The choice of cassettes is vast and overwhelming, especially when you are still trying to decide on a particular sprocket combination that best suits your needs.
Generally, certain cassettes and sprocket combinations are most suited for mountain bikes or more challenging terrain.
Meanwhile, some are better suited for road bikes and less-exerting terrains. Choosing between the 11-32 or 12-25 cassette depends on a host of factors which this article highlights and explains in detail.
11-32 cassettes are best suited for mountain bikes or hill climbing activities, while 12-25 cassettes are the typical and most preferable option for road bikes. 12-25 cassettes have a shorter gear range which limits them. A cassette with a lower ratio largest sprocket, such as 11-32 cassettes, will allow you to keep spinning for a long while exerting less pedaling force.
What are the Differences Between the 11-32 and the 12-25 Cassette?
11-32 and 12-25 describe the number of cogs and range of gears belonging to each cassette.
11-32 means the smallest sprocket within the cassette has 11 teeth, and the largest sprocket consists of 32 teeth.
12-25 refers to the smallest sprocket consisting of 12 teeth, while the largest sprocket has 25 teeth.
Cassettes with a large range give you many teeth to climb hills or navigate rocky terrains.
However, having a larger range of sprockets can adversely affect your bike’s gear change capabilities.
Larger range cassettes are prone to jumping a few teeth between each sprocket.
This seemingly small issue can seriously hamper ride quality and even possibly cause damage in the long run.
Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of 12-25T and 11-32 cassettes.
#1. Advantages of 12-25 Cassettes
- 12-25 cassettes are “8-speed” cassettes; they have a smoother gear transition due to closer shifts. This feature enables faster and more fluid gear changes. Cyclists benefit from this feature as it improves riding quality and makes pedaling easier.
- You will sustain fewer or no jumps using the 12-25 cassettes. They are incredibly smooth to use.
#2. Disadvantages of 12-25 Cassettes
- 12-25 cassettes are generally slower. It is mainly because 12-25 cassettes are limited to 8 cogs. The estimated top speed of a bike with a 12-25 cassette is 31.93 miles per hour (mph) at 90 revolutions per minute (rpm).
However, the estimated top speed for a bike with an 11-25 cassette is 32.86 miles per hour (mph) at the same 90 revolutions per second (rpm).
#3. Advantages of 11-32 Cassettes
- 11-32 cassettes have more sprockets. Therefore, they are capable of a good amount of traction.
- The lower gear on 11-32 cassettes enables them to reach and maintain speed while operating at a higher rpm. This advantage is due to the rear wheel rotating fewer times per one revolution of the crank.
#4. Disadvantages of 11-32 Cassettes
- You will experience large jumps between the individual gears, which can cause discomfort.
- A lot of the time, you won’t need the extra gear in 11-32 cassettes. It makes them redundant or needless.
Below is a table that compares key differences between 11-32 cassettes and 12-25 cassettes.
|11-32 Cassettes||12-25 Cassettes|
|11-32 cassettes offer a larger transmission ratio. This feature benefits mountain bikes or bikes used on hilly terrains.||12-25 offers a smoother transition compared to the 11-32 cassettes.|
|11-32 cassettes are better suited for hillier grounds as they offer better traction and a higher number of sprockets.||12-25 cassettes don’t do well on hilly terrains. They serve better on road bikes.|
|Jumps are more imminent in 11-32 cassettes.||Jumps occur less or not at all in 12-25 cassettes.|
11-32 Vs. 12-25 Cassette; Which is Best for Climbing?
11-32 cassettes are better suited for hill climbing than 12-25 cassettes. Hill climbing requires bikes with a larger gear range and more sprockets.
The larger the difference between the lowest and highest number of teeth, the more traction the bike can obtain from the cassette.
It is vital for mountain bikes or bikes used for climbing. It, however, comes at a cost.
Cassettes with larger differences between the lowest and highest number of teeth are prone to jumping.
Therefore, although 11-32 cassettes are best for climbing, you may experience difficulties in gear changes.
12-25 cassettes on the order hand transition seamlessly without jumping. It is due to the smaller difference between the highest and lowest number of teeth.
It is also important to note that selecting a cassette for a mountain bike or a bike for hill climbing ensures the derailleur can sustain the largest sprocket.
Your bike would need a long cage rear derailleur for larger sprockets since more chain is required to accommodate the entire gear system.
Using a smaller cage derailleur with a large sprocket will overstretch the derailleur and cause the chain to slack when riding in the smaller sprockets.
What Size Cassettes do Pros Use?
The particular cassettes pro riders may favor depending on the terrain they are riding.
Most pro riders opt for an 11-28T cassette for hilly or moderate mountain terrains. An 11-21T is most common on flat or relatively smooth terrains.
Improvements in cassettes have mounted over the years as a result of the steady increase in gears.
This increase in gears has made larger range cassettes increasingly common and jumping between teeth more manageable.
The 11-28T cassettes are quite popular and have become a trendy option for many pro cyclists.
It has made work relatively easier on the mechanics as wheel swaps during races are much easier to handle. Another cassette option pro cyclists favor Shimano’s 11-30T cassette option.
The Shimano Dura-Ace boasts 11-34T, and SRAM’s Red eTap AXS goes even lower with 10-33T cassettes. Pro cyclists are prone to steeper and rougher road terrains.
Hence, cassettes that promise a larger gear range, great speed, and perfect traction with less jumping between teeth serve better.
11-32 Vs. 12-25 Comparison; Price, Performance, and Reliability
The difference between 11-32 cassettes and 12-25 cassettes is the number of sprockets and teeth in the gear systems.
An 11-32 cassette has 11 teeth in its smallest sprocket and 32 teeth in the largest.
12-25 cassettes, on the other hand, have 12 teeth in their smallest sprocket and 25 in the largest.
12-25 cassettes are more expensive compared to 11-32 cassettes. However, this depends on the brand’s make and the cassette’s unique perks.
Below is a table detailing the prices of the 11-32 and 12-25 cassettes from separate brands.
|I bike 11-32T cassette||35 US Dollars|
|Shimano Tiagra HG-50 12-25 cassette||40 US Dollars|
11-32 cassettes have more teeth. Therefore, they offer better traction and are easier to pedal than 12-25 cassettes.
12-25 cassettes are not prone to jumping teeth between each sprocket and offer a much smoother gear transition compared to 11-32 cassettes.
11-32 cassettes are better suited for hill climbing. 12-25 cassettes serve best in road bikes.
Both cassettes are reliable if you purchase them from a competent brand such as Shimano, Bibike, or SRAM.
However, your choice should depend on the terrain you plan to use the bike. 11-32 cassettes are preferable for mountain bikes, while 12-25 cassettes are predominantly for road bikes.
11-32 cassettes are the best options for cycling on hilly terrains. The larger sprocket range and many gears equip it to serve better.
12-25 cassettes are great for normal road biking. The gears transition smoothly, and the cogs lap closely together.
Also, ensure your derailleur cage can safely accommodate your sprocket range.
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