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Low-end vs. high-end components

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Low-end vs. high-end components

Old 04-15-14, 12:48 PM
  #1  
FedericoMena
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Low-end vs. high-end components

My bike has front and dear Shimano Acera derailers. I'm quite happy with them.

However, I noticed that Acera is near the low end of Shimano's goodies. If I were to replace those components one day (when?), what would I gain from going to a higher-end version?

I'm not looking into replacing them any time soon, but I'm curious about the differences. Thanks for any advice
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Old 04-15-14, 12:52 PM
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Weight-finish-appearance

Any difference in function will be very minor
Once you at the level of "decent functional components" all you gain is lighter better looking.
No the pricier ones won't be more durable.
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Old 04-15-14, 01:17 PM
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pretty much above.

as you climb up in 'quality/price' you make some sort of gain (loss?) in the three areas:

weight - more expensive weigh less

appearance - less expensive parts look more boxy and utilitarian, more expensive start to have some sort of style to them

finish - less expensive are generally plasticy, more expensive have aluminum or carbon finish

some function - in the MTB range, the more expensive you get the more speeds/versatility you can get.

depending on bike use:

I've found alivio is the sweet spot of cost v function/weight & appearance on the MTB side/hybrid side

105 is pretty much considered the sweet spot for the road side
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Old 04-15-14, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by phoebeisis View Post
Weight-finish-appearance

Any difference in function will be very minor
Once you at the level of "decent functional components" all you gain is lighter better looking.
No the pricier ones won't be more durable.
So, its more about status than functionality? Must say I'm surprised, but not disappointed. Now I can lust for something other than high-end Shimano.
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Old 04-15-14, 01:30 PM
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Weight-fetish-appearance .... since finish is appearance

derailleur shoves the chain sideways then the chain just turns the chainwheels .

lower cost ones are 100% automated manufacturing sold by the millions to OEM manufacturers

which are fitted on bike frames , and make up the cost of the bike at a price people are willing to pay ..


at the high end titanium and polished cold forged aluminum and Carbon fiber parts get used

and the bargains are relative ..
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Old 04-15-14, 01:34 PM
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IMO a few steps up the bling ladder offers better performance under poor conditions. Stuff will still shift decently even when well covered in road grime and muck. Sometimes there's a difference in seal quality. But not always.
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Old 04-15-14, 01:35 PM
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I can't disagree with the above...however, I noticed a big difference in the smoothness of shifting when I upgraded my old STX derailleurs to Deore XT.
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Old 04-15-14, 01:47 PM
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pivot pins do fit a little tighter..
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Old 04-15-14, 02:13 PM
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Also there are some truly functional upgrades- I know that Deore LX and lower have bushings in the RD pulleys, and bearings seem to spin better and last longer. I buy Deore LX and replace the pulleys; it's cheaper than the next option up- Deore XT? or whatever it is.

Same with 105 in the road group- bushings instead of bearings.
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Old 04-15-14, 02:32 PM
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bought a few obsolete closeouts when Campag conceded defeat and got out of the MTB sector ,

with their heavy overbuilt Euclid Derailleurs .. for my also overbuilt Touring bike.
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Old 04-15-14, 03:29 PM
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In terms of shifters and derailuers.

As you go up, shifts are lighter and faster. The lever pressure and travel required to shift goes down, and the shift speed goes up. The difference is noticeable. You can shift smoother in high load situations, such as standing on the pedals.
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Old 04-15-14, 03:59 PM
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The Acera derailleurs look a bit cheap to me when compared to higher models. The parallelogram plates are thin, stamped steel as are the cage plates. XT derailleurs are more beefy in those areas, using cold forged aluminum and steel. Also, there are elements of the XT design that make it tougher on the trail such as being low profile, and different cable routing to reduce snagging. The Acera derailleurs are fine for light duty, but won't hold up as well when smashing into a log or rock.
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Old 04-15-14, 04:18 PM
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Some of the lower-end cranks tend to have chain-rings that are riverted to the crank-arm. Higher-end cranks uses chain-ring bolts to attach to tha arms. So the higher-end chain-rings can be replaced as they wear out or are damaged.

Higher end front derailleurs have clamps that do not damage the paint when it is clamped tightly. The pivots and hinges are also more well made and shifts easily and with less noise. Higher end parts tend to last longer with less problems.

Lower end rear derailleurs are less rugged so they can be easily damaged. Better parts are made to handle the abuses of off-road riding. Also the pulleys spin freely giving the rider higher top speed.

If cost is an issue to upgrading your bike, then go for the 2nd hand market where weight weenies who are looking to upgrade their bike with the latest newer generation parts will sell off their old parts at bargain basement prices. I have bought whole group sets of 8 and 9 speed parts to upgrade my commuter bikes. Sometimes I can even get parts for free....as a bike mechanic, some of the customers do not want their old parts. I was given frames, brakes, wheelsets, cranks, stems, handlebars,etc....part of the perks of being nice to the customers.
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Old 04-15-14, 04:34 PM
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Buy the most expensive one to support your favorite manufacturer, and to make your cycling buddies jealous. If you don't care about that, Acera, Alivio, Altus or even Tourney will work just fine on a non racing bike. Plus, some older, higher end derailers are now "hiding" under these "cheap" versions.
I tried all Shimano trekking and recreational components, and never had any issues with lower end components. Shifting wasn't as fast or as good as more expensive ones, but they always lasted the longest.
As previous posters said - more expensive = less weight and "better" materials. If I was a weight wennie, I would rather eat 5 less fries and skip on $100 more expensive derailer to get the same end result weight wise
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Old 04-15-14, 04:40 PM
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It's no just about weight, appearance or status. Often it's about better mechanical function because of higher strength and rigidity, while at the same time being lighter. It could also show up in durability or service life with better stuff holding up longer, or maintaining the same operational quality longer.

Dollar for dollar, you tend to get the best value in the middle of the range, where the materials and construction will be close to that at the top at about 1/2 the price. BY contrast, there's lot's of price pressure at the low end so, for example, a rigid aluminum idler cage might be replaced with a less rigid presses steel one.

I'm mot a believer of replacing working stuff to upgrade, but if/when replacement is necessary, use that as an opportunity to upgrade a few levels.
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Old 04-15-14, 08:49 PM
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FWIW, I needed a long-cage RD on very short notice last year for my tandem, and the only thing I had on hand was an Acera.

The damned $12.00 thing shifts as smooth and clean as one costing 10x as much, even after a couple of thousand miles. It's almost embarrassing; it looks like the cheapest OEM stamped POS imaginable ( which it almost it ), but until it falls completely apart it's staying on the bike.
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Old 04-15-14, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
FWIW, I needed a long-cage RD on very short notice last year for my tandem, and the only thing I had on hand was an Acera.

The damned $12.00 thing shifts as smooth and clean as one costing 10x as much, even after a couple of thousand miles. It's almost embarrassing; it looks like the cheapest OEM stamped POS imaginable ( which it almost it ), but until it falls completely apart it's staying on the bike.
Great example that cheap derailer doesn't have to be automatically a "bad" one.
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Old 04-15-14, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by arex View Post
I can't disagree with the above...however, I noticed a big difference in the smoothness of shifting when I upgraded my old STX derailleurs to Deore XT.
old vs new there

I also noticed improved shifting when I changed a worn out XTR rear derailleur to a less worn out XT I had laying around. I'm sure a new Atlus would seem smooth compared to that old XTR too .
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Old 04-15-14, 11:37 PM
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Its odd that I have a few very low end items on my bikes that I intended to switch out as soon as I had more bucks or they showed wear and there they are - Still working - Still looking good...

SunRace long cage derailleur black, Sunlight Alloy crank set, WalMart Bell rear flasher...

A surprising thing is that when you finnally figure out they are proven, you can't find them anymore...
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Old 04-16-14, 02:23 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by phoebeisis View Post
No the pricier ones won't be more durable.
No. Many of the things you pay more for contribute to durability. Forgings instead of castings or plastic or stamped plate, BBs instead of bushings, bronze sleeves instead of plain holes, stainless fasteners instead of chromed steel, electroplating instead of paint, etc.

I'm not sure about MTB stuff, but when it comes to road gear, Dura Ace has some mind-blowing little touches here and there; some of the engineering is quite extravagant. Some of the features are all about durability, but others are about trying out a new design to save weight; if it's a success the feature gets to trickle down. If not, it won't make it to the next version of Dura Ace. So DA can be a bit of a mixed bag; owners are beta testers to some extent (pros being the alpha testers).

Ultegra is pretty much the bomb, minus some of the fanciest touches, but also minus any questionable experiments - it's tried and true. (Stupidly short cable pull and hence unreliable indexing aside.)

I imagine it's a similar story with XTR versus the rest of the MTB range, but probably with some of the niftier unique features being more about function and durability rather than weight savings.

Top-level gear is best left for those who aren't paying for it, and/or those who consider such aerospace engineering to be wall art.

If you're really serious but not obsessed, second-tier gear is generally the smartest choice, if it won't break the bank. There's very little wrong with third-tier stuff too.

If you're really smart, you're happy with cheaper hubs, cranks and brakes, and you spend more on nicer shifters and derailers. And unless you can score a good deal it's hard to justify fancier chains and cassettes than 105/Deore.

Last edited by Kimmo; 04-16-14 at 02:31 AM.
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Old 04-16-14, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
No. Many of the things you pay more for contribute to durability. Forgings instead of castings or plastic or stamped plate, BBs instead of bushings, bronze sleeves instead of plain holes, stainless fasteners instead of chromed steel, electroplating instead of paint, etc.

I'm not sure about MTB stuff, but when it comes to road gear, Dura Ace has some mind-blowing little touches here and there; some of the engineering is quite extravagant. Some of the features are all about durability, but others are about trying out a new design to save weight; if it's a success the feature gets to trickle down. If not, it won't make it to the next version of Dura Ace. So DA can be a bit of a mixed bag; owners are beta testers to some extent (pros being the alpha testers).

Ultegra is pretty much the bomb, minus some of the fanciest touches, but also minus any questionable experiments - it's tried and true. (Stupidly short cable pull and hence unreliable indexing aside.)

I imagine it's a similar story with XTR versus the rest of the MTB range, but probably with some of the niftier unique features being more about function and durability rather than weight savings.

Top-level gear is best left for those who aren't paying for it, and/or those who consider such aerospace engineering to be wall art.

If you're really serious but not obsessed, second-tier gear is generally the smartest choice, if it won't break the bank. There's very little wrong with third-tier stuff too.

So yeah pricier can be more durable-but for most folks-not an issue-parts outlast their ownership

If you're really smart, you're happy with cheaper hubs, cranks and brakes, and you spend more on nicer shifters and derailers. And unless you can score a good deal it's hard to justify fancier chains and cassettes than 105/Deore.

Maybe-but- it is rare to actually wear a part out-(other than chain or cog of chainring or cables)
even my fellow bike nuts-multiple hundred miles a week-
Just how often do you wear a derailleur out-as opposed to switching because you want the latest greatest?
Now 300 mile a week riders-yeah they do-but I kinda doubt the OP is doing that?

And yes I have 26" wheeled "rigid MTBs" that I ride on the street and levee. I like pretty stuff,so I have XT,LX and an occasional XTR part-
but the bikes i have bought with Acera parts-those derailleurs-and NEVER worn out-despite being 12-15-18 years old
Of course many have VERY LITTLE use judging from chainring wear marking-and derailleur pulleys

Still for most bike riders lower end but still decent Shimano components will outlast their ownership of that bike

300 miles a week-yeah you will wear out a derailleur-maybe shifter too-
but 15,000 miles a year-LOTTA MILES- probably 10x what the average bike covers in its entire LIFE
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Old 04-16-14, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by lopek77 View Post
If I was a weight wennie, I would rather eat 5 less fries and skip on $100 more expensive derailer to get the same end result weight wise
So, it's a lot like couponing in my area. I spent 2 hours a day for a week hunting online, buying newspapers, and checking store ads. My wife saved $2.50 with coupons. She was excited to save that $2.50. I rained on our parade though when I told her I punched out on the clock thatm day at 3:05 instead of 3:00 and made more than that even after taxes for the extra 5 minutes.

I've got at least 50 more lb to lose. I won't be worried about saving a few grams on my bike.
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Old 04-16-14, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post

I've got at least 50 more lb to lose. I won't be worried about saving a few grams on my bike.
Same here. I have to loose my own weight first before even considering being a weight weenie lol
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Old 04-16-14, 07:06 AM
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Bike componets such as derailers are like anything else. You get improving performance UP TO A POINT. Then the further you go you only get into ego trips and snobbery. Dont buy the cheapest if you can avoid them, and dont waste your money on the really high priced stuff. Stay in the middle and get the most bang for your buck.
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Old 04-16-14, 07:13 AM
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These threads never cease to amaze me.

How about just buy the best that you can afford, don't worry about what others are getting, get on the bike and just ride....
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