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I'm in the process of installing my Shimano Tiagra left shifter for the front derailleur on my double crank and I'm a bit confused, the indicator shows it has 5 positions for a crank with only 2 chainrings (double), when using common sense says it should only have 3.

Depressing the large lever one click from the inner ring should put the front derailleur into the trim position, and depressing the large lever a full two click puts the chain onto the outer ring. Shouldn't that be it?

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Yes it should, your last para is correct. Sounds suspiciously like you have got yourself a shifter for a triple chainring. Do you have any packaging/part numbers? If the shifters are made for a double chainring, the part number should end in a 0 (e.g. ST-4600), if triple should end in 3 (ST-4603). – PeteH Jun 25 '13 at 8:16
I'll have that checked when I get home, I think you may be right – Locke McDonnell Jun 25 '13 at 22:25
@LockeMcDonnell, Any update on the part numbers? – amcnabb Jul 30 '13 at 15:57
Common sense would be 2 positions for 2 chainrings. I don't know what you mean by trim position? – Frisbee Jun 20 '14 at 18:45
@Blam trim position is a smaller adjustment while still remaining on the same chainring to allow for cross chaining. – Mac Dec 16 '14 at 3:14

1 Answer 1

As @Pete said in the comments, front derailleur shifting needs a partial-shift positions. That stops the chain rubbing on the front derailleur as it moves across the cogs at the back of the bike. As you shift across the chain bends coming off the chainring and the path it takes through the front derailleur changes.

So normally there will be an extra part-shift on each gear for a double chainring (four positions) and the middle of a triple has one each side for a total of seven. Five doesn't make a lot of sense, but without playing with your exact shifter it's hard to know where and how big the shifts are.

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