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  1. #1
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    Upgrading SRAM SX4 shifters/derailleur

    Ok, so my Yukon FX3 came with SRAM SX4 shifters and rear derailleur. As many people have pointed out, they're not great. Shifting is clunky, and apparently the RD will explode soon.

    So:
    1) Is it better to upgrade the derailleur or the shifters first? Or should I do both at once? What will give me the biggest benefit?
    2) Am I stuck with SRAM? Ie, to switch to Shimano would I need to replace the cassette, chain rings and chain too?
    3) What would be a good level to upgrade to? Let's say I want to spend around $100, maybe $200. (A bit hard to be precise on dollar figures because I'll actually be ordering from wiggle.co.uk)
    4) How hard is replacing shifters? RD?
    5) What's the deal with twist shifters? I thought they were basically for city bikes, but I see the SRAM Attack is primarily sold as a twist shifter.
    6) Would it be silly to just upgrade one shifter (ie, the rear)?
    7) I notice some of the shifters/derailleurs are 8 speed (which I need), some are 9. Are the 8 speed going to be obsolote any time soon?

    Thanks for any help/suggestions!
    Specialized Tricross Sport 2009. Giant Yukon FX 3.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    8 speed is long since obsolete at higher levels. Frankly, I'm not certain that upgrading your shifters/derailleurs is really possible, since X7s + are not available in an 8 speed option - so far as I know.

    You may want to consider checking ebay for used stuff.

    Regarding compatibility, so long as you don't mix SRAMs 1:1 actuation ratio stuff (only found on upper level stuff, afaik) with Shimano bits, you're fine.

  3. #3
    Addicted to Dirt Freefallman's Avatar
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    I would look on ebay for some old 8 speed shifters and some older derailleurs. Most of the newer stuff that would be worth upgrading to is 9 speed. You can upgrade to a 9 speed drivetrain but not without laying out some serious cash. I'll lay it out for you:

    1) You can upgrade your rear derailleur without upgrading your shifters but I don't know if you'll see much of a performance increase. If you upgrade your shifters to a 9 speed drive train you'll probably be able to still use your old derailleur. It doesn't know it's an 8 speed derailleur it just does what the shifters tell it.

    2) You're not stuck with SRAM but if you use Shimano shifters you'll need a Shimano Rear Derailleur and vice versa (SRAM shifters are not compatible with Shimano R. Derailleurs). My own two cents is that SRAM makes fine parts which are sold cheaper than Shimano and that it is a matter of personal preference and for many people the "prestige" that goes with shimano.

    3) On a 200 hundred dollar budget it's really going to be what you can get deals on. I know in the US there are sales on many of Shimano's LX components right now. I'd look at ebay too. To go to a nine speed drive train you'll need a cassette, 9 speed chain, rear derailleur, shifters, and possibly a new front derailleur and crank. I say possibly because many 8 speed FDs and cranks don't play well with nine speed (the cage on the 8 speed front derailleur is wider) but sometimes can be made to work. If you do this though don't expect easy shifting between chain rings.

    4) Replacing rear derailleurs and shifters are brainless. Sheldon Brown or Park tools should be able to get you through it. Replacing the crank is more complicated and requires special tools you probably don't currently have if you're asking these questions.

    5) Some people like grip shifters. That's it. Most in this day and age seem to prefer triggers.

    6) No. Functionally it'll be the same if you just replace the rear but I like symmetry.

    7) Probably not. 8 speed drivetrains are still used on a lot of recreational entry level bikes. It's no big deal. 9 speed drive trains are on higher end stuff.

  4. #4
    Senior Member helmut's Avatar
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    You won't need to change your chain or chain rings to go Shimano, only shifters and RD. I am also in the process of changing out my SX4 shifters. I opted for a set of Sram X5 twist shifters from Amazon for $18. I threw a Camelbak Podium bottle into my order to get free shipping, all for $26. The SX5 derailler I have seems to be OK, so I'm not going to mess with it. It's so much cheaper to just swap the parts you need to. Don't buy into the 9 speed hype unless you have to.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the good replies! My only reason for switching to 9 speed would be if I have to, to avoid getting stuck with obsolete stuff. This bike is so heavy that long distance riding with careful cadence matching just isn't going to happen. eBay seems to be the way to go, though 8 speed isn't nearly as common as 9...

    Two quick questions:
    - what's the minimum worth upgrading to? Is it really worth going froh SX4 to X5?
    - Are the "attack" shifters compatible? I don't understand where they fit in the hierarchy exactly. Is their main purpose just to be compatible with Shimano derailleurs?

  6. #6
    Senior Member helmut's Avatar
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    The Attack shifters are actually compatible with Shimano RDs, because they have a 2:1 actuation ratio instead of Sram's more common 1:1. I think it would definitely be worth going to X5 from SX4 because the X5 uses mostly the same design as the higher end shifters, but with more plastic parts instead of metal. If you want to stay 8 speed, check out the X4 trigger shifters, which are practically the same as the X5s, only 8 speed.

  7. #7
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    What's the difference between X4 and SX4 (and X5 and SX5)?
    Specialized Tricross Sport 2009. Giant Yukon FX 3.

  8. #8
    Senior Member helmut's Avatar
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    The SX4 shifter has the up and down shift lever connected in a V-shape to a central spindle. Move the spindle one way to shift up, the other way to shift down.

    It is really imprecise and isn't very good. The X4 has a true two-lever design. Hit one lever to go up, one to go down.


    The X5 and SX5 aren't very different. The SX5 is what the X5 used to be called.

  9. #9
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    Wow, fount of knowledge. Thanks very much!
    Specialized Tricross Sport 2009. Giant Yukon FX 3.

  10. #10
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    So is the regular SRAM x4 okay? (for lower end componentry that is)

    My Hardrock Sport came with the SRAM x4 shifters and RD, and so far, I've been very happy with it.

  11. #11
    Pint-Sized Gnar Shredder Zephyr11's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hexenmeister View Post
    So is the regular SRAM x4 okay? (for lower end componentry that is)

    My Hardrock Sport came with the SRAM x4 shifters and RD, and so far, I've been very happy with it.
    If you're "very happy" with it, it's more than okay, it's perfectly fine. Don't just upgrade for the sake of upgrading. Upgrade when you're not happy with something, or when something breaks. Personally, I like the feel of SRAM triggers over Shimano triggers, but it's all personal preference and lots of people prefer Shimano to SRAM. Then again, while I've used everything from Alivio to LX from Shimano (but nothing higher), I've only ever used X.0 from SRAM, so it may not be a fair comparison.

  12. #12
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    Hmm, the more I look it seems to be impossible to find 8 speed trigger shifters in 1:1, at X5 level or higher. eBay search...
    Last edited by stevage; 08-18-09 at 09:34 PM. Reason: typo
    Specialized Tricross Sport 2009. Giant Yukon FX 3.

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