One of the most important decisions you can make as a cyclist is determining which rear cassette to install on your bike. So we will start with a discussion on what differentiates the different sizes and then talk about how to make the appropriate choice.
What do those numbers mean?
All new Bacchetta recumbents come with an 11 speed cassette. These cassettes range in size from 11-32t, 11-36t to 11-42t. When looking at cassette sizes, the smaller number tells you the highest gear that will provide the hardest resistance when pedaling. The large number tells you the lowest gear available.
All three options have the same 11t high gear, so all will provide the same highest gear. The range of low gears, however, spans about 31% from 32t to 42t. This means that if you choose the 36t instead of a 32t, you will have one additional low gear. If you choose the 42t, you will have two lower gears over the 32t and one lower gear over the 36t.
The only downsides to choosing the wider range are (a) that you will have bigger jumps between gears, and (b) the cassette will weigh a little more. In our experience, neither of these issues are of much concern to recreational cyclists.
Cassettes for different kinds of riding
To choose the correct size, you need to consider your riding terrain. If you are in the predominantly flat terrain outside of Albany (above), for example, the 11-32t cassette will probably be more than adequate. If your cycling takes you into gently rolling terrain, the 11-36t will be your best bet. If you regularly cycle to the top of Gonzales Pass (2631ft., below), the 11-42t is a great option.
Cassette choices are critical!
Choices in shifters will also affect your cassette choice. If you use bar end shifters, you are limited to the 11-32t or 11-36t cassette. The Force 22 rear derailleur used with these shifters just isn't up to the task of reaching the 42t cog. If you have grip shifters, your ideal choices are 11-36t or 11-42t. The GX rear derailleur will also shift with the 11-32t cassette, but it isn't ideal.
In addition to looking at cassette size, it is important to choose the appropriate chainring sizes. We cover that in a different article.
If you have any questions about cassette sizes, please feel free to reach out to us! We look forward to building your next recumbent.