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Is a clutch deraillure actually necessary?

tombarontombaron Posts: 392
edited September 2018 in MTB workshop & tech
Hello everyone, it’s been a very long time since I last posted anything here but I’m stuck making a decision about a clutch deraillure.

I converted to 1x earlier this year, and, because I was doing it bit by bit haven’t yet installed the new clutch deraillure.
I’ve ridden in some of the harshest, rockiest part of the Peak District that I know on the standard deraillure, and have had absolutely no issues with dropping the chain.

I was about to return the clutch deraillure that I bought the other week but before I do I just wanted to make sure that I absolutely do not need it. So far I have only ridden my 1x setup in summer 2018 (best summer since ‘76 you know). As I said, I’ve not needed a clutch on even the knarliest terrain so far, but will that all change I the rain? The mud? Cold? Any other condition I’ve not thought of?

Thanks in advance.



  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 6,936
    I have a clutch derailleur and it drops the chain all the time (usually on non gnarly stuff).
    Riding buddy suggested a narrow-wide chainring would help - he has a NW and a clutch derailleur and his chain never drops, but maybe he's just lucky.
  • CitizenLeeCitizenLee Posts: 2,227
    I think you've answered your own question ;)

    I keep my clutch off most of the time and have never dropped a chain, although I also have a n/w chainring up front which I think makes more of a difference than the clutch.
    NukeProof Mega FR 2012
    Cube NuRoad 2018
    2015 Genesis CdF 10, 2014 Cube Hyde Race, 2012 NS Traffic, 2007 Specialized SX Trail, 2005 Specialized Demo 8
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    Its really personal preference and where you ride. In theory it works by increasing the tension and keeping the chain on. The down side is it can make the gear changes more abrupt and not as smooth. After fixing a puncture I left it off by accident and the only difference was the gear changing was smoother.

    Just try it and see.
  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 2,431
    What the clutch derailleur is for is to damp down the chain from whipping up and down as you travel over rough ground at speed. Unrestrained, the chain can form an elongated "S" shape. You may have noticed this in some of the action pictures of bikes in various bike magazines. The upper curve of the laid down "S" can strike the chain stay and chip the paint. It may also be a bit noisy. Frequently the upper curve of the chain moves forward towards the front ring and when it reaches the front ring, it can come clean off. That is what the chain devices mounted around the chain ring were there for, to stop the last one from happening. Some chain devices also stop the other effects.

    The only way that the chain can whip up and down is if the mech arm moves forwards and back to give some slack to the chain. The friction clutch damps down this movement of the mech arm and substantially stops the chain whipping up and down. This may not completely stop all three of the above effects, but it will substantially reduce them. The clutch mech works by resisting movement of the mech arm, it is not there to increase tension in the chain.

    If these effects are not something that you have ever suffered or neither noticed nor care, then you don't need a clutch mech!

    The disadvantage of the clutch mech is that you may need to release it to enable you get the rear wheel out. It also marginally increases the pressure required to change onto the larger gears. I have read that some riders find this last so pronounced that they cannot live with the clutch mech. That never bothered me at all and I would prefer to ride with a clutch mech. :)
  • jamskijamski Posts: 737
    I have to have mine on. Dropped a couple of chains off the chainring, turned it on, tweaked the tension as I couldn’t shift into the largest cogs, and not dropped one since.
    Daddy, Husband, Designer, Biker, Gamer, Geek
    Bird Aeris 120 | Boardman Team 650b | Boardman Pro FS | Calibre Two.two
  • I have had NW chainring and clutchless derailleur on 1x10 set up for last three years and never dropped the chain.

    No doubt I will back on here tomorrow editing this post as I have just tempted fate .......
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    Not sure if mine stops the chain dropping, not a major issue for me, but it certainly makes the back end quieter.
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  • CitizenLeeCitizenLee Posts: 2,227
    cooldad wrote:
    Not sure if mine stops the chain dropping, not a major issue for me, but it certainly makes the back end quieter.

    What about the bike?

    I'll see myself out.... :P
    NukeProof Mega FR 2012
    Cube NuRoad 2018
    2015 Genesis CdF 10, 2014 Cube Hyde Race, 2012 NS Traffic, 2007 Specialized SX Trail, 2005 Specialized Demo 8
  • 02gf7402gf74 Posts: 1,168
    I've discovered that the answer is no but then the bike has nw chainring.

    But if the question was: Is a clutch derailleur actually recommended ? Then 100% yes, it removes chain slap.

    If you have the clutch mech already, then fit it and sell the other.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    if you have a choice between a clucth mech and a non clutch ech for 1x alway get the clutch mech. For doubles still get the clutch mech. for a retro bikes dont as chain suck is part of the retro feel. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,535
    I like mine because there is zero chainslap. If it helps avoid dropped chains then thats a bonus but if that is the goal then I would have thought a chain guide a better device for that.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,810
    Been riding 1x using an NW chainring with no guide or clutch for over three years, zero drops.

    Would get a clutched if I change my mech, but my XTR is still going great.
    Currently riding a Whyte T130C, X0 drivetrain, Magura Trail brakes converted to mixed wheel size (homebuilt wheels) with 140mm Fox 34 Rhythm and RP23 suspension. 12.2Kg.
  • some NW rings are more prone to dropping chains than others. on a road bike a rotor NW Q ring drops chain (no clutched mech) so on my MTB with a Q ring there is a clutched mech.

    no all rings are equal. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • Thanks for your replies, I’ll hang fire fitting the new mech until I’m sure it’s not needed; it looks like the NW ring is doing its job.
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