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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi - I'm considering buying a very lightly used 2003 Litespeed Siena that currently has an Ultegra 53/39 crank with a 12-23 9 speed cassette (and a complete Ultegra drivetrain and shifters).

I would like to get some lower gears for trips to the Vermont mountains, so I'd like to get the Ultegra 50/34 compact crank and a 12-27 9 or 10 speed. Is this possible without major changes to items other than the crank and cassette?

Thanks for the help!
 

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You've got it. That's all you've got to do. Although, the shimano compact will need a different bottom bracket than your older setup, assuming you currently have an ultegra 9 crank.

Also, in order to change from a 9 speed cassette to a 10, you'll also have to change the shifter (to index with 10 speeds) and the chain. Otherwise, just stick with a 12-27 9 speed cassette, and the shimano compact cranks with the appropriate bottom bracket. Of course, if you're doing new cassette and cranks, I'd go ahead and get a new chain, unless your old one was pretty new.

The only compact crank I'd ever consider using other than the shimano unit, is the FSA Gossamer. Don't even think about the carbon models. Their clamping design is different, and in practice, inferior. (My opinion, and yes, I've owned them all.)

That and a slight adjustment of your current front mech in order to match the new ring profiles, and you're good to go.
 

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The shift to a 10 speed from 9 will require: shifters, cassette, chain and rear derailleur. The new RD will work for 9 speed but the older 9 speed won't work for 10.
 

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A 9sp rear derailleur will work with 10sp shifters and cassette. The cranks which use a traditional BB instead of MegaExo have a reliable joining system. Those include FSA Carbon Pro and Ritchey. It's only the MegaExo ones that suck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks. So, it looks like my best bet is to replace:

- Ultegra or FSA Gossamer compact crank
- bottom bracket
- Ultegra 12-27 9 speed
- new chain

That sounds like a pricey upgrade, but I think that's what I'll have to do.
 

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second the ritchey....

done that conversion on two bikes, total no-brainer. bolt onto existing octalink bottom bracket, lower the front derailleur slightly and re-trim, remove a link from the chain. that's it. and if you're going to a larger cassette (great idea, btw) you don't need to shorten your chain. go for it, you won't regret it. the ritchey cranks are very nicely made, more than likely by sugino. i put a pro on one bike and a wcs on another. both are quite nice.
 

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You should only need to replace the bottom bracket and crankset (obviously, cassette too, if you want). Ultegra 9-speed shifters were 2/3 compatible, so you shouldn't need to replace thoser. Shimano's compact crankset was designed to use all your existing stuff. I've performed the identical swap dozens of times and haven't found any issues with it at all, except on frames with a front derailleur braze-on mount. Sometimes, it can be difficult to get the front derailleur low enough. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
What would I look for on the frame to see if the front derailleur can't go low enough? I'm taking it into my mechanic before buying later today anyway, but I'd like to give it a look too. Thanks.
 

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You may not need to change the cassette and chain at all. A 34 inner ring will give you nearly 13% lower gearing.

I smashed my ankle several years ago, so I can't get as fit as I'd like to be, nor push as hard as I'd like. Yet I was able to climb the Ghisallo on 34/25 without really needing to get out of the saddle. Most of the way I was in the 17 & 19. It was only on the 1km of 14% I went into th 23, and the 25 stayed unused.
 

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I was only suggesting a chain swap since he was planning to pop on new rings and cogs anyhow. I'd be a shame to wear in brand new gears by trying to save a chain that had significant mileage/stretch. Length should be a toss up. We don't know how tight or loose his chain is now, so it's impossible to say if it'll need to be adjusted.

Props to those who suggested octalink compact cranks. Saving a BB is a nice plus, and the ritchey cranks are real cost-savers if I remember right.

Sorry JimP, you're wrong about the rear mech.

Edmundtan: The only integrated cranksets that are fussy are those that use one bolt to pull it all together. I have used them, and still do use some of them - but it took many miles to get the thing right and to get it to the point where it was no longer needing to be tightened up every few rides. The shimano design works great, as well as the FSA gossamer (which is different than the SL-K and K-Force). I've also heard/had good experiences with the truvativ. The SL-K and K-force type designs (includes raceface) also seem to work well, but take more setup involvement. Facing to a perfect width, and then shimming and spacing the whole rig to get it just right. But, if you want to throw all integrated designs into the same category, and rely on octalink until someday when shimano decides to stop making octalink brackets, then go ahead. (I can't really point the finger, because although I have mostly integrated systems on my bikes, my road bike relies on octalink in order to use the SRM setup. I'm stockpiling good octalink BBs now, as I fear it won't be but another few years before only cheap ones are available...)
 

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i just measured my frame, from the 53t related grime mark down to where the front derailleur now resides. you need to lower it a whopping 4mm. i'm sure your frame will accomodate that.

and yeah, a nine speed setup, 34-50 driving a 12-27, is an awesome combination. that will get you up pretty much anything you'll care to ride.
 
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