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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, Im in a bit of a dilema here about what to do about the drive train on my bike.

for starters I've got a Kona Chute, with Xt front (super rare size took me forever to find the right one to fit) XTR rear derailer (8speed I think), xt rapid-fire shifters, and RaceFace cranks/rings with an 8speed casset in the rear on a xt hub.

Basically where Im at right now is the rapid fire shifters are on their last legs, the gear counter no longer works, the shifts are getting a little tough, the cable adjusters are stripped on the front shifter.

My chainrings and casset are looking about halfway done, some ware showing, but not catastrophically useless yet.

when I shift and ride, I get alot of gear clicking (even after being freshly lubed and aligned). I'll align the rear derailer on the lower half of the gears and it'll shift fine down there, but give me headaches on the upper gears with skipping, and vise versa if I dial the derailer into the top gears. My front derailer nearly always pulls my chain off the rings going down from the outside or middle to the smallest granny gear. Chain suck is an occurance on almost every ride. All the drivetrain is about 2-3 years old, taking into account that I've just picked up ridding again more seriously after an 18 month drought.


soo.. given all that info... what would you guys recomend I do? I'd hate to replace all of it as Im pretty poor right now, but I know that if you're not replacing all the gears and chain at once, you can end up with quite a headache. Should I just start first with shifters? and do the gears/chain later? do you think I need new derailers? I'd prefer to stick with 8-speed, is that stuff still produced? It's been ages since I've paid attention to the recent trends and do-hickies released to the market, so fill me in like you're explaining things to a retard.

also if you dont mind, I'd appreciate some oppinions on what equipment is best/most reliable.
 

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dirtbag
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First off, 8 speed components is becoming a rarity but not difficult to find. Sounds to me that you'll have to do some rebuilding of your drive train. Start with the chainrings, cassette and chain, a lot of wear will come after 2-3 years of riding, especially if you havent checked the wear on your chain. Worn chain = worn chainrings & cassette. Also get new shifter cables. If you go with a new 9 speed tranny, you can probably salvage your derailleurs. I know all this is gonna take a bite outta the ol wallet, but it sounds to me like you'll have to do a full tranny overhaul.
 

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Complete Bastard
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Zonk, you can still order the xt 8 speed rapidfire pods. I have a set on a bike I'm not using and they're almost brand new. They shift better than the 9 speed stuff. You can get all the 8 speed stuff, even 8 speed xt cassettes, from QBP (bike parts supplier, your bike shop probably orders from them). It sounds like a new chain and new cables may take care of 80% of your problems though. I'd try that first, since it's the cheapest. Yes, replacing the chain without replacing the cogs and rings is bad, but it's better than leaving a worn chain on there. As for your shifters, try taking them apart and cleaning and lubing them. I had a set of 7 speed rapidfires that were 11 years old and still working when I sold them to a friend for his old bike. They're more durable than you think, and most likely the problems shifting are from dirty cables.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Im pretty set on getting new shifters, the xt rapidfires I've got served me well but they are limping to say the least.

Is there much difference between 8 and 9 speed setups? I've been looking at converting over to sram. I hear awesome reviews from a bunch of people who claim they've swapped from the setup I've got to the x.9 system and the difference was night and day to them.

pricepoint has a pretty killer deal right now for the x.9 shifters and x.9 rear derailer combo for 119 that's looking pretty tempting. It says that they're compatable with shimano front derailers (and since it was so hard to find the one that fits now, Im a little hesitant to start the search again for something that may be even more difficult to find now, 2 years later)

with converting to 9 speed is it necessary to get a new hub? or are 8 and 9 speed hubs essentially one in the same and thus completely interchangeable?

if Im to overhaul it all, I may as well move up to 9-speed seeing as how commercialism is driving 8-speed into extinction.... but Im assuming this means getting all new chainrings, casset, chain, shifters, and rear derailer.
 

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First the difference between nine and eight speed is the gear ratios, 9 speed has a much smoother progression between the cogs vs eight which allows 9 speed to progress to a 34tmax large in vs a 32tmax large for the 8 cogset.

Second they have a more tempermental characteristics in more extreme climates and under heavier loads (read: big guys).

Third, if your bike is set up as an 8 spd you will not only need to shifter set, but a chain, a cogset, and chainrings. Your current set up will not handle the ninespeed chain. This is fine if you are planning to replace that stuff anyway.

Fourth, if you want to do this on the cheap, get a set of 8 spd pods, new housing and cables and start with a new chain. If the chain skips under power get a new cassette. If it still skips see which chainring it does that in and replace them one at a time. Do all this testing in the street, DO NOT replace this stuff and go on a ride, a skipping chain could really hurt you on a trail. If the final result is a cleanly shifting bike, then be sure to replace your chain every 3months of wet riding and 6 months of dry conditions and this stuff will last for a very long time.

Finally, I would stick with the 8spd stuff, since you front der is a hard to find unit and an 8 spd your shifting performance will be poorer in 9spd than 8spd. I have been riding the same 8spd stuff forever now and just replace chains, rings, and cogs every so often. I replace cables frequently, to prevent myself putting too much strain on my shifters as the cables get gummy. Makes all the difference for $4 every 3months.

P.S. Sram makes an awesome 8spd cassette, ($30) with an 11-32 spread and good shifting performance. Order it from your shop or nashbar/performance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
yah I totally know what you mean about chain skipping getting you hurt. It's actually what's prompting this change in drivetrain. Last ride I was dropping in down a steep riverbank to stream crossing, went to power stroke before the lip so I could just manual the whole thing... the chain slipped and then caught again, which completely screwed with the muscles in my leg causing them to cramp and seize my leg straight, which catapulted me into the ice cold stream. I was fortunate there were no major rocks lining the creek bed, just round smooth pebbles, and the water was deep enough to take some of the fall. Asside from sitting there for 5 minutes trying to un seize my locked muscles which felt like they were tearing eachother off the bone, I came out relatively injury free.

Im really tempted to switch over to the SRAM x.9 trigger system. it looks really nice, and I like the 1:1 design. I know it may end up being better to stick with 8speed, but it seems like if I do that, Im stuck with whatever old technology the shop has left sitting on the shelf, and if something fails later, it'll either be a pain in the ass to find a replacement in the future, or really expensive shipping said 8speed part in from some random shop located out in BFE.
 

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Old man on a bike
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Another suggestion while you're at it

would be to make sure your derailleur hanger is straight, it could be causing grief if slightly bent. Personally as far as Sram goes can't help you, don't like gripshift but I've heard some nice comments about their new thumb shifters. I like the xt and xtr rapidfire lever combos very much, both 8 and 9 speed. The 8 speed is more durable and shifts better in ugly conditions IMO. I've noticed 8 speed stuff is getting harder to find and some of the lighter higher end stuff is just gone. I do have one bike still with XTR 8 speed with another set (used, from another bike) sitting in a box plus plenty of cogsets and chainrings as I intended to keep that bike that way for a long time to come.
 
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