I'm running Ultegra 6800 with

  • a 52-34 chainring up front (not a typo: I replaced the 36 with a 34), and
  • a 6800 GS (medium cage) derailleur at the back, and
  • a 12-29 rear cassette.

It works well.

My question is this: could I drop in an HG800 11-34 cassette?

I am aware that this would exceed the max total capacity (41t instead of 37t) and also the maximum sprocket (34t instead of 32t), as per Shimano's documentation here: http://bike.shimano.com/content/sac-bike/en/home/components11/road/ultegra1/rd-6800-gs.html But I'm already exceeding the maximum front difference (18t from 52 to 34, instead of the claimed maximum of 16t) --- with no ill effects.

Shimano is notoriously conservative. Does anybody know if it would actually work?

In summary: would a set-up with 52-34 up front, 11-34 at the back, work with a medium cage Ultegra 6800 derailleur?

Thank you.

  • I run the same combination with an 11-32, although with medium-cage Di2-RD and it works perfectly. As you say Shmano is conservative. So it may work as well with 11-34
    – Carel
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 8:07
  • Thanks. This is the RD-6870-GS that you're running? bike.shimano.com/content/sac-bike/en/home/road/…
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 22:36
  • Yes, it is that one! And the front rings are 52-34. In fact I have three different cassettes that I swap 11-25, 11-28 & 11-32 without changing the chain which is adjusted to fit the 11-32.
    – Carel
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 17:46
  • Did you do? Is it working? Please, let me know which configuration.
    – Netun Lima
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 3:30
  • I ran 52-34 front with 11-32 rear with a medium cage Ultegra derailleur and it worked perfectly well. This gave me all I needed for my regular commute so I never got around to fitting 11-34. I also ran 48-31 with 11-34 GRX on another bike. This gearing range is clearly more practical, especially for unfamiliar routes: for me, 31/34 is just enough to get up steep surprise hills, in a way that 32/32 just isn't. I do notice the gaps on the rear shifting of the 11-34 cassette, and I do kind of miss the difference between 52/11 and 48/11 when going downhill.
    – Jim
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 7:57

2 Answers 2


As for clearing a 34, there is no universal answer because it's slightly dependent on where the dropout puts the RD mounting bolt relative to the axle center, which despite Shimano having a standard spec for does have some variance bike to bike. So it's a little bit of an experiment every time. Generally speaking this can be made to work on RDs, including the one in question, with a max cog spec of 32t by running the B-tension screw in reverse or subbing in a longer one. It's also common for it to barely work and/or be a little grindier than desirable in the low gear but basically work. And remember that when you do this, something is lost in shifting performance on the rest of the cassette, so it's not all upside.

Exceeding the printed large cog spec by two whole teeth without any B-tension hacks usually doesn't work. I've tried it with various of the 11-speed road RDs, probably including this one but I can't be sure.

As for exceeding the total capacity, there are many answers here on this topic but basically the bike will be rideable but will have chain slack in some number of the small/small combinations. Total capacity numbers can basically be taken at face value (in other words they're reasonably honest), so you can do the math to see which ones will be slack, again with a very slight bit of wiggle room due to variance in dropout geometry. Here 18t of the total capacity is being used up front, leaving 19t in back. 34-19=15, so once the chain is long enough to wrap around the 52t ring, 34t cog combo, it can be tensioned on a 15t or above, and below that it will be sagging/floppy. Riding in the floppy gears carries some risk of derailment/jamming.

  • Experiment is the word, either it works or it doesn't!
    – Carel
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 9:17

This is an old thread but people looking into this topic may discover it as I did so - Those that are considering the problem described above should simply buy an R8000 rear shifter and the problem is solved. July 2021

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to bicycles. Do you mean a RD-R8000 rear derailleur? In which size? Note that the question specifically asks for compatibility with a RD-6800-GS, and an answer about the R8000 doesn't really apply.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 16:32

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