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What are the rear derailleur families, offered by Shimano? I need to replace a Shimano Acera derailleur and am trying to decide on a replacement part.

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As long as you replace it with another Shimano mountain bike derailleur that was designed for the same number of gears, it will be compatible. –  jimirings Apr 12 '13 at 14:07

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Cross country component

  • XTR [M980] (10 speed) – Top of the range for cross-country mountain bikes
  • Deore XT [M780] (10 speed)
  • SLX [M660] (9 and 10 speed), replaced Deore LX
  • Deore [M590] (9 speed) Entry level cross-country mountain bikes
  • Non-series (brakeparts, cranks and pedals)

Trekking component

  • Deore XT
  • Deore LX
  • Deore

Downhill/Freeride component

  • Saint [M820] (10 speed) – Top of the range for downhill and freeride bikes
  • Zee [M640] (10 speed)
  • Hone [M600] (9 speed) – discontinued in 2008

Recreational mountain bikes component

  • Alivio [M410 and M430] (8 and 9 speed)
  • Acera [M360] (8 and 9 speed)
  • Altus [M310] (8 speed)
  • Tourney (6, 7, 8 speed) – Includes several different levels of quality, and can be found on department-store bicycles

The above list was pilfered from Wikipedia.

You're probably best to go with Acera again, to ensure it's compatible. I've had one fitted to my hybrid in the last year, so they're still available.

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No road or CX (or track or TT) components?! –  WTHarper Apr 12 '13 at 15:45

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