Modern bikes have a different number of gearing and chain sizes. Older bikes were content with a single-speed gear and cassette.
However, modern bikes need special gearing and newer chain sizes. Modern bikes have different sizes of chains and cassettes.
These cassettes and chains can handle different cycling conditions. Different cassette sizes have different chain sizes, so can you use a 10-speed chain on an 11-speed cassette?
Yes, you can use a 10-speed chain on an 11-speed cassette, but your gears will not shift as smoothly as before. Even though ten-speed chains are bigger than 11-speed cassette chains, the differences are not too large.
Will a 10-Speed Chain Work on an 11-Speed Cassette?
Bike chain links are exactly 1 inch long no matter the size or number, but they differ in width.
The higher the bike’s cassette number, the smaller the chain’s width. Yes, a ten-speed chain will work on an 11-speed cassette but not without hiccups.
Higher numbered cassettes require a smaller chain that reduces the bike’s weight and enables it to change gears faster.
Using a lower rating chain on a higher-rated cassette can cause different problems.
Here is a small list of problems you will encounter while using a ten-speed chain on a 12-speed cassette.
#1. Poor Cadence
Maintaining peak performance and a consistent cycling cadence is important to professional cyclists. Cadence in cycling is the number of crankshaft revolutions per minute.
Since ten-speed chains are larger than 11-speed cassette disks, the chain will slip from the cassettes regularly, interrupting the rider’s cadence.
If you are stuck with an incorrect chain and cassettes, you can try adjusting or finding a new cadence that will suit your current riding conditions.
#2. Lower Performance
Using a ten-speed chain on an 11-speed cassette will ultimately lower the bike’s performance.
Mismatched chains and cassettes will increase friction in the chains and cassettes and increase the power needed to pedal the bicycle.
Avoid climbing hilly regions or participating in competitive racing using an incorrect chain or cassette size.
#3. Shorter Lifespan
Using the wrong chain and sprocket size reduces the lifespan of both components. A 10-speed chain will wear out an 11-speed sprocket due to its size difference.
If you want to extend the lifespan of your gearing system, you should use the correct chain sizes.
#4. Chain Failure
Installing an 11-speed cassette on a ten-speed chain can put unnecessary strain on the bike chain and sprocket.
Extended usage can lead to your chain snapping mid-ride, probably causing an accident. Always check the state of your bike’s chain before and after a ride.
Will a 10-Speed Chain on an 11-Speed Cassette Go Faster?
Chains have different ratings but have the same pitch and distance. Sadly, changing the chain speed will not improve your bike’s speed.
You have to change or upgrade the bike gear to move faster. Here are some types of chains bikes use.
#1. Single speed chain
Single-speed chains are the toughest and widest of all bike chains. It has an internal roller width of (3.175)mm.
#2. 5,6,7 and 8 chain
These are the more mainstream sizes of bike chains. It has sizes of (7.3mm) and (7.8mm)
#3. Nine speeds
9-speed chains have a size of (6.7)mm. You can temporarily share them with chain speeds 7 & 8.
#4. Ten speeds
10 speeds usually have a size of (5.8)mm. You can use it with an 11-speed cassette.
#5. 11 speeds
11 speeds have a chain width of (5.62mm).
You can pair it temporarily with a 12-speed cassette.
#6. 12 speeds
The 12-speed chains have a chain width of (5.25mm).
Here are some dimensions of the various chain widths in mm.
|CHAIN SPEEDS||OUTER WIDTH (mm)|
As you can see, using the wrong chain and cassette sizes will not make your bike go faster.
Rather it will reduce your bike’s performance, making you go slower and shortening its lifespan.
10 Speed Chain Vs. 11 Speed Chain; Which is Best For my 11 Speed Bike?
It is always advisable to use the correct size of chain and cassette on your bicycle.
Using the incorrect chain size for your bike will lead to problems like increased wear and tear and accumulation of mud and dirt.
The best chain for your 11-speed bike is an 11-speed chain. Here are some common issues you will encounter while using the incorrect chain or cassette size.
The incorrect chain size combination will cause your gearing system to operate noisily. The chain width of 11-speed cassettes is smaller than that of 10-speed chains.
Using the wrong mixture will cause the chain to rub against the cassettes causing unwanted noise.
#2. Late Shifting
Bikes, chains, and cassettes are supposed to use matching sizes. They have matching width and pitch, and they change gears smoothly. Improper matching cassettes and chains will not shift properly.
#3. Wearing of Cassettes
The cassettes of bike gears consist of tough steel alloy resistant to wear and tear.
But using a ten-speed chain with larger widths than an 11-speed chain will lead to excessive wearing and tearing of the cassettes.
#4. Premature Shifting
If you install a ten-speed chain on an 11-speed cassette, you will experience premature shifting while the bike moves.
Premature shifting, in this case, is caused by the larger chain (10) rubbing against the smaller (11) sized cassette.
This action means the chain will be prone to climbing a higher or lower gear than selected.
12 Speed Chain on 11 Speed Cassette
The chain’s inner width matters the most in various chain sizes. A 12-speed chain is one of the smallest chain sizes on the market today.
You can use a 12-speed chain on an 11-speed cassette, but it has some disadvantages.
Here are some problems you will encounter while using a 12-speed chain on an 11-speed cassette.
#1. Strains the Bike Chains
The higher the gear number is, the smaller and thinner it is. Bike chains from 10,11 and 12 are on the smaller end of the spectrum.
Using a 12-speed chain on an 11-speed cassette will strain the chain and possibly break it.
#2. Slow Shifting
If you use the incorrect chain and cassette sizes, you will experience a slow changing of gears, either up or down.
A 12-speed chain is smaller than an 11-speed chain. So it will have difficulty climbing or dropping down gears.
#3. Ghost Shifting
The size 11 cassette is not fully compatible with the 12-speed chain. The incompatibility will lead to the gears shifting by themselves due to incorrect tension and alignment.
You can use different sizes of chains and cassettes on your bike, but it is not advisable to do so for long periods.
If you want to install non-matching chains and cassettes, you must ensure you use the closest chain or cassette size. I.e., use a ten-speed chain and 11-speed cassette, 12-speed chain, 11-speed cassette, etc.
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