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  1. #1
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    Looking to upgrade drivetrain components on 2011 Rockhopper

    I purchased a 2011 Specialized Rockhopper this spring and I've been really enjoying the bike.

    When I decided to go with the Rockhopper, I went with the base model over the Comp model since I planned on upgrading most of the components at a later date and I liked the color of the base model better.

    As happy as I am with the Rockhopper, I have a few complaints and most of them are related to the drivetrain components.

    First, I really don't like the shifting of the Front Derailleur, specially when trying to shift to the bottom ring while under load. I've tried adjusting it and it seems to shift fine under normal use but as soon as I try to shift under load, it usually takes a bit to finally shift to the bottom ring.

    Second, I'm really getting a lot of chain slap from the rear derailleur moving around and also from the chain hitting the chainguard.

    Third, the shifters work OK but the SRAM shifters use your thumbs for both shifting levers and I'm used to Shimano shifters that allow you to use your index finger to shift down gears.

    Fourth, I'd like to upgrade to a 9 speed cassette since it only came with an 8 speed cassette.

    So I'm looking at upgrading the front and rear derailleurs, both shifters and the cassette.

    Here are the current specs of the bike.

    Front Derailleur: Shimano Altus
    Rear Derailleur: SRAM X5
    Shifters; SRAM X4 Triggers
    Cassette: SRAM PG-830, 8-speed, 11-32t

    For components, I'm looking for good quality components that won't break the bank. I'm not so much concerned about weight. Here's what I'm thinking for components:

    Front Derailleur: Shimano XT Front Derailleur Top Swing M770
    Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT Rear Derailleur Shadow M772
    Shifters: Shimano XT Shifters 9sp M770
    Cassette: Shimano XT Cassette 9 Speed M770

    I was also looking at the SRAM X9 rear derailleur and the SRAM PG980 Cassette instead but I'm not sure I'd like the SRAM X9 shifters.

    So any recommendation? Should I stick with the Shimano XT stuff or should I look at the SRAM X9 stuff?

    Or should I be looking at something totally different?
    Current bikes:

    2014 Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fatbike
    2012 Trek Superfly 100 AL Pro
    2011 Specialized Rockhopper

  2. #2
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    Reputation: frdfandc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kawidan View Post

    First, I really don't like the shifting of the Front Derailleur, specially when trying to shift to the bottom ring while under load. I've tried adjusting it and it seems to shift fine under normal use but as soon as I try to shift under load, it usually takes a bit to finally shift to the bottom ring.

    Second, I'm really getting a lot of chain slap from the rear derailleur moving around and also from the chain hitting the chainguard.

    Third, the shifters work OK but the SRAM shifters use your thumbs for both shifting levers and I'm used to Shimano shifters that allow you to use your index finger to shift down gears.

    Fourth, I'd like to upgrade to a 9 speed cassette since it only came with an 8 speed cassette.


    Front Derailleur: Shimano XT Front Derailleur Top Swing M770
    Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT Rear Derailleur Shadow M772
    Shifters: Shimano XT Shifters 9sp M770
    Cassette: Shimano XT Cassette 9 Speed M770


    1. Shifting under load doesn't work regardless of what components you are using. You need to unload the pedals to make the shift. Chain tension overwhelms the spring of the front derailluer. Make your shift before your climbs.

    2. Chain slap happens. Wrap the chainstay with an old tube or get one of those chainstay guards on the chainstay.

    3. Shifters are a personal preference. I prefer SRAM shifting over Shimano. Its really Coke vs. Pepsi.

    4. You will need everything you have listed (I have bolded in your quote) to go to 9 speed Shimano. More specifically the just the rear shifter and cassette if staying with Sram.

  3. #3
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    What the above poster said. Don't shift under load, its just aint going to happen no matter what you have. I have sram 5 on my commuter bike and its okay. I def want to upgrade them to something nicer. If you are not happy with sram push/push, then def go with shimano shifters and derailuer and get the push/pull shifter (I like them better myself, but can use sram too).
    When the **** did we get ice cream?

  4. #4
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    Unlike the shifters/rear der., the cassettes are interchangeable between brands. You can use the one that's cheapest at the level you want.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the information about the shifting under load. So it appears that what I'm looking for is quicker/crispier shifting on the front derailleur.

    When out ridding, if I get to the bottom of a hill and decide that I want to shift to the smaller chainring, I'll stop pedalling, and push the shifter to shift down to the bottom chainring. As soon as I've pushed the trigger, I'll once again start pedalling to try and keep my momentum for the uphill part. Once I've shifted down and started pedalling up hill, the chain will stay on the middle chain ring the entire hill until I get to the top of the hill and once I get to the top, after 3-4 revoluation of the pedals if will finally shift to the bottom ring as I'm not putting as much of a load on the chain.

    So from the sound of things, I'm not shifting early enough at the bottom of the hill to allow the front derailleur to change gear before I start pedalling hard for the uphill.

    On flat ground, if I decide to shift to the bottom ring, once I press the shifter lever, after maybe 1 or 2 full revolution of the pedals,it will shift.

    On hills, in an ideal situation I would know that a hill is coming up and I could shift down, take it easy for a bit until the derailleur shift and then gain some momentum to go up the hill. Unfortunately that is usually not the case and you come to an uphill section at the last moment and by that time it's too late to slow down a lot to allow the front derailleur to do it's thing.


    So having said that, will an XT Shimano derailleur cut down the shifting time and maybe have a quicker response to my shift so that once I start pedalling for the uphill after having shifted, it may actually shift in time to allow me to use the bottom ring for the uphill section?
    Current bikes:

    2014 Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fatbike
    2012 Trek Superfly 100 AL Pro
    2011 Specialized Rockhopper

  6. #6
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    As for chain slap, I'm aware that it happens to a certain extend and I do have a lizzard skin on the chain stay to protect it, but I've had a couple of comments from ridding buddies on how much nosier my drivetrain appears to be, even when coasting down a rough section of trail.

    I'm assuming that the bike being a hard tail and running a higher tire pressure probably has something to do with it, but most of the guys I ride with ride hardtail and I don't seem to hear their drivetrain slapping around like mine does.

    I was hoping that a higher end derailleur might not back and forth as much but I guess it has to do that to a certain extend to keep tension on the chain.
    Current bikes:

    2014 Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fatbike
    2012 Trek Superfly 100 AL Pro
    2011 Specialized Rockhopper

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kawidan View Post
    Thanks for the information about the shifting under load. So it appears that what I'm looking for is quicker/crispier shifting on the front derailleur.

    When out ridding, if I get to the bottom of a hill and decide that I want to shift to the smaller chainring, I'll stop pedalling, and push the shifter to shift down to the bottom chainring. As soon as I've pushed the trigger, I'll once again start pedalling to try and keep my momentum for the uphill part. Once I've shifted down and started pedalling up hill, the chain will stay on the middle chain ring the entire hill until I get to the top of the hill and once I get to the top, after 3-4 revoluation of the pedals if will finally shift to the bottom ring as I'm not putting as much of a load on the chain.

    So from the sound of things, I'm not shifting early enough at the bottom of the hill to allow the front derailleur to change gear before I start pedalling hard for the uphill.

    On flat ground, if I decide to shift to the bottom ring, once I press the shifter lever, after maybe 1 or 2 full revolution of the pedals,it will shift.

    On hills, in an ideal situation I would know that a hill is coming up and I could shift down, take it easy for a bit until the derailleur shift and then gain some momentum to go up the hill. Unfortunately that is usually not the case and you come to an uphill section at the last moment and by that time it's too late to slow down a lot to allow the front derailleur to do it's thing.


    So having said that, will an XT Shimano derailleur cut down the shifting time and maybe have a quicker response to my shift so that once I start pedalling for the uphill after having shifted, it may actually shift in time to allow me to use the bottom ring for the uphill section?
    Try loosening (ccw) the inner limit screw on your front der - 1/8 of a turn at a time - until it will downshift smoothly on flat ground (not hammering). You may be happy with the current components with a good setup.

    http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...ur-adjustments

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kawidan View Post
    I'm assuming that the bike being a hard tail and running a higher tire pressure probably has something to do with it,
    I'm guessing the high tire pressure has a lot to do with it. Also, the lizard skin might not dampen the noise as much as some other solutions - just a guess.

  9. #9
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    You should check your chain and make sure it is the right length. The tension of the RD can also be increased internally but if you get a new XT that shouldn't be an issue. I have an XT FD as well and it shifts better than my old low end one. Alot of it comes down to having it setup properly though.

    So what I'm saying is with some tinkering you could probably get things running smoother but upgrading isn't a terrible idea either. Just be aware that even with XT parts if they are not setup properly they will work just as poor.

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