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Why do some Shimano rear derailleurs have an adjustable cage spring tension and what is affected by increasing it (default is low tension)?

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It's a way of mitigating chain slap and chain retention issues, primarily for more aggressive riding styles. The tradeoff is drivetrain efficiency and shifting smoothness. It's a feature that's basically been supplanted by rear derailer clutches.

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  • Lower tension, standard position: quicker shifting but risk of unwanted chain behaviour. Higher tension; if the standard setting doesn't work mainly because of bumpy riding conditions but requiring a more precise derailleur adjustment.to ensure correct gear changes. – Carel Dec 4 '17 at 17:16

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