Trying out a new Shimano Ultegra 11-34 Cassette – almost certainly overkill but what the heck, I’ll try it out…


Whilst we were in Gran Canaria a couple of weeks ago, John Watts hired a Cannondale bike from Free Motion with an 11-34 cassette on it. He seemed to be shooting up hills spinning them out very nicely indeed. My southern cycling mate, Andy, had already mentioned this cassette to me as I was not aware of a cassette larger than 11-32 before and was wondering about trying it on sportives himself.

It got me curious and I wondered how it might fare on sportives with very steep hill sections. I’m happy to do these with 11-32 but if it’s a very long ride too, I was thinking this might help. I like tinkering and trying new things so knew I had to take a look!

It was easily fitted to my Sram Red Etap HRD setup on my Roubaix but I did need a longer B-screw, wich the fabulous Nova Cycles in Newport kindly sorted out for me.

Ideally, I also need 2 more chain links but I’ll worry about that another time as I’m not planning on riding 11-34 all of the time (in fact will only be using it when required as 11-32 is more than ok for normal riding and sportives).

With the first two rides under my belt with the new cassette on I can report that it’s not a lot, if at all different to the 11-32 I’m used to, except it has the obvious extra “granny” gear as a “Get Out Of Jail” option on steep hills.

Sounds obvious, but I was expecting a more pronounced progression between the gears as they are more spread out than the 11-32, but I guess it’s only an extra 2 teeth so the other rings are probably pretty much the same, if not identical (I’ve not checked yet!) as the 11-32.