I'm planning to upgrade my drivetrain from Claris to 105. Can I still use my Claris crank with an 11-speed rear derailleur and cassette? Thanks.

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    Is your crankset a double or triple? – Klaster_1 Aug 24 '18 at 8:03

No, that won't work! 8-speed and 11-speed systems use different chains. The 11-speed chain is narrower and doesn't fit the teeth of an 8-speed chainring.

Unless you get the 105 parts for very cheap, the usual advice here is not to perform this kind of upgrade. You'd probably find a whole new bike for the price of the items you'll need for a switch from Claris to 105.

  • Are you sure? Aren't Shimano 8-11 chains have the same width inside and are more narrow outside as speeds increase? I.e. chainrings are compatible, but 8 speed chain won't fit between teeth of 11 speed cassette. – Klaster_1 Aug 24 '18 at 8:06
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    @Klaster_1 : you could give it a try to see if it works, unless the front is a triple, which many Claris are. The shifting ramps on a Claris double might not help lift the narrow chain properly. – Carel Aug 24 '18 at 9:59
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    11 speed chain might work on 8 speed crankset but probably not very well. The front shifter and derailleur would need to be retained even if crankset is a double to match the spacing of the chainrings. Now you have mismatched shifter units and still have a heavy Claris crank which somewhat negate the upgrade. – Argenti Apparatus Aug 24 '18 at 12:28
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    And then there's the possibility of the narrower 11-speed chain getting caught in places that an 8-speed chain can't fit into - such as between the chainrings or the crank arm and outer chainring. Depending on the crankset, that might be possible. – Andrew Henle Aug 24 '18 at 12:36

Upgrading drivetrains several steps up the Shimano hierarchy is usually not cost effective.

Usually, the entire drivetrain groupset - including the crankset and likely the bottom bracket - and the rear wheel need to be swapped out. The wheel needs to be swapped because the freehub body for 11 speed systems is wider than that used for 8 through 10 speeds. Factoring in the cost of items such as a chain, cables and housing, bar tape and all the special tools you'll need cost adds up quickly.

Bare groupsets are expensive. They are effectively much cheaper when bundled with a whole bike. Often it's better to sell your current bike and purchase a new bike at the level you want.

If you are willing to spend time finding used used, good condition parts of the 10 speed Ultegra 6700 or 105 5700 ranges you can pull the cost down dramatically for almost the same benefit.

  • This assumes your wheel can't accept the cassette. Go for Tiagra if that's the case. Most of the tools you need to switch out the groupset are probably things you should have anyway because you're going to need them for regular maintenance like changing the cassette or bottom bracket. Those are really the only non-standard tools that I can think of. I guess it depends on the market where you live, but I could get a 105 groupset for under $600 Canadian, but a complete bike with a 105 groupset is going to be double that, even buying online, and close to triple that buying from a local store. – Kibbee Aug 24 '18 at 13:24
  • Most less than 10-y-old wheels that take 8-speed will also take 10- or 11-speed. Actually a 10-speed cassette is narrower than an 8-speed and needs a spacer that goes on the body before the cassette. – Carel Aug 24 '18 at 14:49
  • @Carel 10 speed for sure, but my understanding is that road 11 speed cassettes need a wider freehub body. – Argenti Apparatus Aug 24 '18 at 14:51
  • @Klaster_1 : Yes the 11-speed and the 10-speed fit on the body. I do it on a regular basis with both Mavic and 3T wheels when I use the wheels of the summer bike on the 10-speed winter bike. – Carel Aug 25 '18 at 6:25

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