Ultegra 10 speed – some hacks and a bit of OWS

It’s a fairly big two weeks for me starting with the weekend just gone. I have a few races lined up of all sorts from middle distance to 5ks to TTs to IM Swims. Even a sneaky little B race has crept in the immediate schedule.

Here was my IM distance swim. I had a great 3.8K swim and used the Suunto 9 (best mode) which was actually pretty good at producing a mostly correct open water track. It performed better when compared to other devices in OWS mode than when compared to other devices when running. Like this

Cirlced bits are wrong

I’ve also been using my TT bike a bit recently and I have to say I love getting back on it every time. For some reason I have always found TTs more comfortable than my (recently fitted) road bikes and, if anything, I can crank out a tad more power…which I know shouldn’t be the case. That observation MAY be linked to my last remaining oval chain ring which may overestimate the watts slightly on the TT.

After a successful 40-or-so miler yesterday evening I now feel sufficiently energised to talk about a couple of hacks I did before the ride, which I’d be planning to get around to for a considerable period of time.

Here goes

Hack #1

I’ve zero idea how widely known this is but you can put an 11-speed chain on a 10-speed setup. Or at least you can with Shimano Ultegra.

The pre-existing chain was the remnant of a service from just under a year ago. I’ve not done THAT many miles on the TT bike so was a bit surprised to see the 10 speed chain take a hit so quickly – I do NOT think it was an original Shimano part put on by the guy who services my bikes. The chain has been making an awful noise for the last few hundred miles so, with an upcoming TT, NOW was the time to return to cycling in silence. Silent other than the speeding wind in my ears.

Shimano Ultegra 10 speed chainThe 11 speed chain is a fraction narrower and lighter and is supposed to save a watt or so. Not that you’d notice the difference.

If changing an inner tube and/or wheel is the easiest and most necessary of bike tasks then replacing a chain is on the next level or two of difficulty upwards. You should be able to do it but you will probably need a special tool to make the new chain the right length and even if you have one of those clever magic chain links then, ideally, you also need a special too for that tool (pliers and chain breaking tool shown on image above).

Take Out: If you have a mixture of 11- and 10-speed bikes like me then your inventory of spare parts will be much easier to manage if you have a one-chain-fits-all policy. That one chain, in my case, is the 11-speed.

The Ride: Yes, relative silence did indeed return. The noise WAS the chain and not mis-aligned gears. Front shifting was notably improved and by that I mean improved compared to a dodgy chain rather than an 11 speed compared to a 10 speed.

With my new super-quiet chain and my disc wheel on, miraculously I was faster than the same ride last week AND for less watts. Was it the chain? Or the disc wheel? You decide 😉 [It was the wheel!]

Hack #2

There are different lengths of rear derailleur cages, the bit that includes the pulley wheels. You’d think that any old rear mech would accommodate any old rear cassette…and you’d be wrong (see GCN video below for details). When you get up to around a large 32T or 34T rear cog on a road bike then you will probably need a derailleur with a longer cage as well as a longer derailleur hanger to move the entire, existing derailleur DOWN away from the sporockets. As you can see from the images, below, there just isn’t enough space for the chain in that big ring.

You should be able to see in the images above that, etched onto the ULTEGRA derailleur, are the digits “30T”. This means it will support up to a 30 toothed rear sprocket.

Actually this is not quite true. And here is the second hack. My somewhat ancient Ultegra rear derailleur will just take a 32T providing I don’t select the big ring at the front. In my case, if I select the big front ring and the rear big cog then it sticks in that gear and I have to stop to unstick it. But with the judicious avoidance of that ONE gear combination I’ve saved myself having to get a new rear derailleur or some other gear combos. Yay !

I will put the proper wheel/cassette combo on for the upcoming races but the 32T ring was useful for tonight’s 40 miler with those 2 extra teeth just helping out on one particular little hill.

Hack #3

A more obvious hack is to use an Ultegra cassette rather than the more expensive, but slightly lighter, Dura-Ace. shifting will be pretty much the same.



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