I have an 11 speed 11-30 rear cassette that I would like to replace but cannot seem to find an 11-30 anywhere. Can I safely replace this with an 11-28 or an 11-32 without replacing my rear derailleur?

2 Answers 2


If the OP's bike has a short cage Shimano rear derailleur, then officially, the maximum cog size is 30t. Going down to 28t is definitely fine, but going over 30t is not technically OK. Shimano's compatibility specifications are known to be conservative, however, so in practice, a 32t cog should work. I would caution against exceeding the maximum cog size by more than 2 teeth, unless you also install items like Wolf Tooth's RoadLink, which extends the derailleur hangar.

I would very cautiously disagree with @BenStokes that you must necessarily lengthen your chain. The OP may find that your chain is long enough to handle the 11-32. I recently installed a pair of oversized pulley wheels on my road bike. The official recommendation is indeed to resize the chain, but in practice, my chain had adequate length to shift into the big ring, big cog combination. I would suggest that the OP can very cautiously try to shift into this combination in the bike stand (and not on the road). If the chain is at all reluctant to make the shift, stop moving the crank immediately and re-size it. With the amount of force you can generate with your hand, then even if the OP's chain is too short, the OP won't damage anything if they stop promptly. (This is why I suggest not trying this on the road; your legs can produce enough force to do considerable damage.)

Conversely, if the OP's bike had a medium cage Shimano derailleur, then technically, the smallest large cog is 30t, and an 11-28t cassette isn't officially compatible. However, I am actually running an 11-28 with a medium cage rear derailleur right now.

I have no current experience with SRAM or Campagnolo, but I believe the same recommendation (that you can exceed the official specs slightly) should hold true. I used to run a short cage Campagnolo 10s rear derailleur with a 13-29 cassette, i.e. exceeding the maximum tooth count by 4. I did this on advice received on forums that this could work, depending on the bicycle. Again, I would prefer to recommend that people don't exceed the maximum cog count by 4 teeth.

  • 1
    There are two generations of Shimano 11 speed: the first is dual pivot and the short cage has 28t capacity. The second is single pivot and the short cage has 30t capacity. Both types for long cage are rated for min. 28t; for the older type up to 32t, and for the current single pivot 34t
    – thelawnet
    Oct 27, 2020 at 20:03
  • 2
    Weiwen, nice to meet you. You don't need to be "cautious". As long as things are well written and respectful, which they clearly are, you won't hurt my feelings by disagreeing with me. I completely agree that adding a link might not be necessary, although if the chain is new, it is easier to remove a link than to add one back in. ...Best...Ben
    – Ben Stokes
    Oct 27, 2020 at 21:40
  • @BenStokes in this case, you'd want to be cautious. If your chain were originally a bit undersized for an 11-30, and you put on an 11-32 and went for a ride and shifted into big-big on the road... that's why.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Oct 27, 2020 at 22:06
  • I am amused to upvote two answers that disagree. I think both have truth in them and the combination gives a good view of the range that can be expected. Thanks to both of you. Oct 28, 2020 at 5:07
  • I feel it is a bit of useful anecdotal information that I think I have never in my life shifted to big ring/big cock. Ymmv, but does it? Oct 28, 2020 at 10:31

Going down to 11-28 should be fine. Going up to 11-32 will probably be fine. If it were my bike, I would just give it a try and hope for the best, but I tend to be a little cavalier about the possibility of breaking stuff.

You'll need to check the specs of your derailleur. There should be a min and max low cog listed, make sure you are within that. There should also be a max front difference listed, meaning the difference between the largest and smallest (front) chainring can't exceed that number.

For example: This derailleur... https://bike.shimano.com/en-US/product/component/duraace-r9100/RD-R9100-SS.html Can handle the a low sprocket from 25T-30T, with a max front difference of 16T.

If you decide to go with the 32T, you'll probably want to add one chain link (one inner and one outer), and since it is a new cassette, I'd recommend a new chain too unless your current chain is pretty new.

Good luck.

  • 1
    Technically you need to check the total capacity (sum of differences between smallest/largest sprockets and chainrings) but if the chainring difference is the standard 16 teeth max rear sprocket suffices. Oct 27, 2020 at 16:59
  • I am amused to upvote two answers that disagree. I think both have truth in them and the combination gives a good view of the range that can be expected. Thanks to both of you. Oct 28, 2020 at 5:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.