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Here’s the Punchline: Sometimes You Just Need a New Stinkin’ Derailleur


May 2021

The shifting on my rain bike has been something of a mess for quite a while. It wasn’t horrible, it just wasn’t perfect. It was… really, really close, but really, really close is only good in horse shoes and hand grenades.

If, and I do mean “if”, I got it dialed in so the bike shifted up and down the cassette crisply, one gear would catch and skip… usually in the small cogs. Again, it wasn’t terrible, it just… lacked. Now, this gets fun. I found if I mixed the seven smallest cogs of a Shimano cassette with the three big cogs from a SRAM PG-1070, 98% of perfection was achievable. I know. I’m a bit of a geek that way. The problem with that flawless shifting was that the chain would make the faintest skipping noise even though the shifting was right on. This drove me a little nuts (and likely those who drafted behind me, though my wife said she never really noticed).

This was in stark contrast to my Venge, which is perfect. And that perfection magnified the lacking of the Trek to a point it diminished from my wanting to ride it (thus, I took my Venge on our northerly road trip a couple of weeks ago).

So, whilst perusing the interwebz the other day, I happened upon a glorious find… a brand new Shimano 105 5701 GS rear derailleur. It was magnificent and only $45. I ordered that and a set of pulley wheels for my wife’s bike.

Well, Thursday night after I got home from the office, I changed that sucker out and took her for a ride. And… 98% became 99%.

Halfway through my ride, I knew exactly what the problem was… the chain was barely slipping on the 4th biggest cog… the first on the transition from the SRAM to the Shimano cogs.

When I got home, I dug out an old SRAM PG-1070 that I used on the Venge for less than a season. It’s a very nice, $86 cassette, but I didn’t like it on the Venge. An Ultegra was better for… well, I just wanted to keep the Ultegra line on the Venge. I slapped that almost new cassette on the Trek, shifted a few times… and zero skipping and no annoying noises.

It is beautiful. And with that out of the way, I’d been toiling away, trying to find the drag in the system that was messing up my shifting for way too long. I’d replace a cable housing here and an end-cap there. I thought it could have been a housing length issue, maybe… I was just about to take it to the shop when I found that derailleur on Jenson. Sometimes you just need a new stinkin’ derailleur.

Of course, choosing between bikes will be that much more difficult, now. But that’s a good kind of difficult.

PS. By the way, I set the thing up myself, from Hi and Lo limit screws to the B screw… and got it exactly right within ten minutes. That I didn’t screw it up had me pretty ecstatic.


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