Today’s question is about switching to a Shimano Mega Range cassette on a road bike…

Old lady who lives in hills near Scotland is thinking of buying Specialized Vita Comp. Is it possible to change gears to mega range (34)? Can’t get straight answer from shop.

Mrs. Watson

Hi Mrs. Watson,

Looking at the 2010 Vita Comp on the Specialized website, I see it comes with a Shimano HG-50, 9-speed, 12-25t cassette with a triple chainring crankset.

That triple crankset is going to give you some very low gears already. If you haven’t ridden the bike yet, you might want to try it as-is and see how it works!

If you know that you need lower gearing, yes, it would be possible to change it by getting a new cassette. The easiest way would be to use a 9-speed 11-34t mountain bike cassette as a replacement.

[Note: Shimano’s “MegaRange” is a term for their old freewheels with a big 34 tooth cog. You just want to get a wider range cassette than what typically comes on road bikes.]

Look for a “Shimano Deore HG 9-Speed 11-34 Cassette” or similar. There’s one on Amazon for $27, and a much nicer Shimano XT cassette for $70. Both of these are available in the 11-34 gear range.

But that’s not the end of the story. Switching to a cassette with a larger cog might require a few changes to the rest of the drivetrain to get everything working properly.

This might include a new rear derailleur with a longer cage (like one for a mountain bike), plus adding a few links to the chain. You can find a Shimano Deore rear derailleur for $40 on Amazon.

The good news is, those are easy changes for any bike shop to make.

It shouldn’t cost too much or take too long for the switch, either.

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