First Ride: TRP's DH7 Shifter & 'Hall Lock' Equipped Derailleur

Sep 4, 2019
by Mike Kazimer  

Prototypes of TRP's DH-specific derailleur and shifter made their World Cup debut on Aaron Gwin's bike back in 2018, and several teams have been using the DH7 drivetrain between the tape this season.

The components are now available to the general public, marking TRP's first official step into the drivetrain arena. The shifter and derailleur were designed with extensive input from Aaron Gwin and his mechanic, John Hall; the derailleur even has a feature called the 'Hall Lock' that came from that partnership.
TRP DH7 Details
Derailleur
• Adjustable ratcheting clutch
• Hall Lock B-knuckle lock
• Carbon cage and upper link
• Weight: 281 grams (actual)
• Price: $179.90 USD

Shifter
• Carbon fiber upper housing and advance lever
• Adjustable lever
• Weight: 111 grams (actual)
• $119.99 USD
trpcycling.com

The positioning of the advance lever can be adjusted 20-degrees in either direction.
Grooves on the shift levers provide extra thumb traction.

Shifter

The 7-speed shifter has grooved paddles to help provide extra traction and hopefully prevent any missed shifts. It's possible to shift up the cassette five gears at a time, while the release lever allows for one shift to a harder gear at a time. That release lever is positioned so that it can be reached by moving your thumb either over or underneath the advance lever depending on rider preference. The carbon fiber advance lever can be adjusted within a 40-degree range for an extra level of cockpit customization.


The ratcheting clutch mechanism can be toggled on and off via a sliding switch.

The Hall Lock open...
...and closed.


Derailleur

The feature that sets TRP's short-cage derailleur apart is the Hall Lock, the lever that's located to the left of the mounting bolt. Flipping that lever to the closed position effectively locks the B-knuckle in place, which keeps the derailleur from bouncing around and creating unwanted noise or chain movement. The tension of the Hall Lock is adjustable, and the lever allows it to be turned off for wheel changes or derailleur adjustments.

Along with the Hall Lock, the derailleur also has an adjustable, ratcheting clutch mechanism. The clutch adjustment is hidden behind the pulley wheel, which can make it a little tricky to get to without removing the wheel. It's a relatively fine adjustment, too, and an eighth of a turn can make a noticeable difference in how tight the clutch is. Other details include sealed cartridge bearing pulleys and a carbon fiber cage and upper link.




Ride Impressions

I've put in five days of bike park laps aboard the DH7 drivetrain so far, enough time to get a solid feel for the ergonomics and performance of the shifter and derailleur combo.

Installation was quick and easy, and I appreciated the fact that there weren't any tiny screws to fumble with when performing a cable swap. The clutch mechanism provided plenty of tension to keep the derailleur's cage from extending forward too easily, although the ratcheting mechanism is audible if there's not much other noise going on – you can hear the cage return to its home position when the bike is unweighted. When I was bombing down the trail with a full face helmet on it wasn't as noticeable, but it's there. The Hall Lock worked as intended, holding the derailleur securely in place and away from the frame. How much difference it makes will vary from bike to bike, but the fact that it's adjustable is a nice touch.

The shifting feel isn't quite as light and refined as what you'll find with SRAM's DH drivetrain – it takes a little more effort to shift up or down, but each shift generates a positive 'click'. I got along well with the actual shape of the shifter, and it didn't take any time at all to get used to the positioning.

On my fifth day of riding I ran into an issue I haven't experienced in years – I went to add a little cable tension and noticed that the barrel adjuster had snapped off inside the shifter. I'm not exactly sure what the cause could have been – I hadn't had any memorable crashes or collisions, and the shifter itself is free of any scratches or other damage. It's a pretty easy fix, but it's still far from ideal.

It's great to have another competitor in the mix, and the DH7 derailleur does have several novel features that set it apart, but the price vs. performance ratio isn't quite enough to elevate it above the level of SRAM and Shimano's offerings. Still, it's going to be interesting to see what else TRP bring to the table in the future.







55 Comments

  • 12 0
 I don't understand the Hall lock. Does that mean it's a double pivot rear derailleur, like the old Shimano stuff (or the current lower end road stuff)? Any idea why they went with that design? I could be wrong, but as far as I know most modern rear derailleurs are single pivot, and they only rotate at the upper pivot when you adjust the B screw, and they don't "bounce around" at that pivot point because the chain tension keeps everything tight. Or? All wrong? Big Grin
  • 2 0
 I heard some mechanics would lock the main pivot of Sram derailleurs to sound proof the transmission. I guess this is it, lock/unlock it as you wish.
Mine was bouncing and I could have broken the chip where the adjustment bolt sits on.
  • 16 0
 A chain on a Downhill Bike in a rock garden looks more like Wacky Waving Arm Flailing Tube Man, it's doesn't keep anything tight
  • 12 0
 @andrew9: Oh okay. I guess I don't shred the gnar hard enough.
  • 8 0
 @HollyBoni: It's because you don't look at our drivetrain from the side when riding. Or you does but that's not a good position you have on your bike.
  • 3 0
 @qreative-bicycle: I do this on all Sram der for aggressive riders. Not only does it cut down on noise but also keeps the der from bouncing out of gear when it gets rough
  • 2 1
 @andrew9: Both of those things were present at MSA last week and I can say, Mr. Gwin's bike (and a few others') was surprisingly quite.
  • 5 0
 @avg-roadie: Would love to hear some more details on how you go about doing this!
  • 1 0
 I do this for my shimano zee. but if you lock that screw it's hard to get the rear wheel out because the derailleur is in the way
  • 2 0
 @avg-roadie: How is this done?
  • 1 0
 I don't get the Hall Lock either. It sounds like another clutch mechanism, but it also has a ratcheting clutch as well. Double Clutch like Double Dutch jump roping?
  • 8 1
 How about no derailleur? Doesn’t a Pinion gearbox DH bike make the most sense?
  • 1 0
 @B650wagon: SS for life
  • 4 1
 @Bflutz625: SS? Pff. Go chainless.
  • 1 0
 @B650wagon: I believe at World champs in Cairns a couole years back there was a guy running a Pinion gear box and when he took off out of the start ramp the transmission fully grenaded.

Anyone else remember this?
  • 2 0
 All I remember is a bunch of chains and derailleurs breaking, dropped chains...
  • 1 0
 All wrong. The pivot does move while descending on technical trail but very little. This is due to forces from both chain growth and impacts causing the main pivot to move slightly.
  • 2 0
 @tacklingdummy: Grab your derailleur and move it using the main pivot point. The hall lock prevents that movement rendering a solid non-moving pivot point.
  • 1 0
 If i'm not mistaken, i've read somewhere Gee doesnt lock his derailleur because it'll limit the suspension movement when he's with Shimano. And when my Saint clutch mechanism broke down on my Endorphin i did find the suspension more freely (less jacked). I guess i'd take a bit of rattle for an active suspension.
  • 1 0
 @zulki-fly: So remove your chain
  • 3 0
 @likeittacky: I did it once and i almost got hurt because tried to pedal a section full of roots. Guess it’s a habbit thing.
  • 2 0
 @zulki-fly: Lock out the cranks too!
  • 1 0
 @HollyBoni: hahaha, it’s not a bicycle then mate.
  • 7 0
 Bit of a general open question but since the chain is a limiting factor on the performance of the rear suspension (chainless is always touted as giving the suspension better performance) then would a clutch , even as useful as they are, impede the suspension performance a little more than no clutch?
In a magical theoretical world would a system where the chain could decouple for downhills and then reconnect when you need to pedal be perfect?
  • 14 1
 yes. that's why Gee's bike has been spotted with a ghost gear (replacing one cog with a spacer).
  • 5 0
 @colincolin: that's kinda cool but a hella gutsy call - forgetting you're in that gear could hurrrrrt!
  • 3 1
 @colincolin: maybe a Freecoaster with DH hub size would work better, nothing to worry about engage/disengage the ghost gear. It might work like the Canyon concept but without trigger.
  • 9 0
 Clutch doesn't do much as it is on the bottom side of the chain.
Some bikes does have a quite neutral kickback and are working similarly with or without a chain.
For others, when the chain is under tension (the upper part of the chain, so, either when pedalling or when braking), it does add some "new" characteristics to the suspension. It can be unwanted or it can be wanted by the frame's designer.
There is some brands that tried to reduce these things. Canyon had a prototype "freewheel clutch".
I don't know if they kept the idea.
If you really want to reduce the chain tension effect on the suspension, it's actually quite easy with modern tools to make a frame with just a little kickback so you don't have to worry about decoupling the chain. There is aslo a trend, bikes using pulleys and high pivots, that reduce the kickback but increasing antisquat and rearward travel. This can totally negates the kickback if you really want.
  • 3 0
 @faul: great answer thank you Smile
  • 5 0
 @faul: The clutch will retain the chain and prevent movement of the suspension, even on the ghost cog, with certain suspension designs. If the axle needs to move backwards, the chain and the derailleur makes it harder. If the axle moves inwards, the chain and derailleurs will make it harder for the axle to move to its origin.
To help with the explanation, imagine a single speed, without derailleur. The chain would snap before the suspension start moving freely in the first cenario, the chain could drop from the cogs in the second cenario.

The ghost cog only helps with pedal kickback.
  • 4 0
 @Notmeatall: In theory, yes it does prevent the suspension to be 100% smooth.
But, we're looking at a really small effect there. The clutch doesn't lockout the cage, it only makes it harder to move. It adds 20 Lbs or something like that to the chain tension (I don't remember exact values). Its way less than the tension of the upper links by at least a factor 15.
Difference between cluth and no clutch is less than bushing vs bearing in the shock's eyelets.
So you're not wrong but it's negligible
  • 4 0
 If only there was some device or engineering solution, where the main mass of the transmission could be moved to the mid-drive, and then we could run bikes with 0 chain growth and 0 suspension compromises...
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: there is always compromises to make.
Look at the last "cavalerie" bike. They had to move the main pivot to have enough antisquat.
www.cavalerie-bikes.com
Their previous bikes are using a main pivot concentric to the output shaft of the gearbox.
  • 6 1
 Seeing the price of all these new DH mechs it's only confirming to me that when my current saint goes i'm jumping on the single speed wagon. Single speed conversion is cheaper that buying either the mech or shifter
  • 3 0
 recently went SSDH with a SBONE Boner tensioner, bloody expensive (even for the cheaper non clutch version) but, very solid and well made. Saved 1.5lb!
  • 2 0
 @nojzilla: I'm not so concerned with weight as reliability / ease of maintenance but 1.5 lbs is a decent saving!
  • 2 0
 Honest question about shifter position. Who rides with their shifters that far into the grip? I can't have mine farther into the grip than the inside edge of the grip or my thumb gets beat to hell and I accidentally shift on occasion (especially with AXS that I'm running now). I don't have overly large hands, between L and XL glove size.
  • 2 0
 Pardon my ignorance as I am not a DH racer but, why even have a rear mech? How often are riders switching gears during a race? Seriously, I do not know.
  • 5 0
 It depends on the course, but it's good to have at least a few options to ensure you're in the right gear if there's a pedaling section, or if you need to toss in a couple pedals strokes before a jump.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Thanks for the information. I dont think I have ever noticed anyone shifting. Usually, I see them pushing the tall gear to get out of the gate and that is the end of it. 7 speeds just always struck me as odd
  • 2 0
 So they've released a 7 speed DH mech and shifter but no cassette, I'm assuming it uses the SRAM 7 speed? @mikekazimer any chance you could shed some light on this please?
  • 3 0
 Yes, it's compatible with SRAM 7 speed, as well as e*thirteen, Box, Hope, and SunRace. You can find the compatibility here: shiftingfocus.trpcycling.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/TRP_DH7-Story-book_LR_Nok.pdf.
  • 2 0
 I feel like we use to just grab a cheap 10 spd road cassette and then throw out the biggest three gears. Boom 7spd dh cassette. Is the spacing different now than 10 or 11spd?
  • 1 0
 @Chris97a, yep, it's the same spacing as 11-speed.
  • 1 1
 I was almost on board until you said it’s actually heavier to shift than a sram. My god do you need a pulley system to up shift? Guesse I’ll be forced to stay with my xo1 until I successfully snap it off my bike.
  • 1 0
 Bit of refinement & she is there
  • 3 0
 Been thinking that since my first set of trp dash brakes in 2010. The things they do right are SO GOOD. And the build quality is great. And their CS rocks. But every time there's some weird details that end up being a huge inconvenience. I'm still a fan.
  • 2 2
 Yeah the 'hall lock' could at least be a bit smaller, as its in such an exposed position.
  • 1 0
 No ceramic pulley bearings.
  • 2 4
 Before TRP and lacking an official shifting sponsor, Gwin rode XO-DH. Looks like he wanted that and told TRP to copy it but it also sounds like it isn't as good as XO-DH...
  • 1 1
 i hate it when i snap off inside the snifter as well
  • 1 0
 7 is heaven.....
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