Shimano has been using their 'Shadow' technology on their high-end mountain bike rear derailleurs (> Deore) for many years. In addition to the benefit described in the images below (from here), Shadow derailleurs have a more direct housing routing near the derailleur, which results in a lot less cable friction, and therefore, better and smoother shifting.

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Why doesn't Shimano use this technology on their road rear derailleurs? Interestingly enough, SRAM also went out of their way to avoid direct housing routing near the rear derailleur when they came out with their road derailleur, even though they'd been using direct routing for many years on their mountain bike derailleurs.

5 Answers 5


Simple answer would be that it's heavier, which is very important in road-bikes.

Regarding the cable friction and smoother shifting, road shifters are going towards electronics

  • Electronic shifters are a whole other level, and cost over $2000 from what I've seen. There's nothing inherently expensive about electronic shifting, so maybe it will come down to a reasonable price at some point, but for now it's out of the price range of all but the most dedicated cyclists.
    – Kibbee
    Apr 8, 2014 at 16:38

a) profile reduction is more or less irrelevant to road bikes.

b) the cost of retooling all their road bike dérailleur manufacturing to get a very marginal gain in reduced cable friction probably makes it not worth it. It might be more expensive to produce dérailleurs in that configuration too.

c) (tinfoil hat mode) they deliberately want to keep shifting on their cabled road dérailleurs poor so as to boost sales of di2

  • d) Reducing compatibility means you have to buy more parts rather than reusing compatible old parts.
    – Emyr
    Apr 8, 2014 at 11:52
  • 1
    @Emyr, Isn't changing things around (e.g. tire sizes) a leading strategy to stimulate purchases?
    – Vorac
    Apr 8, 2014 at 12:17
  • Possibly, the 29er trend meant you could use the same rims for MTB, cyclocross, heavy touring, but couldn't use your old 26" forks on your new 29er. Manufacturers need durability to sell their products, but if the parts are too durable they need other ways to trigger subsequent purchases.
    – Emyr
    Apr 8, 2014 at 12:34

In 2017 Shimano has now introduced its Shadow technology on road derailleurs for its Dura-Ace and Ultegra newest rear derailleurs R9150, R9100 and R8000 models.

  • Time moves on, but who would have predicted trickle-down from MTB to road groups ?
    – Criggie
    Mar 11, 2018 at 9:42

The benefit of the Shadow Plus friction clutch is that rough terrain doesn't allow the chain to pull against the rear derailleur cage spring, so the chain stays taught and in control.

Key words rough terrain here. The whole purpose of the shadow tech is to reduce chain slap, which isnt a problem for pavement road racing.

Further, the friction clutch adds a damper to the mass (chain, bouncing) and the spring (twist of the derailleur cage).

  • 5
    The question was not about the Shadow plus plus technology with the friction clutch but about the Shadow technology, i.e. the design where the derailleur is designed to be positioned more below the cassette than beside. Apr 8, 2014 at 13:09
  • If reducing the profile of the derailleur was really such a concern we'd bring back chainstay mounted derailleurs such as the Nivex (a design that actually works extremely well!)
    – ChrisL
    Jul 9, 2015 at 19:49

It solves problems which simply don't exist on the road. Making the design change would require a significant investment and Shimano is already moving their upper tier road groups to electronic shifting which makes the whole cable friction aspect a non-issue.

I do wish they'd put out a STI lever with the appropriate cable pull for Shadow. Would be great for cyclocross and also for drop bar MTBs (drop bars on MTBs are pretty awesome for all but the most technical of terrain!)

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