I like a challenge when it comes to cycling, especially where hills are concerned. I’ve ridden up most of the hills that are in cycling distance from my house, some I can still only do (and can only ever imagine myself doing) on the mountain bike with its very low gearing, some I have battled up on the cyclocross bike with the mostly-road gearing, some I really wanted to and tried to get up on the cyclocross bike but was defeated, so I cheated – I bought lower gears! The cyclocross bike came with an 11-28 cassette, all fine and well, but after having gone to an 11-32 cassette I may never look back, that extra few teeth in the lowest gear was enough to enable me to get up those climbs that had previously defeated me, what’s more I frequently don’t use that 32 tooth gear as I’ve become so used to 28, the 32 is there as a reserve in case things get really tough for me. This has worked brilliantly for me and, coupled with removing the clipless pedals, given me the confidence to tackle longer and steeper hills that I might otherwise have bailed on, thus I get even stronger in the legs and lungs for even better hill climbing. It’s all about what works for you, and this definitely works for me right now.
There are a few YouTube videos on the subject of fitting an 11-32 cassette to a Shimano 105 group set, the key factor seems to be the medium cage derailleur, which fortunately for me my bike already had; the short cage is easy to recognise because it looks really short, the jockey wheels are very close together. With the medium cage 105 derailleur there is just enough gap between the top jockey wheel and the 32 tooth sprocket on the cassette to allow the gears to operate without interfering with one another. I can testify that I haven’t had any trouble with gear shifting or pedalling, I just had to adjust the positioning screw fully in to move the derailleur downwards away from the cassette. It even works fine on the 46T chain ring, though I try not to ride in that configuration, it is better to use the smaller chain ring (36T here) when in lower gears on the cassette.
Shimano 105 medium cage derailleur with 11-32 cassette
Gap between the top jockey wheel and the 32 tooth sprocket is minimal but just enough for free movement and perfect operation
A new chain is always recommended when fitting a new cassette, plus it was a different cassette so the chain length would be longer; I went for a good quality KMC chain. I kept my old chain and cassette to one side in case I need them at a later date.
Unfortunately after fitting the new cassette and chain, and feeling rather pleased with myself that it was all working smoothly, I noticed a click-tok-tick on my next ride out, most annoying! Having just fitted a new 11-32 cassette and chain, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t the chain rings that were causing the problem – perhaps they were worn and the new chain wasn’t sitting on it correctly? Maybe there was a tooth snagging the chain as it went round? Experience now tells me that there are other things to check before spending money on parts but I am still relatively new to home bike maintenance.
The new chain rings are the same ratio that I took off but look much more snazzy, they were purchased online from Spa Cycles.
New chain rings from Spa Cycles. 46T/36T BCD/110mm 7075/T6
The annoying click-tok-tick was still there, slightly different but definitely there. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to remove the crank and bottom bracket, something that I have never done before, but this seemed like the only thing left to check. I ordered a tool to remove the MegaEVO BB Cups (identifiable by their rounded front profile, the official FSA tool is a closed ring spanner and I would not want to use anything else for risk of slipping or otherwise damaging the slots and/or bike frame) to check the bearings and once that arrived set to removing the bottom bracket. This turned out to be far easier than I had imagined, it just took a large Allen/hex key, a bit of leverage, and a big rubber mallet to tap the crank arm out. Inside I found the orange shaft did indeed have some tiny pieces of grit on it, as did the cup bearing surfaces, so after plenty of careful cleaning with dry paper towels later I simply reversed the process to replace the crank shaft and tighten it all up, the torque amount isn’t that important so long as it’s good and tight, as this is an alloy frame not carbon – if I was tightening anything into carbon then I would definitely use the correct torque.
Test ride and the click-tok-tick is gone!