How to Upgrade the Wheels on a 7-Speed Bike

Posted at: May. 28, 2021

The 7-speed is used in cheap road bikes and cross bikes, and we have compiled a list of ways to upgrade from 7-speed to higher grade gears such as 8-speed, 9-speed, 10-speed, and 11-speed.

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Let’s check the hub type of the wheel.

The hub type of a bicycle wheel with multi-speed capability is

  1. cassette free
  2. boss free

There are two types of wheel hubs.

In the case of 7-speed bicycles, the cheaper the model, the more likely it is to be equipped with boss-free type wheels, so check the wheel type carefully first. If it is a boss-free type wheel, we recommend replacing it with a cassette-free type wheel in order to upgrade to 8-speed or higher.

For this article, we will assume that you are using a cassette-free type wheel.

Are you using an 11-speed wheel or a 10-speed wheel?

If your current road bike, cross bike, or MTB is a 7-speed bike, then you have two types of wheels.

  1. 11-speed wheel
  2. 10-speed (8, 9, 10-speed) wheel
  3. 7-speed dedicated wheel

Either of the following is true.

The way to determine which is which is by looking at the spacers on the low side.

Free body spacers for wheels
  1. larger spacer in the low side => 10 speed (8, 9, 10 speed) wheel
  2. no spacer on the low side => 7 speed wheel

There is no problem in judging that. The possibility is not zero, but it is very unlikely that a 7-speed bike is equipped with an 11-speed wheel.

Converting a 7-speed wheel to an 8-speed wheel

An 8-speed sprocket is 3.6 mm taller than a 7-speed sprocket, so if you try to install an 8-speed sprocket on a 7-speed wheel, the lock ring that holds the sprocket in place will not tighten. Therefore, it is necessary to replace the wheel with an 8-speed wheel or higher.

If the wheel you are currently using is a 10-speed wheel (8, 9, or 10 speed), it should have a low spacer of about 3.6mm, so you can install an 8-speed sprocket by simply removing the spacer.

Of course, you will also need to prepare the 8-speed sprocket.

Converting a 7-speed wheel to 9-speed

The sprocket of the 9-speed wheel is the same height as that of the 8-speed wheel, so it can be converted to 9-speed using the same method as for the 8-speed wheel.

Converting a 7-speed wheel to a 10-speed wheel

Since the 10-speed sprocket is designed to be 2.5mm higher than the 7-speed sprocket, a 7-speed wheel cannot be fitted with a 10-speed sprocket.

If your current wheel is a 10-speed wheel (8, 9, or 10-speed), you can convert it to a 10-speed wheel by adding 1mm + 1.85mm spacers to the low side.

7-speed wheel upgrade summary

Finally, here is a summary of all the cases.

sprocket steps 8-10 speed wheel 7 speed only wheel
8-Speed Wheel Remove and Replace Spacer Not Available
10-speed conversion Remove spacer and replace Not available
10-speed conversion Replace with 1mm spacer Not available

If you have a 7-speed-only wheel, it is not possible to upgrade to 8-speed or higher, so you should simply buy a new wheel. If you have a 10-speed wheel with spacers (8, 9, or 10 speed), you can upgrade to 8, 9, or 10 speed with or without spacers and in combination.

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