This article explains how to convert your compo to 11-speed while keeping your existing 10-speed wheels, and how to tell the difference between 10-speed wheels and 11-speed wheels. Using this method, you can convert your wheels to 11-speed while making the most of the wheels you already have.
Table of contents
How to tell if your wheel is a 10-speed or 11-speed wheel
There are three types of wheels available for 8 to 11 speeds.
10-speed dedicated wheel
8 to 10 speed wheel
To tell them apart, check for the presence or absence of spacers.
If the wheel is an 11-speed wheel, spacers will be included if it is equipped with an 8, 9, or 10-speed sprocket (two spacers of 1mm + 1.85mm for a 10-speed wheel).
If you have a 10-speed-only wheel, it should have a 10-speed sprocket without spacers, so it’s easy to understand. 10-speed-only wheels will not fit in any other speed except 10.
On the other hand, for 8-10 speed wheels, no spacers are required for 8th and 9th gear, and 1mm spacers are required for 10th gear.
How to check the wheel spacers
As the name “low spacer” implies, wheel spacers are generally put in the low side (in some cases, in the top side). So, look at the free body from the back side of the sprocket to see if there is a spacer.
The thin gray part in the photo above is the spacer.
In this example, the 1.85mm spacer is engaged in order to install a 9-speed sprocket on the rear wheel of a Shimano WH-R100, which is an 11-speed wheel.
Shimano Free and Spacer Compatibility Chart
Let’s make a table for easy understanding.
The table below shows the spacers required for 10-speed (8-10 speed compatible wheels) and 11-speed wheels depending on the number of sprocket steps.
8-10 speed wheel
10 speed only wheel
11 speed wheel
1mm + 1.85mm spacer
This chart shows, for example, that if you are currently using a 9-speed sprocket
10-speed wheel without spacer
If it has a spacer, it is an 11-speed wheel.
If you have a spacer in your wheel, you will be able to tell if it is a 10-speed or 11-speed wheel.
Using an 11-speed sprocket for 10-speed wheels
Shimano’s 105 and ULTEGRA road components are available with 11-speed sprockets that can be installed on 10-speed wheels.
We have seen how to convert a 10-speed wheel to 11-speed without changing the wheel.
It’s been more than 10 years since they were first introduced in June 2008, and 11-speed wheels have become the norm for higher grades. If you have an inexpensive wheel that comes with an entry-level bike, you can take the opportunity to upgrade to an 11-speed wheel, but if you already have a higher grade wheel that is designed for 10-speed, you may be hesitant to upgrade to 11-speed.
However, if you already have a 10-speed wheel, you may be hesitant to upgrade to 11-speed. However, if you use the method described in this article, you may be able to make use of your 10-speed wheel while upgrading to 11-speed depending on the conditions.
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