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Go with SRAM or stay with Shimano?

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9/14/2021 11:03 AM

So, since I bought my new Stumpy Evo I decided to give the shimano SLX group a try (mainly out of curiosity more than anything) because I had up until that point been running Sram GX with out many issues but wanted to see how the other "S" drivetrain compared. Now after owning the bike for longer than 6 months, I have destroyed 2 Shimano SLX rear deraileurs and I am starting to get frustrated with their durability. The question

Should I stay with Shimano and just go to the XTR level for the rear mech, which I would assume would perform better and maybe last longer OR just get rid of it all and go with a FULL Sram GX setup instead? (or just chalk it up to bad luck?)

Which way to go:


9/14/2021 12:19 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/15/2021 5:09 PM

How did you destroy the two SLX derailleurs? I'm asking because I'm not sure a XTR or GX rear derailleur is gonna be more resistant to direct rock strikes, for instance.


9/14/2021 12:52 PM

Bad luck or operator error or both. I prefer shimano but I'm not so biased as to think a certain derailleur will hold up to being smashed against things significantly better then another (apples to apples, not SLX to walmart).


9/14/2021 12:53 PM

IMO sram quality is poor, the old 11 speed stuff was great, the 12 speed stuff is garbage. Soft cassettes, shot jockey wheel bearings, clutches that barely do 6 months.

How are you killing the mechs?


9/14/2021 1:50 PM

Thanks for the opinions y'all. I bent the first one, I believe a stick just got stuck in there at the wrong angle and bent the mech.

So after that I got a brand new SLX again and destroyed this one was up at bellingham, I have no idea what happened. I noticed my shifting was crap and then looked down and saw that the outter metal part of the cage was bent outwards. I tried to bend it back so it looks normal but it won't shift well anymore again now.

Sounds like just bad luck/user error but for some reason I have never had these issues with sram stuff...


9/14/2021 3:42 PM

Never had an issue with XT, not sure jumping to XTR would solve dodgy line choices.


9/14/2021 4:34 PM

There is a piece called the derailleur bracket. Good chance that is the part that bent and can easily be replaced for much less. Seeing as you've had two incidents maybe Deore is the better replacement. FWIW, we have a whole box of broken SRAM shifters and derailleurs in the garage, everything in our Shimano box is still good going back over three decades except for a few calipers.


9/14/2021 4:36 PM

Sir HC wrote:

IMO sram quality is poor, the old 11 speed stuff was great, the 12 speed stuff is garbage. Soft cassettes, shot jockey wheel ...more

Jockey wheels are my favorite! Funny what happens when those bearings seize.


9/14/2021 5:14 PM

Not sure if adding this is useful , but have a gander at this YT Video:

Shimano 12 Speed XTR/XT/SLX/Deore Derailleur BENT and Twisted??? XTR M9100

To an extent they are not designed straight. Had a mate who had issues, got a brand new replacement that he thought was also bent before this was pointed out.


9/14/2021 7:48 PM

I’ve had really really good luck with XO1 Eagle. I had a GX before and I broke it on a rock. The XO1 has been bombproof ever since. That was over a year ago. No issues with clutch either


9/15/2021 8:45 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/15/2021 8:49 AM

I'm running X01 Eagle since early 2019 (and had GX Eagle for a year before that, that I upgraded to on my previous bike from X1) and my next drivetrain, as soon as the X01 Eagle gives up the ghost completely, will be a full XT set, including cranks. The shifter works perfectly fine, the derailleur, while straight, has no clutch on it anymore (the bike got noisier in the last year, year and a half and the frame is beaten to hell where the chain hits it), I bought X01 because of the fancy cassette, which is expensive, I have to install my 3rd DUB bottom bracket (first one worked for two years, the second one was dead in 2 months, admittedly the conditions were really bad in that time), so yeah...

It would make sense to go Deore/SLX, I was eyeing XTR even, but apparently XTR cages tend to break as they are carbon? So XT it is for the bling factor. For how it works, even Deore will be fine, just heavy.

I've only tried out 12spd Shimano on an e-bike, but I was blown away by the quality of the shifting there. It's not a long term test, but comparing to Sram 12spd on an e-bike (Bosch for the Shimano, Specialized SL, so lower power, for the Sram drivetrain) is a night and day difference.

The Shimano thing is a complete curiosity, otherwise I'm very much in the Sram camp (loving the Code RSCs and RS suspension). With Sram I'd have to put a new derailleur on it anyway, so it would be expensive (not cheap even with GX) and I am in no way putting on a 10-52T cassette. That is just idiotic, that last jump.


9/15/2021 9:53 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/15/2021 10:42 AM

I have had three GX rear der just "blow up". No issues at all with XX1 and now AXS XX1, rock solid.

What I have had is the inner cage just kinda fall apart...then, I buy a new one and order the parts to fix the GX. I now have three...I did upgrade to XX1 and that issue is over...but, went to AXS XX1 so that I can have coal powered shifting and do my part to warm the earth for everyone near the arctic circles....


Buttyo Sukenehr on Strava

9/15/2021 12:29 PM

ive broken every Shimano xt derailleur on my bike, the middle plastic bit just cheese, however i have deore on my trail bike as i built it up and it was cheap and better than lower sram. - i also sell my bikes with shimano gear attached as for whatever reason people will pay for it lol.


9/15/2021 2:35 PM

FWIW I just broke an XTR derailleur with a baby head hitting it from the bottom. It seemed to break easier than I expected. I replaced it with an SLX and can't tell the difference in performance. I have no reason to believe an XTR would be stronger than an SLX, just 3x as expensive.

I broke 2 GX Derailleurs in 3 years and now broke 1 XTR in 2. Derailleurs I find to be one of the easier things to break on your bike. I don't see one brand being stronger than another, it just comes down to good line choice and trying preserve it. You could also try bending your hanger then straightening it a bit to loosen it up so it bends easier on impact to help the derailleur. When I broke my XTR my hanger was still perfect, which was super annoying.

Personally I like the feel of Shimano shifting better, so I would stick with just replacing your SLX and trying to take better lines.


9/15/2021 5:14 PM

Just to brag, I'm four years into a GX 11-speed rear derailleur and it still works great. In the same time I've broken A LOT of other bike parts- a frame, multiple wheels, pedals snapped, the GX shifter, a snapped brake lever, multiple blown rear shocks, etc. That old SRAM 11 speed stuff was great.


9/15/2021 10:43 PM


Just to brag, I'm four years into a GX 11-speed rear derailleur and it still works great. In the same time I've broken A LOT ...more

Yea, maybe we need to go backwards in a sense and get back on the 11 speed drivetrains again? I remember getting used to it fairly quickly the last time I switched to one.


9/15/2021 10:49 PM

I'd go for more gears with the current overall range. Gear jumps are on the large size as is, we don't need them to be even larger.

As for hangers being softer, given how many 'it's not working' (Sram) derailleurs I fix by straightening the hanger, I'd say they need to be stronger. And considering an impact from the bottom broke your derailleur (@jasbushey), I'd say a softer hanger (that would take the impact and save the derailleur) would break or bend so far, that the derailleur might be pulled into the spokes (if not bent outwards). And would likely be broken anyway in the aftermath.


9/16/2021 10:57 AM

The less gears the more tolerant to bad line choices. I’ve an xt x12 that didn’t like some of my line choices in the alps this year. Looks ok but I definitely hit it twice. I’ve an slx to fit in its place when I get round to it.


9/16/2021 11:04 AM

In my experience the P-shaped deraillerur cage (very prominent on Sram derailleurs with the 'X-horizon' with paralelogram moving paralel to the main mounting bolt, a bit less prominent on Shimano 12spd stuff where the paralelogram is still canted over a bit, probably due to patent reasons) is the culprit for problematic shifting. But the root cause is the derailleur hanger being bent.

With the upper pulley moving backwards and forwards going through the gears (being offset the rotation oft he cage makes the pulley follow the cassette instead of the angle of the paralelogram) a bent derailleur hanger will mean unequal side-to-side movement depending on which part of the cassette you are in. The movement will be larger in the small cog (where the pulley is right above the cage pivot) than int he bigger cogs, where it is behind the cage pivot.

Older 2x stuff dealt with cassette following with the angle of the parallelogram, while the derailleur cage took out the slack from shifting at the front. That's why a bent derailleur didn't have such a big impact on shifting performance (that and less gears int he same space, I will give you that). One click of the shifter was about the same movement side-to-side anywhere. With "X-horizon" we got derailleurs that are much less affected by external shocks (less flaying around), but the whole shifting thing became a bit more 3D than it was before.

Just last week I straightened two derailleur hangers where the GX mechs had very nice and quite fresh gashes on them. And both worked perfectly fine after straightening the hanger.


9/17/2021 12:54 AM

I’ve got a GX derailleur, shifter, and crankset. I put a shimano SLX cassette and chain on and it’s incredible. Highly reccomend it in terms of cost and performance.


9/17/2021 8:35 AM

I've not been impressed with Shimano's 12 speed derailleurs. I had a GX Eagle on my previous bike, and never had any significant issues with the durability of the cage itself. I've now gone through an XT and a Deore derailleur, and the hanger's been dead straight the whole time. It seems like the cages on the new Shimano derailleurs are made out of soggy tortillas or something. I've also had nothing but issues with the Shimano clutches. If you wash your bike frequently, you will also need to service the clutch frequently. The seal on the clutch is inadequate at best. So you can have a SRAM clutch that will slowly kick the bucket and can't be serviced, or you can have a Shimano clutch that constantly needs to be serviced.

Personally I've been thinking the best option would be to use a B2 (52t compatible) SRAM derailleur/shifter with the Shimano HG+ chain and cassette. I know it's been done successfully by other people. If TRP could accommodate bigger than a 50t cog I would probably go that route and be done with both brands derailleurs.


9/17/2021 10:20 AM

Gotta plug the mixed setup I've been running: GX AXS with Shimano cassette, cranks, and chain. The GX AXS derailleur is an absolute tank that's survived some serious hits (judging by some of the scratches it's showing) and it's played surprisingly well with the Shimano stuff after some initial micro adjustments at the lever. IMO shimano cassettes have better durability and shift quality, but I've not had great luck with XT derailleurs, especially when it comes to the clutch.


9/17/2021 11:06 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/17/2021 11:16 AM

It's pretty hard to justify switching brands if all you need is a new derailleur. I'd step up to XT, the metals in both brands lower spec stuff bends more easily than their GX/XT and above. But stuff breaks when you go hard, so I wouldn't read too much into a couple destroyed mechs.

I personally like SRAM shifting and brakes a lot. But the mechs have a couple annoying flaws that others have mentioned. Pay attention to the following and SRAM Eagle will be impressively durable:

1. Derailleur hanger needs to be kept straight. Makes a HUGE difference.
2. You gotta clean/repack the stupid little bearings in the jockey wheels a couple times a winter.
3. The GX derailleurs have a metal-on-metal interface between the b-bolt and derailleur body that will wear it out. Replace the GX b-bolt with an after-market X01 b-bolt ($25-ish) before you wear out the derailleur. X01 has a nylon busing and O-rings. And then keep that b-bolt for future GX derailleurs.

Or just pay way too much for X01. They're impressively durable, but I don't quite understand the price.

I have a few friends regularly killing Shimano 12 spd mechs, but haven't tried them myself. Both brands have their flaws at the moment.

edit: read your reply. Sometimes it's just bad luck that will kill whatever you're riding. Sometimes people have chains too short or something like that. Derailleur bend outward could be chain too short wrenching on the derailleur at full bottom-out in the big cog. Unlikely, but I've seen it happen to *a friend* (or something like that...)


Abit Gear: great fitting Enduro MTB shorts in Slim Fit and Athletic Fit.

9/17/2021 11:51 AM

jabber127 wrote:

Gotta plug the mixed setup I've been running: GX AXS with Shimano cassette, cranks, and chain. The GX AXS derailleur is an ...more

Thanks for the tip, I feel like this might be the way to go actually. A friend of mine that works at a bike shop has this same setup basically, he says that it is loud but that it works pretty well in the end. Might have to check it out!


9/17/2021 8:22 PM

I've been considering the GX ASX upgrade kit, and I'm one of those people with boxes of old Shimano stuff that still works perfectly. My last XT 12 speed derailleur failed like this. Middle of a berm, not sure what happened but just snapped. There really isn't much material there, but I guess it's designed to fail at this point?


More disappointing, the XTR shifter I have also failed recently, the upshift lever only engages occasionally, otherwise it just moves freely and does nothing. First time I've broken a Shimano shifter, I rarely buy XTR stuff because the price premium over XT to save a tiny bit of weight and be a bit more bling seems hard to justify. I did some research with a view to fixing it, and discovered it's a pretty common problem. Also found out it was still under warranty (still waiting for replacement to arrive), but using an SLX one at the moment because that's what I could get my hands on quickly. Works just as well.


9/18/2021 10:52 AM

thats exactly where my Shimano derailleur's break, it stresses me out knowing if it touches anything it will more than likely break.


9/18/2021 6:13 PM

I have XX1 AXS on my bike, GX AXS on the other half...they are about identical but for the lower cage. All reports are they are identical in function and "guts" - we could not be happier - went from ShitmaNO to GX (3x) to XX1 to AXS....


Buttyo Sukenehr on Strava

9/18/2021 11:27 PM

Bob Chicken wrote:

I've been considering the GX ASX upgrade kit, and I'm one of those people with boxes of old Shimano stuff that still works ...more

Dam, I had no idea that shimano stuff breaks like that often. Thanks for the heads up. I might just try to go with the GX AXS upgrade and use my shimano cassette/freehub on it and pray for the best.


9/19/2021 9:53 AM

astrizzle wrote:

Dam, I had no idea that shimano stuff breaks like that often. Thanks for the heads up. I might just try to go with the GX AXS ...more

Dont confuse "often" with the fact that Shimano is something like 90% of the worldwide market (all segments). They will have more failures cause they have more.......


Buttyo Sukenehr on Strava

9/19/2021 12:24 PM

Do they have 90 % of the worldwide 12spd market? Because that's what we're talking about, 12spd drivetrains (mostly) from both...