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  1. #1
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    FD technical question

    Will a front derailleur intended for flat bar road bikes, currently utilized with flat bar "trigger style" shifters, work with STI shifters for drop bars. I can't see a difference. If they won't, why not? Any expertise would be appreciated before I take my bike apart.

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    I assume these are Shimano derailleurs and shifters. Shimano makes two types of front deraillleurs and shifters; road and MTB. They are not compatible. MTB (usually flat bar) shifters won't work with road front rerailleurs and vice versa. Rear derailleurs and shifters, by contrast, are compatible among all groups and types.

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    Senior Member juicemouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider
    I assume these are Shimano derailleurs and shifters. Shimano makes two types of front deraillleurs and shifters; road and MTB. They are not compatible. MTB (usually flat bar) shifters won't work with road front rerailleurs and vice versa. Rear derailleurs and shifters, by contrast, are compatible among all groups and types.
    I'm not so sure about that. The "Flat Handle Bar" front shifters and derailleurs on Shimano's website (listed under the road bike components) seem to not be compatible with either road or MTB components. As is usual with Shimano, the truth may be significantly different from their official stance.
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    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    But...
    The FD in question is a 52T capacity road derailleur, but "intended" for use with a flat bar road bike trigger shifter set. (R-443, in case you're curious.)
    And that is where, on initial inspection, I don't see a difference.

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    Senior Member juicemouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banzai_f16
    But...
    The FD in question is a 52T capacity road derailleur, but "intended" for use with a flat bar road bike trigger shifter set. (R-443, in case you're curious.)
    And that is where, on initial inspection, I don't see a difference.
    The issue is that the ratio of the cable pulled by the shifter to the distance the derailleur moves may be different between flat bar road bike components and drop bar road bike components. Shimano's official stance is that flat bar is incompatible with drop bar (for front shifting) but we really need someone with experience to either confirm or dispel that.
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    Senior Member juicemouse's Avatar
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    Then again, front derailleurs are relatively inexpensive, so it would probably be worth it to take a chance if you're set on converting to drop bars. If you do this, please let us know what you find out!
    It is my belief that every person in this world has something to teach, and everything to learn.

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  7. #7
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    With only a few exceptions, you can generally mix and match FD/shifters, road or mtb, index/non-index, and even rears, at least with Shimanos. Lots of these components are compatible, regardless of ring size and/or derailleur capacities. This is common practice and done all the time when building touring bikes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Fixer
    With only a few exceptions, you can generally mix and match FD/shifters, road or mtb, index/non-index, and even rears, at least with Shimanos. Lots of these components are compatible, regardless of ring size and/or derailleur capacities. This is common practice and done all the time when building touring bikes.
    I know from experience that Shimano's MTB front derailleurs won't index with STI brifters. The geometry and cable pull are different. Touring bikes that run MTB cranks and rear derailleurs with STI brifters also run a road front derailleur.

  9. #9
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider
    I know from experience that Shimano's MTB front derailleurs won't index with STI brifters. The geometry and cable pull are different. Touring bikes that run MTB cranks and rear derailleurs with STI brifters also run a road front derailleur.
    However...it's not a MTB front derailleur. It's a Shimano 443 road derailleur for flat bar road bikes. So, while used currently with a flat bar trigger shifter, the gear capacity and overall movement geometry of the derailleur is all road. That's why I'm wondering why it wouldn't work with STI shifters, even though the compatibility charts say "no". I can't find an appreciable difference. My next step is to measure the actual distance of cable pull in my wife's 105 shifter/FD setup vs. the 440/443 setup on my commuter that I'm pondering converting.

    I may just try anyway, and hope it's not too ugly if it's wrong. Front derailleurs aren't THAT expensive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by banzai_f16
    However...it's not a MTB front derailleur. It's a Shimano 443 road derailleur for flat bar road bikes. So, while used currently with a flat bar trigger shifter, the gear capacity and overall movement geometry of the derailleur is all road. That's why I'm wondering why it wouldn't work with STI shifters, even though the compatibility charts say "no". I can't find an appreciable difference. My next step is to measure the actual distance of cable pull in my wife's 105 shifter/FD setup vs. the 440/443 setup on my commuter that I'm pondering converting.

    I may just try anyway, and hope it's not too ugly if it's wrong. Front derailleurs aren't THAT expensive.
    My original posting assumed you were trying to use an MTB front derailleur with STI brifters, therefore the negative answer. Since flar bar road shifters and derailleurs are an unknown animal, you can give it a try. If it works, fine. If not, as you said, road fd's are pretty cheap.

  11. #11
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    I'm hoping you'll give us a report on how well this works. I suspect that the reason Shimano says it's not compatible may be the difference in cable pull and offsetting throw ratio, as I'm sure you know.

    Al

  12. #12
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider
    I know from experience that Shimano's MTB front derailleurs won't index with STI brifters. The geometry and cable pull are different. Touring bikes that run MTB cranks and rear derailleurs with STI brifters also run a road front derailleur.
    I've heard that before but, for some reason, the opposite seems to work just fine. My wife has a hybred bike that uses LX Rapid Fire shifters with a Tiagra triple front derailleur that shifts just fine. Likewise, my daughter's tandem has (I think) LX shifters and a 105 front derailleur that functions flawlessly. Both have road style cranksets with 52 tooth big rings.

  13. #13
    Sometimes knows stuff. rmfnla's Avatar
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    As I have posted a few times previously, the last two bikes I built up were flat-bat roadies for my wife & me. Mine uses all XT shifters with a road crankset (works fine) and hers is all Ultegra with the SL-R660 flat-bar shifters.

    The SL-R shifters require a specific front derailleur (R440 or R443) or they will work with most MTB FDs. The reason? It's the pivot arm; the one on road derailleurs is longer than the one on MTB and flat bar units.
    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

  14. #14
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    I think it may be worth a try still. When I looked up the 440 (flatbar) road shifters on either Performance or Nashbar, it said they were compatible with ALL front road derailleurs. By logical extension, that should mean that my 443 FD is compatible with ALL road shifters.

  15. #15
    Sometimes knows stuff. rmfnla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banzai_f16
    I think it may be worth a try still. When I looked up the 440 (flatbar) road shifters on either Performance or Nashbar, it said they were compatible with ALL front road derailleurs. By logical extension, that should mean that my 443 FD is compatible with ALL road shifters.
    Try it and let us know how it works.
    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

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