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Mountain bike cassettes(working, problems and solutions)

The most complex or confusing part of the mountain bikes is probably the gear system and at the heart of it all cassette stands out this is an informal post about what cassettes are how they work and other general questions you might have related to the cassettes on the mountain bikes.

what are Mountain bike cassettes

the cassette can be found on the rear wheel of any mountain bike or road bike and they play a massive role in terms of speed, mobility, ease of paddling, and saving time and energy.

Cassettes are a cluster of cogs, on the rear wheel of any geared bike you can see rings with teeth, those rings are called cogs and

How do bike cassettes work?

Cassettes are responsible for chain handling and in the process of changing gears the chains jump on and off the cassette what it does is it gives the rider the ease if the chain gets lossen it gives the rider ability to paddle faster and speed up whereas you go in the higher gear it tightens the chain and actually helps in climbing situations


Can you use an MTB cassette on a road bike?

Yes we can easily replace/attach the cassette of a mountain bike on a road bike the tools and the method you would need are listed below and also a helpful video that I found on youtube, tools you would need

  • new chain
  • chain whip
  • large wrench
  • lockring tool

this is all you need and here are the two videos that can help you through the process

this is the short video guide on tools that you would need and some overview on how the process will go

Here’s another video to guide you through the whole process of removing the wheel and cassette and everything.

How many gears do you need on a bike?

Gears play an important role in either kind of bike even if its a mountain bike or a simple bike, Specially in mountain bikes since the tracks are rough and it takes a lot out of you and also to enjoy a good ride you need to have good gear according to your local track

you need gears based on the track you are going to use on a daily basis if it tracks with not much climb a 7 or 8 gear would work just fine even the lower than that but you need some higher gears to climb uphill now the higher gears would allow you to work your way faster and easier it also differentiates based on the bikes you are using as well so always be sure to check the track you think you will be using most of the time and make your choices accordingly.

How to do that?

Well, that’s easy you can ask a friend to let them try their bikes or you could make new friends on your track generally people out they are really helpful and they will help you choose your bike as well as let you try theirs as well so don’t be shy to ask for advice it’s always a good idea to take the advice of someone with a bit of experience.

How do you change a cassette on a mountain bike?

Changing a cassette is fairly simple it’s not rocket science so don’t worry too much-skilled mountain bikers unlike you and me do it all the time whether they are going to try a new track or going on a trip somewhere with their mountain bikes or just making upgrades

The tools that you would need are

  • Large wrench
  • new cassette
  • locking tool
  • chain whip
  • grease

Now, this is all you need to have in order to change your cassette if you were thinking of changing it on the track you may find someone with these tools already or maybe a nearby repair shop on the track to help you do just that, you can either borrow them or just take it to that shop if there isn’t a shop or anyone with those tools on track you can always take it home and do the job or take it to a shop

here’s a video I found on youtube to help you with that

How do I know if my hubs are cassettes?

It’s actually really simple at the beginning of it all I got confused as well but here’s how to check if your hubs are cassettes or they are freewheel all you need to do is when you remove the wheel

If you find threads on the hub or just take the cassette/flywheel in your hands, the cassette will open up in your hands, flywheel will stay together and has a ranching mechanism inside of it so it spins on its own, unlike a cassette.

so if you find any of the above indicators you will know right away if it’s a cassette or a freewheel. and in case you are wondering if you could swap them no you cannot sadly you just have to change the whole rear wheel, yes you could change the hub and go that way but that’s a more expensive tiring, and long process.

What is a 2×10, 1×11, 2×11 drivetrain/gear ratio?

If you are just starting out on a mountain bike like I am a complete novice you may hear people saying these words well they are just talking about gear ratios

2×10, 1×11, 2×11 are all just gear ratios 2 referees to two cogs on the front and 10,11,12 are referring to the cogs on the rear wheel or rear cassette.

now you may also hear something or read something like 2×11 / 11-42 / 28-38 these are not coordinates to some locations it’s just they are talking about a number of teeth on each of their cogs now 11-42 is someone explaining that they have 11 cogs on their cassette on the rear wheel and the highest cog or the biggest gear has 42 teeth, 28-38 means that they have two drives/cogs on the front pedal each of them having 28-38 teeth respectively. hopefully, this answered your question. I will write a whole post on it later on and explain everything why gear ratio matters and what are the advantages and disadvantages of gear ratio. and all the info

Can you change the number of teeth on the cassette?

The teeth on a cassette can and do make big differences now the cassettes are differentiated on the number of teeth you biggest gear/cog has and the lowest gear/cog has still to answer your question on can you change the number of teeth on the cassette the simplest answer would be

No, you cannot change the number of teeth on the cassette, but what you can do is change the cassette on the bike you will still need to make some adjustments and look out for some things.

if you want to change your cassette or if you have decided on changing it you need to check for these things to avoid more expenses and save you time

  • chain length
  • derailer

you must absolutely check the chain length to see if the things are working properly again or not, Also you may need to change your derailer as well if you were on 23 or 28 before the derailer would be fine but if you are going on 32 or bigger you might need to change the derailer as well because you were probably using a short cage at that time if you were using a medium cage then it will be okay to change you will have no problems but still, you might want to check out the chain length

Can I replace a 7-speed cassette with an 8 speed?

You can replace a 7 speed or 6 speed Cassette with an 8 9 10 11 all you need to have are some tools and you might need a new freehub that’s all you need and here’s how to do it.

you need to see if your hub is long enough to hold the 8,9 10 speed cassette you can use a vernier or even a simple tape to measure it usually they are around 32-37mm but you may need to go a bit beyond and have a something near 40 installed on the newer bikes you may even find a spacer if you cannot and it’s too short no need to worry you can still change your cassette and your freehub as well

tools you will need.

  • wrench
  • flat wrench
  • cassette locking tool
  • new freehub
  • chain
  • new cassette

now all you have to do is to pull out the wheel open the cassette replace the hub now the hub will have some bearing in it be sure to not drop them just carefully replace the hub tighten put everything back together and mount your new cassette on the new hub now you need to check somethings out before you start riding

Important checks

  • check if the chain is working fine
  • check if the derailer is working fine
  • check if the gears are working
  • recheck the limit screw on the back of the derailer

after performing these checks and everything looks good you are good to go on your way take it on a track and recheck things the most concern you will need to have been about the derailer and chains you can read the articles above you will find the solution to those problems here as well.

What is the difference between a 10 speed and 11-speed cassette?

10 speed means there are 10 cogs in total on the rear wheel and each cog will have a different number of teeth, similarly, 11 speeds mean there are eleven cogs on the rear wheel.

10 speed or 11 speed each have their own advantages and disadvantages or uses, the higher the number of speeds go the higher the number of teeth increases on them this help the riders in different kind of situations like when they are climbing higher they need the higher gears and vice versa.

the lower you go down on the gears the higher gets your speed tho lower gears are not recommended when you are climbing up because you will burn yourself out pretty quickly there come to the higher gears the give you relief while paddling and it makes climbing super easy for you, tho you may want to make sure how steep the track is and gear up according to the track.

What is better single speed or gears?

well the answer may depend on where you are thinking of riding whats the terrain, most likely everyone whats to go on an adventure on their bikes at some point in life, and trust me you do not want to be on a single speed I have been there and it sucks.

Geared bikes are much more preferred they can pull you out of any problem and they don’t put too much of a strain on your body and you can still exercise and have a blast as well.

unless of course you are not much of an outgoing person and it’s a means of the need then single speed is okay as well otherwise for long tours and adventure on mountains are hill areas geared bikes are best.

Are mountain bike cassettes universal?

I think what you had like to know is if the mountain bike cassettes can be used on other types of bikes or if you could use different types of cassettes on different types or brands of mountain bikes then you can use them

Yes, mountain bike cassettes are universal in case you want to use them on any other type of bike like road bike yes in that sense you could say they are universal.

You might have to do some changes to your road bike or any other type of bike that you are using like the chain, derailer, freehub, or and also derailer hanger extensions but other than that yes you can convert them.

And in case you are wondering if the mountain bike cassettes can be fitted on different types of mountain bikes you can do that as well you might have to buy a new freehub and yes you can do it yourself at home or on the track as well.

Can I change the cassette without changing the chain?

If for some reason you had like to change your cassette upgrade to something that suits you and you are wondering if you don’t have to change the chain and just change the cassette then

yes, you can use a chain tool to add some new chain pieces to your existing chain, and if you are moving down on the cassette gears then you don’t need a new chain just shorten the chain.

To remove some pieces of chain you can use a chain tool and just remove some pitches, Do remember to check again if the chain and gears are working properly.

In case you are going with bigger gears, the same method can be reversed but you need to have some extra chain pieces.

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