My Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs (Reviews & Buying Guide)

My Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs (Reviews & Buying Guide)

Are you looking at replacing your bike’s old derailleur, or you just want to have the entire drive train upgraded?

Here is our top picks of the best mountain bike derailleurs available today in the market

QUICK ANSWERS: MY BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE DERAILLEURS

  • SHIMANO DEORE XT RD-M772Best for trail riders looking for a super quiet 9-speed derailleur
  • SRAM RED ETAPbest for flawless shifting without wires
  • SHIMANO ACERAbest budget rear derailleur for people looking for great performance
  • SRAM XXBest for riders looking for an incredibly lightweight 10-speed derailleur
  • SRAM X5 9-SpeedBest for smooth and precise shifting on any trail
  • SHIMANO M640 ZEEbest option for people looking for 2×10 setups with the latest clutch innovation
  • SRAM X4 8-SPEED Best option if you are looking for a versatile yet affordable rear derailleur
  • SHIMANO RD-TZ 31 – Best for flawless and precise shifting on a road bike
  • SRAM Force 22 Best for extra durability on tough and technical trails while doing mountain biking

 

MY BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE DERAILLEURS COMPARISON:

Product:
Features:
Pros/Cons:
Price:
Best for trail riders looking for a super quiet 9-speed derailleur
Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs
SHIMANO DEORE XT RD-M772
-Supports single front: YES
-Weight: 227g
  • Durable aluminum construction
  • lightweight
  • smooth and quiet shifting
  • sluggish in cold weather
  • limited lowest gear options
best for flawless shifting without wires
Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs
SRAM RED ETAP
-Supports single front:  NO
-Weight: 239g
  • No wires
  • incredibly accurate
  • smooth
  • quite affordable
best budget rear derailleur for people looking for great performance
Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs
SHIMANO ACERA
-Supports single front:  YES
-Weight: 310
  • Extremely durable
  • rapid-fire shifters smooth action
  • great gear range
  • Heavier than most alternatives
Best for riders looking for an incredibly lightweight 10-speed derailleur
Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs
SRAM XX
-Supports single front:  YES
-Weight:   181g
  • extremely lightweight
  • quality build
  • smooth and exceptional precise
  • Quite expensive
Best for smooth and precise shifting on any trail
Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs
SRAM X5 9-Speed
-Supports single front:  YES
-Weight: 215g
  • Budget-friendly
  • fast and smooth shifting
  • lightweight
  • durable
  • extremely thin cage can easily bend
best option for people looking for 2x10 setups with the latest clutch innovation
Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs
SHIMANO M640 ZEE
-Supports single front: YES
-Weight: 268g
  • incredibly precise
  • durable
  • new clutch technology
  • does not offer triple support
Best option if you are looking for a versatile yet affordable rear derailleur
Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs
SRAM X4 8-SPEED
-Supports single front: YES 
-Weight: 310
  • Sturdy constructions
  • fast
  • precise shifting
  • affordable and versatile
  • must be used only with SRAM shifter
Best for flawless and precise shifting on a road bike
Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs
SHIMANO RD-TZ 31 
-Supports single front: YES
-Weight: 280g
  • easy installation
  • precise shifting
  • keeps the tension of the chain
  • screws seem to scrape real fast
Best for extra durability on tough and technical trails while doing mountain biking
Best Mountain Bike Derailleurs
SRAM Force 22
-Supports single front: YES
-Weight: 178g
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • multiple speeds
  • jockey wheels rides don’t hang up
  • Quite heavy
  • expensive

MY BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE DERAILLEURS REVIEWS:

SHIMANO DEORE XT RD-M772

  • Supports single front: YES
  • Weight: 227g
  • Pros: Durable aluminum construction, lightweight, smooth and quiet shifting
  • Cons: sluggish in cold weather, limited lowest gear options

SRAM RED ETAP

 

  • Supports single front:  NO
  • Weight: 239g
  • Pros: No wires, incredibly accurate, smooth
  • Cons: quite affordable

SHIMANO ACERA REAR DERAILLEUR

  • Supports single front:  YES
  • Weight: 310
  • Pros: Extremely durable, rapid-fire shifters smooth action, great gear range,
  • Cons: Heavier than most alternatives

SRAM XX

  • Supports single front:  YES
  • Weight:   181g
  • Pros: extremely lightweight, quality build, smooth and exceptional precise
  • Cons: Quite expensive

SRAM X5 9-Speed Rear Derailleur

  • Supports single front:  YES
  • Weight: 215g
  • Pros: Budget-friendly, fast and smooth shifting, lightweight, durable
  • Cons: its’ extremely thin cage can easily bend

SHIMANO M640 ZEE

  • Supports single front: YES
  • Weight: 268g
  • Pros:  incredibly precise, durable, new clutch technology
  • Cons: does not offer triple support

SRAM X4 8-SPEED REAR DERAILLEUR

  • Supports single front: YES 
  • Weight: 310
  • Pros:  Sturdy constructions, fast, and precise shifting, affordable and versatile
  • Cons: must be used only with SRAM shifter

SHIMANO RD-TZ 31 Rear Derailleur 7-speed Hub Bolt Mount

  • Supports single front: YES
  • Weight: 280g
  • Pros:  easy installation, precise shifting, keeps the tension of the chain
  • Cons: screws seem to scrape real fast

SRAM Force 22 Rear Derailleur

  • Supports single front: YES
  • Weight: 178g
  • Pros: Heavy-duty construction, multiple speeds, jockey wheels rides don’t hang up
  • Cons: Quite heavy, expensive

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE DERAILLEUR:

Just like when you are shopping for any other part of your bike, there is a lot that goes into choosing new derailleurs. There are a couple of things you need to factor at all times. You can’t just hit one of the stores in town and pick a design you first set your eyes on.

Shimano vs. SRAM Derailleurs?

These are two popular brands in the world and deciding on which one to go for depends on a number of things. Derailleurs by these two companies are not the same. For example; they differ greatly on how their rear mechanics work, especially the cable pull ratio. The pull ratio is basically the amount of cable your shifter pulls in order to move the mech to the next gear.

SRAM Derailleurs offer a 1:1 actuation ration. This means the cable movement and mechanical movement are technically the same. Shimano, on the other hand, uses a 2:1 actuation ratio. This means the mechanics move twice for at any given amount of cable movement.

Both standards are said to come with their own share of advantages. For example, SRAM is said to be more tolerant of dirt in the cable. It is also quite great when it comes to dealing with poor adjustment. Shimano, on the other hand, is one of the most preferred choices for most riders because of its smooth, fluid shifting mechanism.

In the end; there is no definite answer to what you should go for. It all depends on what you want and what you can afford. It is as simple as that.

Electric or Mechanical

Mechanical derailleurs have been around for years, but with new technology coming in, they are fast being replaced with electric derailleurs. The two brands, STRAM and Shimano, now have quite a range of electric derailleurs in the market.  Electric derailleurs are now being sort by most riders because this new innovation is faster and incredibly precise.

However, if you are thinking of upgrading from mechanical to electric derailleur it is important to know that you will need to have a complete overhaul of their entire drive train; you will need to get a new shifter, brakes and front derailleurs that are compatible with the new system.

Nonetheless, if you are still happy about mechanical derailleurs, do not be tempted to switch to electric yet.  Electric derailleurs are quite pricey and you will be forced to dig dipper into your pocket.

Number of gears

Whether you are buying a new one or you are planning on replacing the old derailleur you have, it is important you consider the exact number of sprockets you need and also what your existing set up can actually handle. When it comes to this part, you are going to be stick to what you had. However, if you are also going to get a set of new shifters, you are going to get a wide range of options.

A pretty good number of shifter designs we have in the market can work so well with a particular rear cassette size mostly, 9, 10, 11 or even 12. These two parts need to match for if you have a 9-speed derailleur and you have a 12-speed shifter, you will end up breaking the entire spoke. You will be over shifting.

Compatibility

This is one of the biggest dilemmas facing a lot of shoppers; compatibility. In a way, this could limit the number of options you could actually go for, especially if you are not looking at doing a complete overhaul of the entire drive train. Technically, the front derailleur, cassette and your shifters must be compatible and match at all times. There is no way you can go around it.

Cage Length

Most modern derailleurs are available in three cage lengths; short, medium or and long. Each one of these lengths suits different applications. For example, those short cage lengths are definitely a perfect choice for single front chainrings, a medium will go with doubles and lastly long are great for a triple.

Tuning & Adjusting

This largely depends on the company that makes the derailleur. For instance, compared to SPRAM, Shimano is known to design the best. Their derailleurs can be tuned and adjusted with so much ease. This could be the reason why their derailleurs are quite popular among most riders.

Clutches

A great innovation ever to be unveiled; it is found in derailleurs and does come with some practical benefits. It actually keeps the chain on the gear even during those bumpy rides. Normally, those fast changes in force can actually make the chain to go slack. That can result in a lot of noise and the chain dropped. Thankfully, the clutch is designed to help prevent all that from happening. The clutch ensures proper tension on the chain is kept in place at all times.

We currently have different brands come with their own system. For example; Shimano has Type-3 while SRAM on the other hand offer Type 2. They come with almost the same level of performance. So deciding on which one to go for shouldn’t be a big issue.

Weight

If you are a serious racer or you once in a while go for those long distances rides with your bike, you probably would want to keep the weight of your derailleur as low as possible as that will contribute to the overall weight of your bike. For this, you need a lighter derailleur.

Those very expensive models often weigh less. In other cases, derailleurs made from carbon or aluminum materials are also incredibly light. However, they are durable and that might cost you a little more extra. Nonetheless, if you just want something affordable, but still lighter, you can go for one that combines both aluminum and steel.

Finish

Lastly, when buying your derailleurs, you might also want to consider the finish. Yes, it doesn’t in any way affect the performance of your derailleur but is a very important consideration.  This modern and high-quality models come with an elegant, sleek look and will definitely attract attention. Plus, that expertly done finish can help protect your derailleur from those harsh weather elements and ensure it last for a considerable length of time. But remember, that great finish will cost you a little extra money

How to care for your derailleurs

After spending quite share of your savings on the best mountain bike derailleur in the market, obviously, you want these parts to last longer. The only way you can make this possible is by making sure, it is properly maintained. Here is a quick look at how you can ensure this part remains clean at all times.

  • Degrease it

When you are ready to carry out a proper cleaning, instead of disassembling the whole thing, the best thing is to start by spraying it down with the best degreaser. This will drive out grease right from the inside of the pivots.

  • Clean inside the cages

Armed with a brush, scrape off dirt build-up on the inside of the cages of both rear and front derailleurs. You can take things a little bit higher and you have the chain removed for a thorough cleaning. It doesn’t stop there; make sure you clean off the grime. If it has been a while since you had the jockey wells cleaned, chances are it is caked with grime. Use a rag and make sure all that residual grime is wiped off.

  • Inspect the jockey wheels

These are moving parts and they are subjected to wear and tear. Check for the wear and if they need any replacement, have it done. If there are still in perfect condition, oil the wheels. Ideally, it doesn’t matter if you are replacing or just maintaining the old one, these parts will appreciate a few lubrication.

  • Lubricate the pivots

Lastly, ensure the pivots are properly lubricated. There are actually 4 pivots on the rear derailleur and 2 on the front. It needs to be properly lubricated as that will allow for better shifting.

Bottom Line

That said, obviously, it doesn’t matter if you are looking at upgrading this part or have the whole drive train replace, you need to factor in the above-mentioned things. They will not only help you nail a perfect set of derailleurs for your bike, but also one that will perform and meet your needs.

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