Written by Erich McAlister Monday, 06 August 2012 21:25
Every so often a new piece of gear comes into the mountain bike world that has to be characterized as a “deal breaker” or “game changer”. It’s a deal breaker to the consumer, who will look at a bike without it and choose not to buy based on that one component. It’s a game changer to product managers and bike designers because it must be included on any bike sold to discerning consumers. Think indexed shifting and front suspension back in the day, or hydraulic discs and tubeless tires more recently. The SRAM Type 2 derailleur (and, to be fair, probably the Shadow Plus from Shimano, even though I haven’t ridden one) may be one of these products.
Here’s a little background on why I chose to jump on the Type 2 derailleur as soon as I could. A few years ago I went to a 1x9 setup on my mountain bike. Ever since nine speed cassettes came out, and even more so with ten speeds, a single ring setup makes a lot of sense. I get all the range I need for trail riding and rear shifts are just better than front. This is because the chain beneath the chainstay is under much less tension than it is above, which makes the rear derailleur’s job much easier than the front. With just a basic top only chainguide on the front, I thought I had an ideal drivetrain. However, there was one problem. Because the chain beneath the chainstay has so little tension, it would move up, down, and side-to-side with enough amplitude to derail from the bottom half of the front chainring. The first time this happened in a race was the last time. Not wanting a lower chainguide (the friction weenie in me took over), I went with a two ring set up.
Enter the SRAM Type 2 derailleur. This was exactly the item I thought would cure the chain drop issue I previously had. The fact that it was billed as reducing chain slap, and has a cool locking feature to make wheel changes easier was just a bonus. So I bought the X9 Type 2 derailleur to replace my current X0 non-Type 2, and got rid of one chainring. Is it better? Heck yes! I’ve been attacking long descents in the San Juan mountains of southwest Colorado trying to see how good it is and have yet to drop a chain. Indeed, if there’s one situation that will drop a chain it’s a good hard and fast crash. That didn’t do it either, although I didn’t feel so good afterward.
Here are some important points about the Type 2 that I’ve seen asked about on the message boards:
- It you’re running one ring up front, you should have a minimal guide of some sort (MRP 1x or E13 XCX). A Sram employee I saw at a race recently was running one of the new XX1 rings with no guide in the Pro race and said it was fine with that set up, but until XX1 is released, you’ll need a guide. He and I were both pretty stoked at the prospect of frames designed around a single ring set up in the near future.
- Chain slap is reduced a lot, but not eliminated. I don’t see a way to eliminate chain slap and still be able to shift.
- When I first saw how much Sram was talking about the cage lock feature I thought they were joking a little, but it’s a really sweet feature. Over the years more and more stuff has been getting crammed into 135mm of space between the dropouts, and getting the rear wheel in and out has gotten harder. Jacking up the tension in the rear derailleur would only make it worse. Cage lock makes wheel removal and installation, as well as chain maintenance a breeze. Very cool.
If you’re looking for a new derailleur and have ten speed shifters, get one of these. They’re so much better than what came before that I don’t think you’ll have a choice soon.
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