Best value Shimano cassettes

Shimano HG51 8-speed cassette
Shimano HG51 8-speed cassette

When selecting an 8-speed cassette from Shimano in 2017 we have plenty of choice. This post concentrates on finding the best value Shimano cassette. Best value to me means durable and cheap. There are cycling bargains to be had after Christmas. Why not buy what you will need in the summer when it’s on sale now.

To start with as I have a Claris road groupset on my CAAD8 I first looked at the CS-HG50 cassettes.

2017 Claris 8-speed cassettes
Shimano 8-Speed road cassettes available in 2017

However, Shimano also has 8-speed cassettes from the mountain bike dicipline.

2017 Shimano 8-speed mountain bike cassettes.
2017 Shimano 8-speed mountain bike cassettes.

HG50-8 sprocket combinations

11-13-15-17-19-21-24-28
11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30
11-13-15-18-21-24-28-32

12-13-15-17-19-21-23-25
13-14-15-17-19-21-23-26

I also found the following HG50 cassettes during my research. As these have small tooth count low gears, they are ignored here. I assume they are for a specialist application. If you know, please tell me who uses these cassettes in a comment.

12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23
13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23

HG51-8 sprocket combinations

11-13-15-17-19-21-24-28
11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30
11-13-15-18-21-24-28-32

HG41-8 sprocket combinations

11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30
11-13-15-18-21-24-28-32
11-13-15-17-20-23-26-34

HG31-8 sprocket combinations

11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30
11-13-15-18-21-24-28-32
11-13-15-17-20-23-26-34

The careful reader, may have noticed that the HG31 and HG41 sprocket combinations are identical.

Road versus Mountain Cassettes

The HG50-8 range has four close range cassettes, almost always with just 1 or 2 teeth difference between adjacent sprockets. I came from a mountain bike and commuter background. My cadence is naturally 75 – 85 rpm. Historically, I have bought wide range cassettes from Shimano’s MTB range. This discipline has 9 wide range cassettes available.

The recommended retail prices of the HG50-8 is almost double that of the and HG31-8 cassette. I tend to buy based on value, specifically considering the cost versus durability. If you buy on value then buy from shimano’s mountain bike range for your road bike. The HG51 seems the best value, continue reading for my reasoning.

The Ugly HG31-8 Cassettes

The HG31 doesn’t have a nice shiny finish that I look for in a cassette. This isn’t just for aesthetics but also for making it more obvious when I need to clean my drivetrain.

If you seldom clean your drivetrain, don’t care about road grim making your shifting slow, let your chain and cassette wear out together and then just replace both for as little cost as possible. Then the HG31 and the cheapest chain you can find is a valid choice. I’m not in this HG31 buyers category, as I like smooth shifting.

HG41 vs HG50 vs HG51 Cassettes

The HG41 and HG50 cassettes are both Nickel plated steel. The HG41 has a Manganese Phosphate (black) lock ring. The HG50 has a shiny Nickel plated lock ring. I don’t see any real difference between the HG41 and HG50 cassettes.

The HG51 cassette and lock ring are both Chrome plated. The HG51 should be more durable than other either the HG50 or HG41. This is because conventional electrolytic nickel plating is decorative, functional, and somewhat corrosion resistant but it tarnishes and it is not as hard as chromium.

Best value shimano cassettes

A quick google search in February 2017 found the following cassette recommended retail and discounted prices. Many online bike shops offer free delivery if you spend relatively low amounts (£9 – £15).

HG31    RRP £16.99 on Sale at £8.99 (Ribble)

HG41    RRP £17.99 on sale at £8.99 (Ribble / Wiggle)

HG50    RRP £29.99 on sale at £14.99 (Tredz)

HG51    RRP £19.99 on sale at £8.99 (Ribble)

Key buying points to consider…

  1. Road branded components are often charged at a premium. The HG41 and HG50 are both Nickel plated, but the HG50’s RRP is £12 more expensive.
  2. Ribble cycles have some great bargains at the moment. After Christmas when suppliers are selling off last years stock it is a great time to buy spare parts for the comming year.
  3. Ribble offer free postage if you spend £15, so why not buy two cassettes. It’s sensible to have the parts you’ll need ready at home.

I bought from Ribble Cycles

Both the HG41 and HG51 cassettes were only £8.99 each and actually ended up a little cheaper using Quidco. £8.99 makes both these cassettes great value. The HG51 is however in my opinion the best value Shimano cassette as with it’s Chrome plating it should be more durable than the HG41.

If you are a Tour de Manc registered riders there is even have a 10% discount code floating around, but I forgot to use the code. I bought two cassettes to get free delivery. I now can down gear my CAAD8, as I have the following gearing options available to me…

8-speed HG51 11-30 T
8-speed HG41 11-32 T

I plan to fit the HG41 11-32T cassette first. As I lose more weight and get stronger I suspect switching to the HG51 11-30 cassette will be a natural progression.

If Ribble had the HG51 11-32T cassette in stock I’d have gone for that one over the HG41. I can only assume other bargain hunters had snapped these up before me.

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Author: David Jackson

Hello, I'm a 38 yo cyclist trying to get healthy and set a good example for my daughter. I work for a Charity by day and in 2017 I rode my first century!

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