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Front shifter compatibility on a hybrid

djm501djm501 Posts: 378
edited August 2013 in The workshop
Hi, I've bust the front derailleur trigger shifter on my Trek Hybrid. The current shifter is a Shimano SLR-441 2 speed but I can't find a replacement that comes alone and I don't want to buy a useless right hand shifter (I have no plans to break that too ;)) The front Mech is Sora.

Finding compatibility with other brands is a bit confusing though. I read in some places that Shimano and SRAM are compatible on the front derailleur but in other places I read the opposite. Shimano's website is unhelpful as it just lists this shifter (and the 440 pair) as non-series flat bar shifters for road bikes.

So... can/will Deore shifters work OK? SRAM X7?

Thanks to anyone who can shed light on my confusion.



  • bikaholicbikaholic Posts: 350
    So you can't find any front LH shifters that are not sold together as a pair (both LH & RH).

    The main difference between a front LH Shimano 8 and 9 speed MTB shifter (SL-Mxxx) and its corresponding non-series shifter (SL-R4xx) is that the latter has intermediate micro-clicks for trim adjustment but still pulls the same amount of cable as the MTB version.

    The matching front derailleur to the SL-R44x is the FD-R44x ie accommodates trekking/road cranksets up 53T but has MTB cable pull.

    What can be deduced from this is that MTB and non-series front shifters and front derailleurs are cross compatible.

    Since Shimano MTB and road front shifters have different cable pulls, MTB front shifters are not compatible with road front derailleurs and vice-versa, unless, the cable pull can be altered somehow (eg with a shiftmate or alternate gear cable clamping point on the FD).

    The Shimano Sora front derailleur is a road version, so it is not compatible with the non-series front shifter (since non-series have same cable pull as MTB shifters).

    However, if the crankset is a double (ie with two chainrings) a MTB shifter can be made to operate a road front derailleur just by adding slack to the gear cable to account for the shorter pull of the road shifter - and it will work properly 100%.

    Hence, the non-series front shifter is compatible with road front derailleurs with the extra feature of trim adjustment.

    Since Shimano, SRAM, SunRace, SR Suntour and a few other no-name brands have the same cable pull for their MTB 7,8,9 speed front shifters, it means that you can use any of these branded front shifters with the Shimano Sora FD on a double crankset.

    Or, just go for the Shimano Tiagra SL-4600 front shifter which is 100% compatible with the Shimano Sora FD without any extra tweaking.
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