Low Gear Range: Road Shifters & Gears For Easier Hill Climbing

Sometimes a compact crankset doesn’t offer enough gear range in the mountains. Compact cranks can achieve a 34t front and 32t rear gear, which may be fine for a strong rider carrying minimal gear, but what if the gradients are beyond 15% and you want to carry a few things?

Unfortunately, modern road and MTB groupset parts are largely not interchangeable. If you listened to the manufacturers, you would also think you were locked into each models groupset components and ratios.

But thinking outside the box yields different results.

Gear Capacity

Different Types of Road Crankset

Before I take you through all of the different options, let’s have a quick lesson on derailleur capacity.

The range of a drivetrain is limited by the cage height of the front derailleur, and how much chain slack the rear derailleur can take up. Different derailleurs are designed to handle different capacities. The advantage of using smaller capacity derailleurs (short derailleur cages and shallow front cages) is that they perform faster and snappier gear shifts.

Finding out what capacity derailleur you will need isn’t hard. Simply throw your numbers into this equation:
[Largest Front Ring – Smallest Front Ring] + [ Largest Rear Ring – Smallest Rear Ring ]  = Capacity

For example: [50-34t] + [34-11] = 39t Capacity

Long cage derailleurs generally allow around 45t total capacity, mid cage derailleurs can handle 37t and short cage 33t. But here’s the thing; manufacturer recommendations are generally quite conservative and you can get a few more teeth out of your setup if you are careful.

Without further ado, let me outline what to do when you have integrated road bike shifters (STI) but want a mountain bike gear range.

Double Cranksets (2X)

10/11 Speed Option: SRAM 10 or 11 Speed Shifters with SRAM 10 Speed Mountain Bike Cranks and Derailleurs

The SRAM cable pull ratio (1:1) is the same on 10-speed MTB, 10-speed road AND 11-speed road bike components. That means you can directly use 10 or 11-speed road shifters with 10 or 11-speed MTB cassettes. It’s important to note that you need to use a 10-speed mountain bike derailleur, even with the 11-speed shifters and cassettes. With this drivetrain, it yields some of the lowest gears on this list as 22 tooth front chainrings can be matched with wide range cassettes.

10-speed Crankset: 36-22, 38-24, 39-26, 40x28t
Cassette: 11-36t
Setup Capacity: 39t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 Tyres: 17 Gear Inches

Salsa use SRAM 10 Speed Road and MTB components on many of their bikes.
Salsa uses SRAM road shifters with SRAM MTB components on many of their bikes.

10 Speed Option: Shimano 10-speed STI Shifters with a 10-speed MTB Cassette and 9-speed Derailleur

This is a pretty popular hack. If you’re using 10-speed road shifters (Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, Dura-Ace), you can hook them up to a 9-speed MTB derailluer, a 10-speed MTB cassette and a 10-speed chain. As the 9-speed MTB derailleur pulls in the same way as a 10-speed road, you are essentially just increasing the derailleur cage length to increase the overall capacity. Keep in mind the 10-speed shifters will ONLY work with 10-speed road front derailleurs.

Crankset: 50-34t
Cassette: 11-36t
Setup Capacity: 41t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 Tyres: 26 Gear Inches

10 Speed Option: Shimano 10-speed STI Shifters with a 10-speed MTB Cassette and 10-speed Derailleur

The JTek Shiftmate is a ratio-changing pulley which is used for matching different shifters and derailleurs. It works by converting the cable pull between components. That allows you to use a mountain bike derailleur and wide-range cassette with your 10-speed road shifters. This is essentially the same end-result as the 9-speed derailleur hack above. More on the Shiftmate HERE.

Crankset: 50-34t
Cassette: 11-36t
Setup Capacity: 41t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 Tyres: 26 Gear Inches

9 or 10 Speed Option: Middleburn Crankset with an Incy 94/58 BCD Spider

Middleburn cranksets use removable spiders to customise your gear ratios. The 94/58 BCD “Incy” spider offers the smallest front chainring available with just 20 teeth. That gets your low gear right down to 17 gear inches – great for loaded touring in hilly terrain. You will need a long cage rear derailleur to make sure you don’t exceed your gear capacity.

Crankset: 40-20t, 42-22t, 44-24t, 46-26t, 48-28t
Cassette: 11-32t
Setup Capacity: 41t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 Tyres: 17 Gear Inches

Middleburn Incy 94/58 BCD Crankset
Middleburn Incy 94/58 BCD Crankset

10 or 11 Speed Option: Shimano 10-speed STI Shifters with a 130/74BCD triple crankset using two chainrings only

You can run a road triple crankset with just the two inner chainrings; simply remove the outer 50t chainring and that’s your double. The secret to this setup is the 74BCD inner chainring which permits down to 24t (much like the Compact Plus option below).

Crankset: 39-24t
Cassette: 11-32t
Setup Capacity: 36t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 Tyres: 20 Gear Inches

You can use 9-speed rear derailleurs with 10-speed gearing.
You can use 9-speed rear derailleurs with 10-speed gearing.

11 Speed Option: Shimano 11-speed STI Shifters with an 11-speed MTB Cassette and 11-speed Derailleur

The JTek Shiftmate is a ratio-changing pulley which is used for matching different shifters and derailleurs. It works by converting the cable pull between components. That allows you to use a mountain bike derailleur and wide-range cassette with your 11-speed road shifters. More on the Shiftmate HERE.

Crankset: 50-34t
Cassette: 11-40t
Setup Capacity: 45t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 Tyres: 22 Gear Inches

JTek Shiftmate which has been used to run a Shimano MTB derailleur and cassette with an 11s road shifter.
A JTek Shiftmate 8 which has been used to run a Shimano MTB derailleur and cassette with an 11s road drivetrain.

11 Speed Option (9 and 10 Speed too): Compact Plus Cranksets

Compact Plus cranks offer a super small inner climbing gear, a low q-factor (145mm width between the pedals) and the ability to use every single one of your gears without complication. Keep in mind that 11-speed shifters will ONLY work with 11-speed front derailleurs. The Sugino OX901D cranks are the 11-speed model of choice.

Crankset: 42-26, 44-28, 46-30t
Cassette: 11-32t
Setup Capacity: 37t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 Tyres: 22 Gear Inches

Sugino OX601D Compact Plus Crankset - EpicureanCyclist.com
Sugino OX601D Compact Plus Crankset – EpicureanCyclist.com

11 Speed Option: Middleburn Incy Crankset

Middleburn put together a 94BCD road “super compact” 11s crankset which allows you to run a 46t outer ring and 30t inner ring. These guys make really great quality components with a lifetime warranty.

Crankset: 46-30t
Cassette: 11-32t
Setup Capacity: 37t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 Tyres: 26 Gear Inches

Image: Enigma Bikes
Middleburn R02 94 BCD Cranks – EnigmaBikes.com

11 Speed Option (9 and 10 Speed too): White Industries VBC Splined Crankset

Here’s another neat solution for 11-speed shifters. The White Industries VBC cranks have a narrow 150mm q-factor and can operate with a 24t difference between chainrings, although I’d recommend less of a difference for better-performing shifting. This setup should work fine with standard 11s road double front derailleurs. Inner rings start at 24t and go up in even increments.

Crankset: 48-24, 50-26t
Cassette: 11-32t
Setup Capacity: 45t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 Tyres: 20 Gear Inches

White Industries VBC Cranks can use a 24t inner chainring - OceanAirCycles.com
White Industries VBC Cranks can use a 24t inner chainring – OceanAirCycles.com

Triple Cranksets (3X)

9 Speed Option: Shimano 9-speed Shifters with Deore 9-speed Cranks and MTB Derailleurs

With 9-speed Shimano, you can directly use 9-speed road shifters with 9-speed mountain bike derailleurs and gearing. That’s great news if you’re working with an older bike or a current Sora-level gear system. Please note that you are slightly exceeding your rear derailleurs capacity with this setup, so be careful with your installation and gear choices.

Crankset: 44-32-22t, 48-36-26t
Cassette: 12-36t
Setup Capacity: 46t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 tyres: 17 Gear Inches

Using 9-speed STI shifters with MTB Derailleurs - SaddleUpBike
Using 9-speed STI shifters with MTB Derailleurs – SaddleUpBike

9/10 Speed Option: Shimano Road Triple Groupset with a 24/26t Small Chainring

Here’s a hack that requires a bit more care. You can swap out the 30t chainring (74BCD) from your road triple cranks right down to 24 or 26t. This is where it gets tricky though; you WILL lose a few gears due to exceeding the capacity of the derailleur by ~5 teeth. The rear derailleur will likely have no tension in the 11-15t cassette cogs while using the small chainring, so make sure to avoid these gears. I highly recommend using a ‘chain watcher‘ with this setup given the large drop between the 39t chainring and 24t chainring. Both Sugino and TA make small 74BCD chainrings. Please note that Shimano Ultegra 6703 cranks have a 92BCD small chainring, and NOT 74BCD. There are no smaller chainrings than 30t available for this setup.

Crankset: 50-39-24, 50-39-26t
Cassette: 12-36t (9s), 11-36t (10s)
Setup Capacity: 50t (9s), 51t (10s)
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 tyres: 18 Gear Inches

Using a 26t Chainring on a Sora Crankset
Using a 26t Chainring on a 105 Triple Crankset

10 Speed Option: Shimano 10-Speed STI Shifters with 10-Speed MTB Cassette and 9-Speed Derailleur

This is a pretty popular hack. If you’re using 10-speed triple road shifters (Tiagra, 105, Ultegra), you can hook them up to a 9-speed MTB derailluer, a 10-speed MTB cassette and a 10-speed chain. As the 9-speed MTB derailleur pulls in the same way as a 10-speed road, you are essentially just increasing the derailleur cage length to increase the overall capacity. Keep in mind the 10-speed shifters will ONLY work with 10-speed road triple front derailleurs.

Crankset: 50-39-30t
Cassette: 11-36t
Setup Capacity: 45t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 Tyres: 23 Gear Inches

Shimano Acera 9-speed derailleurs work with 10-speed gearing.
Shimano Acera 9-speed derailleurs work with 10-speed gearing.

10-speed Option: Shimano 10-Speed STI Triple Shifters with 10-Speed MTB Cassette and 10-Speed Derailleur

As 10-speed shifters will only work with 10-speed road triple front derailleurs, JTek has created a product (the Shiftmate 7) to change the cable pull ratio of the front derailleur. This means you can hook up your road shifters with a full 10-speed MTB drivetrain if you like, provided you make use of the Shiftmate 8 for the rear derailleur too. More on the Shiftmate products HERE.

Crankset: 44-32-22t, 48-36-26t
Cassette: 12-36t
Setup Capacity: 46t
Smallest Gear w/ 700×38 tyres: 17 Gear Inches

Modifying Rear Derailleurs

There are a few ways to increase the gear capacity of a rear derailleur when using a 1x or 2x chainring setup.

Wolf Tooth RoadLink and GoatLink

These adapters re-locate Shimano derailleurs to allow for larger cassette use. Coupling the ‘RoadLink’ with a mid or long cage road derailleur, you will be able to use a 11-36t cassette (I actually squeezed a 11-42t on my road bike) rather than a 11-32t. The ‘Goatlink’ is designed for 10-speed MTB derailleurs and will permit 11-42t cassettes (but probably more).

The Lindarets RoadLink will allow you to use wider-range cassettes with your road derailleurs.
The Lindarets RoadLink will allow you to use wider-range cassettes with your road derailleurs.

OneUp RAD Cage Kit

The RAD cage is a replacement outer cage for Shimano medium cage derailleurs which can accommodate for up to 40-42t cassettes. The RAD moves the upper pulley wheel rearward to optimize the derailleur for larger cassettes. As the derailleur moves into larger sprockets, the top pulley wheel then automatically moves away to adjust the chain gap, no longer relying on just B-Screw.

OneUp Rad Derailleur Cage Kit - Image/PinkBike.com
The OneUp Rad Derailleur Cage Kit – Image/PinkBike.com

Modifying Cassettes

It’s possible to turn regular 10 speed 11-36 cassettes into 11-40t. A number of companies have cropped up to make space by removing one of the smaller cogs (16t or 17t) with a bigger one (40t or 42t). This setup is proven and works well on drivetrains with long cage derailleurs that don’t exceed their capacity by too much (45-47t should work). Check out Hope or OneUp for more.

One Up 42t Cassette

Final Note

You can make combinations out of some of the setups listed above. For example, you could use the White Industries VBC crankset with a 10-speed MTB cassette and 9-speed MTB rear derailleur. Leave me a comment and we can discuss how well your combination may work.

The smaller the gap between front chainring sizes, the better the overall shifting will be and the less capacity the rear derailleur will require. I generally recommend a maximum of 20t difference for a double crankset and 24t for a triple.

Check Out My Resource On Gear Ratios For Touring HERE

  1. Is it possible to use a MTB triple crankset such as the Deore M610 (48-36-26) on the “10 Speed Option: Shimano 10-Speed STI Shifters with 10-Speed MTB Cassette and 9-Speed Derailleur” setup? Anything special regarding the front derailleur?

  2. I’ve heard mixed reports of using MTB triple cranksets with 10s road shifters. It’s definitely going to be smarter to modify a road triple crankset to have a lower granny gear, keeping the existing road front derailleur.

  3. Oh lord so many more options! I asked recently about improving the low range over in the Specialised AWOL article – you suggested importing the 26t chainring, and that this would be good on the Awol Elite. Gives a nice low range.
    But on the base model AWOL, only has 11-32 cassette – so this hack would also be needing a little more something something to get a low range (bigger rings on the rear).
    If I’m reading right one way you could achieve this you could put a 9 speed deore casette and derailleur on the rear and run with the existing sora sti 9 speed shifters? Would this also help alleviate the issues with the 26t hack?

  4. Your question was part of the reason for writing this piece, Callum! I get asked about how to achieve low gears all the time… here’s what you could do to the AWOLs.

    Base Model AWOL:
    The middle chainring on a road triple crankset is limited by the 130BCD spider. That means the smallest chainring size it can possibly be is 39t. As the AWOL comes with 9-speed parts, you could easily set it up with a mountain bike drivetrain (Deore cranks, derailleur, cassette) if you wanted. The next best option for low gears would be to just swap out the crankset (under US $100) to a Deore 44-32-22. You will likely need to use a MTB front derailleur too.

    AWOL Elite:
    My preferred option for 10s double setups is to swap to compact plus or White Industries VBC cranks.

  5. Thanks for the article, quite interesting. I was aware of some incompatibilities, but not that the actual situation was so bad. This confirms a few of the conclusions I had:
    -drop bar is another choice for touring bikes, but not necessarily THE choice as many “experts” assure. Often, the hassles attached outweigh the advantages
    -a good touring bike should come from factory with these issues resolved, and not let the users figure them by themselves. When I see touring targeted bikes with road cranksets I always think the designer has never toured fully loaded, or he lives in The Netherlands.

  6. Very informative article! Thanks for posting the info.
    The problem that I had when trying to use a modern MTB crankset (with integrated bottom bracket spindle) on my touring bike is that they are made for a wider bottom bracket shell (73mm vs 68mm on a road bike). You can shim out for the wider bb width, but the chain line to the cassette gets messed up. If you use an older MTB triple that uses a separate bb (like a square taper) then you can use an appropriate length spindle to get the proper chain line.

  7. Thanks for the article, very interesting and useful. I have a doubt in the case of using
    a STI Tiagra 2×10-speed Shifters with a 10-speed MTB Cassette and MTB 9-speed Derailleur:
    This combination allows using the 10 speeds of the cassette, or only 9 of them?.

  8. Thanks for the article, very interesting and useful. I have a doubt in the case of using a STI Tiagra 2×10-speed
    Shifters with a 10-speed MTB Cassette and MTB 9-speed Derailleur: This combination allows using the 10 speeds of the cassette or only 9 of them?. Thanks

  9. So much good info here. Thanks for posting this and putting more info in these comments. On my base model 2016 AWOL, I’m going to swap out my FSA 50-39-30 crank for a Deore 44-32-22 crank. However, it’s my understanding that you cannot mix a road shifter with an MTB front derailleur because the pull ratios are different. Would it be better to use the current Sora front derailleur after the swap to the Deore crankest since it’s already compatible with the Sora STI shifters? Are the chainring spacings of the Deore 44-32-22 close enough to the FSA 50-39-30 to provide good shifting with a Deore crank and Sora front derailleur?

  10. Hi Joe. The reason you can mix 9-speed Sora road shifters and Deore MTB front derailleurs is because they operate on the same pull ratio. The reason I suggest a switch to Sora when using a Deore crankset is more to do with the shape of the derailleur cage – a Deore cage is optimised around shifting between 22-32-44. That said, lots of people have got Sora front derailleurs working fine, so maybe try that first? Alee

  11. Hi Alee, awesome article. I want to upgrade my hill climbing power on a 1×9 set up. Currently a SRAM PG990 cassette with 11-34. Shifter is a SRAM X-7 9 speed. Rear derailleur is a SRAM X-7 9 speed medium cage. I was tempted by the cassette modifying kits you highlight above, but not sure if they’ll work with my 9 speed setup. Any suggestions?
    My other option is to drop the chainring down from a 32T to a 26T (the smallest that will fit a 64BCD). That’ll give me about the same boost as adding a 40T big gear in the cassette (26 comes down to 21 gear inches), but I will lose the high speed gears (down from 80 to 65 gear inches).

  12. A couple of blogs suggest that using an extender cog on a 9 speed cassette is fine because the shifting ramps are in the same places as on 10 speed cassettes. But it sounds like you won’t be able to use the PG990 cassette, as the six largest cogs are mounted on a carrier. Ideally, you’d remove a 15t cog, so that might mean finding a Deore or XTR cassette.


  13. Isn’t it amazing how many people want lower gears? I live in a hilly area and many of my customers are older yet the marketing/magazines/fashion brigade keep telling us a compact will get you up anything. It may do but we aren’t all racing whippets and super fit, some of us like to do it with full camping gear too!

    Incidentally here in the UK Middleburn do a chain set called Incy (as in incy wincy spider poem) with 110/58 spider and 40/22 rings.

  14. Thanks Alee. With all the options out there, determining compatibility (and remembering them) can be difficult. Your posts are wonderfully detailed and helpful, this one is no different.

  15. I’m riding a Salsa Vaya that has the following:

    Shifters: 105 10-Speed Brifters
    Front D: 105 Double
    Front Crank: 105 Compact 50/34
    Rear Cassette: XT 11-36
    Rear D: XT 9-Speed Long Cage

    I’ve been riding this way for a good while but being a clyde who also likes to travel with some gear, I’m looking for something even lower.

    Is this as easy as adding the 1Up 42T cog to the rear? Is there anything else that needs to be done here?

    Thanks in advance!

  16. Hi Evan. You’ll just exceed your rear derailleur capacity (50-34 + 42-11 = 47t) with that setup, but as long as you avoid your larger cassette cogs in your 50t front ring, the derailleur should be able to handle it. You will probably need to adjust your b-tension screw a little. And if you can’t get enough adjustment out of that, you may need to check out the Wolf Tooth Goat Link. Alee

  17. Hi Alee – I’m currently riding a surly pacer built with complete 105 5700 (x2 50-34 drivetrain) but I’d like to switch out the cassette for a Praxis 10 sp wide range 11-40. Looks like I’d need to get a 9 sp mtb rear mech… Would that setup accommodate such a nutzo ratio? Could I go up to 11-42?! What kind of rear mech should I get – ideally something on par with 105. Would an xtr derailleur work?

  18. Basically asking if the fat cassette works with the “10 Speed Option: Shimano 10-speed STI Shifters with a 10-speed MTB Cassette and 9-speed Derailleur” – otherwise how can I tweak my setup for min $$$ and stick on that 11-40

  19. Hi Jonathan. The 11-40t will work fine, but you’ll exceed the gear capacity with anything larger. A SGS (long cage) derailleur has a capacity of 45t. Doing the maths… 50-34 + 40-11 = 45t… it’s perfect. Check out the SLX, XT and XTR SGS 9s derailleur models. You probably won’t notice much of a difference between them in terms of functionally. Alee

  20. Few more questions for you… Could I use a Deore or Alivio 9sp SGS rear mech? Also what size chain will I need? Should I buy new cables?

  21. You could use either of those derailleurs. When you increase the size of any cogs on your drivetrain (eg. cassette) you will need a new chain to accomodate the changes. You may need new cables depending on how your derailleur cable is routed, and whether that routing is different with the new derailleur. I’d suggest changing the cables in any case!

  22. I have a recumbent with a worn out Shimano 9spd triple setup mix of Ultegra front 50/42/30and Deore long cage rear 11/32. I have new wheels ( 650b ) and want to go to 11spd rear, double front. Mainly to stop constantly having to swap between the 42 and 50 up front. Is there a way of getting XTR and it’s 11/40 to work with an Ultegra compact double with some of these clever gadgets in the article? I use trigger shifters not STI.
    The Cambrian 200 Audax laid down spinning is the reason for this.

  23. Hi Alee, my question is on Sora road triple with STI shifters, is it possible to change front crank set (50/39/30) to chain wheel sizes 24/34/44 or any other setup with smaller chainwheels but with 24 as the smallest or completely replace crankset with either Alivio or Deore Crank set (either 44/34/24 or 44/32/22)? Would any of that work with original 12/25 or possible replacement 11/32 (or 12/32) cassette ? Thank you

  24. – With 9-speed Shimano, you can directly use 9-speed road shifters with 9-speed mountain bike derailleurs and gearing.
    – When you swap the crankset, swap the front derailleur too for the best shifting performance.
    – You shouldn’t have too many problems using the 12/25t cassette with the other parts because the capacity of the cranksets (44-24=20 and 50-30=20) is the same.
    – If you were to swap the cassette out you would need a new rear derailleur.

  25. The XTR rear derailleur with 11 speed MTB shifter won’t be a problem. The front derailleur and front shifter should ideally be matched up with the same pull-ratios to get the best performance on the Ultegra compact double. I’d recommend getting a Shimano Tiagra 4700 front derailleur and Shimano Tiagra 4700 Rapidfire Plus front shifter.

  26. Anyone successfuly running the Sugino OX601D? I’m running 11 speed 6800 Ultegra but am having issues. It came with 0.5mm spacers and 3.5mm spacers. I believe the 3.5mm are to run 110BCD inner and outer rings whereas I’m using a smaller inner so these went back in the box.
    With no spacers at all the chain rubs on the big ring when on the small and cross chaining. So I tried spacing the inner ring away from the big with the 0.5mm spacers. This solved the rubbing issue but the chain then falls between the rings when shifting. I can’t see any answer and it’s very frustrating! Is anyone else successfully running them with 11 speed?
    Thanks for any help!

  27. As another option, although haven’t personally tried it, theoretically you can use 11-speed SRAM cyclocross cassette (11-36T) with their current road shifters and with their pre-2015 10-speed long-cage MTB derailleurs. The shifters and rear derailleur both have the same cable pull actuation.

  28. Does anyone have experience with mixing Shimano 105 roadbike 8 speed set up with a Deore crankset?

    On a 90’ies roadbike I have a 105 8 speed cassette, 105 RD and FD, and Shimano RX 100 STI levers. I want to swap my duo crankset for a triple, and was considering Deore 48-36-26t.
    Would this work?
    I have a triple STI lever, Shimano 105 5603 LH, would I need to change anything else on my existing setup? Chain maybe?

    Great article by the way, appreciate everyone sharing experiences in what seems to me like a jungle of possibilities. Have read a lot of article and threads, but don’t seem to find much info on mixing gear on 8 speed setups, so before purchasing parts, I’d like to ask some advice. Thanx. Signe

  29. Great article thank you Alex. I’m building up a CX bb86 frame with flat bars. I just rode Pikes Peak and Mt. Evans Gran Fondos on my road bike with a triple FSA road crank (52,39,30) upfront, and a XT rear 12/36 cassette with XT Derailleur. On my new flat bar build, could I do the same front with either a smaller 28 or 26 tooth ring, or larger 40 or 42 rear, but I need flat bar shifters…?

  30. Hi Mitchell. If you go any greater than 52-39-30 and 12-36 you’ll exceed the capacity of your rear derailleur (52-30=22 and 36-12=24 is 46t). You’re at the limit, so if you want lower gears, you’ll have to consider losing the 52t. Alee

  31. Well, that has worked for me so I could live with that. Is there a way to configure that in 11 speed or will I be stuck with 9 or 10 to mix and match road and MTB?

  32. You’ll need to mix and match road and mountain bike parts to get a derailleur with a large enough capacity. A really good way to go about it (that actually achieves a greater gear range than you already have) is: Shimano Ultegra 11s shifters, Shimano Ultegra 11s compact double crankset (50-34), Shimano XT 11s derailleur and Shimano XT 11-40t cassette. Using the J-Tek Shiftmate 8 will give you the cable ratio conversion you need. Here’s a pic: http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/3131/7618/original.jpg

  33. I’ve done some additional research and you are basically correct but remember I’m doing this build with flat bars. The only modification required from your recipe is the shifters. I found that Shimano makes an RS 700 Ultegra FD shifter which is a road bike,11 speed shifter designed for flat bars. I will use that for the Ultegra 50/34 compact crank and Ultegra front derailleur. For the back end, an 11-42 XT Cassette, long cage RD with a max 47 T capacity (Shimano M8000 SGS) and XT shifter.The only drawback is the aesthetics (and possible cost if I can’t get shop to split out the pairs) of 2 different shifters but they’re both rapid fire style, look quite similar, and I don’t really care. (50-34)=16 + (42-11)=31=47. Voila, this eliminates the need for the J-Tek, gives me an even bigger gear, and works with flat bars.
    Thank you for pointing me in the right direction though, as the mix and match you recommended will be the basic setup.
    I think I’m onto something as far as what the (at least some) consumer wants, a go anywhere, do anything, gravel grinder/enduro bike/mountain climbing and descending machine, set up with flat bars for greater comfort and control. I know I give up some aero, but grinding up Pikes Peak last week and Mt. Evans a month ago at 5-6 MPH, I just don’t think it matters much in terms of efficiency at those speeds.

  34. I have added a 42 to a Shimano 11-36 sprocket (2×10 speed). To avoid the gap when removing the suggested 17tooth I just removed the smallest one. To do this you need a new lockring suitable for 13 tooth. My smallest front chainring is 22 and this makes it a great gear for mtb touring with luggage. Never missed the 11 tooth, even while cycling in the alpes.
    This hack is very relevant for a 29er wheelsize with wide tires. I could comfortably bicycle at low speeds down to 3 km/h. It is still more efficient than walking if you can keep the balance. For touring with luggage of about 12 kg, and not racing, there is a limit. For a trained person, climbs up to 16% are the limit (for comfortable touring). I have encountered numerous roads in the alpes (not ridden by the tour de France) that become possible and comfortable with this gearing. It still surprizes me that people assume that one has to bicycle uphill on a low rpm. Professional racers have long proven that an rpm below 60 is inefficient.
    Happy touring, Bert

  35. I might be missing this covered elsewhere, but I have a bike setup with SRAM 11-speed (road group set). I’d like to turn it into a hill climber and want to get well under 1:1. This requires something other than my 2x compact crank. Are any of Sram’s 2x MTB crank sets compatible with their 11 speed shifters / FD? Ideally, I’d like something like 39-26 up front and 11/12 – 28/30 in the rear. So capacity is very reasonable, but I’m not sure if there are incompatibilities. BB is PF30. I’m hoping not to touch the rear setup and/or brifters.

  36. What an informative article, with great insights here! Maybe you can help with my problem as well:
    My son’s bike (road bike with 24″ wheels) has the following configuration: Shimano Claris 3×8 STI shifters: the crank set is a Suntour 48-34-24 teeth wiht 155mm crank length; the cogs are a vintage Sachs Maillard, made in France, 12-28 teeth freewheel (screw on type); both derailleurs are Shimano Claris. Now, while the rear derailleur works like a charm, the front deraiileur doesn’t change very well (it needs several pushes and goes directly to the third chainring, doesn’t come back easily etc.) Someone explained me that this might happen because the crankset is a MTB type, and there’s a wider distance between chainrings than in a road crankset. My questions:
    1. Is this explanation correct?
    2. If this is the explanation, can I replace the Claris derailleur with a MTB type derailleur (i.e. Deore?) Will the Claris shifter change properly the gears on a MTB derailleur?
    3. What other hacks could I try?

  37. I have Shimano XT 9s crankset (44-32-22) „married” with Ultegra triple derailleur (10s) and Shimano 105 (10s) triple shifter, and it works very well. Rear 9s XT derailleur works perfectly with 10s Ultegra cassette (13-25 or 13-28) and Shimano 105 (10s) shifter.

  38. I installed the OX601D on my Volagi with Ultegra. I am running an 11 speed chain, 11 speed cassette, Ultegra 11 speed STI levers, FD, and RD.. Went together beautifully.

    I have a braze-on derailleur mount and had to move the FD very low. Used the WickWerks Fit Link to do it https://wickwerks.com/products/fit-link-adapter/. This made for a very clean install. I set it up with a 40/26. Everything shifts perfectly–better than the Ultegra cranks which were 50/34. I can use 21 of 22 gears with no rubbing: all rear cogs from the larger chainring and all but small/small with the inner chainring. Of course, really only the largest 5 cogs make sense with the inner chain ring.

    It looks great and works perfectly.

    I also tried the trick using an FSA triple without the outer chainwheel on another bike. This also worked well, but I had difficulties moving the derailleur down because it hit the chain stay. Waiting on a small cage FD that will solve this problem. Even with the FD mounted 6mm above the outer chainwheel shifting is reliable–it’s just that Ultegra 6600 FD is terrible.

  39. A former SRAM engineer decided to create a nice add-on: the Xshifter, a wireless system that can be adapted to any bike and any shifting system, even among different brands. Essentially, it moves front & rear derailers when the rider presses a button. The computer can compensate the front derailer to avoid rubbing, it can be programmed to jump two or more gears and even to go from one extreme of the range to the other, and much more. See the info and kickstarter video here: xshifter.com

  40. Hi Alee,
    I just got me a Sugino OX601 to get lower gearing. I intend to make it either a Shimano system with 10×2 STI levers, a CX70 front mech and a 9-speed rear derailleur, according to your recommendations. Or would a SRAM mtb 10×2 speed system + Rival 10-speed double tap levers be a safer bet if I want to go really low and build a, say, 24-40 (the smallest chainrings made by Sugino) chainset? Would a SRAM dedicated mtb front mech make for more accurate shifting when it comes to smaller chainrings? Grateful for any advice (as nobody around here seems to have any experience in such a system), /Henrik

  41. I’m actually building a unique show bike, which will require pretty low gearing due to the rather heavy unsprung weight of the drive wheel. I’m thinking about using a double ring crankset with a 20 (or 22) tooth small ring, and either a CVT hub or an internal shifting rear hub. I would like to have the larger crank sprocket to be no more than 32, preferably a 30 tooth ring. Any thoughts on this type of combo? Thanks.

  42. This is a pretty good article, but if you’re going to be talking about the low extremes of gearing, please do more research and be more accurate! The smallest 130BCD chain ring is 38T, not 39T. That Shimano will not get their head out of their #@% doesn’t mean what they offer is the lowest.
    FSA and SRAM both make nice 38T 130BCD inner chain rings. You can use this as the middle on a “road” triple, you just won’t have ramps and pins (it shifts OK in practice on my bike with this setup). A nice 130BCD touring triple can be created from the SRAM “cyclocross” 46/38 offering by pairing them up with a 24T.

    Also, the smallest 110BCD chain ring is _33T_ — you should have mentioned that for folks trying to squeeze every extra bit out of a “compact” double. Both TA and WickWërks makes them. (sadly WickWërks only sells them as part of their 41T/33T “Jr gearing” chain ring set — but that also comes with a braze-on hanger extension for the front derailleur.

    Otherwise, this was a good article to get folks to think out of the box. Shimano could have done so much for us when they came out with their new 4-arm cranksets. BUT sadly they’re so much of the Herd Mentality Problem. They easily could have designed their Sora 4-arm triple to act like the Sugino “ultra compat” to create a 46T/30T or 46T/28T double.

  43. Joe, they do NOT. You cannot mix road shifters with a MTB front derailleur. That is well established. You are correct in wanting a front derailleur that is curved better for a 44T big chain ring. For that, the Shimano CX-70 double front derailleur works well (remember, back in the day we used “double” front derailleurs with triple setups). IRD also has their
    “Alpina-D” triple offering that is designed for smaller chain rings.

  44. For “10 Speed Option: Shimano 10-Speed STI Shifters with 10-Speed MTB Cassette and 9-Speed Derailleur”, please note that the new 10-speed Tiagra 4700 group rear shifter cannot be used with 9-speed derailleurs. The 4700 10-speed cable pull is the same cable pull as 11-speed Shimano Ultegra/105.

  45. One hybrid setup I’d love to nail down is ST-4700 10-speed 3x left front shifter and front derailleur, 6800/5800 Ultegra/105 11-speed right rear shifter. 11-speed road medium cage derailleur, any 10-speed triple crank with 24T small chain ring (48/39/24 or 46/39/24 (I am going to try a 38T pinless middle chain ring)), and any of the 11-speed cassettes: SRAM 11-36 or Shimano XT CS-M8000 11-40T. While this will be outside the rear derailleur specification, I figure it will work with a backwards “B-screw” and not trying to use the 24T+11T.

    In fact on cassettes with 11T small followed by non-12T; I replace the 11T with a 12T to reduce the “over-specification” and wear on parts.

  46. You might also want to note that Shimano for 11-speed road increased the largest supported GS derailleur to 32T from the previous 28T. The new Tiagra 10-speed GS officially works with 34T. So newer road GS derailleurs are more officially capable in reaching lower gear ratios. So un-officially I expect they will do better going beyond than previous Shimano road derailleurs were.

  47. I’d convert a 10-speed 11-36/11-34 into a 12-40/42 using the Hope or OneUp and replacing the 11+13T with a 13T first Miche cog (plus 12+ lock ring) so one doesn’t loose more middle ratios.

  48. Does anyone know just WHY Shimano didn’t use the 10/11-speed MTB derailleur pull ratio for 11-speed road instead of coming up with yet a 3rd one??

    Since we know Shimano won’t give touring any attention (and just >< barely does Cyclocross); if we could use 11-speed MTB rear derailleurs with road 11-speed road shifters would really open the door for us without Shimano having to purposely give us some attention.

  49. Great article, i should have come across this earlier.

    I have installed 10 gear Dura Ace Barendshifters (SL-BS799), a 26-36-48 crankset, xt front derailleur, 10 gear xt shadow rear derailleur and a 11-32 casette.

    Shifting the front derailleur works fine. The real derailleur not so much. Can I use the
    10 Speed Option: Shimano 10-Speed STI Shifters with 10-Speed MTB Cassette and 9-Speed Derailleur?

  50. Heyy alee. Ive got a question that has been on my mind a while now. I want to upgrade to a 2×11 setup. I want the shimano deore XT m-8000 groupset but im buying parts seperately. So here is the list of things im buying:
    Crank: Shimano XT FC-M8000 175mm 11×2 (38/24T)
    Cassette: Shimano XT CS-M8000 11s (40-11T)
    Shifter: Shimano XT SL-M8000 i-spec ii
    Rear derailleur: Shimano XT 11×1s Shadow+ direct sgs
    Front derailleur: Shimano XT FD-M8020 11×2s High side swing
    Chain: Shimano XT/ Ultegra CN-HG701 11s

    Thats it. So please please let me know if they will work together or suggest something else if this wouldn’t work. Or just say if I require something else with all this to complete installation like cables or something. I would appreciate it alott! I am pretty new to components and that stuff so any help or advice would be Awesome. Thanks

  51. David. The Sora front derailleur actually did work for me. With that I had Deore MTB 42-32-22 crank, 12-36 cassette, and a long cage Deore rear derailleur. All working with Sora bhifters. Was it smooth as butter? No, but this setup got me from Anacortes, WA to Glacier National Park last summer.

    Now I’ve swapped these our for a Sram Rival 11-sp groupset with an 11-42 cassette and White Industries VBC 24-42 crank.

  52. That’s interesting! I’ve used the 10s Dura Ace shifters with a Shimano SLX shadow derailleur and had no problems. I think it’s worth getting your hands on a 9-speed derailleur in any case.

  53. Hi Cobus. There are two things to note. The crankset is only available in 34/24t, 36/26t and 38/28t – so pick one of those depending on how hilly the terrain is. The rear derailleur will need to be the long-cage version for any double crankset. Alee

  54. Ok, here is what I would like to do to my 2010 Specialized Roubaix with full Ultegra drive train; ie 50-34 crank. Tell me what you think :

    1. Buy a Shimano 11 speed LX mtb 11-40 cassette. Remove the 11 tooth gear. I now have a 13-40 ten speed cassette.
    2. Buy a Shimano 10 speed LX long cage mtb derailleur.
    3. Buy JTek Shiftmate 6 small groove adapter.

    Put the three together with a longer chain (120 links?) and everything should work fine. Running 700 x 28c tires I should have a low gear inch of around a 22.7 and relatively smooth shifts.
    As far as the 13 high gear – I’m 61 years old. My days of screaming down the mountain side at 50mph are over. Now the challenge is to get up the mountain 😉

  55. I don’t think that will work. That’s because the 11s MTB cassettes are the same freehub length as the 10s road cassettes. Even if you added a spacer in lieu of the cog, the spacing between cogs would be all out. Let me know if it works though!

    What I’d suggest you should do is buy a RHS 11s shifter, 11s MTB derailleur, 11-40t cassette and a JTek Shiftmate 8.

  56. On my setup below, Shimano SGS 10 and 11 speed long cage derailleurs have a 43-45 tooth capacity. By removing the 11 tooth cog and making it a 10 speed I need a 43 tooth capacity derailleur. So, any Shimano long cage sgs derailleur should work.

  57. So, a RHS Ultegra 6800 11 speed shifter, an XT 11 speed derailleur and XT 11 speed 11-40 cassette and the Shiftmate would get it all to work? How about the front derailleur? That will still be a 10 speed so to speak….

  58. Found the site while researching an issue I have with a pretty standard Tiagra 10 spd. triple setup. Stock Tiagra triple chain set (50-39-30) and derailleur up front and a long cage Tiagra rear mech with an 11-34 cassette. Everything works fine apart from getting into the biggest gear (50 front 11 rear). The chain slips badly on the rear cog. Have double checked the chain length and tension, fiddled with the limit and cable tension on the rear mech but can’t solve the problem. It’s not the end of the world as it’s the gear I’m least likely to use, the bike is intended for big climbs and hilly touring (Fred Whitton, Alpine touring etc.).

  59. I probably have one somewhere, but the cassette is essentially brand new. Will swap it out and see what happens.

  60. Yes, that would work but it is more complicated and expensive than I want. After doing some more research this looks like the easiest and cheapest answer:

    1. XT 10 speed derailleur
    2. XT chain
    3. XT 11-36 cassette
    4. Wolf Tooth Tanpan 10 spd derailleur adapter.

    The Tanpan does two things : allows me to use my 2×10 setup and gives me the future option of going with a 40 or 42 tooth cog.

  61. Quick experience share:
    I recently changed my gearing from 52-42-30 front x 12×27 rear to 52-39-24 to 12×25 on my commuter to make it easier going up a big hill on my way home. I wasnt sure if I was going to need a MTB rear deraileur given the wide range.
    The whole thing works great with no modification except for removing 2 links of chain on the original tiagra read deraileur. (the product info saws max chainring teeth difference is 22) I am really happy I made this change. 24×25 is a little lower than I really need, but it is nice to have low enough gear options.

  62. hi, really informative article! i read about the gear ratios as well. i’m using a 2×8 claris setup for travelling and miss a few gears for the hills. what’s the best way to get lower range gears? maybe change to 3x mtb crank? which would have the right chainline?

  63. what about the chainline? as i understand mtb cranksets stick out more. so how would i choose a crankset that fits?

  64. On a Claris 8s bike, you may have 130mm spacing for your rear wheel. If that’s the case, it’ll be best to match it with a Claris road triple crankset (FC-2403) with the 45mm chainline. You can then swap out the 30t chainring (74BCD) from these cranks right down to 24 or 26t.

    If you have 135mm rear spacing you’ll be fine to use MTB cranks which use a 47.5mm chainline.

  65. Hi Alee. Wow, great read. Canondale caad8. Triples on front. 12×25 on rear. Trying to put a 11x34or even a 36 if there is a way. Willing to do a new Mtb derailer or even an extension on your advice. Currently there is a shimano tiargra road rear derailler. Any preference of shimano cassette model, or derailler model. Again sorry very newbie old guy here. With not very good bike terminology. Thank

  66. Thanks for posting this great article, Alee… very helpful in my quest for getting the ideal climbing gears!
    Do you know if it’s possible, in a Tiagra 3×10 groupset, to replace the Tiagra triple crankset (FC-4703, 50-39-30) by a Deore LX (FC-T671, 48-36-26) or Deore XT (FC-T8000, 48-36-26) triple crankset?
    (all of them being 3×10)
    And if so… does it change something for the acceptable cassettes?

  67. I’m in the middle of setting up a touring bike. In the rear I have an 11speed Shimano XT long cage rear derailleur and a 11-42 cassette. Up front I currently have an XT derailleur and a White Industries VBC. My issue is that the XT derailleur says it can take a 38tooth max with a 10t difference. so can only run a 38-28 combo. The 28 is plenty low but would like something that could handle a 42-44 as a big ring. My bike is setup as a top pull and these derailleur options seem limited in 11 speed. I am using the Gevenalle GX shifters. ( https://gevenalle.com/shifters/ ) since the front shifter is friction based, could I use any front derailleur? Like a 10 speed Ultegra CX 70? Or has anybody had any experience pushing the limits on squeezing a few more teeth in a front derailleur. Like a 42 into something that says 38 max?

  68. Just coming across this… I’d like to go from a triple on my Gunnar Fastlane to a 50-34 and 12-36t 11speed Ultegra. What would be the best route? I’d like Di2 but my frame isnt set up for it as it’s a 2009 model. I’m out in the mountain west and not a small guy lol

  69. Any Shimano cassette will be fine, as long as it’s 9spd for 9spd, or 10spd for 10spd. I’d suggest using the Lindarets RoadLink as the cheapest and easiest way to fit an 11-34/11-36t cassette.

  70. Here’s the deal. Some people have got this setup to work, others have not. In summary – it’s not ideal.

    With regards to cable tension – you may find that to use the highest gear (big chainring/smallest cog), the cable tension will need to be increased to the point where you can’t get good shifts using the middle chainring with several of the largest cogs.

    With regards to chainline – the FD-4703 is designed around a 45mm chainline. The cranksets mentioned are designed around a 50mm chainline. This sometimes means that the derailleur cannot ‘stretch out’ as far as required. I believe you should be able to get this to work, however.

    With regards to capacity – the FD-4703 is designed around a 20t capacity (eg. 50t-30t=20t). The touring and MTB cranks use a 22t capacity. There is normally a little wriggle room though… so I wouldn’t worry about this too much either.

    I reckon it’s worth the experiment though. Maybe try it out with a Shimano Deore M610 crankset (~US $50) first.

  71. It’s a matter of selling you more parts, David! 🙂

    BTW – 11-speed MTB derailleurs works well with 11-speed road shifters when matched with the JTek Shiftmate 8 or Wolftooth Tanpan SH11 cable pull-ratio adapters.

  72. I currently have a Surly LHT 28″ setup 3×10 with 48-36-26 in front and 11-36 back. Due to normally cycling in high cadence I would go a bit lower range in sharp climbs.
    Any experience if it’s ok to just change small chainring in front to 22t (24t?), or I’ll have some compatiblity issues?
    Crankset and front derailleur are both Deore XT T8000 series.

  73. You’re already at the maximum capacity of your rear derailleur. So you could either find a 44t large ring for your crankset so that you bring the capacity back and require a link out of your chain, or you could be careful not to use the smaller teeth on your cassette when in the smaller chainring, as the derailleur will have no tension.

  74. Hi Alee! Great article! I have a 11sp Shimano Ultegra with compact cranks, but feel this is not enough on a lower end. I wander, if 105 triple without large cog as written above will do the job in lowering overall ratios for 11sp set up, given that chains for 11 and 10 speeds are different?

  75. Alee, great article. I have a SRAM Rival 50/34 crankset with an 11/32 cassette. I would like to go with an 11/37 cassette for some hill climbing in a few weeks. Will my current derailleur handle this change?

  76. Warning!!
    Watch out for new shifters in SORA 3×9.
    The sora st-r3000 for front derailleur has a different pull ration than oldest Sora ST-3500.
    I bought one pair of st-r3000 and my fornt derailleur wont change gears from 48 to 36 on my crank.
    Rear works good with XT RD-M772.

    But there is a second problem :>

    Becouse that means SORA shifters 3500 is not compatible with new Sora Crankset and derailleur!!! This is F#@$G INSANE!

  77. Fanstastic! Great sharing Thanks Alee! I just got a road bike with Sora 9 speed groupset 50/34 and 11-25T. I managed to make some modification to 11-28T by removing 15T. I am looking to have a smaller gear to prepare for some steep hills. How can I swap my crankset 50/34 to maybe 44/24? My crankset is 104BCD. Can I mount 44/24 to my existing crank arm?

    If chainring swap is not ideal, I intend to put a 40T with a M592 9 speed shadow long cage. Would this setup work? M592 is capable to support till 45T. My setup would be (50-34)+(40-11)=45. In face this modification is something that I would like to go with first than the chainring swap.

    Cheers, looking forward.

  78. Can share any luck for with 40T in a 9s groupset? If M592 RD can’t work, how about going with M772 XT RD 9sp? Exhausted with option, I can only think of using a tooth link to extend length in hanger. Would it work?

  79. It will be fine. In fact, Sunrace make a nice 9s cassette with good spacing through the gears. M772 XT derailleurs work the same as your M592 in terms of capacity. The Wolf Tooth link won’t work with 9s, unfortunately.

  80. I did much research apparently 40T only works well with 10s/11s. Have you tried or come across anyone has luck with 9s? The showstopper is with the RD?

  81. I haven’t tried it personally, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work (manufacturers wouldn’t make the cassette otherwise). Just dial in that b-screw and get a longer screw if need be.

  82. Shimano Alivio HG400 9s does has a 11-36T cassette. Its much more cheaper than Sunrace albeit heavier I think. I will go with this for a start. Thanks.

  83. Great article Alee! The post are almost as helpful. But as it says on the cover of my old Sutherland’ “One good measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.” Hence, I am here to fact hunt. There is some fairly good, although not authoritative info on the web regarding “pull ratios” for rear shift setups but an utter dearth for front setups. Early in the article in the popular 10 speed shifter 9speed derailleur hack you say “Keep in mind the 10-speed shifters will ONLY work with 10-speed road front derailleurs.” I assume that is in the context of the 10 speed scenario but it is still a bit of an unqualified statement. I see similar remarks about front shifter/derailleur comparability throughout the article and the comments. Later in the article you state “With 9-speed Shimano, you can directly use 9-speed road shifters with 9-speed mountain bike derailleurs and gearing.” I also see similar remarks elsewhere on the web about both claims. I’m not saying it’s a contradiction but clearly there is a lot of important information missing. Hard number about front pull ratios would answer a lot. https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Bicycles/Maintenance_and_Repair/Gear-changing_Dimensions offers up a mostly empty table for users to fill in. Can you or your readers offer more specifics about front setups compatibility? Clearly some combinations work so let’s get them cataloged.

  84. Shimano Alivio HG400 Cassette is 12-36T not 11-36T. I just bought one and am using it with a 9-Speed Deore Crankset 44/32/22T… It’s giving me quite a low but lots of spinning….

  85. One option you’ve missed for low gearing is that for 11-speed drivetrains you can use SRAM 11-speed road shifters with a SRAM 10-speed MTB rear derailleur. They’re both what SRAM calls “exact actuation” – see web page https://www.sram.com/sram/mountain/technologies/exact-actuation for a list of these components. I have this combination on two bikes, both using Shimano 11-40 Deore XT 11-speed cassettes. And I’ve found that the Deore XT 10-speed 2×10 front derailleur works perfectly with the SRAM shifters and two small chainrings.

  86. Very cool article! Thanks for putting this together. Perhaps you could help me verify my plan before I purchase. I have a road bike with 10 spd Ultegra SLX and a typical 50-34 crankset, in a hilly area where I now need to tow a bike trailer with a baby and groceries. To make the conversion it looks as though I’ll need something like a Sunrace 11-42 10 spd cassette, a 9 spd mountain derailleur like the Shimano Deore RD-M592, and a new 10 spd chain (suggestions welcome). Correct? Improvements? I also keep reading about the Goatlink and the Radr cage; is one of those necessary, or highly desirable? I’d like to keep my investment low, but of course I do want it to work well. Cheers!

  87. HI,
    I have GX 2×10 on a ’16 DB Mason Comp. I’ve updated my Rear Der. to a 42T (from the GX 36). The RD now rubs/sits on that 42T sprocket. What’s the easiest fix, please?

  88. Thanks for the reminder that this needs an update! I’ll get an option in there with SRAM compatibility. Great to hear that the Shimano front derailleur is mating with the SRAM front shifter too.

  89. The best solution for you is to get a Wolf Tooth Goat Link, and match it to your road derailleur (provided it’s a mid-cage SGS rear derailleur already). You can then install the 11-42t Sunrace cassette and a new chain and you’re off. 🙂

  90. Hi Alee

    I currently have a Norco XFR 2 with a few modifications and although I like my setup, I want to move up to a ROAD BIKE… something more high-end like a Carbon Frame Cervelo C3 11-Speed Ultegra or 105 w/Hydraulic Disc Brake or a TREK Domane SL6 or SL5 Disc. The Norco has a FLATBAR handlebar and I can’t find enough comfortable hand positions on it, so having a drop-bar handlebar is one of my wishes. The other main concern is providing as many low gears as possible to climb the very steep hill coming home from all my rides.. The city I live in (Calgary) also has too many steep hills so at my age (58) the Compact Chainring with Standard 11-28T or 11-32T Cassettes that come with these high-end road bikes just won’t do it for me.. Hence why I am doing some research before I plunge in….

    I’ve made many modifications to my 9-Speed (Triple Chain-ring) NORCO such as:

    1. Replaced the Front Suspension with a rigid “Suspension Corrected” fork to make it lighter and to behave a little more like a road bike.
    2. Replaced the knobby tires from 700x40c to slick 700x37c tires
    3. Replaced the Alivio Crankcase 175mm Crank arms (48/36/26T) with a 170mm Deore set with 44/32/22T rings.
    4. Changed the Cassette from a 11-34T to 12-36T (both 9-Speed) even though my preference would have been to go to something like 11-40 or 42T cassette. But couldn’t find one for a 9-Speed Setup; and didn’t want to spend the money to change my Shifters and Brakes (currently a combo setup) to separate 10-speed components… So this was the best I could do to give me the best granny gears available… I should also say that my bike came with Hydraulic Brakes and I absolutely love them, I wouldn’t ever want a bike without hydraulic disc brakes.

    NOW, I am used to these gears and am really concerned about what would happen when I move up to a Road Bike…. Obviously I am going to be spending a lot of money to move to an 11-Speed groupset that also come with hydraulic disc brakes… Hence, I wouldn’t want to replace them with lower quality components just to be able to add granny gears… gear ratios that are more or less comparable to what I have on my Norco.

    Doing my research, I found out that the Ultegra and 105 groupsets do not come with a lot of variety in small Chainring sizes… I’m also limited by the bolt sizes on the crankcase…. So what to do????

    First, would I need to have the same low gear ratios I currently have on my bike, or a lighter bike like these new Road Bikes would be easier to climb hills?

    If I do need the granny gears, what is the best method of achieving it without having to toss out a lot of the good components that will come standard with the new bikes? Definitely, I don’t want to lose the Shifers and the Hydraulic Disc levers…

    If I have to change the Crankcase anyway, should I go for a 105 instead of the Ultegra (less expensive perhaps)? Or Is it even possible to find a crankcase that would fit the bike and the Bottom Bracket that comes with the new bikes? Is a Bottom Bracket something that can be changed?

    I think one obvious solution from what I’ve read here so far would be to keep the 50/34T Crank and replace the cassette to an 11-40T cassette (which model?) and use the RoadLink… I think the Bike with the Ultegra comes with Medium Cage RD and the 105 comes with a Long Cage RD…. Would this be sufficient, even though the new lowest ratio won’t be as low as my current one with the 22T Front and 36T Rear Cog…?

    I’ve seen somebody use a 34/24T Crankcase and a 11-40T cassette… but what other mods would I need to do to make it work with the Ultegra or 105 STI shifters?

    Or should I buy a less expensive ALU Road Bike (Say TREK Domane ALR 4 Disc) that comes with a Tiagra 10-Speed 50/34T Compact and 11-32T Cassette, and modify from here? i.e. change the cranks, and the cassette and maybe the derailleurs???

    Sorry for the long winded post… Looking forward to your thoughts..

  91. Another option you haven’t covered here for 11-speed is to use SRAM 11-speed road shifters with their 10-speed MTB derailleurs. No shift ratio converter needed. Here’s a bike setup with that setup: https://photos.app.goo.gl/7jFA42OBWER1FjOb2. SRAM Force 22 hydraulic shifters and X9 rear derailleur, Sugino XD cranks with 38/26 chainrings (outer chainguard), Deore XT 11-40 cassette. Low gear of 17 inches.

  92. 36-22 front, 11-40T sunrace 9 speed, M772 SGS rear, works fine here, but depending on your frame you might need longer b-tension screw

  93. I would like to put a 50/38/26 on a mtb, with 11-34t 8 or 9 speed cassette. Do you have any idea what kind of front derailleur would work with this setup?

  94. Hi Alee, it’s me again… LOL
    On a 2×11 Ultegra 6800 or 105 road bike with the fancy hydraulic disc brake levers/shifters… can I change the front Crankset from the 50/34 to a Deore XT (say, 38/26 or 36/24) and replace the FD to a Deore XT Front Derailleur, yet keep the nice Ultgera shifters?? If there is a cable tension issue, is there a corresponding JTek adapter? I am not sure if the bike I am buying takes a Braze On FD or an Band On… let’s assume worse case scenario that it is braze on… I saw somewhere above someone talking about a Fit Link Adapter….
    Also, at the same time I want to change the cassette to an XT 11-42T along with an added Lindaret Road Link, yet keep the existing Ultegra GS Rear Derailleur and the Ultegra rear shifters…
    Thanks In advance.

  95. Awesome article, just the info I was looking for. There is one question that is unanswered for me. Is it possible to mix SRAM 11 speed road shifter with SRAM 11 speed MTB derailleur?

  96. I am just rebuilding my touring bike with disc brakes and it will end up a 3×11 configuration using Shimano 105 brifters,Ultegra triple and Ultegra 11 speed cassette with 34 teeth. The rear changer is Ultegra and the front is XT… not a setup that Shimano widely advertise but it gives me the range I need and easy setup.

  97. A question the roadlink works with 105 Shimano 11v last model Shimano 105, 11-speed, 11-32t, 50/34T RS510 105 Ez, braze-on?

  98. The Roadlink works with all the Shimano 105 versions, but you don’t need it if you’re only planning to use a 11-32T Cassette. You should also be OK without it for a 11-36T Cassette with a Medium or Long Size Derailleur (GS) … Some have even used a 11-40T Cassette without it — if you really push it by playing with the B- Screw…. although idealy you should use the Roadlink for it. But, you will definitely need the it to make it work with a 11-42T Cassette. (btw, the Braze-On has nothing to do with it, “Braze-on” describes how the Front Derailleur is attached to the bike.). Hope this helps.

  99. I started reading this thread then gave up as I was having panic attacks with all these derailleurs, cassettes and chain rings spinning before my eyes. If you want low gears to go up really steep hills that work without compatibility or synchronisation problems, then get a Rohloff hub with a larger rear sprocket 17, 18 or even 19T. Standard sprocket is 16T. I need to go and lie down now.

  100. Have you done this or seen it done? I was under the impression it wouldn’t work. They changed the pull slightly for X-actuation (11 speed MTB) while stuck with the same ratio for road (exact actuation). I’ve heard this from SRAM tech guys, and it’s consistant with the data out there:


    What can be done, however, is described by Nick Payne above, running an 11 speed road shifter with a 10 speed mountain derailler.

  101. Maybe someone knows a solution?

    Current setup:
    – Aivee Edition One road rear hub
    – SRAM Rival 22 group (11-speed) with medium size derailleur
    – SRAM Rival PG-1130 cassette (11-fach) 11-32

    My plan:
    11-40 tooth or 11-42 cassette
    Wolf Tooth Roadlink

    My questions:
    Which of the following (MTB) cassettes can I install on the hub and which will work with the road SRAM Rival 22?
    – SRAM MTB cassettes with 11-40 teeth
    – Sunrace CSRX8 RX 11-Speed Wide Ratio Cassette 11-40
    – Shimano Deore XT 11-40t Kassette
    – Shimano XT CS-M8000 11-40t Kassette

    Someone told me that I can install any of these but that I need a 1.85mm spacer for the MTB cassette even if this is 11-speed. Does that mean the cassette is smaller? Will that cause performance issues?

    Looking forward to your recommendations.

  102. Hallo! I had so much use for this articles and books since I picked up touring again after many years of bringing up children. This summer I will try passing the Alps on my Kona Sutra and I realized last summer that I really would like to “gear down” a bit more. I really dont´want to try to push my Sutra with full camping gear uphill.
    I have this setup: Shimano Deore 9-speed, Front 22-32-44. Rear casette 11-34.
    I would easily lose at least the two highest gears for lower gear.
    Any suggestions? I heard that it´s possible to mount bigger rings on the cassette by sacrifie the smaller rings on the casette.

  103. The person who told you that you need a spacer is correct. The wide range cassettes are indeed narrower due to the increased vertical distance between cogs. You should therefore be able to fit any of the cassettes you listed.

  104. Hi Mats, I have almost the exact same situation. I am using the Deore 9 Speed 44-32-22 Crankset but for the back I have swapped out the 11-34T for a Shimano 9 Speed 12-36T which is the lowest you can go for that setup. Without that back 36T cog, I couldn’t climb up the trail back to my house.. I just pedal slowly but surely and it gets me home. It should be a quick and easy swap of the cassette. Look up on Chain reaction… it should be pretty cheap.

  105. Hi allee,

    This is very usefull infomation to hack in such many combination, im planning to use crank with dual chainring 44 – 24 and 11 – 42 cassette (11speed) by using shimano sti road bike shifters, do you reckon this combination will work flawlessly?

  106. If a 50/34 Crankset works (and I know Alee uses that on one of his bikes), then you should have no problem with the 44/24T Crankset. If anything it will provide you with a better capacity. Just make sure you use a medium or long road bike derailleur in the back, and add the Road Link. I must say, your new lowest gear with 24T up front and a 42T in the cassette would give you a very very low gear ratio of 24/42 = 0.57. I currently use a 44/32/22T with a 12-36T cassette and I find my lowest gear (22/36 = 0.61) is plenty low… It’s almost like walking LOL.

  107. That’s probably pushing the maximum capacity of most long cage derailleurs a bit too much (that works out to be 51t when you ideally want to be closer to the 45t mark). If you want a low gear like that, I’d suggest dropping to a 40-24t chainring set if that’s an option.

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