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Yes, You Can Use 9/10-Speed Wheels with 11-Speed Drivetrains !
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> A Great No-Compromise Solution (cassettes 11-25 and larger)
> A Simple and Free Solution (ultegra cassettes 11-23 to 11-28)
Do you want to run the latest Shimano components, but potentially save thousands of dollars on wheels?
Since the early 1990s, with few exceptions, Shimano-compatible rear wheels accepted 8-speed cassettes, then 9-speed cassettes, and then 10-speed cassettes (Shimano 10-speed cassettes used a small spacer). For nearly 20 years, the same Shimano-compatible rear wheel could utilize most any Shimano-standard 8, 9, or 10-speed cassette. However, recently, Shimano introduced 11-speed drivetrains. And, while these components work well, the new 11-speed cassettes won't fit on these older 8/9/10-speed rear wheels.
But why would you want to put an 11-speed cassette on an 8/9/10-speed wheel?
Well, we did it because we bought a frameset. And we already had some great race and training wheels, but they were old enough that they couldn't be modified to fit 11-speed Shimano cassettes. So, what were our options? We could have tried to buy 10-speed components for our new frame, but new 10-speed parts were getting very hard to find with the options we wanted and they often cost more than similar 11-speed components. Plus, Shimano 11-speed drivetrains have some significant functional improvements that we wanted to take advantage of. Also, the cable actuation ratios of Shimano shifters and derailleurs had changed with their new 11-speed drivetrains, so it was likely that the 11-speed components would be a bit more future-compatible than older 10-speed parts (well, so we hope ... ).
We ended up getting Shimano 11-speed parts (Ultegra derailleurs, shifters, chain, a few cassettes, etc.) for this new frame. But our existing 8/9/10-speed wheels wouldn't be able to accept the new 11-speed cassettes. Since we didn't want to buy new wheels (many of them are kind of expensive !), we used a few these simple and either free or inexpensive tricks that would give us the best of both worlds.
A similar problem that many athletes face is this: like us, they already have good sets of race and/or training wheels. But then they buy / get / acquire / receive / etc. a new bike with all 11-speed Shimano components. Why do they get an 11-speed bike? Well, because for all practical purposes, new high-end road or tri bikes with 10-speed are no longer available. Anyway, these athletes want to use their older wheels with their new 11-speed bike. And these tricks work for them too.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: USE ANY MODIFIED CASSETTES AT YOUR OWN RISK, AS THE SOLUTION BELOW IS NOT ENDORSED OR APPROVED BY SHIMANO OR SRAM.
If you don't want to have to compromise and want to be able use all 11 cogs on your 9/10-speed wheels, Lasco Concept Inc., a small machining and welding company in Montreal, Canada has developed a simple way to modify 11-speed cassettes so they are able to work on 9/10-speed wheels flawlessly. It helps that the company owner, Hughes Lasalle, is a road bike maniac and a top level bicycle mechanic. (Please note: Dark Speed Works is not in any way affiliated with Lasco Concept, but we have used their modified Shimano Ultergra cassettes very successfully.)
Lasco Concept is able to modify many 11-speed Shimano and SRAM cassettes (except SRAM Red one-piece cassettes) with a 25T minimum large cog. Precision machining of the cassette is done on a lathe, a tiny amount of material is carefully removed from the back the largest cog carrier. The result is that you get perfect Shimano or SRAM shifting with the use of all 11 cassette cogs on your 11-speed drivetrain.
Lasco Concept has done many of these cassette mods and their modified cassettes are currently being used successfully on Shimano, Zipp, Reynolds, Easton, Asian open mold wheels, and others. We at Dark Speed Works have tested a few Lasco Concept modified Ultegra cassettes. We've mounted them on older 9/10-speed Zipp wheelsets and the results have been great. They fit perfectly, and shift flawlessly with properly adjusted derailleurs.
And if you later want to use the Lasco Concept modified cassette on a new 11-speed wheelset, the cassette can still work on those wheels too. Just place a single Shimano 11-speed 1.85mm Low Spacer, Shimano part no. FW8991, (or other spacers to equal that thickness) behind the modified cassette before mounting it on your new 11-speed wheel.
Lasco Concept is offering brand new
modified cassettes, ready to mount on most 9/10-speed wheels.
Modified Shimano Dura Ace cassette: $ 195
Modified Shimano Ultegra cassette: $ 120
Modified Shimano105 cassette: $ 105
Modified SRAM Force cassette: $ 120
Modified SRAM Rival cassette: $ 105
Athletes also have the option to send in their own cassette to be modified for $45
Prices above do not include any shipping costs (approx $15 for each order, depending on your address). Please note that prices are subject to change, contact Hughes at Lasco Concept for more information. (Please note: Dark Speed Works is not in any way affiliated with Lasco Concept.)
Email: email@example.com Or call: 514-276-7717
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: USE ANY MODIFIED CASSETTES AT YOUR OWN RISK, AS THE SOLUTIONS BELOW ARE NOT ENDORSED OR APPROVED BY SHIMANO OR SRAM. IF YOU ARE NOT ABSOLUTELY SURE HOW TO DO EVERY STEP BELOW, GET THE HELP OF AN EXPERT BIKE MECHANIC.
If you need to get your wheels going immediately and prefer a free and even more simple fix, there is another great option available. The basic idea is this: among other things, you're going to remove one of the cassette cogs from your 11-speed cassette to create a kind of "hybrid" cassette--one with 10 cogs, but still with perfect 11-speed cog-to-cog spacing. If you remove the right cog, you will also still have a smooth and progressive gearing spread. Set up this way, this hybrid cassette will be equal in width to a standard 10-speed cassette (with the standard Shimano behind-cassette spacer) to within 1 to 2 tenths of a millimeter. This is a tiny difference and, more important, it means the hybrid cassette will fit perfectly on any of your 9/10 speed wheels.
And, if your derailleurs are properly adjusted, these hybrid cassettes will shift great on your Shimano 11-speed drivetrain. But when you install one of these hybrid cassettes, you MUST adjust (or re-adjust) your rear derailleur limit screws. If you don't know how to do this yourself, do not skip this important step, get the help of an expert bike mechanic. If you don't properly adjust the limit screws, or don't do it correctly, you risk damaging your bike and/or wheel.
When you're all done, you'll end up with a bike with 10 rear cogs, so that means that your rear shifter will only have 10 available 'clicks' or available gear positions, instead of the original 11. We'll explain the details of how to create these hybrid cassettes using Shimano Ultegra 6800-series cassettes as examples, but slightly different versions of this solution can also be applied to 11-speed Shimano 105 and Dura Ace cassettes. Let's run through how to do this with an 11-25 cassette, an 11-28 cassette, and then an 11-23 cassette. (For reference, this is a pdf of an exploded view Ultegra 6800-series cassettes, showing all of the Shimano parts and official part numbers.)
Ultegra 11-28 Cassette
Before mounting the 11-28 cassette on your wheel, remove the loose 14T cog and its one associated 11s cassette spacer. If you drop out the 14T, the cassette will still have a good progressive gearing spread. Keep that removed extra 11s cassette spacer, it will be used as a 'behind-cassette spacer' (see below). So, to create and mount the 11-28 hybrid cassette, you would put on the rear wheel freehub body, in this order:
When you're done, you should only have one 14T cog left over. Properly adjust your 11-speed rear derailleur limit screws for this hybrid cassette, test it out thoroughly, and you should be good to go. (Save your extra cog should you ever need to convert this cassette back to full 11-speed.)
Ultegra 11-25 Cassette
Before mounting the 11-25 cassette on
your wheel, remove the loose 16T cog and its one associated 11s cassette
spacer. If you drop out the 16T, the cassette will still have a
progressive gearing spread (the same gearing that Shimano uses for
10-speed 11-25 cassettes). Keep that removed extra 11s cassette spacer,
it will be used as a 'behind-cassette spacer' (see below). So, to create
and mount the 11-25 hybrid cassette, you would put
on the rear wheel freehub body, in this order:
When you're done, you should only have one 16T cog left over. Properly adjust your 11-speed rear derailleur limit screws for this hybrid cassette, test it out thoroughly, and you should be good to go. (Save your extra cog should you ever need to convert this cassette back to full 11-speed.)
Ultegra 11-23 Cassette
The solution on this cassette is slightly different from the previous two. It is not totally free, you will need to buy a single specific 17T cog for Ultegra 6800 cassettes (Shimano part no. Y-1Y917200). And you'll also need two 2.18mm 11s cassette spacers for Ultegra 6800 cassettes (Shimano part no. Y-1Y953000, Shimano calls them 'sprocket spacers'). If you need any of these parts quickly, we have a few extra sets, just shoot us an email and we can sell them at our cost (best contact email link).
Once you have these parts in hand, before mounting the 11-23 cassette on
your wheel, remove the 17-18T sprocket unit (with cogs riveted together). If
you drop out this sprocket unit and replace it with the 17T cog that you
bought, the cassette will still have a progressive gearing spread
(the same gearing that Shimano uses for 10-speed 11-23 cassettes).
And one of the extra 11s cassette spacers that you bought will be used as a 'behind-cassette spacer'
(see below). So, to create and mount the hybrid 11-23 cassette, you would put
on the rear wheel freehub body, in this order:
When you're done, you should only have the 17-18T sprocket unit left over. Properly adjust your 11-speed rear derailleur limit screws for this hybrid cassette, test it out thoroughly, and you should be good to go. (Save the 17-18T sprocket unit should you ever need to convert this cassette back to full 11-speed.)
The DSW Team
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