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"Upgrade" Ultegra to triple difficult & expensive?(7 posts)

"Upgrade" Ultegra to triple difficult & expensive?Bob in Indiana
May 1, 2001 1:34 PM
I know the traditionlist view on triples, but my legs are getting older and my mid-section larger so in lieu of the obvious "work harder, get fitter" regimen which I have started to undertake, I wondered how difficult/expensive to change my 1999 TREK 5200 stock Ultegra double over to a triple?

Can I do it myself? (never wrenched a lot on bikes, but I'm a former auto/truck apprentice mechanic, with mechanical ability and SOME patience)

Any input from those who have done this or similar would be appreciated.

re: "Upgrade" Ultegra to triple difficult & expensive?Sydnie
May 1, 2001 2:38 PM
You need a triple crankset and new BB with spindle of correct length,and triple front derailer. Your 9 speed ultegra front will shift a triple and you can use the short cage rear derailer,but due to chain wrap limitations you will not be able to use all the small cogs when in the small ring. Not a big deal since the granny is a bailout anyway. Major tool needed is the correct shimano BB tool. Done it many times.Even the first time was a no brainer."Zinn and the art of road bike maintenance" for $20 may be helpful.
Whole 9 Yardsgrz mnky
May 1, 2001 3:03 PM
I agree with most of the above, however, I'd argue in favor of using the long cage rear der. to make things more robust. You get into the situation where either the chain will be totally slack on the small/small combo or there won't be enough chain in large/large. Neither one of these gear choices is preferred, but sometimes you wind up there. When there isn't enough chain the drive train locks up and the rear der. gets tweaked and ends up permanently bent. At this point you will be buying a new rear der., but you won't have the short cage as the spare. It's a personal philosophic thing, but I think that our machines should be fairly fool proof. Others may disagree. Bike World (, and many others, have conversion kits which include all the necessary components. A bottom bracket socket, chain whip, cassette removal tool, cable cutters, chain breaker, and 5 & 8 mm allen wrenches should be all you need -- ohh, and don't forget some quality ale.
Foolproof? no such thang......Too Many Fools
May 2, 2001 6:52 PM
re: "Upgrade" Ultegra to triple difficult & expensive?Steve Bailey
May 2, 2001 6:53 AM
Perhaps like me, you find the need for lower gears, and don't currently have the need for the 53/12 or 13 ?.

A solution I read about on had a splendid idea of swapping the crank to a 94/58 BCD mt. crank with a 44/30 chainring(s) - losing the 22 small (leaving it off the crank altogether)and swapping the rear cassette to a 11-21 or 23. Note that unlike my setup (8 speed) this only works well with a 9 speed system.

With a typical 12/23 rear and a 52/42/30 triple you have a high gear of 114 gear inches and a low of 34. With the 44/30 rings and a 11-21 (or 23 as needed) you get a high of 105 and a low of 37.

The post indicating that nothing else needed changing except removing a few chain links. Simply lowering the front derailer a bit to the smaller ring (check this first), with everything else working fine - b-bracket, rear derailer, shifters. I would supect that the chainline might need adjusting as the triple might sit a few mm further out. A spindle swap would correct this and is fairly cheap.

Figure $75 to $100 for the crank, another $15 or so for a 30 ring middle, and $45 for the cassette. Total about $150.

Other options exist with a 110BCD crank as there are better choices or chainrings available. Check out Sheldons's gear chart site to key in all the various options.

12-27 Ultregra cassetteSLM
May 2, 2001 9:16 AM
Why not try using the 12-27 Ultegra cassette? You will get a good climbing gear with the 39 chainring and the 27 cog. No need to change anything else.
re: "Upgrade" Ultegra to triple difficult & expensive?Kadshark
May 2, 2001 8:39 PM
Another option which is a bit cheaper than getting a triple --which requires a new bottom bracket, chain, crankset and new front and rear derailleurs (if you're going to do it right)-- is to get a Shimano XT long cage (Ultegra equivalent mountain bike rear derailleur), a new chain and a mountain bike rear cog set (figure 13-34 or something similar). You'll get the same range in terms of gear inches and you get to keep more of your current components. The spacing in terms of gear inches (think difficulty in pedaling) will be wider between each gear, but you'll have the same range as a triple. Of course, the other idea (putting a mountain bike ring set) is also good. You could compare prices and go with either, or go with the full triple conversion.