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  1. #1
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    Shimano derailleur quality ranking?

    I have an ancient and venerable Specialized RockHopper, most likely a 1992/3. (the pic attachment is the model year forks that Specialized were using at that time: FS Future Shock hydrop-neumatics is 1992?"

    The Shimano Exage RD-M320 original stock rear derailleur is completely worn out, and I need to find a replacement ASAP.

    A couple months ago I blew a chance to get a New Old Stock RD-M320 on EBay, and I've been howling with frustration ever since. (I howl about a lot of things actually)

    There's a "Shimano Deore DX M650 New Old Stock MTB Rear Derailleur Vintage 5/6/7-Spd-" on EBay I could buy as a temporary replacement ($75 for an ancient derailleur is pretty damned thievish)

    I know Shimano had some kind of ranking for quality for their different components......where does the Exage and Deore DX rank against each other in the 92' era?

    What I want most is durability/reliability above all; the kind of volunteer work that I do with that bike, my life depends on that RockHopper's reliability, seriously. I need a derailleur that is tough and high quality, and I don't much care what I have to pay to get that. I'm not against installing a "modern" SRAM derailleur, or anything better, as long as it's a 7-speed long-cage.

    Any suggestions? Comments? Hoots? Shimano derailleur quality ranking?-future-shock-forks-92.jpg

  2. #2
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    Best
    XT
    DX/LX(1993?)
    Exage
    Altus
    GS 200
    Not Best

  3. #3
    Workin for the weekend!
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    Oooh. 7spd XT is prolly hella expensive on eBay now... 11spd conversion. FTW. Likely under $200 for SLX components.
    Todd

  4. #4
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    Why does it have to be 7 speed? If you go to SRAM...you'll have to change out shifters too. So what's a little more for a new cassette? Assuming the hub can handle it...might as well move to a 9, 10, or 11 speed.
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  5. #5
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    Check on what speed derailleur is compatible as the movement is controlled by the shifter, you may be able to use an 8 speed and have more options.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    Remember, there's always quilting and knitting if pedalling becomes too tough.

  6. #6
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    a bit of background

    I want to keep the drive train/gear ratios the same; after all these years, I don't even consciously think about shifting anymore- it's all instinct. That's exactly what I want, 'cuz I want my active attention focused on the environment.
    I use my bike in some ways that are very uncommon, so I have a bit different set of priorities for MTB gear.
    Every year I do volunteer work for the National Weather Service as a Ham radio operator & Spotter. Whenever the weather gets threatening for the local "zone of operation", the NWS in Chanhassen MN calls a radio "Net", which means all the trained & certified Spotters in the county head out on whatever vehicle they have and take up an assigned position somewhere with a good 360-degree view, usually the highest elevation they can find in their area.
    If a Spotter sees some kind of weather threat -like a funnel cloud, severe hail, high winds - they transmit a report by radio to the Net Control (usually a high-ranking older Ham), who in turn verifies the sighting with other Spotters, and if the sighting is confirmed, it's radioed in to the State's weather center for the NWS. The NWS then decides whether or not to issue a weather warning.

    The point of all this tangential yap is that I need a bike setup that is as close to 100% reliable as possible. I most definitely do not want to throw a chain, have a stuck shifter, blow a tire or anything else that may stop or slow me from getting the Hell out of the area

    Hope that explains why I'm such a fanatic for quality and reliability. MTB's can go where no 4WD truck can go.......at right angles to the path of the weather!

  7. #7
    Cycologist
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    A lot of your concerns are more dependent on bike maintenance.

    But this is probably a better derailleur than the one you've been using all these years.

    Shimano Altus M310 7-8 Speed Rear Derailleur | Chain Reaction Cycles

    You may get more help in the vintage/retro forum than you get in the Shimano forum. I'm sure you can find lots of folks running old 7-speed systems.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    Remember, there's always quilting and knitting if pedalling becomes too tough.

  8. #8
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    Your requirement for a 25 year-old 7-speed main drive component would seem to be at odds with your requirement for a "rock-solid, 100% reliable" derailleur. In fact, the same might be be said for "trusting your life" to a 25-year-old mountain bike.

    Given the constraints you impose, I'd get the Deore DX M650, although it looks like it was just sold a few hours ago.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Your requirement for a 25 year-old 7-speed main drive component would seem to be at odds with your requirement for a "rock-solid, 100% reliable" derailleur. In fact, the same might be be said for "trusting your life" to a 25-year-old mountain bike.

    Given the constraints you impose, I'd get the Deore DX M650, although it looks like it was just sold a few hours ago.
    Good points and the modern clutch type design will not allow throwing a chain the way any older bike could.

    Our local Pacific/Mongoose pals have really nice moderately priced bikes at events or the trail system they've adopted. I'd be after their plus and fat bikes if I had to have an all weather reliable bike.
    ƃuoɹʍ llɐ ʇno əɯɐɔ ʇɐɥʇ

  10. #10
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    My first question here would be this. What do you mean by "the stock rear derailleur is completely worn out"? Is there play in the cage? Are the teeth on the pulleys worn down to points? Is the spring action not consistent?

    I ask because derailleurs generally are the last parts to need replacing - unless they have been damaged. They don't generally "wear out". If the spring is sticky and inconsistent, a good cleaning and spray down with WD-40 usually solves the problem. And let's not forget what the most common cause of poor shifting is - OLD CABLES AND HOUSINGS. Replacing cables with good quality stainless steel cables can make a world of difference when it comes to reliable shifts!

    However, if you do need to change your rear derailleur, I believe (not absolutely sure) any 8 or 9-speed Shimano rear mountain derailleur will work. Shimano changed their mountain drive train pull ratios when they went to 10-speed, so those definitely WILL NOT WORK. Too bad as the clutch derailleurs are a nice thing to have.

  11. #11
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    There are a ton of bikes still running 7 speeds... not sure why everyone says its going to be a vintage part. A 2018 trek Marlin specs with a 7sp tourney drivetrain, one of many new models still running 7s.

    I thought I remembered SRAM having a X01 7spd...but it might have been DH specific... I'd bet a horse that thing is probably over $200 though.

    The tourney series aren't bad and are fairly cheap. Could also look at the altus and acera series. Those both go for under $30. Shift quality isn't great compared to other current technology, but it would still be better than what you currently have on there. I ran an altus on an old budget build for years without issue. FYI most are going to be 7/8 interchangeable. So it will either be listed as a 7/8 or more likely as an 8sp RD. The increments for 7 and 8 are the same, so if you used it for a 7 you'd just have an extra "drop" you'd never use.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jahkneefive View Post
    There are a ton of bikes still running 7 speeds... not sure why everyone says its going to be a vintage part. A 2018 trek Marlin specs with a 7sp tourney drivetrain, one of many new models still running 7s.

    I thought I remembered SRAM having a X01 7spd...but it might have been DH specific... I'd bet a horse that thing is probably over $200 though.

    The tourney series aren't bad and are fairly cheap. Could also look at the altus and acera series. Those both go for under $30. Shift quality isn't great compared to other current technology, but it would still be better than what you currently have on there. I ran an altus on an old budget build for years without issue. FYI most are going to be 7/8 interchangeable. So it will either be listed as a 7/8 or more likely as an 8sp RD. The increments for 7 and 8 are the same, so if you used it for a 7 you'd just have an extra "drop" you'd never use.
    One thing to note is that a derailleur is a "dumb" device. It does nothing more than what the shifter tells it to do. As long as the actuation ratios are compatible, a 9 speed rear derailleur will work for a 7 or 8 speed bike as long as you adjust the limit screws correctly.

    And speaking of actuation ratios, SRAM is different. If you currently have Shimano, you must stick with Shimano unless you want to change your shifter as well.

    Shimano Tourney is their most entry level and not very durable. These are what you will find on Wal-Mart bikes, not a Specialized Rockhopper. For casual riding, it will work and it's cheap enough:

    Shimano RD-TY500 Rear Derailleur | Jenson USA

    If you put some mileage on the bike and need it to be reliable, I would step up to a Shimano Deore:

    Shimano Deore RD-M591 Rear Derailleur | Jenson USA

    Note the description as "7/8/9 speed".

    Do NOT buy a 10-speed derailleur. The actuation ratio is different and it will not work.

  13. #13
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    XT will last longer with less troubles

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by dundundata View Post
    XT will last longer with less troubles
    To put things in perspective, I have a bike with over 6K miles with Deore and never any problems. The Shimano MTB hierarchy from budget to high end is:

    Tourney
    Acera
    Altus
    Deore
    SLX
    XT
    XTR

    The first three are what comes on most budget bikes. Deore is a big jump up in quality and is rock solid. Above that, it's a law of diminishing returns. You are buying mostly weight reduction at small increases in cost up to XT. There is a big price jump from XT to XTR.

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