Shimano Derailleurs Best to Worst Comparison 2021 | Expert Biker

If you’re looking for derailleurs for your bike, getting the ones from Shimano will serve you the best. Bikes have gained quite a bit of popularity in the last few years, and different innovations such as gears in bikes have become much more common now.

Choosing the right derailleurs for your bike can be a challenge. To help you out, we’ll rank the Shimano derailleurs best to worst in this article.

Anyone who’s taking biking as a passion must choose good components for his bike. Bikes need a lot of maintenance, and unless you get quality components for your bike, you’ll end up having to replace them every once in a while.

Upon finishing this article, you’ll be capable of selecting the best derailleurs for your bike. So, let’s get started!

What are the Top Shimano Derailleurs?

Best Overall: SHIMANO Altus Mountain Bike Rear Derailleur

“Industry-leading design and robust build.”

Overall Runner Up: Shimano Acera Mountain Bike Rear Derailleur

“Offers a great performance at an affordable price.”

Best Budget Pick: INKESKY Shimano Rear Derailleur RD-TZ31-A 6/7 Speed Hub Bolt Mount

“One of the cheapest picks but offers a lasting performance nonetheless.”

Best For Precise Gear Shifts: SHIMANO XT RD-M8000 Rear Derailleur

“Built-in stabilizers for providing the most precise gear shifts in any condition.”

Best For Low Profile Design: SHIMANO Ultegra R8000 Mid-Cage Rear Derailleur

“Sleek and low-profile design will look amazing while providing a smooth experience.”

Best For Minimizing Chain Rub: SHIMANO FD-M310 Aultus Front Derailleur

“Allows you to eliminate chain rub and tread rocky trails.”

Best For Top Notch Front Derailleur: SHIMANO Ultegra R8000 Clamp-On Front Derailleur

“Offers the best front derailleur at a price. Performs great and lasts a long time.”

Best For Crisp and Preserving Shifting Experiences: SHIMANO RD 5701 105 30T Max Rear Derailleur

“Allows the users to shift instantly and preserve the gear no matter the situation.”

Best For Budget Shimano Combination: SHIMANO Tiagra 10-Speed Rear Road Bicycle Derailleur – RD-4700

“Best if you’re looking forward to upgrading to an all Shimano combination under $300.”

Best For Rough Trails: SHIMANO RD-M2000 Rear DERAILLEUR

“Will help you tread bumpy and rocky trails effortlessly.”

Best Shimano Derailleurs: Comparison Table

Top 10 Shimano Derailleurs Best to Worst

Now we’ll take a look at the features provided by the best Shimano Derailleurs in detail. Let’s get right to it.

1. SHIMANO Altus Mountain Bike Rear Derailleur -Best Overall

The Shimano Altus rear derailleur is made for mountain bikes, and this product is for those who look for nothing, but the very best the market can offer. This derailleur offers everything that you can expect from the best.

This product has a good metal build, and the build quality is far superior to most products on the market. It has a chain wrap capacity of 43 teeth, and the derailleur action is Top-normal. If you’re looking for a traditional derailleur, this is it. You’ll get used to using it instantly.

Anyone shifting from a stock derailleur to this will experience a paradigm shift. What’s surprising about these derailleurs is that they can be used with any bike, no matter how new or old that is. This universality is one of the major things that makes these worth buying. 

So, we can conclude that this is the best Shimano derailleur that you can find, and we highly recommend it.

Pros

  • Works with basic friction shifters
  • SIS compatibility for smoother and much more effective shifting
  • Robust build quality for long term usage
  • Total 43 teeth for ensuring universal support

Cons:

  • The customer service isn’t that good
  • The bearings aren’t top-notch

2. Shimano Acera Mountain Bike Rear Derailleur – Overall Runner Up

The Shimano Acera Rear Derailleur is one of the best Shimano derailleurs that the market has to offer. This derailleur is made especially for mountain bikes, and it offers the feature set that you might expect from a top-end product.

These are compatible with HG sprockets of eight-speed settings. If you’re looking for a derailleur that offers great performance at a decent value, then this is the right one for you.

As it’s a Shimano Derailleur, you can expect all sorts of advanced features like smooth and clicky shifts. It also features the light action design and pivot bushings that come with extremely low friction. With these features, you’ll be able to glide through the road as you switch between the gears effortlessly.

The aluminum build makes this derailleur lightweight. Not only that, but it’s very durable and water-resistant as well, ensuring that you get a long-term experience from it.

This derailleur also offers an extremely wide gear range, and this is due to the long SGS cage that it provides.

Pros

  • Long SGS cage offers a wide range of gears
  • Lightweight yet durable due to the aluminum build
  • Offers smooth gear shifts
  • Pivot bushings designed for better response

Cons:

  • A bit of chain bounce
  • Some people might not like the clicky gear shifts

3. INKESKY Shimano Rear Derailleur RD-TZ31-A 6/7 Speed Hub Bolt Mount – Best Budget Pick

The INKESKY Shimano rear derailleur is designed for bikes that are regularly used. Even if you’re using a bike that you bought from Walmart, you’ll be able to fit it in that.

This bike is among the least expensive derailleurs from Shimano. What got it to third place in our list is the value it provides in contrast to its price. You’ll get a lot of features that mid-tier derailleurs provide, and the quality is decent too.

It comes with plastic housing on both the top and the bottom of the pivot, and this makes the derailleur seem a bit flimsy. Despite the outlook and the first impression that you might have on it, you’ll soon find out that it’s very durable and capable of handling years of abuse.

One thing most people complain about this derailleur is the installation procedure. This is tougher to install than most other derailleurs. The hanger mount doesn’t get much tight, so you might require extra hands.

Pros

  • Very affordable price
  • Durable despite having inferior material in some places
  • It Will fit most regular bikes
  • Great for entry-level bikers

Cons:

  • Plastic components at the top and bottom part of the pivot
  • The installation procedure is tough and arduous

4. SHIMANO XT RD-M8000 Rear Derailleur – Best For Precise Gear Shifts

If you’re looking for a rear derailleur that’ll provide precise gear shifts and you’re willing to spend some money for that, then this derailleur might serve you best.

The Shimano XT RD-M8000 rear derailleurs come with chain stabilizers built into them. These components will ensure that you get an accurate shifting experience no matter what situation you’re in. These gears also feature an 11-speed setting, providing you a wide gear range.

Installing this derailleur is pretty straightforward. You’ll be able to attach it to your bike in no time, which is definitely a good feature.

It’s also very universal when it comes to different bike types. You’ll be able to fit this on mountain bikes, fat bikes, and even road bikes, and you’ll get a great performance out of every one of them.

However, if you’re new to multi-speed derailleurs, then you might have to spend a considerable amount of time tuning these. Some people complained that even after running a thousand miles with these, they require some adjustment.

Pros

  • The easy installation process will save your time and effort
  • Built-in stabilizers provide accurate gear shifting experience
  • Supports all sorts of bikes
  • 11-speed settings provide a wider range than most derailleurs.

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of tuning for perfection
  • Sometimes it forces the cage backward accidentally

5. SHIMANO Ultegra R8000 Mid-Cage Rear Derailleur- Best For Low Profile Design

There are a lot of people who don’t like the bulky design of derailleurs that tend to stick out. For them, the Shimano Ultegra R8000 rear derailleur is the perfect pick. If you’re using an older version of this series, then you’ll experience a great change over the previous product, and we highly recommend changing.

The installation process of this derailleur is a bit different from the previous versions. Although the alignment will be a bit tough to adjust initially, you’ll be able to get it in a perfect position by investing some time.

It also offers a wide range of gears that you can shift through. The accurate shifting experience will help you ride through bumpy and hilly roads without breaking a sweat. It crosses chains on the 34 without any problem, which is great.

This derailleur is very quiet. It’s even quieter than the 32 teeth setups, so if you’re looking for a quiet derailleur, this one should be perfect for you.

Pros

  • Fast and smooth shifting experience
  • Low profile and sleek design
  • Indexing knob is a breeze to work with
  • Comes with a built-in road link

Cons:

  • Works with 11-speed shifters only
  • Doesn’t work well with fat bikes and mountain bikes

6. SHIMANO FD-M310 Aultus Front Derailleur – Best For Minimizing Chain Rub

The Shimano FD-M310 Aultus front derailleur is the first front derailleur of this list. This derailleur has made our favorite list with some amazing features.

First of all, it’s extremely easy to install. The manual doesn’t tell you much about the installation procedure, and it also requests you to let a professional take care of the installation process. Still, it’s easy to install, and you’ll be able to do so with the help of the internet.

If you’ve got a mountain bike with a 2*8 configuration, then this derailleur will serve you best. The cage of this is very precise, and there will be minimal to no chain rub even when you’re cross chaining. When you’re going uphill, you’ll be able to shift to a smaller chainring even under the load.

Adjusting and tuning this derailleur is straightforward. You’ll be able to set the high and low limits easily, and getting a separate barrel will help you fine-tune it even more.

Despite offering cool features, this front derailleur is comparatively cheaper than most other products on the market. This makes it even more worth buying. 

Pros

  • Inexpensive and meaningful upgrade
  • Great for mountain bikes with a 2*8 configuration
  • Precise cage for minimizing chain rub
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with any shims which makes adjustment tough
  • The instruction page doesn’t provide much value

7. SHIMANO Ultegra R8000 Clamp-On Front Derailleur – Best For Top Notch Front Derailleur

We’ve reviewed the R8000 rear derailleur previously in this list, and this time it’s the Ultegra R8000 front derailleur. If you’re looking for a sleek-looking and low-profile front derailleur, then this is the best product for your bike.

These are completely new models from Shimano, and the R8000 front derailleurs have been redesigned completely. The 8000 series provides much better performance. For starters, the cable pull of this derailleur will remain very straight. You won’t even require a barrel adjuster, which will definitely save your money.

The installation process is quite easy as well. Unlike some other derailleurs, this one doesn’t require you to remove the cable for installing the derailleur, which is great. The trim function works perfectly too.

One drawback of this derailleur is that it doesn’t come with any instructions. The instruction manual provided doesn’t offer much in terms of value. However, it’s not actually a drawback as there are tons of YouTube videos that’ll help you with the process. Even if you’re new to this, you’ll be able to set it up perfectly.

Pros

  • Top-quality front derailleur
  • Maintains a straight cable pull
  • Eliminates the necessity of a barrel adjuster
  • Sleek looking and low-profile

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer a detailed instruction manual

8. SHIMANO RD 5701 105 30T Max Rear Derailleur – Best For Crisp and Preserving Shifting Experience

Next up, we have the Shimano RD 5701 derailleur at the eight places on our list. This isn’t among the best derailleurs offered by Shimano, but it’s still capable of getting the job done for entry-level bikers.

This derailleur comes with an extra stiff gear shifting that will give you an accurate and crisp experience.

It also comes with the wide link design that Shimano has been integrating into their latest models. This extra feature will not only provide you quick and crisp shifts but also help you keep the pivots for a longer time period.

With the help of this feature, you’ll get a derailleur that’s long-lasting and can provide a crisp experience in the long term. It’s also capable of accepting 30t cassettes of a wide range.

One other unique features of these derailleurs are that you can get them in two lengths. You can either get the short cages or the medium cages. Picking the right size for your bike will allow you to keep the derailleur compact and effective.

Pros

  • Works with a wide variety of cassettes
  • Provides a lasting and crisp shifting experience
  • Compatible with the 10-speed drivetrains from Shimano
  • Comes in two sizes for allowing a better fit

Cons:

  • A bit tough to install
  • Over torquing the bolt can damage the component

9. SHIMANO Tiagra 10-Speed Rear Road Bicycle Derailleur – RD-4700 – Best For Budget Shimano Combination

The Shimano Tiagra rear derailleurs are good budget picks, and these are considered entry-level derailleurs. If you’re looking forward to installing an entire Shimano component group in your bike at a reasonable price, then this is a component that you must consider buying.

Despite being an entry-level derailleur, these will provide a great performance to you. They offer some good features that are found only in the mid-tier derailleurs, and getting these features from such a budget pick is quite surprising.

These work great if you equip other Tiagra components in your bike. It’s not among the lightest derailleurs out there, but it gets the job done, which makes it worthy of your money. It looks sleek, and it’s very responsive when it comes to gear shifts.

You won’t need to adjust these too much for getting the maximum performance out of them. In fact, you’ll be able to use these properly, even without tuning. However, we recommend some tuning for getting the max potential out of them.

Pros

  • Performs amazing if paired with other Tiagra components
  • Will perform great irrespective of the weather and the road conditions
  • Comes at an extremely affordable price
  • Offers a sleek look

Cons:

  • Needs to be paired with other Tiagra components only
  • A bit heavy

10. SHIMANO RD-M2000 Rear DERAILLEUR – Best for Rough Trails

Last but not least, we have the Shimano RD-M2000 rear derailleurs. These derailleurs offer a low-profile and sleek outlook, and they also offer a single chain construction.

The spring construction of these derailleurs is far stiffer than the rest. This will provide you a snappy and crisp shifting experience. Then again, the stiff design also reduces the chain slap to a great degree. If you buy an aftermarket chain guide tensioner, then you’ll be able to eliminate any chain slap.

If you don’t have any prior experience of reducing the chain slap, then it’ll be tough for you to adjust it. In such a case, we highly recommend that you go to someone who knows how to do this. The instruction manual doesn’t address this issue at all.

This unit is made for supporting 8 speed and 9-speed shifters. The shifting experience is smooth and crisp. If you’re a person who treads on rough trails, then this is the best budget pick for your bike.

Despite offering these amazing features, this derailleur comes at a very reasonable price. This is why we highly recommend it.

Pros

  • Offers a smooth and responsive shifting experience
  • Capable of eliminating chain slap
  • Performs amazing on rough and rocky trails
  • Comes at an affordable price

Cons:

  • Can’t be tuned properly by inexperienced users
  • Manual doesn’t provide much information on adjusting chain slap

Features to Look for Before Buying

In this section, we’ll discuss the factors that will help you choose the right derailleurs for your bike. So, let’s get started.

Weight

Most of the expensive derailleurs weigh much less than the cheaper ones. Lighter derailleurs are definitely better as they won’t weigh you down, reducing the force you need to exert for riding.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the lightest derailleur will serve you the best. While weight is definitely a factor to consider, you also need to consider the features that you’re getting out of the product. If a heavier derailleur is capable of meeting your requirements, then there’s no need to avoid that.

Finish

The finish is very subjective, as bikers are equally divided into two groups, one of which favors jazzy and glittering derailleurs, the others don’t care.

There are expensive derailleurs that will offer you a beautiful and polished outlook. These will definitely make your bike stand out from the rest, and the outlook itself will express the premium value of the product.

However, if you’re okay with derailleurs that don’t look all premium, that’s okay, and it’s completely your choice.

Cage Length

Choosing the right cage length for your derailleurs is extremely important. The length of the derailleur will determine whether it’s a fit for your bike or not.

If the cassette installed on your bike is of a wide range like 10-42t or more, then you’ll need a long cage derailleur. Then again, if the difference between the chainring sizes is great, a long cage derailleur will serve you best.

Then again, if the cassette size is regular and the drivetrain is either 1x or 2x, then a medium cage derailleur will be the better choice for you.

Finally, if you’re running a road bike with a regular cassette, then we highly recommend getting a short cage derailleur.

Number of Gears

Determining the number of gears on your bike is important as it’ll determine whether the derailleur will suit your bike or not.

If you already have a derailleur on your bike, then we recommend counting the number of cogs on the existing derailleur’s cassette. Get a derailleur that matches the same number.

On the other hand, if you didn’t have a derailleur before, we recommend the number of steps on the shifters. Add 1 to the number you’ve found, and this is the number of gears that you’ll need from your derailleur.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Clutch Derailleurs?

Clutch derailleurs come with a bit different mechanism than regular derailleurs. Whereas the regular derailleurs rely on the main pivot for providing the tension, the clutch derailleurs provide an extra clutch that can increase this tension and hold it properly.

Due to the clutch derailleurs, the bike can shift between different gears quietly and more reliably. This is why the clutch derailleurs were used in the mountain bikes previously.

How to Calculate Drivetrain Capacity?

The highest number of slack chains that the rear derailleur cage can handle is known as the drivetrain capability. The higher the potential slack of the derailleur, the bigger cage you’ll need.

You can calculate the drivetrain capacity of your bike by adding the difference between tooth numbers on the largest and smallest sprockets on the cassettes and the difference between the tooth numbers on the smallest and largest chainring.

What are the Differences between a Front and a Rear Derailleur?

The rear and front derailleurs are different, and they also serve a completely different purpose. Now the chain becomes tense when you pedal your bike. In this state, the function of the rear derailleur is to keep the chain in a suitable position.

On the other hand, the front derailleur is supposed to move the upper part of the chain. Together, the front and the rear derailleur can keep your bike moving in the roughest trails.

How to Index Your Gears?

For indexing your bike’s gears, you need to follow these steps:
1. Adjust the limit screw
2. Turn the barrel adjusted clockwise for tightening it
3. Tune the cable tension
4. Shift the cable to the largest sprocket
5. Adjust the B-tension screw

Are Shimano Derailleurs Universally Compatible?

Sadly, no. Even if you get Shimano components all across the bike, you might face some problems. For example, if you’re going for the Shimano Tiagra derailleur, then you’ll need Tiagra components all across the board. Otherwise, it won’t be compatible.

Is It Possible to Force a Derailleur to Suit with Incompatible Components?

Yes, it’s possible to force a derailleur to suit with any components- almost. However, you won’t be able to do it if you don’t have vast experience working with derailleurs.

Is There a Difference Between 10 Speed and 11 Speed?

Yes, there are slight differences between 10 and 11 speeds. However, you won’t need to replace the crankset, as swapping out the chainrings will help you adjust them.

Final Words

If you’re willing to upgrade the derailleurs of your bike, then this is the right time to do so. You’ll find the Shimano Derailleurs best to worst ranked in the list above, and you’ll be able to find the most suitable one for yourself following the buying guide.

We strongly suggest you pick from this list as these are the best products that you’ll find on the market.

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