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  1. #1
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    XT Shadow Plus rear derailleur review -- initial impressions

    My overall impression is that I don't like it. There's no chain noise, which is nice, but the shifting is so stiff, I couldn't get used to it.

    I forgot to specify...I am using the long cage version
    Last edited by happyriding; 09-10-2012 at 09:33 PM.

  2. #2
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    I got no problem with it, and this coming from someone who used to get sore thumbs at the end of a long ride from shifting. I can tell a difference on the workstand, but not while riding.

    You could just turn the switch to the off position and it will be smoother. Maybe turn it on again the next time you buy new cable and housing.

    Honestly, I haven't noticed a big benefit from a mid cage without the clutch. Both of those are way better than a long cage, though.
    Last edited by Gilarider; 09-11-2012 at 10:26 AM.

  3. #3
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    Is the clutch tension adjustable? The manual that came with the derailleur is useless. About all it says is be sure the chain is the right length, and it shows a picture of the derailleur(although with no description of the parts or features).
    Last edited by happyriding; 09-10-2012 at 10:08 PM.

  4. #4
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  5. #5
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    The XT and Zee do not adjust like the XTR (I have both.) You have to take the cover off and use needle nose pliers to adjust the tension (or at least I found this easiest to do.) They don't come with the small key tool that the XTR does.

    I like them both, Zee short cage on the trail bike and XT mid on the steel hardtail. I do notice they are harder to shift in the stand, but as mentioned, I do not notice it at all on the trail.
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  6. #6
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    interesting

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilarider View Post
    Honestly, I haven't noticed a big benefit from a mid cage without the clutch. Both of those are way better than a long cage, though.
    This was my experience. I ran a 1x10 with an xt mid cage and then an xtr mid cage shadow plus. I ended up breaking the carbon cage on the xtr. When I went back to the xt, I didn't really notice any change in noise or performance. My riding is pretty rocky, but I've never needed a chainguide, so their may be some who are riding really nasty stuff who benefit more.

    I used a Widgit chainring with my 1x setup, so that helped prevent dropped chains already.
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  8. #8
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    Interested in this because I've got an XT Shadow+ mid cage in the post on its way to me for my new 29er build.

    My question to those already using one is - if I don't like the shifting action with the clutch on, can I just switch it off and it'll behave exactly like a non-plus mech? Ie, I haven't lost anything by having it there, but have gained the option of using the clutch should I wish to.

    Thanks.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PerthMTB View Post
    Interested in this because I've got an XT Shadow+ mid cage in the post on its way to me for my new 29er build.

    My question to those already using one is - if I don't like the shifting action with the clutch on, can I just switch it off and it'll behave exactly like a non-plus mech? Ie, I haven't lost anything by having it there, but have gained the option of using the clutch should I wish to.

    Thanks.
    More or less yes, there's a switch that flips it on and off. You are supposed to flip it off to make the wheel easier to take off, but I see no reason why you coudn't ride it most of the time with it off.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rscecil007 View Post
    More or less yes, there's a switch that flips it on and off. You are supposed to flip it off to make the wheel easier to take off, but I see no reason why you coudn't ride it most of the time with it off.
    Thanks. In fact my new RD arrived with the postman this morning, so I've been having a play with it! Seems that with the switch off it has about the same amount of tension as the 'normal' SLX its going to replace, but with the switch on there's massively more resistance.

    Gonna have a ride on it tomorrow and compare the shifting with switch on & off.

    Hopefully, there's no downside to having a Shadow+, if you don't like the clunky shifting just leave the switch off and it behaves like a normal RD.

    By the way, one rather strange thing I did notice....

    The top jockey wheel on the Shadow+ doesn't seem to have any side to side play, like on all the other jockey wheels I've ever had on Shimano mechs! Is this something to do with the clutch not working very well with that feature I wonder? Anyone else noticed this, or in fact can confirm this is normal on a Shadow+?

    Thanks.

  11. #11
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    I can confirm I love my XTR Shadow plus. Been runni g it since early Feb. with ZERO problems.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DWill View Post
    I can confirm I love my XTR Shadow plus. Been runni g it since early Feb. with ZERO problems.
    Dwill - does the XTR have any lateral play in the upper jockey wheel?

  13. #13
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    So, had my first ride with the shadow plus today - and there's definitely more of a 'clunk' to the shifting with the clutch on, but not in a bad way, and in fact reminds me of the more positive action of my nine speed Saint.

    I wasa little worried the extra tension might give me some problems shifting up 14T on the front with my new 24/38 XT double cranks, but the shifts were smooth and trouble free!

    It also shifted perfectly well with the clutch off, if a little more 'softly' - so I guess you really can choose to run it in either mode.

    Have to say I like it and based on my limited experience so far will probably just run it with the clutch on all the time. Now, if only Shimano would bring out shadow+ nine speed mechs I could upgrade my other bike...

  14. #14
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    So zee or xt for 1x10?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dropadrop View Post
    So zee or xt for 1x10?
    Zee stuff seems to be Deore/SLX level in terms of the materials used - ie steel rear component versus ally on the XT.

    But Zee is available in a short cage unlike the XT, and in a close ratio version if you're running a road cassette.

    Otherwise there's not much in it - both will do the job - so I'd get whatever matches your cranks!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by PerthMTB View Post
    Dwill - does the XTR have any lateral play in the upper jockey wheel?
    Nope, none.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by DWill View Post
    Nope, none.
    Thanks, thats interesting.

    Seems that Shimano has quietly done away with something that's been a feature of rear mechs for the last 30 years - ie. sideways play of a few mm in the top jockey wheel to help smooth shifting.

    Can only imagine it was somehow incompatible with the extra tension that the shadow+ clutch puts on the chain.

    Have to watch out for that when it comes time to replace worn jockey wheels on a shadow+ then...

  18. #18
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    I got no problem with it, and this coming from someone who used to get sore thumbs at the end of a long ride from shifting.
    I'm in the same boat. I can't use SRAM because of the push/push--my thumb can't take it.

    I swapped in new housing and a new cable, and there's no change in the shifting. With the clutch on, the shifting is so stiff it is worse than any shifter I've ever owned. With the clutch off, the shifting is better, but still not as good as my old, broken XT M770-10 derailleur. Part of the thing I like about riding is feeling the smooth mechanical operation of the machine under me. The new Shadow plus technology compromises that feeling for me. I also notice occasional, somewhat severe pedal feedback when climbing rocky trails with the clutch on.

    So after giving it a fair chance, I've decided to bench the XT Shadow plus rear derailleur. I was going to order another XT M770-10 rear derailleur, but Jenson's has the XTR M980-10 rear derailleur on sale for $128. I replaced my big ring with a bash, so I only use my small and middle ring. Can I use a mid cage rear derailleur with that setup or do the mid cages only work with 2x spacing?

    Thanks.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyriding View Post
    Can I use a mid cage rear derailleur with that setup or do the mid cages only work with 2x spacing?
    Run a medium cage. That is the setup I run. Took the big ring off and replaced it with a bash. Keeps the chain short and tighter.
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  20. #20
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    I have two long rides on an XT shadow plus after replacing a broken regular XT. I don't notice much difference in rear shifting effort or precision. The front shifting might be a touch slower when pedaling slowly, but it isn't a problem. Chain slap is reduced, but I didn't have too much trouble before. I did go from long cage SGS to mid cage GS and it works fine with 11-36 and 26/38, although I haven't tried a big cog/ big ring with full suspension flex (150mm) combo. I like it overall.

  21. #21
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    I swapped in new housing and a new cable, and there's no change in the shifting. With the clutch on, the shifting is so stiff it is worse than any shifter I've ever owned. With the clutch off, the shifting is better, but still not as good as my old, broken XT M770-10 derailleur. Part of the thing I like about riding is feeling the smooth mechanical operation of the machine under me. The new Shadow plus technology compromises that feeling for me. I also notice occasional, somewhat severe pedal feedback when climbing rocky trails with the clutch on.
    I can understand where you're coming from there, but I have to say that I did a 40K XC race with my new shadow+ yesterday and the shifting was faultless - in fact I'd say the positive, quick, no-nonsense shifting the shadow+ plus gives is just what you want in a race situation.

    Could I ask what shifters you're using with your Shadow+? I'm using the new M780 and Shimano claim ... "New vivid indexing provides a constant amount of shift lever force across all 10 sprockets. Multi-bearing design uses two ball bearing units to provide a low-friction and reliable shifting action."

    Dunno - I'm generally dubious about all the marketing-techno-speak about new components, but if you're finding the shadow+ mechs too stiff, it may just make a difference if you try these shifters...

    Edit: The fact that Shimano have chosen to offer both Shadow and Shadow+ models alongside each other suggests they realise there's pros & cons to the + technology, and it won't be to everyone's taste.
    Last edited by PerthMTB; 09-15-2012 at 08:17 PM.

  22. #22
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    I'm running XTR M980 shifters. They worked great with my XT M770-10 rear derailleur.

  23. #23
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    Gotta chime in that I love my xtr shadow plus and really like the shifting and feel. I run it pretty tight and crisp too.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyriding View Post
    I'm running XTR M980 shifters. They worked great with my XT M770-10 rear derailleur.
    Fair enough - won't notice any benefit by going M780 then, as the M980 are vivid index as well, and have four bearings to the XT's two.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyriding View Post
    I'm in the same boat. I can't use SRAM because of the push/push--my thumb can't take it.

    I swapped in new housing and a new cable, and there's no change in the shifting. With the clutch on, the shifting is so stiff it is worse than any shifter I've ever owned. With the clutch off, the shifting is better, but still not as good as my old, broken XT M770-10 derailleur. Part of the thing I like about riding is feeling the smooth mechanical operation of the machine under me. The new Shadow plus technology compromises that feeling for me. I also notice occasional, somewhat severe pedal feedback when climbing rocky trails with the clutch on.

    What cables/housing are you using? I found that switching to Shimano housing instead of Jagwire made a really big difference.

  26. #26
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    Jagwire. No name stainless cable. Jagwire housing has worked fine for me in the past. I can't believe Shimano housing would make a difference.

    Does anyone know about these Shimano Zinc derailleur cables:

    Shimano Zinc Derailleur Cable > Components > Cables and Housing > Shifter Cable and Housing | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop

    Amazon is selling the same 10 cable pack for $4 (with an additional $4.29 for shipping):

    Amazon.com: Shimano Zinc derailleur cable, 1.2x2100mm: Sports & Outdoors
    Last edited by happyriding; 09-16-2012 at 10:54 AM.

  27. #27
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    I run Jagwire outers on one bike and Shimano SP41 on the other, and I can't say I notice any difference, though when it comes time to replace, I'll definitely use the Shimano stuff.

    Happyriding, that cable is plain old steel cable coated to stop it rusting - would use it on a commuter/kids bike, but IMHO to run cheap cables with XTR shifters & mech is just a false economy. Stick to the stainless stuff!

  28. #28
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    Okay, thanks. I couldn't tell whether those cables were some new fangled stainless variety or not.

  29. #29
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    Update on Shadow Plus experience

    Posting back on here because I had an interesting experience yesterday. While riding a not particularly challenging 40km ride I dropped my chain twice - off the granny onto the BBshell while shifting down.

    Never had this happen before on any of my bikes (and yes - the FD was set up properly). A quick look when I returned home and I discovered I'd left the clutch on the Shadow+ RD switched 'off' by mistake.

    Switched it back on and no chain drop on my ride this morning.

    So, contrary to my earlier advice - I now have to say that riding a shadow+ with the clutch off is not a good idea. If you have a shadow+ leave the clutch on while riding. If you don't like the more 'positive' action of the shadow+ clutch, get a normal RD.

  30. #30
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    I find the Shadow + to have a noticeably heavy throw. It's almost gotten to the point where I may ditch it. However, the benefits are good, no dropped chains and the elimination of chain suck when switching front chain rings without switching chains. Ex., going from a 26t to a 28t on my 1x10 setup.

  31. #31
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    My personal experience with the XT Shadow+ rear derailleur has been extremely positive so far : no chain drop even on quick, hard hits while on the inner ring (which to me was always a guaranteed drop), and the shifting is extremely smooth, with virtually no extra effort.

    But, I must point out that thanks to posts like the OP, I anticipated eventual harsh shifting and thus sprung for a Dura-Ace shift cable when swapping derailleurs. Operation is flawless thus far, and as said previously, no harder than the previous XT (M-780) derailleur with stock jagwire housing and cables.

    So to me the benefits are as expected : nearly eliminated chain slap (always a plus with carbon chainstays), and no more chain drops. The corollary to the second point, however, is unexpected : the very low chance of dropping a chain means that to my surprise, I can use my inner ring on descents, and the extra gearing options are much appreciated on techy singletrack.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by PerthMTB View Post
    The top jockey wheel on the Shadow+ doesn't seem to have any side to side play, like on all the other jockey wheels I've ever had on Shimano mechs! Is this something to do with the clutch not working very well with that feature I wonder? Anyone else noticed this, or in fact can confirm this is normal on a Shadow+?

    Thanks.
    I just bought some XT 773 jockey wheels for my 9sp XT shadow derailleur. I also am disappointed to notice the side to side play gone. My upper jockey wheel was not that worn- it's just that the two rubber seals had swollen slightly( as most rubber does when exposed to oils and greases) and this was causing excess friction.

    Can you buy just the rubber seals anywhere?
    Uppo

  33. #33
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    anyone notice this, is this normal?

    when I have my bike in the stand and pedaling I get an increase in resistance when shifting into the granny gear...basically the pedaling becomes harder when im in the granny gear with the clutch engaged. When I shift down the pedal gets a bit easier(less drag)

    wondering how much extra energy Im exerting because of this mostly on the climbs?

    I tried to adjust the clutch but even with the least amount of tension Im still getting increased resistance when pedaling in the granny gear.

    thoughts?

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmar123 View Post
    anyone notice this, is this normal?

    when I have my bike in the stand and pedaling I get an increase in resistance when shifting into the granny gear...basically the pedaling becomes harder when im in the granny gear with the clutch engaged. When I shift down the pedal gets a bit easier(less drag)

    wondering how much extra energy Im exerting because of this mostly on the climbs?

    I tried to adjust the clutch but even with the least amount of tension Im still getting increased resistance when pedaling in the granny gear.

    thoughts?
    First thought would be to check your B-screw adjustment.

  35. #35
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    I'm debating between the XT shadow plus and XTR on a new hard tail build- now I'm leaning toward the latter eheheh. Based on a couple of threads here and on Pinkbike, the plan is to use a spacer so that a SRAM x9 shifter will work and I can run 3x9-speed.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncfisherman View Post
    First thought would be to check your B-screw adjustment.
    it shifts fine and the chain is the proper length...it just seems harder to pedal when in the last 3 granny gears with the clutch on...when I turn the clutch off it becomes much easier to pedal in the granny gears.

    anyone else have this? put your bike in the stand and try pedaling through the gears

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by rscecil007 View Post
    The XT and Zee do not adjust like the XTR (I have both.) You have to take the cover off and use needle nose pliers to adjust the tension (or at least I found this easiest to do.) They don't come with the small key tool that the XTR does.
    It takes a 5.5mm ignition wrench. You can get a set of Craftsman metric "midget" wrenches off eBay for about $12. A 7/32" is pretty close.

    Mine (med cage) shifted required slightly more force than my old Shadow non-plus long cage. Not a problem though. I was running SLX shifters and old cables. I upgraded to XT shifters and Jagwire cables and it is very easy now.

    I don't see how running with the clutch off would be any different than a non-Plus, unless the spring tension is less (I can't feel any difference). BTW my old RD had adjustable spring tension -- there is another hole that you could put the spring end in.

  38. #38
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    Any advise for long term maintenance? I've been running my XTR shadow plus for a year and a half. Very happy with overall performance. Adjusting the tension is very easy. However, I've noticed that the action is getting a little sticky, thinking that I should greese the rotating wheel? Anyone do this? Would standard bearing greese work?

  39. #39
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    Mine came from the factory with white grease on the little rotating drum -- I suspect it is Lithium grease. Lithium grease is very stable. It stays where you put it, and doesn't get all over everything. You can buy it at any auto parts place.

  40. #40
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    I ride with my switch on all the time, with the Gore Ride-on system i do not notice a difference in effort to shift. The bike sounds a ton better with the switch on

  41. #41
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    My clutch has failed ....around 2months of use. Not very good. Anyone have this issue yet?

  42. #42
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    So far so good here.

    Why did it fail? Maybe it just needs to be adjusted.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by DennisF View Post
    So far so good here.

    Why did it fail? Maybe it just needs to be adjusted.
    I don't know why it failed, there is no difference with the clutch on or off. It worked when I first got it.

  44. #44
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    Ok, remove the three little Allen screws holding on the cover and see what is going on. Here is what you should find.

    XT Shadow Plus rear derailleur review -- initial impressions-xt-shadow-cover-removed-small.jpg

    The screw indicated by the arrow I drew adjusts the friction. It may need to be tightened. It is 4.5mm, 7/32" will work, and a lot of people use pliers apparently.

    If it failed suddenly, something probably broke. If that is the case it will be obvious when you pop the cover.

  45. #45
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    Just had my XTR shadow plus (first gen) replaced on warranty. Mine had developed about 1/2" of free play before the clutch kicked in.
    It had nothing to do with tension, I tightened quite a bit to see and it had no effect.

  46. #46
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    Thanks for the info. There is a ratchet mechanism between the drum and the shaft that the cage swings on. Sounds like that wasn't engaging properly.

    Canuk_tacoma, make sure that the drum rotates when you swing the cage by hand. It should rotate when you apply tension, but not when you release it.

  47. #47
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    Looks like mine has broken. The metal piece that the adjuster screws into has broken into 2 pieces.

  48. #48
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    Sorry to hear that. Apparently Shimano is taking care of it tho.

    Check out this thread if you haven't already

    Clutch Broken on XT Shadow Plus

  49. #49
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    I just fitted an XT Shadow Plus on my Kona FS and l have to say it is a revelation.
    Gone is the violent clattering of the chain on descents. Shifting (Deore shifters and front mech) tbh feels no different to the XT Shadow l had before. Perhaps a little more positive when changing into a bigger gear, but l soon forgot about it.

    No problems at all with the front chainset, l expected it to be harder changing to the big ring for example, but no, it is just as before.

    Looking down, the chain still flails around a bit, but nothing like before, and only from side to side. The noise of it hitting (l assume) the front mech cage is practically gone....just the occasional chink on fast rocky descending.

    As for the top jockey wheel, yes the built-in play has gone. But shifting performance is flawless, the same as my XT Shadow.

    Let's see how long the little clutch mechanism lasts!

  50. #50
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    I've been running an XTR clutch rear this entire race season. There is definitely a little more resistance to shifting, it's noticeable when switching the clutch on/off, however it's not a HUGE difference. I love the derailleur, it makes my 2x10 geared race bike sound similar to my singlespeed since I have almost no chain slap. I've also had great luck with no chain drops through 20+ races.

    However, I was having problems with shifting degrading heavily after a few wet and/or sweaty races. I found the shifting action greatly improved when replacing the cable/housing. I did this a couple times, but kept having the issue and was getting tired of replacing rear cable/housing every 2-3 races. The last time I changed cables/housings I also put a nosed end cap where I could tell a little sweat was mixing with dust and getting into the housing. After about 5 races and a few rides the shifting is still nearly as good as when I put new cables/housing on.

    Something tells me that due to the increased shifting resistance when the clutch is ON having clean cables/housing is far more important. If the cables/housings get grit into them it makes that extra resistance much more pronounced.

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