A few weeks back we published an article about beginning to set your bike up for easier climbing. As far as our visitor statistics show, it’s been one of our most popular posts too, clearly showing an interest out there in taking your climbing to the next level even if you don’t have Chris Froome’s legs…

In the previous article, we showed you how to adapt your current bike’s setup to allow for a larger than usual rear cassette by installing a Wolf Components Road Link. Well, that’s only part of the story of course, and once you have enabled the ability to take a larger cassette then you need part two: the bigger cassette.

You’re going to come up against all sorts of compatibility questions when you start looking around, and it’s beyond the scope of this article to test or even list all of the potential combinations sadly. But, there are some basic rules you can count on, and if you adhere to those then you can be very confident that you’ve built a system that’s going to work as intended.

Here we go… 

  • SRAM and Shimano cassettes are mostly interchangeable, as long as you are also running the appropriately branded chain and same speed system too. So, SRAM cassette 10spd, SRAM chain 10spd etc. Mixing chains and cassettes will throw up complications.
  • 3rd party cassettes and chains built for SRAM or Shimano compatible systems will also work as long as you adhere to the chain/speed rule.
  • MTB and Road cassettes and chains are mostly interchangeable, again keeping to the chain/cassette/speed rule as above. So, an XT 10spd cassette will almost certainly work with an Ultegra 10spd chain and rear mech.
  • Basically, don’t mix 11spd with 10spd and don’t mix SRAM cassette with Shimano chain. Of course, there are exceptions to all of these points, but for the main part it’s applicable.

Ok, now that’s out of the way, the point of this post is to show you our latest component that we’re going to build into one of our climbing bikes, the SunRace MX3 10spd 11-40t cassette. It costs around £60 ($100) online, but as always do shop around, and comes as an 11-40t and 11-42t option. It’s fully Shimano compatible according to SunRace.

It’s a good looking piece of metal (you don’t hear that everyday…), and mixes champagne colour rings with a sexy red anodised spider and lock cap.

We’re going to build this into our Focus Izalco Max that’s currently running a short cage Dura Ace rear mech and an 11-32t Ultegra cassette. The bike already has a Wolf Road Link in place to allow for the 32t and short cage mech to work together. Combined with a 34/50 compact Rotor chainset, and a low overall weight, this should give us virtual rocket powered climbing capability! Well, we hope anyway!

The next upgrade to the Focus will be a MTB chainset, either XT or XTR. And yes, we know, it’s a road bike not a mountain bike! But, we’re also not cyclists from the pro-peloton and we’re sort of over Strava hunting a bit these days too, so setting our bikes up to allow for more climbing without blowing our CV systems or legs means we can stay in the saddle for a lot longer on multi-day rides. We’re not old, just ahead of the curve 😛

Post any questions below about set ups and we’ll try to test/answer them for you!