Riders are increasingly coming to realize that lower gearing allows you to spin up climbs, relying more on the rider’s aerobic system rather than brute strength to muscle bigger gears. Spinning is also easier on the knees and it is easier to recover aerobically after a climb than it is for your muscles to recover from lactic acid build-up. For this reason, over the past few years, we have equipped many bikes with SRAM road shifters combined with mountain bike rear derailleurs, allowing the use of cassettes with cogs as big as 36 teeth. Because SRAM’s road and mountain derailleurs work off the same cable pull, they work well together. More recently, SRAM has introduced “WiFLi” rear road specific derailleurs that can accommodate a cassette with a largest cog of 32 teeth without use of a mountain derailleur. Alberto Contador routinely rides with this new derailleur, giving him the option to put on a cassette offering lower gearing for the most difficult Pro Tour climbs such as the Angliru in the Vuelta. So, even the pros are moving away from the old machismo of grinding big gears.
But, what if you want wide ratio gearing and you have Shimano Di2? The challenge is that, unlike SRAM, you cannot just use a Shimano mountain bike rear derailleur with Shimano road shifters as the cable pull is different between the two products. The introduction of the new gearing options with Ultegra 6800 11 speed should partially solve the gearing limitations that Shimano has versus SRAM right now.
But what do you do if you currently own Shimano ten speed road components and want to run wider range gearing for regular riding or the BUMPS hill climbs? For riders looking for wide ratio gearing for Shimano Di2, there is the aftermarket. K-Edge will modify your Shimano derailleur and install a new, longer cage (Note: We stock and can install this conversion on your derailleur at Fit Werx as of 2015). This will allow your current Shimano derailleur to use cassettes with cogs of up to 36 teeth with your Shimano STI road shifters. We have done this conversion for a number of our clients, with universal praise for the product. The photo shows a client’s bike, equipped with Ultegra Di2, that was just converted by K-Edge. The extended cage is a beautiful piece of workmanship; the derailleur cage is quite beefy, to handle the stresses the longer cage imposes on the derailleur. This was the third Di2 rear derailleur we have had modified by K-Edge, and the longer cage had no effect whatsoever on the quality of the electronic shifting – it still worked great.
Combine a 36 tooth cassette cog with a 34 front chainring on a compact crank, and Lincoln Gap will (almost) be a piece of cake! Don’t hesitate to ask us about this conversion – we’d be happy to assist and help make your bike pedal easier than ever!