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  1. #1
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    A handful of drivetrain questions from a new rider

    Hello everyone, I'm Mick. I've been on-and-off bikes my whole life, but just seriously started getting into mountain biking in February. I went out and bought myself a Trek 4300 hard tail which has been serving me nicely for these few months.

    I'm just starting to upgrade it (not necessarily because I need to, but because I feel like it's a good way to learn and it's also exciting) and what I'm looking at now is the drivetrain. I get a lot of noise coming from the rear when I'm going fast over rough stuff, and sometimes I can feel my chain skipping or slipping when I start pedaling again. I always feel guilty every time this happens because it's like my drivetrain is calling out my name, "Please Mick, you're hurting us!"

    I've looked into threads about chain slap (as I've discovered is the name for this) and have found a million different answers. I also asked a guy in a local shop and he told me I could get a derailleur with a clutch on it, or get a bash guard / chain guide. These seem to be like the most prevalent answers out there.

    I've now got a handful of specific questions that I couldn't find answers to.

    So before we go on, here are the drivetrain stats for my bike, as posted on the Trek website:
    Shifters: Shimano Acera, 9 speed
    Front derailleur: Shimano Acera
    Rear derailleur: Shimano Acera
    Crank: Shimano Acera, 44/32/22
    Cassette: Shimano HG20 11-34, 9 speed




    Now, I found a new Shadow Plus XT for a nice price on Pinkbike which got me really excited because I heard this is one of the best out there. However, this is for a 10-spd cassette which obviously isn't compatible with what I have now. No worries though, I just have a few questions about this:

    1. I have a 9-spd now, so when looking for a 10-spd cassette is there anything specific I need to buy for this derailleur or would any 10-spd work. What number or feature should I be looking for?

    2. Running a 3x10 seems unconventional and unnecessary and I intend to end up at 2x10. However, will 3x10 work until I can replace the chainset or do I need to replace both at the same time?

    Speaking of the chainset... My chainset now is a 44/32/22 - I never even use the high gear, and sometimes it gets dashed against logs or rocks that I go over, chipping or otherwise damaging the teeth. This also makes me feel bad...

    3. If I wanted to convert to a 2x10, could I just take my biggest chainring off the crank and possibly replace it with a bash guard? Is that a thing? Or would I need to buy a whole new crankset?

    4. If the answer is 'yes' to taking off my largest chainring and replacing it with a bash guard - would I need a new front derailleur or could I just run my old 3-spd front derailleur and just never shift it into 3rd?

    I think that's all I have for now, but your answers may just present more questions to me. Thank you in advance for your help!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treefort View Post

    1. I have a 9-spd now, so when looking for a 10-spd cassette is there anything specific I need to buy for this derailleur or would any 10-spd work. What number or feature should I be looking for?

    2. Running a 3x10 seems unconventional and unnecessary and I intend to end up at 2x10. However, will 3x10 work until I can replace the chainset or do I need to replace both at the same time?

    Speaking of the chainset... My chainset now is a 44/32/22 - I never even use the high gear, and sometimes it gets dashed against logs or rocks that I go over, chipping or otherwise damaging the teeth. This also makes me feel bad...

    3. If I wanted to convert to a 2x10, could I just take my biggest chainring off the crank and possibly replace it with a bash guard? Is that a thing? Or would I need to buy a whole new crankset?

    4. If the answer is 'yes' to taking off my largest chainring and replacing it with a bash guard - would I need a new front derailleur or could I just run my old 3-spd front derailleur and just never shift it into 3rd?

    I think that's all I have for now, but your answers may just present more questions to me. Thank you in advance for your help!
    I first want to address the Chainslap problem. When going down rocky/bumpy descents, it is better to have your large (44) chainring engaged. This takes away slack in the drivetrain so that it wont slap.
    Your Acera components are pretty low end, but some of them you can make do with.

    FYI, I am a pretty firm believer of if it isn't broke, dont fix it.

    1. 9 Speed is fine. If your cassette on the back has lots of wear, it might make sense to upgrade to 10 speed. Otherwise sticking with 9 speed will save you money.

    2. 3x10 might be a bit overkill but many like it. It give you a huge range to work with. 2x10, 1x10, 1x11 seem to be the way that the industry is pushing. 3x9 has a great range as well and 2x9 would even be usable. You can do it cheap and have your derailleur/shifter set up differently or you can do it the right way and get new shifters/derailleurs.

    3/4. Yes you can replace the large chainring with a bash guard. Again, proper setup necessary.

    If you are set on 2x10 then I would suggest buying the full group set (shifters, derailleurs, crankset, cassette) But then you are spending a bit of money on a cheaper bike.

    My advice would be upgrade the derailleurs to some older XTR 3x9 and maybe upgrade the shifters. that would make a huge difference.

  3. #3
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    Oh! I hadn't been told to ride on my large chainring while doing downhill, but it makes so much sense! I will definitely try that out first. I'm virtually always on my second chainring, in gear 2x7 or 2x8 and haven't tried anything else.



    edit: Could you elaborate on the "proper setup" of removing my third ring and replacing it with a bash guard from question 3/4? I'm a pretty technically inclined person, but don't have much experience on setting up bike components myself (other than replacing my pedals a couple weeks ago). If I decided to, is this something I could do without much trouble, or should I bring it to the shop?

    Also, if I removed my big ring would it behoove me to take some links off my chain since I wouldn't be needing the slack for the big ring? Additionally, do 2-ring setups generally have a larger big ring than 32?

  4. #4
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    That should take care of some of the chainslap.

    For shifting issues you can upgrade to SLX or older XT or XTR components.

    I personally am running a full XTR/XT setup from a couple years ago that is 3x9. It shifts like butter. I also like having the big chainring for when I ride with my wife. We are usually at a slower pace and I try to use it the whole ride to get better strength training.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treefort View Post
    Oh! I hadn't been told to ride on my large chainring while doing downhill, but it makes so much sense! I will definitely try that out first. I'm virtually always on my second chainring, in gear 2x7 or 2x8 and haven't tried anything else.


    edit: Could you elaborate on the "proper setup" of removing my third ring and replacing it with a bash guard from question 3/4? I'm a pretty technically inclined person, but don't have much experience on setting up bike components myself (other than replacing my pedals a couple weeks ago). If I decided to, is this something I could do without much trouble, or should I bring it to the shop?

    Also, if I removed my big ring would it behoove me to take some links off my chain since I wouldn't be needing the slack for the big ring? Additionally, do 2-ring setups generally have a larger big ring than 32?
    Yes, itll be adavantagous to remove some of your links if converting to a 2x X setup, honestly though its not worth converting unless you plan on changing your gear ratio in the front.

    Like moefosho said, getting a new rear deraliuer and rear shifter will make a huge difference and you may likely not want to make any adjustments after that.

    Having your chain lightly oiled with good lube will make a good difference in shifter performance as well.

    Some advice to you is to figure out how every thing works before you start changing things.
    like Adjusting cable tension, barrel adjuster, and limit screws.

    you can also wrap an old tube around where youre getting chainslap to protect your frame and get rid of the noise.

    Also, a xt, xtr or slx chain will make a really big difference in performance as well.

    this is a good place to start:
    Park Tool Co. ParkTool Blog

  6. #6
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    The chain hitting the chain stays is totally normal and expected, more so in a 3x setup with a large cage derailleur. It sounds nasty but thats just the way it is. You could try and put a chainstay guard first as that is the cheapest and quickest solution and see if your satisfied with the noice reduction it brings. If that doesnt help, switching to to a clutch derailleur will mostly solve the problem but I think they are only compatible with 10 speed systems although I am not sure about this. Another option would be to convert to a 2x setup with a medium cage derailleur, they keep the chain line tighter and thus slap is reduced. I have a 2x10 bike with a medium cage derailleur (no clutch) coupled with a chain stay protector and it is almost stealth like with its silence when going down hill through bumpy stuff.

    Cheers

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the replies guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by toot334455 View Post
    Having your chain lightly oiled with good lube will make a good difference in shifter performance as well.

    Some advice to you is to figure out how every thing works before you start changing things.
    like Adjusting cable tension, barrel adjuster, and limit screws.

    Also, a xt, xtr or slx chain will make a really big difference in performance as well.
    I usually keep my bike and chain pretty clean - it's one of the first things I thought I should get into the habit of after I bought my bike. I have a brush, Park Tool chain cleaner, some degreaser and chain lube. I'd like a shop stand. Any other cleaning supplies/tools you would recommend?

    I spent a couple hours playing with my rear derailleur a couple weeks ago and familiarized myself with all the adjustments. The cable had a kink in it (But I didn't know that) so I spent a long time troubleshooting it and trying to get it to shift again - I learned a lot but finally gave up and brought it to the shop and they replaced my cable for me.

    I'm picking up an XT derailleur later today, grabbing a 10sp cassette and XT shifter after my next paycheck. Again, I'd like to emphasize that I'm not doing this because it's so much a needed upgrade, but that I'm also using it as a learning experience.


    One more question: If I upgrade from a 9sp cassette to a 10sp, am I going to need a new hub to accommodate it, or is it going to fit on my old one?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treefort View Post
    Thanks for the replies guys!



    I usually keep my bike and chain pretty clean - it's one of the first things I thought I should get into the habit of after I bought my bike. I have a brush, Park Tool chain cleaner, some degreaser and chain lube. I'd like a shop stand. Any other cleaning supplies/tools you would recommend?

    I spent a couple hours playing with my rear derailleur a couple weeks ago and familiarized myself with all the adjustments. The cable had a kink in it (But I didn't know that) so I spent a long time troubleshooting it and trying to get it to shift again - I learned a lot but finally gave up and brought it to the shop and they replaced my cable for me.

    I'm picking up an XT derailleur later today, grabbing a 10sp cassette and XT shifter after my next paycheck. Again, I'd like to emphasize that I'm not doing this because it's so much a needed upgrade, but that I'm also using it as a learning experience.


    One more question: If I upgrade from a 9sp cassette to a 10sp, am I going to need a new hub to accommodate it, or is it going to fit on my old one?
    hub will work, make sure you grab a 10 speed chain though

    10 speed cassette on 9 speed hub?

  9. #9
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    A handful of drivetrain questions from a new rider

    How about this:

    1- get the XT Shadow+ rear derailleur but use it on your 9-speed cassette and 9-speed shifter. This will work fine.

    2- replace your big ring (44) with a bash guard, and set your Front Derailleur limit screw for 2x9 operation. Keep both your front and rear 9-speed shifters. Shorten your chain. Between this and the new rear derailleur, chain slap will disappear.

    3- if you miss your big ring, change your 32 tooth ring to a 34 or 36. You may need a new Shimano 2x9 "SLX" front derailleur to make this as crisp as possible, but probably your existing 3x9 front derailleur will work fine.

    LBS will know how to do this all for less than $150, if you already have the rear derailleur.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott In MD View Post
    How about this:

    1- get the XT Shadow+ rear derailleur but use it on your 9-speed cassette and 9-speed shifter. This will work fine.

    ...snip....
    9 spd shifters and cassette need a 9 speed RD.

    A 10 spd Shimano mtb RD needs a 10 spd Shimano shifter.
    Last edited by mitzikatzi; 05-06-2013 at 09:51 PM.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by toot334455 View Post
    hub will work, make sure you grab a 10 speed chain though

    10 speed cassette on 9 speed hub?
    Thank you! I hadn't even thought of that! -Phew- I'm glad you said something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott In MD View Post
    How about this:

    1- get the XT Shadow+ rear derailleur but use it on your 9-speed cassette and 9-speed shifter. This will work fine.

    2- replace your big ring (44) with a bash guard, and set your Front Derailleur limit screw for 2x9 operation. Keep both your front and rear 9-speed shifters. Shorten your chain. Between this and the new rear derailleur, chain slap will disappear.

    3- if you miss your big ring, change your 32 tooth ring to a 34 or 36. You may need a new Shimano 2x9 "SLX" front derailleur to make this as crisp as possible, but probably your existing 3x9 front derailleur will work fine.

    LBS will know how to do this all for less than $150, if you already have the rear derailleur.
    2 and 3 answer questions I had - Thank you! That sounds just about perfect. What does LBS mean?

    However, 1 seems to have some controversy, haha.


    Quote Originally Posted by mitzikatzi View Post
    9 spd shifters and cassette need a 9 speed RD.

    A 10 spd RD needs a 10 spd shifter.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treefort View Post
    Thank you! I hadn't even thought of that! -Phew- I'm glad you said something.



    2 and 3 answer questions I had - Thank you! That sounds just about perfect. What does LBS mean?

    However, 1 seems to have some controversy, haha.
    There is no controversy. It doesn't work. 9 and 10 speed Shimano RD have different pull ratios and require the matching shifter.

    Yes there are some mods that might let it work.
    Surprise surprise this question is asked often. Use the search function.
    also look here
    Dyna Sys 10 speed compatability with 9 speed (Shimano systems) a sticky
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  13. #13
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    A handful of drivetrain questions from a new rider

    My bad.

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    How goes the progress?

  15. #15
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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead!

    Quote Originally Posted by XyesterdayX View Post
    How goes the progress?
    Got myself a shiny new derailleur from an upstanding gentleman on Pinkbike. Waiting for more paychecks to pick up the other parts - I've got another mtb from the 90s that my mom used to ride that I think I'll throw on my old 9-spd parts. It's currently only 8-spd and the rear derailleur is in really bad shape. It should be fun.

    edit: I would like to confirm, however, that moefosho's advice to keep my biggest chain ring engaged when doing rocky and rooty downhill has helped a lot with the noise problem, further confirming that I don't actually need this upgrade.

    A handful of drivetrain questions from a new rider-e5g2ha3.jpg

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