Waited Too Long to Replace My Cassette

I’ve never been vigilant about maintenance to my house, or my car,  or my bike. That gets me into trouble from time to time. The house is okay, now that we replaced the air conditioning system a year ago. But the car sounds like it needs brake rotors. And the bike has been giving me fits.

I mentioned in the last post that I replaced the chain, but that didn’t solve shifting problems I was having. The new chain skipped just as badly as the old one, because it was having trouble with the worn teeth on my cogs.

I figured a chain might take care of the problem, because I had gone way longer without replacing it than one is supposed to. I think the chain easily had 6,000 miles on it. Most bike books say to replace it after about 1,500 miles, although posters to some online forums I’ve visited maintain that a chain could last about as long as mine did with no trouble. Cassettes are supposed to last three times as long as a chain, so most riders can replace them every year to year and a half. I’ve had mine three years. I know. I’ve been bad. But like I say, no problems until about a month ago.

Now, I ride a cassette that isn’t all that uncommon, judging by comments and emails I’ve received here at Bike Noob HQ, as well as other websites I visit. It’s an 11-28, nine speed. I need that 28-tooth cog to negotiate some of the steeper hills around here, and frankly, even it’s not enough on some of them.

So, I called around town Saturday morning looking for a replacement cassette. No one had it. This, in a city that has 33 bicycle shops, according to one source I’ve seen. (I didn’t call all of them, but probably 10 or so.) Most had 11-23s, or 12-25s. No one carried an 11-28. One shop told me they aren’t made. That would be news to Sram. I went back to my first shop, only a mile from my house, and ordered one.

Great service. It came today. When I went over to the bike shop to pick it up, there were some moments of panic because the outer cog ring — the 11 tooth — wasn’t on the cassette. It turned out it had fallen off in the shipping box with all the other items the shop had received by truck today. A few minutes later, I was on my way out the door with a shiny silver cassette standing out against my black spokes, and my black chainstays, and my black chain. I gotta be more regular at cleaning that thing.

I was all ready to ride and check out the new purchase, but the skies to the north threatened rain. I think I’ll be able to ride tomorrow afternoon. Maybe even in the morning, if I can get out before work. I can tell you one thing — a few pedal strokes were enough to show me that skipping is a thing of the past.

With the new cassette, I’ll be in a position to start targeting that century I talked about the other day. Finally, I’ll be able to apply some power to the pedals. Can’t wait.


  1. Tim says

    replace your chain when it exceeds the recommended wear (chains don’t stretch)…not on some arbitrary mileage

    and only somebody that is deeply indoctrinated in the racing mentality would believe that a cassette can’t last more than a couple years…pure hogwash if you take care of your chain and keep the shifting system adjusted


  2. says

    On the mountain bike I was replacing the drivetrain (chain rings, chain, cassette) every 2,500 miles or so if that mileage included a mixture of on and off road miles. I could get about 4,500 miles out of it if I stayed strictly on the pavement. My road bike has around 3,000 miles on it and just last week I was wondering what the life expectancy of a road drivetrain was.. now I know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *