Prototype SRAM Rear Derailleur - First Look

Jan 26, 2012 at 0:02
Jan 26, 2012
by Mike Levy  
 
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Prototype SRAM derailleur

Clutch equipped? SRAM hasn't let any information slip at this point, but taking a closer look at the prototype unit reveals that it seems to use a standard parallelogram, the very same as SRAM employs on their XO level unit. What is clearly different, though, is the derailleur's larger than usual knuckle. What does it do? Why is it so big? There is only one reason in our minds: the prototype is an answer to Shimano's friction clutch equipped XTR Plus derailleur that uses a roller clutch to keep its cage from swinging wildly back and forth over rough terrain, helping to greatly limit chain slap. Less noise is only part of the story; there also being an actual performance gain to be had thanks to the cage's greater tension helping to keep the chain from bouncing off of the ring over rough terrain. The system has received positive reviews, and it looks as if SRAM is also ready to debut a design of their own, although we're willing to bet that the drivetrain engineers at SRAM have been tinkering with the idea for quite awhile. Roller clutches are far from new technology, after all.

Prototype SRAM derailleur

What we don't know at this point is how the system functions. We're willing to bet that the internal design differs from Shimano's enough to avoid any sort of patent issues, but can only speculate as to its makeup. From the angles shown above there doesn't seem to be any sort of on/off switch, as found on the Shimano unit in the form of a gold anodized lever, that would allow the clutch to be engaged and disengaged. If this is the case the SRAM prototype surely uses a different layout, likely simpler than found in the XTR Plus derailleur. Then again, it remains to be seen what is hidden underneath what looks to be the large torx head cap on the knuckle's outer face. SRAM has kept quiet on when we can expect to see a production unit, but the prototype shown above does look close to being finished.


Stay tuned to PB for more information as it becomes available!

www.sram.com
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156 Comments

  • + 14
 Looks like you might be able to ramp the setting up and down with that torx. Tune-ability, gotta love it
  • + 4
 That could be a cool feature. Basically adjustable cage spring tension.
[Reply]
  • + 9
 looks like any other mech to me! a operational vid would be sick to see how it works exactly
[Reply]
  • + 8
 I'll take this one and the XTR Plus. This looks like a huge improvement in derailleurs- they've been slapping around since conception.
  • + 4
 Totally agree! I was excited when I read about the XTR Plus but it felt a bit like "just make something that works". So good to see some competition.
Basically you want high speed compression damping on the cage, seems to me like one of those "why didnt anyone make this before" things.
[Reply]
  • + 7
 This could well be aimed as a 2013 product since i heard rumors a while ago about Sram working on a rear derailleur with a clutch build system similair found on the Shadow plus derailleur from Shimano.
  • + 52
 Don't SRAM know the world's ending in 2012?
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  • + 8
 Hopefully it gets the release lever. Seems to me like standard SRAM derailleurs are already tougher to get the wheel out as it is...
[Reply]
  • + 4
 i just bought an XTR M900 rear mech on ebay for about $20 shipped. they work on modern bikes with 9 gears and 34tooth rear large cog. you could buy 6-8 of these for the price of one new modern rear mech (any manuf). down with the high prices!
  • + 4
 One M900 for $20 is a lucky fluke. Six to Eight of them for $20 shipped apiece would require voodoo sacrifices, celestial alignments, an undiscovered mayan calendar that starts on 12.13.12 and goes another few thousand years, angelina jolie getting into the professional porn industry, and Arnold Schwarzenegger being elected president of the united states to all happen first.
  • + 1
 ^ lol nice. youre right $20 is a slight exaggeration, but i did score one for about $25 shipped (a fluke) and another one for about $40 shipped. so i'm averaging $32.50 so far.
[Reply]
  • + 7
 hmmmm.. is it advanced enough to solve world hunger?
[Reply]
  • + 6
 looks good its a much needed in the world of dh
[Reply]
  • + 7
 Can't Beat Shimano.
  • + 34
 Sure ya can. Just get a big hammer and beat the shit outta' them. SRAM for life. Salute
  • + 6
 Well put seraph- takes a big hammer to kill a Shimano. Sram dies on it's own.
  • + 0
 Riiiight, I'm sure Danny, Sam, Troy, Greg, Steve Peat, Steve Smith, Cam Zink and overs feel the same-
  • - 1
 It can, and it will.
  • + 7
 Shimano innovate, SRAM follow....with slicker marketing hype and rider sponsorship.
  • + 4
 well this is a pointless debate, but since we're at it for a laugh, mackaroo.. Shimano moved away from 2:1 a la SRAM... Shimano eliminated pivot at the knuckle al SRAM.. and Shimano innovated "shadow technology" (ooooooo....) a la SRAM... I think Shimano is finally making decent der's after the last 7 or 8 years of taking cues from SRAM. Everyone stoked on Shimano today is just stoked on what SRAM was offering 8 years ago. For everything else though (pedals, cranks, cassettes, chains, brakes).. i'll take Shimano over SRAM every day of the week. Good times!
  • + 3
 I'm not all about innovation, just don't like being stranded trailside. Sram stuff just falls apart. It's cheap, and that's why their warranty policy has to be great. Oh yeah, and racecase, you aren't going to get an unbiased opinion from someone who is paid to use the junk.
  • + 3
 I went through an X5 and an X7 in the space of a month. I was furious, i'm paying for something to last! So I thought, maybe I should try Shimano? My SLX derailleur has lasted for about half a year and still going strong. I don't care how much pro-SRAM points are made, in my personal experience I will go shimano every time.
  • + 4
 Cheers w-e-w, appreciate what you're saying. It just seems to me that Shimano make genuine technological advances such as hyperglide, hollowtech, SPD, dual shift, STI, etc. (ok, forget biopace!). Understand what you're saying though - Shimano had become a bit stangent in a market they dominated before SRAM came along - the healthy competition is good for the consumer.

In my personal experience SRAM stuff falls apart very quickly, but Shimano just keeps on trucking. SRAM does come in pretty colours though!

Agreed, this is a slightly pointless debate - although strangely enough I'd rather have a SRAM chain than a Shimano?!
Shake hands and agree to disagree ;+)
  • + 1
 IMO Shimano makes superior cassettes and front derailleurs but that's about it. I always run SRAM shifters, rear derailleurs, and chains. Been running an X.9 short cage derailleur with an X.7 shifter for a few months now and it works flawlessly. 11-36 cassette and 34t ring with an E.13 LG-1 TR.
  • + 2
 I have used both Sram and Shimano (X9 and XT shadow) and in my experience my Sram mech feels better when shifting, it doesnt skip around the cassette where as the shimano just annoys me any bumps seems to make the chain jump up or down the cassette. Also the 2:1 auctuation from Shimano is shocking. Personally i prefer Sram to Shimano.
  • + 1
 I have a SRAM X9 I still feel my other Deore XT is better, smoother. But at first i thought the X9 was better but with use it starts to die... Even with all the adjustment in the world...
  • + 2
 Funny, I've been using my X.9 for quite a while and it's still working flawlessly. No adjustments necessary.
  • + 1
 Anythingmtb, you obviously havent tried the 2012 XTR drivetrain.

Drool
  • + 2
 No i havent tried the 2012 xtr because its a little bit too expensive and from experience i would rather spend money on sram. Has anyone used a saint rear mech and are they worth buying?
  • + 0
 Saint 9-speed feels like poo unless you're using an XTR trigger. Wait for the Saint 10-speed group.
  • + 1
 I like XT and XTR, but wasnt a fan of the Saint.
  • + 1
 I love my saint! but if you say an xtr shifter will be gooood, I might aswell upgrade!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 The industry should develop a new dh bike frame standard around the PINEON gearbox ! Same weight as a conventional system, but perfect placement (as low as possible)! Only drawback is that they still didn`t develop a thumb/index finger engaged shifter!! Grip shift for dh is still a no-go for me!
  • + 1
 You mean pinion gearbox pinion.eu/discover-pinion/pinion-p1-18 ? It weight more then 3kg. Conventional systems weight less then 2kg
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  • + 1
 Think I'll wait for the new saint group set, my XTR lever bled to Saint callipers have insane modulation, best brakes I've ever had and I have had them all. Looks interesting but its just a copy of what shimano did last year. XTR all the way for me.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Wow that's a lot of comments... Just going back to racecase's comment, there's likely a good reason all those pro's ride SRAM. They get paid loads of money! Having been a mechanic for years, I well know the top SRAM kit is good, and works well in the mud, but when you want to spend a little less for reasonable performance, for example buying a Shimano Sora for DH, works and lasts very well for the price. Buy an X7 or X5 mech for a similar price and it's likely to fall out of the box in about 17 pieces.
  • + 1
 I've got SX5 on my hardtail, had X7 on my old coiler, and have X7 on the new operator. I've never been let down by any of them, and the only advantages of the X0 on my 2stage are the super-short cage that isn't available on the cheaper stuff, and the weight.
  • + 1
 weeeell, my friend had the X7 on his operator, and his cracked as soon as he hit this 40 foot drop, I think that shimano is much better, in my mind.
  • + 1
 Lmao, 40 foot? Sure. Cool story bro, etc.
  • + 1
 Yeahah bro, come and do it
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Will the adjustment tool of choice still be a Dremel? I'm bored of having to Dremel / file the bloody things every time the cage twists and hits the main pivot. It's been the same for years and SRAM do feck all about it.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 This is going to be good, when it hits the market I'm def buying it. It's everything Ive been looking for in a new SRAM dérailleur.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Pinkbike news feed formula=endless product hype. Ride what you have.
  • + 4
 I'm with you on this. I still rock a X-9 1x9 setup, simply because I don't want to change my chain every 800 miles. I'd go for a 1x8 if I could get decent SRAM parts. A burlier chain stretches less and stresses less the rest of the drivetrain.
  • + 0
 A burlier chain does not necessarily stretch less. the narrower pins on a 10 speed would flex less and deal with chainline better. That said, i think eight gears on the back are enough, certainly for dh.
  • + 2
 Obviously you need a functional, fun, fast bike...but I think it's important to draw a line before your gear starts to own you!!!
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  • + 5
 Looks the same as any other sram mech...
  • + 30
 Not so much.. look at the knuckle.
  • + 11
 what's the knuckle...?
  • + 86
 ^ there is a miniature Vivid Air inside to help dampen chain slap...obviously
  • + 24
 it looks like a ... mech , i'll pay 400 $ for it and be fastest gear changer in tha WORLD.
  • - 15
 Why can't derailleurs have the two wheels touching basically touching eachother? That would be a lot better clearance! Whats to gain with the long jockey arm anyways?
  • + 8
 to take up the chain growth. longer arms take up more chain etc, so too little would leave you with a very loose chain.
  • + 7
 probably a more simple way to explain it is to allow you to run a wider range of gears. xc bikes have a wide range so they have a long cage. downhill bikes have a much smaller range so they use a shorter cage
  • + 5
 oh ya... right. lol.
  • + 4
 ^ assuming you didn't know the answer to your question; why didn't you suggest just having ONE cog for clearance? hahah
  • + 27
 Derailleur's suck, go to hell with it! Give us a lightweight reliable gear box, the one we should have had 5 years ago. I'm so sick of this crap idea hanging off the side of my bike just waiting to get broken cause it only weighs 200 grams. Take your stupid copy cat knuckle and get the hell out! Quit trying to put a band-aid on a outdated idea, Mr. Campy did not intend for this idea to last forever, he believed in progress, so go on and get on with it, someone, design a good gearbox or internal hub so we can start laughing about how stupid derailleurs were.
  • + 9
 I agree, just wasn't so upset about it.... but honestly, derailleurs are probably the most outdated bike part atm.
  • + 3
 People havn't noticed it but take a good look at the rear brake for instance,looks like they have been working on a new 4 piston Elixir brake!.
  • + 2
 Have a look at what zerode have done with their downhill bike. Probably the best gearbox idea out there
  • + 2
 Front suspension in the form of a telescopic fork is arguably more outdated. Check out BMW's Duolever and Telelever.
  • + 1
 Metal and rubber. That's all you need mark !
  • + 2
 whyte did the duolever long before bmw with the preston
  • + 1
 Yeah and then they will charge some stupid amount of money for it. Shove it, i'll stick with my X9....
  • + 1
 Yeah protour, this is exactly what I said when they came out with the xtr plus. By the look of it, I highly doubt it's going to be a revolution. On top of it, it's probably going to be worth a small fortune and I really have a hard time convincing myself that it's worth investing any more than the strict minimum on the one part that is the most prone to get destroyed.
  • + 1
 I totally agree that a gearbox would be the best, the problem is that neither sram nor shimano will make it because
1) people are still weight weenies (even though the modern day world cup DH bike is 30ish lbs, look back 5-10 years and it was 40, thats a 25% reduction but we're still chasing those 10ths of a gram)
2) Gearboxs require the frames to be designed around them and Shimano and SRAM are about putting out a universal product for the industry standard
that simple, too heavy and not universalizable, bummer
  • + 1
 1) Weight weenie maybe if you're a racer its not going to matter in the end but as a weekend warrior i wouldnt mind adding a pound on my bike if it made it a lot more bombproof in the end. Pretty sure I'm not alone on that one and that's coming from someone who doesn't weight much so a lighter bike makes an even bigger difference for me.
2) That's the main problem I see. The innovation will have to come from the frame makers. I don't really see it coming from sram/shimano as they'd basically have to tell the bike makers how to build their bike if the drivetrain has to be an integral part of the frame. I'm not sure shimano wants to get into that and I'm not sure bike makers would welcome that either.
  • + 1
 There is no reson for it to be built into frames , 3 speed internal hubs have been around since the start of the 20 th century so there is no reason why with the advances in tech today that it can't be a 6 speed internal or more.
  • + 1
 they have 7 speed internal hubs on low end bikes right now btw.
  • + 1
 Internal hubs are not the same as gearboxes btw
  • + 1
 I should clarify, mechanically they may be similar (planetary gearing designs or what not) but the big advantage of a gearbox over an interal hub is placement: centered and unsprung and non-rotational. Clear winner on those benchmarks. Why are internal hubs more prevelant on the market then gearboxes? because Shimano and SRAM can make them for a market as is no frame mod neccesary. The penalties though are so huge that you never see them on a sprung bike, just cruisers and hybrid exercise bikes and maybe a nice hardtail (think the highend Rohloffs hubs), but you never see em on FS bikes, and i'm willing to bet its not just cuz peps can get a tensioner to take up the slack when unsprung.

If we can shift gears here (pun intended) this is one of the cooler innovations in the bicycle gear box world. Way far from production viability but still, CVT on a bike, blows my mind
ls1.pinkbike.org/185/sprt/i/kvid/kvid-rms1.10.swf?ad=0&a=0&l=0&w=640&h=480&dur=372.00&u=videosift.com/video/Infinitely-Variable-Gearbox-For-Bikes&uid=1811&id=758&title=Derek%20Lahr&un=spoiledgoods&i=lv1.pinkbike.org/vt/1/vt-758.jpg&t=1328906863
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Looks like old Sachs Plasma Wink
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I have the xtr plus on my all mt. bike it works very well, however when they make it in a short cage for my dh rig it will the best thing since tubeless tires!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 mmmmmmmmmm...nice !!!! I wanna know the brakes ??? i love AVID!! i have code now the old one i think the 07 but for this year wanna buy the new one the look amazing !!!!but what is that one on that pic ????
[Reply]
  • + 2
 i have xtr shadow plus dont think sram looks as good but i supose its how it rides
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Personally, I like the "prototype" look, very stealthy looking. Second of all, it's a prototype guys, it's In production and being tested.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 All this speculation assumes that Shimano doesn't sue SRAM for patent infringement first.
  • + 3
 why? from the outside it looks nothing like shimano's and im sure they arent stupid enough to design the internals like theirs too
  • + 1
 Outward appearance doesn't matter for regular patents... design patents sure, but for things involving mechanisms and ideas... not so much. They may not have a similar clutch mechanism, but it depends what is in shimano's shadow plus patent description. I'm sure knowing shimano's patent history that they didn't simply file a patent for a very specific design of a derailleur with a clutch mechanism in the cage pivot. SRAM and Shimano have a long history of suing one another over patent and design infringements, and getting court injuctions to hold up sales of products.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Give me a break ! There is no such clutch .
[Reply]
  • + 2
 what a surprise!!!!!!!!!!!??????
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  • + 1
 Hydro fluid behind that torx cap with a dampening circuit keeping things quiet and smooth!!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 nice bike, I hear those are quite fast.
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  • + 2
 anyone notice the 4 piston brakes?
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  • + 1
 Ugly duckling and that long cage is still gonna bend like crazy when it meets a rock.
  • + 85
 It is a prototype - you know something in the works... It is not pretty, but I think the idea is to make it work first and then go to aesthetics next.
  • + 15
 Hence the phrase ugly duckling...
  • + 98
 People care about how derailleurs look?
  • + 2
 Yeah but it's not going to look pretty if its still a prototype you fools, they aren't going to make it look its best for just testing it.
  • + 7
 Oh you should to!! You would be suprised to know how many girls juges a derailleur. NAH...people are crazy now and day on the aesthetics of their bike!
  • + 1
 Agree! who cares what a little component look like. If it preforms well and fits under you budget then go for it! I mean don't get me wrong I still enjoy a "Cadillac" of a bike but I mean aesthetics should be last on your list especially in mountain biking where shit breaks!
  • + 40
 Oh you guys didn't get the memo? Its not how fast or smooth you ride. its how good you look.
  • + 9
 If the dérailleur cage "meets a rock" then you must be doing something wrong in the first place.
  • + 3
 dingus - not always
  • + 0
 A 'cadillac of a bike', really? I'd associate that more with something like the old uzzi's Razz
  • - 6
 Hate how much sram jumps on the new product bandwagon. They need to try coming up with some great ideas on their own.
  • - 1
 Isn't that a medium cage? o_O
  • + 4
 It's a strange phenomena... as a sport grows in size, whether it be biking, skiing or snowboarding, the influx of kids who care about how their gear looks more than the sport itself grows exponentially. It sounds ridiculous but fashion is becoming a first priority to a lot of kids, especially in park skiing right now.
  • - 2
 I'd guess it's a medium cage, as the bike is a tracer AM bike, that they'll be running a double ring up front (guess by the way). A short cage is better for single ring antics, but won't work as well on a double/triple setup.
  • + 1
 ^The bike is running a single ring. That's a Truvativ X0 Guide (single ring) with a Truvativ X-guide (dual ring) lower pulley cover - kinda odd. But yes, that's a medium cage. In my experience medium cages work better on wide-range cassettes (BTW, the largest cassette cog could be bigger than 36t by the look of it....).
  • + 1
 Aha I didn't even see the single ring! It's been a long day! but ye short cages are better when you don't have a wide spread of gears.
  • + 0
 People that don't care about how derailleurs (and other comps.) look get Paul.
  • + 2
 To Noah: I had the chance to see a glimpse of the Scott 2013 lineup two weeks ago, when chatting with the local distributor. Cassettes go as wide as a 12-42 in the 29er AM segment. Hence the bigger P-knucle in that rear derailleur.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 what about those brakes? looking very clean.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 saw this on facebook and 2 minutes later on Pinkbike hahaha
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  • + 2
 where have i seen this before?
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  • + 1
 Is there an Automatic gearbox system for MTBs yet? based on power into the chain? if not, why not Smile
[Reply]
  • + 1
 well, i bought one of these, sold in a week! it work for not letting the chain slap. BUT it does't shift worst shit.
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  • + 2
 I'm more stoked to see the 1x10 or 1x??- check out the size of that ring!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 If it's like shadow plus, designed to negate the use of a chain device on trail bikes, why is it fitted to a trail bike with a chain device?

Just a thought!
  • + 0
 Exactly what I was thinking.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 How much is it going to cost? That is the biggest question.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 wake me up when gearboxes are refined, till then I'll stick to single speed.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Still don't like the fact that SRAM changers stick out a country mile! Give me shadow technology anytime ;-)
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Love it !My singlespeed just grand ! Guess I could use it on my santa cruz
[Reply]
  • + 1
 nobody noticed that "new" brake caliper?
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  • + 1
 I would buy it if its under 80
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  • + 1
 Nothing beats the sweet shift of single gears. Wink .
[Reply]
  • + 1
 a short cage one would be nice
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  • + 1
 Looks great! But im still waiting for hydraulic shifting
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  • + 1
 looks like it was invented during the war, old school look
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  • + 1
 more intrested in the intense with than shock, it looks ridiculous!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 My bets are infinitely adjustable tension on the knuckle. Shimano only has 2 option no in between.
  • + 2
 Not true. You can adjust the tension of the Shadow Plus by removing the cover and using the tool that's under the cover.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Still two steps behind Shimano.
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  • + 2
 Where is the revolution?
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  • + 1
 What tune would that vivid be on that tracer? High?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 shorten the cage for downhill
  • + 1
 they already have that
[Reply]
  • + 0
 i bet you thats not what they are actually working on Wink the REAL "new SRAM Derailleur" is in the other room Wink
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Love the bike! Go T2!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 there also appear to be an indexing mark by the large torx head
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  • - 3
 "What is clearly different, though, is the derailleur's larger than usual knuckle. What does it do? Why is it so big?"
Just a bigger spring underneath the torx cap? Either way not really that interesting...
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Why waste time with this? Move on to the perfect gearbox already.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Anyone else notice the brake caliper? looks like a 4 pot brake, but not like a code.
  • + 0
 My guess would be a new code caliper that they made look a little more "elixery" ha.. And probably still just as bad as every other avid brake..
  • + 1
 Quad Piston XO brake..?..?...
  • + 1
 yep it's a 4pot X0.
[Reply]
  • - 1
 looks lika a sram deraileur with a matte black finish? and a star allen
[Reply]
  • + 0
 learn to talk please
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