Riding a mountain bike is a lot of fun, and going up and down trails is always a pleasure. However, something that comes alongside mountain biking is the everchanging advancements in technology. We are often asked about upgrades and what is and isn’t possible.
In this article, we’re going to answer one of our commonly answered questions which is, can I convert my mountain bike groupset from a 10 speed to a 12 speed, and is it even worth doing?
What do extra speeds give me?
The simple answer is you get two extra speeds, but this doesn’t necessarily make your riding easier, depending on how you change it. This can either give you more options or give you more gears to use.
One advantage of extra speeds is that you have more options. For example, you have an 11-34 cassette. Between 11 and 34, you have 10 options. You could have a 12-speed 11-34, and the only difference is between 11-34. You have 12 options.
An old Shimano Deore cassette would max out at 11-42, but the new Deore cassettes go from 10-51, which is a huge amount of extra ratio.
What are the advantages of more speeds?
The biggest advantage of extra speeds is that you have many more climbing gears. With a lower ratio cassette, you have the ability to spin up hills, and it makes climbing just much easier on the legs.
The beauty of having more options on the gearing means you can really tie in the perfect cadence and get up a hill more efficiently for you personally. Cycling groupsets are consistently giving us more speeds, and sometimes it can be the competitive edge that you might need.
Higher Resale Value
When buying a bike, many people look at the frame, the wheels, and the groupset. The groupset is always judged on by how many speeds it has. If you sell a bike with a 12-speed groupset, it is modern and leaves the new owner with up-to-date parts.
Better, more modern Technology
New derailleurs have better technology than older derailleurs, such as better clutch options and much more adjustability.
What will I need to change?
There are a couple of ways from going to 10-speed to 12-speed. Generally, many companies will sell this as a kit you can purchase, but you can do this on your and, and in this article, we will run through everything you are going to need.
The first thing you will need is a derailleur. More than likely, your old ten speed derailleur is going to struggle to work across a 12-speed cassette. Some of the old derailleurs do, but you miss out on gears as they are only indexed for 10 speeds, not 12.
When doing this conversion, you will need a new cassette. This is what is going to give you the extra 2 speeds. I would advise you to go for a cassette larger than your previous one to make the conversion worth doing. If you go to the same speed cassette, all you will get is more options.
Many people tend to use the original 1X chainring, but you will have to check to ensure it is correct and compatible. Even if it is, you might want to have everything new, and since you are changing a lot of the groupset, it might be worth changing the chainring too.
The 12-speed chains need to be thinner on groupsets to ensure they can go across the cassette and click in smoothly. You will need a new chain, and even if yours is compatible, it’s not good practice to put an old chain on a new cassette.
Things you might need to change
Although most companies do offer cassettes to accommodate for most wheels, you are going to want to check that the cassette will fit before you make a purchase.
We highly advise changing the inners and outers of the cables to ensure the system works properly.
What Parts Should I use?
We personally think the best way to go is to buy a full kit, and you have a few different options to choose from currently on the market. The best value for money groupsets currently are;
We highly recommend going for a big well-known brand. When you get cheaper copies, they just don’t tend to last as long and can end up facing issues that in bigger companies wouldn’t have got past quality control.
Can you upgrade from 10-speed to 12-speed on your MTB? You sure can, and it does come with many excellent advantages. It’s much easier to do than road or gravel groupsets and should always be an option before a complete groupset change.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.