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If I set up a bike with:

  • 10-speed tiagra shifters
  • 10-speed dura ace read derailleur
  • 9-speed 105 front derailleur

Will it cause problems if I use components from different series? (All of these are from within the past year or two.)

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It's fine so long as you don't cross the streams... It would be bad. –  Daniel R Hicks Jan 11 '12 at 23:18
    
It would melt the Stay Puft Shimano Man. –  Neil Fein Jan 12 '12 at 2:39
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3 Answers 3

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Your best performance will come from using components which were designed to work together, i.e. with the complete drive train from the same year and series. That doesn't mean that different combinations will not work together at all, however.

While I have occasionally used a 9 speed front derailleur with a 10 speed drivetrain as an emergency fix, it shouldn't be used for a permanent set up. Your shifting performance will suffer, even if they are both double or both triple components.

In addition, the year and model of the Dura Ace components matters. The 7900 STI levers, which are current Dura Ace, have compatibility issues with the 7800 front derailleur of just 2 years ago, even though Shimano says they are fully compatible.

I've added scans of the Shimano 2012 Compatibility charts for front and rear drive train components. You will notice that no 9 speed part is listed as compatible with any 10 speed part, but that even the new 4600 Tiagra 10-speed is listed as compatible with all 10 speed components.

I hope that helps.

Shimano Front Derailleur Compatibility Chart Shimano Front Derailleur Compatibility Chart

Shimano Rear Derailleur Compatibility Chart Shimano Rear Derailleur Compatibility Chart

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Of course Shimano doesn't want you mixing components because it's bad for their bottom line and stating they're incompatible gives their warranty/tech department an out when something goes wrong. Same goes for your local shop, "look, chart right here says incompatible, sorry dude". In real world practice you'd likely have no issues. At some point Shimano even published a "B" cable routing position so you could use an N speed cassette with an N+1 speed shifter: sheldonbrown.com/derailer-adjustment.html#alternate –  802bikeguy.com Jan 12 '12 at 15:36
    
@802bikeguy.com: That article says Shimano published a B routing for a specific year and model of Dura Ace shifter, to allow compatibility with a specific previous year model. Sheldon says it will move work to move you from 8 speed to 7 speed, and he would know. But that assumes you are using 8 speed shifters with a 7 speed crank, chain, cassette, etc..., not just using a lower speed derailleur with a complete higher speed drive train. –  zenbike Jan 15 '12 at 8:18
    
Of course, I know there is marketing involved in the process of presenting a new group set. What most of you miss, is that a smart company starts that process much earlier. They design the components to be incompatible deliberately absolutely. That is business, and they don't stay in business by letting you use their latest and greatest with your 10 year old parts. But the fact that there may not be a need for them to have made the parts incompatible, doesn't mean that you can simply decide to use them together anyway. They are incompatible, regardless of the reason why. –  zenbike Jan 15 '12 at 8:22
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9 and 10 speed are pretty close in width, so you should be OK to mix 10 speed shifters with a 9 speed frount derailleur ( I have several bikes set up like that ). Just make sure the limit screws are set up correctly so the chain does not fall off. At the rear you need to make sure that cable pull is compatible. I'm not to sure about your situation because Dura-ace has at times used a different cable pull to other shimano derailleurs

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Yes, you can mix components from different series (you see many bikes with a mix of component level).

BUT, you cannot mix 9/10 speed, do not use a 10 speed sti shifter with 9 speed derailleur. Additionally, check your front shifter to see if was made for double or triple chainring and make sure your front derailleur will work with the number of chain rings you are going to run.

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Rear derailers are not speed specific. They are only marketed as such. 8, 9 and 10 speed cassettes are almost exactly the same width (within 1 mm). As far as front derailers and cranks go, the difference is negligible. The cage on a 10 speed front derailer may be slightly narrower than a 9 speed. The cable pull ratio is the same. The amount the derailer moves is determined by the shifter, not the derailer (assuming all road or all mtn components, you shouldn't mix a road shifter with a front mtn derailer or vice versa). I doubt OP would have issues. –  802bikeguy.com Jan 12 '12 at 5:10
    
Rear derailleurs are speed specific. The "marketing" is there for a reason. The cable pull is identical. The width, diameter, and number of teeth on the pulley wheels, and the width of the derailleur cage is not the same, nor is the length of the derailleur cage, and the pull trajectory, which is the path the derailleur pulls through when activated by the derailleur also differs with different speed derailleurs. Also the width of the range the derailleur can cover is generally different. While the difference in cassette width is not physically large, its effect is quite real. –  zenbike Jan 12 '12 at 14:46
    
Technically speaking your are correct in what is probably very minor width differences. However, I used an "8 speed" XT rear derailer with an 8, 9 and 10 speed shifter/chain/cassette before I trashed it and have now switched to a SRAM X9 "10 speed" rear derailer. The XT performed perfectly fine with an 8, 9 and 10 speed shifter/chain/cassette. The 10 speed chain had no problem mating with the teeth of the "8 speed" pulley wheels. The travel range of an 8/9 or 10 speed derailer should be almost exactly the same. Pulley wheels on most mid to high end derailers are all 11T. –  802bikeguy.com Jan 12 '12 at 15:31
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