Table of contents
Let’s check the hub type of the wheel.
The hub type of a bicycle wheel with multi-speed capability is
- cassette free
- 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.
- 11-speed wheel
- 10-speed (8, 9, 10-speed) wheel
- 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.
- larger spacer in the low side => 10 speed (8, 9, 10 speed) wheel
- 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.