Join Date: Nov 2003
Bikes: Leader home built hardtail, Diamondback Response
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SRAM X.7 and X.9 front derailleurs are rated for up to 48 rings and are Shimano compatable. However, most of the MTB derailleurs that you are looking at that are rated for 44 teeth will work ok with a 46 and a 12 tooth spread between rings. You may get a little more cross chaining rub if the cages are too narrow but you can always spread the cage out a little with a washer in the screw at the end of the cage.
Liberal bias makes it's own facts.