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  1. #1
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    RD/cassette compatibility issues on 2003 Litespeed Vortex...

    Hello BikeForums! This will be my first post...

    I just purchased a lightly-used 2003 Vortex frame that has been built up with a mostly-matching Dura Ace set. The price was good, and I'm very excited about the bike, but there is a compatibility issue or two to sort out.

    The rear derailleur (Shimano RD-7800) doesn't hang quite low enough below the cassette, so on the largest three cogs, the upper jockey wheel hits and bumps against the teeth. Usually I believe you would adjust the b-screw to control this, but the b-screw has already been fully tightened and there still isn't enough clearance.

    The cassette has 9 cogs from 12-27 teeth. Looking around online, (see Bikepedia and BicycleBlueBook) I see this bike is usually built with a 12-23t cassette... so could it be that the frame geometry doesn't allow for anything larger?

    I know my rear derailleur should be compatible with up to a 27t cog, according to Shimano's docs. But also, it is a 10-speed derailleur, whereas everything else in the setup is for 9-speed. So could that be part of the issue?

    I would love to hear from other Litespeed/Vortex owners about what cassettes you use.

    Also... what about finding and installing a *longer* b-screw? Is that ever an OK solution to a problem like this?

    Thank you in advance for any help! It is much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Could you get by with 1 less link in the chain ? Maybe that would change the angle of the cage ?
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  3. #3
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    Thanks - I did remove 1 link already, and it didn't seem to make a difference. If I remove any more links, I think I'll get into trouble on some gear combinations.

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    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    You need to make sure it's still long enough for the big-big combination.
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    Senior Member shoota's Avatar
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    Can 10s and 9s play nice together??
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    Senior Member fstshrk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shoota View Post
    Can 10s and 9s play nice together??
    depends. A lot of people use a 9 speed mtb rear derailleur on 10 speed drivetrains to get a 11-34 or so to work.

    Here is a trick for you. Unscrew the b-screw. Rotate or take off the RD, then screw the B screw from the side that rests against the stop on the frame.

    Hopefully this would do the trick. Did you get the bike checked out by a qualified mechanic?
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  7. #7
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    Can you post a pic of the b screw area? You can flip the b-screw around in the other direction to get a little more clearance

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    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
    Can you post a pic of the b screw area? You can flip the b-screw around in the other direction to get a little more clearance
    Nipped at the line
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by fstshrk View Post
    Here is a trick for you. Unscrew the b-screw. Rotate or take off the RD, then screw the B screw from the side that rests against the stop on the frame.
    Thanks for the tip! I tried putting in the b-screw from the other direction, and that definitely helped! However, it really looks like it's just barely hanging onto the dropout. See picture below (though it's hard to get a good picture, with the cassette in the way). Should I be worried about a bump in the road causing the screw to slip past the dropout, which would cause the derailleur to suddenly rotate by a fair margin?

    Also - the problem is more severe than I thought. Even now with the b-screw adjusted, which does stop the "bumping" between the jockey wheel and the largest cogs, the jockey wheel and chain will jam against the cogs when shifting to larger cogs. I tried to take a picture of this as well. It seems to be another symptom of the same issue, that is, not enough clearance between the jockey wheel and the cassette. I have only observed this issue while the bike is on a stand, but I'm kind of afraid to ride it around in its current state because this issue can cause the chain to stick pretty badly when shifting.

    Pic 1: view of b-screw, inserted "the other way" for extra reach
    Pic 2: view of chain jamming against cog as I try to shift to largest cog
    Pic 3: overall view of cassette / RD

    DSC_4675.jpgDSC_4676.jpgDSC_4677.jpg

    Thanks again for all your help guys!

  10. #10
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    Something is really wrong here. I have run Shimano short (yes short) cage rear derailleurs with as large as a 34 tooth rear cog, and never had to use a B-tension bolt as long as you show in the pics.

    First, the optimum setting for chain length is just long enough to clear the big-big gear combo. You're running a double chainring setup?

    The 7800 should have more than enough capacity for a 27 tooth cassette cog. And it should be compatible with any number of gears, as long as the chain fits through the cage without rubbing. So the 9 vs. 10 speed issue - is not an issue.

    Slim possibility: perhaps the upper pivot spring is busted? This would cause the symptoms you describe. A really good mechanic could fix this in 30 minutes from parts scavenged from other Shimano derailleurs.

    Or: is the mounting of the derailleur to the dropout somehow screwed-up so that it cannot rotate back and forth? You should be able to freely rotate it while it is screwed into the dropout.

  11. #11
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    could just be the angle but the tab on that hanger looks awfully small or broken, can you confirm?

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    To Dave Mayer:

    Yes, current chain length is just long enough for big-big. If I took out one more link, it would probably jam in big-big, if I could shift into that combo at all.

    I don't think the upper pivot spring has an issue, or that the derailleur is stopped from rotating. I can grab it and rotate it pretty freely around the bolt that holds it to the frame, and then a spring pushes it back to where it was. I also tried playing with the derailleurs on a couple other bikes here, and they all seem to move in the same way, so I don't think the Vortex has a readily obvious problem in that regard.


    To redlude97:

    Yes, the hanger tab does look very small, but it's not broken. Here are some close-up shots with the derailleur removed:

    DSC_4679.jpgDSC_4682.jpg

    Does that look like an unusual hanger shape to you?

  13. #13
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    The tab looks fine, the length of the derailleur hanger looks super short though compared to others that I've seen and had experience with which may be why you are running into issues

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fosforus View Post
    To Dave Mayer:

    Does that look like an unusual hanger shape to you?
    Shorter than most, but not enough to cause the problems you've described. If it was me, I would double check that the top pivot spring was OK. It should work towards rotating the derailleur backwards (clockwise). If this seemed weak, I would check to see if there was anything impeding its rotation, either inside the derailleur, or something on the frame. Or perhaps the derailleur rotation is getting hung up on the skewer nut. That does not look like an OEM Shimano skewer.

    If it was me, I would next take apart the top derailleur pivot/bolt assembly and put the spring in the second hole, which serves to increase the spring tension and pushes the derailleur harder clockwise. This requires a brave soul and 3-4 hands to put it back together again. You'd be on your own, as maybe one in 10 pro mechanics has ever done this.

    What about the spring tension on the lower derailleur pulley? Perhaps it is so high that it is overwhelming the efforts of the upper spring? Longshot.

    But first, try another rear road derailleur.

  15. #15
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    Ok - I finally succeeded in changing out the derailleur, to a medium-cage Ultegra one, and that seems to have solved the issue. I still had to crank the b-screw in all the way, and really finesse all the adjustments, in order to prevent any rubbing, so maybe there is still something funny going on. But at least the bike is ridable now, and I will do some more tinkering later!

    Thanks again for your help!

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