Best cassette for Montreal

I need your useful advice again. I just bought a new Cervelo and (dont ask why) it came with a compact 50-34 and a 12-27. Since I don’t plan on going on an uphill TT up the Himalayas anytime soon (34x27…), I am making some changes. I have a SRAM force gruppo by the way. I first changed my 34 for a 36, and now I am changing my cassette. I will probably get a SRAM one but ultegra cassette are compatible too. I hesitate between an 11-23 and a 12-25. Both go up by one, which I like. What are you guys using? Do I need an 11 ? SRAM openglide 1070 or ultegra? My friend recommands 12-25; he says I will never ever use the 25 in Montreal, but I will be able to stay longer on the 50 on rolling hills with 12-25 rather than 11-23. A good point. Soooo what are you using and what do you recommend?

I ride a 53-39 with a 11-26 Sram cassette. Very happy with it. I rode it up a 2500m mountain, which at times was 14 to 16% steep and was ok with. So, it is certainly on the light end of standard gear ratios. Given that even on a downhill, I hardly ever push the 53/11, I don’t think the 11 cog is necessary. Particularly between the smaller cogs it does make a huge difference whether you go up single steps or in two teeth steps, though I personally do not mind the 15-17 step as much as I dislike the 17-19 step everything above just brings you up a mountain. I never really understood is why most cassettes do not give you the 18 cog. Particularly on the big 53 chain ring, I would love to have that 18 cog but I think only the Campagnolo 11-speed cassettes has it.
So long story short: my preference is a standard crankset with a 11-25 or 11-26 cassette and if you can switch the 11 for an 18 cog then go for it.

Thanks for the great info AJ. Do you reckon you would use 50x11 ? I will stick with my compact (36-50). Your 53x11 is pretty f*** big but what about 50x11? I was first considering the two following options:

• 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,19,21,23
• 12,13,14,15,16,17,19,21,23,25

But you make a good point with the 18. I never noticed almost no cassette has it. SRAM doesn’t make anything sort of in between my two first options, but I noticed shimano has the following interesting combination:

• 12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,21,23

The 11 is replaced by an 18 like you suggested. Do you reckon it’s a good combination? I would get 36x23 as my easiest gear, pretty much the same as your 39x25.

Hi Marc,

Considering you ride a 5036, I would suggest a cassette of 1225.

I rode 2 bikes last year, one with 5339–1326: (by the way, 5012 is a slightly bigger gear than 5313) I had no problem in flats or descents and raced with this configuration for most of the Quebec races without any problem. In Montreal, you can really ride to avoid climbs (it’s not too hard), but once you start to tackle some of them, you need appropriate gears (3923 not being small enough in many cases).
I also rode a 50
34–12*25 and thought it was an amazing combination: I raced with it in a uphill tt, did 2-3 races (including Canadian championships, with big hills and descents) and trained a lot on the island and I really loved the feeling. I never felt “short of gear” and in climbs, it felt slightly better.

In conclusion, I don’t think an 11 cassette would be useful, unless your typical ride is exclusively flat with many 50+km/h portions (which may be the case) and I also think 3623 (a bit harder than 3926) is small enough to give you peace of mind in every situation. 12*25!

The FW0711 Dura Ace 11-21 will give you almost the same ratio in 50-11 as AJ’s 53-12 (you have 4.55:1 and he has 4.42:1)

When you work it out in gain with 700x23 in gain ratios (wheel turns to pedal turn) you get:


  • 36 50
    11 6.4 8.9
    12 5.9 8.2
    13 5.4 7.6
    14 5.1 7.0
    15 4.7 6.5
    16 4.4 6.1
    17 4.2 5.8
    18 3.9 5.5
    19 3.7 5.2
    21 3.4 4.7


  • 39 53
    11 7.0 9.
    12 6.4 8.
    13 5.9 8.
    14 5.5 7.
    15 5.1 6.9

(I left the rest out because I don’t know them)

Thanks for the info Mat. My dad also rides 3450 1225 on both his bikes and he swears by it. I get your point for the 11, I now understand I don’t need it. The only time I do 50+km/h portions is when I am motorpacing, and that is if I am driving the motorbike… :wink:
You say 36*23 is small enough for peace of mind, and AJ recommends the 18, then do you think it would be a good idea to get

• 12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,21,23

instead of : 12,13,14,15,16,17,19,21,23,25 ?

(I have both a 34 and 36, but I will mostly use my 36)

Basically if 36*23 is enough, why not switch the 25 for an 18 ?
I appreciate you guys’ informed opinions.

I definitely agree with the 18T thing - I’m often finding myself wishing for an extra cog, and low and behold its always between the 17 and the 19.

hahaha. This is so hilarious. I have NEVER thought so hard about my gears. But I’m really glad that some people are doing it for me. Thanks guys.

I was about to add that the 18 cog is also lighter than the 25, but now Ben you made me feel guilty… :wink: