Shimano's XTR Triple Front Derailleur options can seem confusing, but let's be glad that there are options so that we can have different bikes with different rear suspension designs. Let's examine further.To simplify, Shimano really only builds two XTR front derailleur styles -- top swing and traditional. Top swing is commonly referred to as low clamp, and traditional is commonly known as bottom swing or high clamp. Their nomenclature is equally simple when you look into it -- M980 and M985 are for top swing, and M981 and M986 are for traditional. The 980 and 981 are for triple cranksets and the 985 and 986 are for doubles. So this XTR Triple Front Derailleur FD-M980 is a top swing design that mounts low on the seat tube or from the bottom bracket. And for what it's worth, Shimano's top swing derailleurs always tickle the scale a few grams lighter than their traditional counterparts, and this one's no exception.It's quite similar to the last generation 970 XTR derailleur, though the cage is a bit different. They don't cut the XTR logo into the outermost plate any longer. Instead their time is spent notching the inner plate to remove extra material and save a few grams. They also build them specifically for two or three chainrings with the 980 XTR group. This one is designed for use with the XTR Trail Triple Crankset and 10-speed XTR chain. To that end, the cage shaping is specific to the demands and geometrical challenges of pushing the chain from little to big, across the middle ring both ways. The cage diameter is optimized for use with a maximum 42t big ring.The Shimano XTR Triple Front Derailleur FD-M980 is a top swing, low clamp design and is available with two mounting options -- Multi-Clamp (28.6/31.8/34.9mm) and E-Type. The Multi-Clamp uses plastic shims to accommodate the two smaller seat tube diameters. The E-Type can be mounted from the bottom bracket shell using the included plate, or it may be mounted directly onto some frames or swingarms in what is commonly referred to as a low-direct mount.
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