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I have 9 speed crankset (44-32-22 FC M542), and matching RapidFire 9x3 speed shifters (FL M590).

Can I use 7 speed front derailleur FD M550 in that combination?

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9-speed chain is slightly narrower, so a "9-speed" front derailleur might have plates slightly closer together, but that's not going to make a lot of difference: http://sheldonbrown.com/speeds.html#derailers

So if the FD M550 worked with a 7-speed 44-32-22 crankset, it will work with the 9-speed equivalent, but a new 9-speed might shift very slightly better.

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