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Ultegra SL FD compatible with 9-speed?

paul64paul64 Posts: 278
edited July 2010 in Workshop
My hack bike has decent old-school kit on it and a front derailleur that I don't expect to last, the issue is with the L and H adjustment screws which are worn and a real struggle to get any adjustment from them now. They already use replacments that a LBS rummaged round to find.

So, I am thinking about picking up an SL front derailleur to put by but they are marketed as 10-speed. Is there a ratio issue that means it won't work as well on 9-speed?
If so, I will pick up something else.

Set-up is Shimano 9 speed:
- Ultegra 6500 LH STI (only sensibly priced one I could find to replace the broken DA LH)
- Dura Ace 7XXX Front Derailleur (7401 I think)
- Ultegra SL 6600 39/52 Chainset (replaced square taper 7401 DA)
- Wheels running Shimano 9-speed cassettes

the rest of it:
- Dura Ace 7700 Rear Derailleur
- Dura Ace 7700 RH STI


  • whyamiherewhyamihere Posts: 7,508
    It'll work, but as the cage is narrower than a proper 9 speed mech, you'll find that it rubs more easily when the chain's a bit crossed. This isn't a problem, as the gears where it will rub are overlapped by gears on the other chainring which won't rub.
  • paul64paul64 Posts: 278
    Got you, that makes sense. I'll factor it into when and if I move to 10-speed on that bike. Many thanks.
  • nmcgannnmcgann Posts: 1,780
    A Shimano 10 speed front mech has a 1mm narrower cage than a 9 speed. This means it is very hard to prevent the chain rubbing the mech cage in either the very top or very bottom gear with a 9-speed drivetrain. (I never managed it - however I adjusted, it would rub at one extreme)

    If you are going 10 speed soon then it may be worth getting the 10-speed mech and also using a 10-speed chain on the drivetrain. I never tried that, but that should stop the rubbing as the chain will be the right width for the mech cage.

    I already had a load of 9-speed chains in my parts box and I was too tight to buy a 10-speed chain to try the experiment :roll:
    "Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain."
  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    Check Chain Reaction. They have 9sp mechs from £5. You can also run an 8sp one with no trouble. I have had a Sora 8sp one on my 9sp winter bike for several years. It works fine and never rubs.
  • paul64paul64 Posts: 278
    You know, this bike is simply riding too sweet to mess with. The front shifting from the LH 6500 Ultegra STI and old Dura Ace FD is so smooth and easy on the hands that I would be foolish to touch it until the L and H screws give a genuine problem, likewise the RH Dura Ace STI and my old Dura Ace rear mech.

    (picture taken before SL Chainset was added)

    Because the steel frame is old and unfashionable to complete the picture, I have toyed many times with updating frame, components, allsorts. It does not have the agility of my carbon bike and up the hills lacks the rear end lightness and the compact/27 sprocket combination. It has inherent speed, smoothness and efficiency everywhere else though.


    Nevertheless, riding the two regularly now is a sharp reminder that beyond the continual marketing of the latest generation kit, it would be hard to imagine better shifting than this Shimano set up on the Roberts. In fact, it puts the agricultural feel of the Rival kit to shame.

    I think I am going to leave alone but thanks for the replies.
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