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I want to know if anyone knows if the steel used in the Hg200-8 and Hg31/41/51 cassettes is the same. I know the finish is different, but I don't care about the looks. I only care about durability in this case.

A lot of people on the internet claim it is the same, but no one seems to know or back it up. If you work at the Shimano factory or have done some metallurgic testing it would be great. Otherwise I want to know if people have tried both Hg200-8 (or Hg200-9) and the more shiny/fancy/expensive alternatives and noticed a difference in durability or not. It is not unthinkable that they use a cheaper steel in cheaper cassettes and perhaps they are made in a different factory. If you noticed other differences please mention them, but durability is the main issue here.

The reason for my question is that I'm not that happy with how fast my Hg200-8 cassettes(4-5000km)/chains(2000km) wear, and the cassettes are not made in such a way that I can just replace the most worn cogs. Will the more expensive cassettes last any longer? Thanks in advance.

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    Just to muddy the waters further - counterfeit product is a thing and a lower-grade of metal is one way to make a "similar" thing cheaper. Be sure your compared items are authentic.
    – Criggie
    Oct 7, 2023 at 2:59

2 Answers 2

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Probably not from same material, although I don't have reliable data for cassettes, only for chains.

According to https://web.archive.org/*/https://www.cyclingtips.com/2019/12/the-best-bicycle-chain-durability-and-efficiency-tested/, Shimano's CN-HG40 is an extraordinarily poor chain. However, they don't compare it to CN-HG71 at all, only to CN-HG93. But you still see that CN-HG40 is much different from CN-HG93.

I suspect the same is true for cassettes as well. For longevity, you should select at least CN-HG51.

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  • I have been using KMCX8 with the HG200-8. Perhaps HG-200-8 is meant for a extraordinarily poor/soft chain such as the HG-40? The reason for not switching so far is that i like the spacing on the HG-200. Still, I would change if I knew the durability was somewhat better.
    – WornChain
    Oct 6, 2023 at 18:31
  • Off Topic: the URL in the above answer leads to a "Wayback Machine" page that has lots of stats and other info about the webpage, but I cannot figure out how to get to the webpage. Any advice?
    – Jeff
    Oct 8, 2023 at 15:30
  • Regarding Shimano chains: I'm not sure if the steel alloy changes from model number to model number. However, the amount and placement of the hard-coating /anti-wear layer (surface finish) called Sil-Tech does as one goes up the model number hierarchy.
    – Jeff
    Oct 8, 2023 at 15:37
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This is an interesting question that may be hard to answer definitively without insider knowledge. Someone working for Shimano might be bound by non-disclosure agreements.

In general, lower end chains have to sacrifice on some of the following (not exhaustive):

  • Material type, as you indicated
  • Surface finish, e.g. low-friction coatings are known to vary between 105, Ultegra, and DA, the HG71 chain uses a chrome treatment to harden the pins but the HG40 doesn't.
  • Amount of machining, e.g. the 12s 105 chain is not Hyperglide+ partly because that shift technology requires additional machining to implement
  • Tolerances
  • Labor costs, e.g. Dura Ace is made in Japan, but Ultegra and 105 are (I believe) made in Malaysia

We know there is a phenomenon of diminishing marginal returns in a lot of situations. Going from 105 to Dura Ace, many knowledgeable observers say that the gains are relatively small. At the lower end, we might logically expect the gains between groups to be bigger. The question is does this apply to chains.

That said, this is going to be hard to test in practice. It is hard for a person to do a controlled A/B test with chains that they use in real world circumstances. You could have someone like Adam Kerin do a lab test, but he is booked up, and he is going to have less incentive to test lower-end gear. But who knows, he might get to it some time.

You could examine Shimano's data pages for the chains in question. If you notice something about surface treatments like chrome, that might be worth considering.

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  • I don't agree this is hard to test in practice. You just use the HG200-8 cassette, notice how many kms it lasts and then you try the HG51. This won't be a 100% certain result, but the same rider, doing the same cleaning, using the same lube, doing the same routes will be good enough. If the difference is small the results will be similar within 500-1000km or so. Which to me would make me conclude they are similar. The question asked is about cassettes, for chains zerofriction has published some results.
    – WornChain
    Oct 6, 2023 at 20:44
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    @WornChain: It is very easy for someone to think nothing has changed when something important has. Without careful controls you won't know. Maybe the lubrication has been a little more frequent. Maybe the roads have been less dusty. It gets published on the internet and everyone forgets the caveats. Oct 7, 2023 at 5:12
  • I agree I will not know to a scientific standard. But if the difference in quality is large people who have tried both will notice, and most if not everyone will say the more expensive is way better. If the difference is small, results might go either way in a personal comparison. So then either the difference is large enough for a majority to notice the expensive is better, or the difference is so small the results go either way, almost 50/50. Very small differences is not important to me. The problem seems that very few have done the actual comparison and even fewer of those post results.
    – WornChain
    Oct 7, 2023 at 9:52
  • @WornChain say one lasts for 4 months of daily commuting, and the other for 8. Twice as long, that's significant - you've got your answer, right? Wrong, because the 4 months was in winter, never quite drying out, getting muddy, and used on salted roads, while the 8 months was largely clean and dry. Or perhaps the other way round - the 8 months was over winter and the 'daily' commute wasn't because of bad weather. Just a little tale to illustrate some realistic confounding factors
    – Chris H
    Oct 7, 2023 at 11:45
  • @Chris H. That is a silly comparison and a strawman. I assume people use the cassette in similar conditions as I have stated above. (Same rider/intensity/routes etc, same conditions, new chain, fairly new chainrings, same cleaning regimen). But please think it is impossible to do a comparison and get useful results. I guess you require a randomized controlled trial to estimate if parachutes work as well? And I can repeat once more; if the difference is large it will be noticable on the average sine by chance 50% will ride one or the other in less/more favorable conditions.
    – WornChain
    Oct 7, 2023 at 16:25

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