Since my initial construction of the cassette I’ve done a couple of weekend rides with my intended load. And this last weekend I received the Miche 14 tooth first position sprocket mentioned on the first page, which I fitted to the cassette. So my final set of sprockets in the cassette are:
The 14 tooth sprocket doesn’t make a huge difference over the 13 – it’s still a fraction too high a gear for riding on the flat, unless I was on someone’s wheel. And when I’m in France there certainly will be times when I’m riding with a few guys trying to complete a Tdf stage before dark. In those situations having the tight block of 14-15-16-17-18 will be handy.
The issue of having slightly mismatched hyperglide ramps (the little indentations in the sprockets that assist the chain moving from one sprocket to the next) isn’t really a big problem. The only real side effect of this is that sometimes the chain will shift with a bit more of a clunk than normal. This isn’t severe enough for me to bother doing anything about it. I have read that you can adjust (ie make bigger) the small keyway on the sprocket where it mates to the cassette to allow the sprockets to be rotated to different positions and line up the ramps properly, but I can’t be bothered.
Having done a couple of loaded rides I can say that I really like this cassette. It has the range I need for getting up big hills, but also has the tightly spaced higher gears that make it much easier to find a comfortable cadence and get into a good spin. I consider this experiment to be a success.