rear derailleurs. It won't necessarily buy you more gear range though, honestly. I believe the ultegra 11 speed derailleurs can still only go up to 32 teeth on the cassette maximum. edit: as @nathan Knutson pointed out, 11 speed road for Shimano uses a wider freehub body (mountain does not, but is incompatible with drop bar shifters/road derailleurs) so you could not simple put an 11speed cassette on your current wheel


The only piece of it that can kinda sorta be re-used is the cranks. Front derailer cage gap to chain width compatibility is a real thing that matters and affects performance, and your 9-speed wheel won't take an 11-speed road cassette unless it's already an 11-speed wheel running a 1.8mm spacer, or it has a retrofit 11spd freehub available, or it's a Mavic road wheel (basically the same as an 11-speed wheel with the spacer).

The far better path is just get a new chain, 9-speed mountain RD, and an 11-34.

  • ah good point I always confuse which 11 speed group does/does not work on standard Shimano freehubs
    – Paul
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 4:00

YES, I just did that on my bike and it's running great! I changed the shifter and cassette(11-32) to 105(5800) and the derailleur is Ultegra (6800). New chain is KMC x11. The front is still Sora! Works like a charm. enter image description here #Triban520 with 11 speeds

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