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I see a lot of people recommending 8 speed drivetrain over 9 speed for a touring bike because they are supposed to be stronger (e.g. in the buyers guide of the Adventure cyclist magazine, issue april 2011, page 16) . Is that still true or did technology catch up?

  • It would improve the question if you included a few links to show where and in what context such recommendations were made. – Alex Jul 22 '17 at 22:10
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    2011 is 6 years old, technology has definitely moved on and can make stronger/better chanins. This tech came trickling down from having to make stronger/better and thinner chains for 10 and 11 speed. Also, the use of master links rather than pushing out/in random pins increases the overall strength by raising the basement level. – Criggie Jul 23 '17 at 4:31
  • @Craggie - My answer would have been much the same 6 years ago, 9 speed came out in 1996, so 9 speed was over 15 years old then.... If the OP was asking about 11 vs 12 Speed, we might have something worth exploring. – mattnz Jul 23 '17 at 6:37
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My guess is in reality no statistically measurable difference between 8,9 and even 10 speed setups. 8 Speed these days is low cost components, meaning you are fitting out a bike with low cost gear. Even 9 speed is lowish cost. 10 is geting into quite fine tolerances but has been around long enough to be well understood. 11 and 12 speed setups might be a concern, but I would not fit them because of concern over strength.

More important though is "Strong enough" - once the gear is "strong enough", does it matter if one is stronger than the other. And setup built with components of good enough quality to be used where reliability is a concern is strong enough.

The disadvantages of more gears is finer tolerances meaning wear is a bigger issue. Wear is a different concern to strength as it affects everything but is predictable, and easily managed with normal maintenance. (Cost is another discussion)

There might be reasons for not going to higher gears - availability of components in remote places in the event of a break down. However going 9 speed over 8 speed has little disadvantage here. Most components are interchangeable between these, and if needed you would as easily get you bike up and running on the off the shelf components at the most basic bike shop with 9 speed as 8 speed.

As eluded to earlier, cost might be a reason to stay on 8 speed - but that is a different question (and I have my doubts it is significant).

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