Why am I running 9-46t MTB?

A year ago, I committed to the E*Thirteen TRS 9-46t cassette. And I still think it’s awesome. I was running an 11-speed for XC racing with a 38 in the front and was pretty comfortable with Utah racing on that setup. I wasn’t fast, but no mechanical advantage was ever going to make me an expert or elite podium finisher.

So i decided to run a similar system on my new bike. Except I got smart and threw a 36t at first and now a 34t chainring.

With SRAM releasing the 10-52 and E*thirteen also offering the 9-50, i ask myself, what am I missing?
Is it buzz or did i miss the mechanical advantage somewhere and I am just torturing myself?
keep in mind that any coach will tell you the 50/52 is no really your super steep climber. it doesn’t generate enough torque so you end up in the 2nd or 3rd cog anyway. (is this a bad assumption)?
So what good is your 50 or 52? is it just for when you’re blasted and need to spin out on a fairly steep section?
Also, I’m not a power monster at, 3.2 or 3.3 w/kg.
bottom line, I am considering getting the 9-50 and putting it on a wheelset to have as, perhaps, my XC Marathon setup. Reindexing, notwithstanding.

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I just changed from a 10-45, to 10-51 cassette on my Shimano drive train. Make the leap. lol, pun intended. Is it night and day? No, but it’s still definitely nice to feel like the bail out gear is actually a bail out gear. I’ll be wearing out the 51 for sure. Most of my rides it wasn’t a big deal but there’s one climb in particular that was wearing me out, hoping the 51 allows me to maybe clear some sections I haven’t yet.

I’m at 4w/kg and still use my 50t, although rarely, but I do. Pretty good for very steep stuff if I need to just crawl up and save my legs for the hills ahead.

On the topic of E13 cassettes, I’ve not heard any praise for them from anyone I know personally using them. The consensus I’ve gotten is they shift worse than SRAM, which is a feat really

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Bad assumption. There are climbs that are 20-25% grade or more that I would be glad to have a 50t for if I was regularly spending time on them.

Mechanical advantage comes from a larger front chainring which causes less chain curl and a lack of cross chaining for the middle of the cassette and is roughly 1-3w depending on how much power you are putting out.

Gear yourself for usable range. Generally speaking there is no reason to upsize your front chainring unless you are really looking for marginal gains.

(begin the part where I don’t follow my own advice)

I run a 36t with a 10-45t because I want a tighter ratio and I was literally never using the 50t. I really disliked the jumps on the Shimano 10-51 but I’m keeping it as a backup for super steep days.

I think it hugely dpeends where you ride.

I run an Eagle 10-50 at the rear with a 34 front.

In the UK I never went near the 50t, however a trip to the alps had me spending alot of time in it wishing I have a 32 front ring.

Wow. So no one thinks I should stick with what i have? I was hoping for a little opposing points of view. I guess there’s consensus, though.

Your gearing is really going to be about YOU and YOUR terrain.

I am not the fastest guy around, but I do race Elite. I use my 32/50 a lot on my big bike, and my 34/51 fairly often on my XC bike.


I use my 52t for MTB :100: where you must conserve energy on punchy hills. 400-500w in the beginning hours will come at the expense in hours 6, 7 and 10.


What you run is up to you. Makes no difference to the setups of others. It’s what works for you that’s key.

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Not sure where you heard this. If your bike is geared appropriately for the terrain you’re riding, you’ll use all cassette cogs.

I have a 32 front ring, 10-50 cassette. I use the 50 tooth quite a bit for sustained climbs in the Colorado mountains.

If you are looking for different setups for your bike, considering picking the cassette, and adjusting the chain rings, vs having two cassettes. Cheaper and easier IMO to go with this approach.

I run 9-46 with a 34 up front. I never find myself wanting an easier gear, if anything I feel like the cadence gets absurd…maybe I’m just not experienced enough?
I’m in Philadelphia area and we have some fairly technical steep stuff around here.

WISS!!! Who are you, let’s ride! I’m over in 19116

Sorry too excited to see another local

Haha I’m in mount airy, I can throw a rock to access the Wiss :slight_smile:
We should probably make a plan to ride!

My best MTB buddy is moving to FL, and most of the guys I know I can’t hang with at Wiss. Typically ride Core Creek, Neshaminy, lots of Pennypack last year. Road trips to White Clay and 6 mile run and Nox are on the horizon. Too

I’m super spoiled having such easy access to the wiss, so I ride almost exclusively there when I mtb. I’ve been riding on the road much more since the pandemic started because the trails suddenly became super busy with hikers. I’ll figure out how to dm you so we can talk about riding sometime.

I’ve read and listened to a bunch of opinions that suggest the 9 tooth is too small for the chain to nicely turn around. I tend to believe it as neither Shimano or SRAM have brought it out and would rather increase the range at the other end.

To me the biggest advantage of the new cassettes is being able to run a smaller chainring (or should I say more appropriate) that gives you the best range for the trails/terrain you’re riding, whilst still giving a bit more speed for the flat land.

Some of you guys must be monsters, or turn very low cadences :call_me_hand::muscle:

I’ll meet you guys at Nox. It should dry out by July…

Sorry - for the OP to stay topical. I came off 10-46 with a 36t front on my XC bike which is kept in Utah for riding in the Wasatch. Built a bike here in NJ with eagle and came with 50t. Initially thought that was excessive. But after using it to clean some steep stuff have come to learn how to use that gearing and am enjoying it.

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Starting to turn into a local linkup here! :rofl: you’re in north bucks I’m guessing? And judging by your profile pic I’m guessing you also know Grumpy Pat?

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LOL, Yes, quite well. If you can keep up with Pat you’d be waiting all day for me!

One of my backup bikes has the E13 9-46T on it and my others have a 10-50T and main XC bike now has a 10-52T. The 9-46T is fine for the riding I do in the Midwest (Ohio - Mohican, IN - Brown County) but when I go out West with those long sustained climbs the lower gearing is super helpful.

I like the added range of the 10-52T and it allows me to be more flexible with my front ring. If I don’t need ultralow gearing, then I can run a bigger front ring. If I’m going to have a long day with some huge steep long climbs, then I can adjust the front ring as needed. So it really is about terrain.

A great example is Leadville where some taller gearing on the flats is nice, but you really need the lower gearing when you hit Powerline on the way back. Even the upper portion of Powerline that most people ride is challenging, so having the 10-52T to bailout may save some walking when the legs are getting tired.

The torque argument makes sense for the really short steep technical stuff where you don’t want to spin out, but for long sustained stuff the low gearing is key.

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