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What determines shift quality?

alomacalomac Posts: 189
edited October 2010 in MTB workshop & tech
This is a daft question that I should just be able to Google (but have had no real luck with so far), but which components predominately determine a bike's shift quality? Is it the derailler, shifters, cassette, etc?
I know they all play a role, but was wondering if one matters more than the others.


  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,175
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  • stumpyjonstumpyjon Posts: 4,069
    Shifters, cables then mech (assuming your cables are clean). SHifters definitely make the most difference, not surprising really when you think they're the bit you come into contact with, control the shift and are the bit with the indexing.

    Personally I use cheapish Shimano SP40 cables and just replace them fairly regualrly. I've tried more expensive cables and outers and not seen the extra value for the money.

    PS front mechs are pretty simple. A more expensive front mech probably won't work any better, it'll just be lighter and have a higher bling factor.

    The other thing to remember is Shimano and SRAM systems work differently. Shimano works on a 2:1 ratio which makes for lighter shifting but is more prone to mud clogging, SRAM works on a 1:1 ratio so it's less prone to clogging but is a heavier shift which some people prefer.
    It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

    I've bought a new bike....ouch - result
    Can I buy a new bike?...No - no result
  • nicklousenicklouse Posts: 50,675 Lives Here
    the person who set it up.
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • Daz555Daz555 Posts: 3,976
    Basic quality of the components combined with skill of person who set it up.
    You only need two tools: WD40 and Duck Tape.
    If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.
    If it shouldn't move and does, use the tape.
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    The quality of the freehub is also apparently relevant, my mavic rear wheel (cheapo one) has real shifting issues due to the freehub wobbling about.

    Cables then cassette, then shifters IME
  • joshtpjoshtp Posts: 3,966
    cables, then shifter, than cassette, then mech. With the front mech, mech is really irrelevance... much of a muchness, but the rear can make a difference, a sharper spring and stiffer cage all help. But mostly cables and shifter... clean cables are usually the answer to all sorts of shifting issues, and the shifters make the biggest difference to feel, solid, well built shifters, with good bearings, good indexing, and good design such as instant release and such stuff that garnishes XTR shifters make a huge difference to feel.

    But really this ALL depends on who set them up. Well set up alivio's will feel better than badly set up XTR.
    I like bikes and stuff
  • maddog 2maddog 2 Posts: 8,114
    joshtp wrote:
    cables, then shifter, than cassette, then mech. .


    XTR shifters are very good though. I also think the Tacx 'fixed' jockeys are better than Shimano, if the rest of the system is clean and decent.
    Facts are meaningless, you can use facts to prove anything that's remotely true! - Homer
  • edhornbyedhornby Posts: 1,780
    everything being clean and the right lubes in the right places
    "I get paid to make other people suffer on my wheel, how good is that"
    --Jens Voight
  • lastylasty Posts: 218
    " Well set up alivio's will feel better than badly set up XTR."

    Very true ..... Had a bimble around on a mates giant `boulder` - sweet shifting cheapo alvio , shame one of the other lads can`t get his XTR stuff sorted for love nor money - renewed the drivetrain (ouch ... :shock: ) and it`s still giving him grief , even the local guru is stumped .... currently saving for an expensive shifter set !!

    Personally i`ve gone down the SRAM road of enlightenment - Sooooo easy to set up and certainly not as fussy as the shimano stuff i`ve been using . Even the cheapo X5 stuff i bought 2nd hand on here for under £30 and fitted to my winter hack does exactly what its supposed to without any dramas . AND i set it up ............. :roll:

    Try taking some wire wool , rub SHIMANO off the mech and write SRAM on it - Gotta be worth a try .... :wink:
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