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Short/Medium Cage Derailleur Difference

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8/4/2013 2:43 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong but...from what I've read, apparently the only difference in cage length is the slack in the chain resulting in different shifting times. I couldn't help but notice every downhill bike has the shorter cage rear derailleur. Does this play a role in jumping and handling big drops also?


9/9/2013 8:06 AM

derailleurs have specific capacities to take up slack in the chain. the longer the cage, the more chain slack it takes. longer cages are used mostly in combination with double or triple chainrings where much slack in the chain occurs as a result of shifting to smaller chainrings.

downhill bikes use short cage derailleurs because these bikes only run single chainrings. no shifting to smaller or other chainrings for that matter. the short cage suffices to take up the slack when shifting to the smallest cog in the cassette.

downhill bikes also use close ratio cassettes (road cogs) because there is no need for bigger cogs normally used for climbing. shifting is also snappier in close ratio cassettes. chains are set up to be really taut so as to minimize chain rattling and chain slap while going through all the gnarly sections , drops, and jumps.


“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” - Ernest Hemingway

9/15/2013 11:09 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/16/2013 2:46 PM

To make it super easy:
Long cage works with 3x drive trains
Medium works with 2x and 1x32, 34, or 36t cassettes
Short cage works with 1x9 or 10 with small range cassettes ex: 12-28t

The longer cage is more weight and slack so easier to break and DH riders use small range cassettes so they use short cage.