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I recently started changing the drivetrain on my Trail 6 (2020) and I wanted to jump to 3x11 from the 2x9 mixed Altus/Alivio it came as stock. My mistake was not paying attention to the type of pull my frame was built for, for the front derailleur: it's bottom pull.

I have all the components installed on the frame: 3x11 22-30-40 XT crankset, 22-40 11spd sprocket, 11spd XT chain with 138 links and 3x11 SLX Shifters. But the front derailleur had front pull which, sadly, cannot be used on the bike's frame. For the moment, I'm using the default 2/3x9 Altus front derailleur but, as you may assume, it's kinda bad (25% of the ratios cannot be used due to excessive chain rubbing and whatnot).

After extensive search, I've realized that there are no 3x11 front derailleurs with bottom or dual pull... only 2x11 or 3x10. Since i`m not gonna return the drivetrain (I've tested it for 2 days and it started showing signs of wear/tear, as is normal), my question is: can I reliably (or semi-reliably) use a 2x11 or 3x10 front derailleur with a 3x11 transmission? If yes, which of the two is more recommended?

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  • I just want to point out that you could also use one of those adapter pulleys problemsolversbike.com/products/front-derailleur-adapters/… With front pull, do you mean side pull? (e.g. an FD-M7020-11-L derailleur?) Can’t you route the cable housing with zip ties? – Michael Jul 22 '20 at 12:39
  • I've read about the adapter but i don't think it'll fit in my case. From what i've read, it's purpose is to enable down-pull for frames that have top-routed FD cable (therefore, top pull). By front i do mean front and not side (correct me if i'm wrong but isn't it side-swing the only "side" mechanic for a FD while top, bottom and front are the pull mechanics?) – Chris Jul 22 '20 at 13:44
  • Ooops, sorry, I meant to say side swing, this new-ish style of derailleur where the cable enters from the front instead of top or bottom (bike.shimano.com/en-EU/technologies/component/details/…). Why are you unable to route a cable with zip ties? – Michael Jul 22 '20 at 13:46
  • To be honest, it's the first time i encounter a front-pull FD and the mechanic i'm going to has told me that he can't mount it. Is there a common way of using zip-ties to make it work? That would be...wonderful, to say the least. – Chris Jul 22 '20 at 13:51
  • I haven’t seen one in person yet either, but scroll down to the photos here: handsonbike.blogspot.com/2016/03/… – Michael Jul 22 '20 at 15:06
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In case someone else finds himself/herself in my shoes, here's how it all turned out for me... so, the previous FD was a 2x9 Shimano Altus and it still managed to move the chain from one chainring to another. Since there was no 3x11 option with a different type of pull, other than front, i took a chance and ordered a 3x10 Deore SLX. Besides the usual min-maxes which cause chain rubbing, i also have some chain rubbing when on the mid chainring with the 2 largest sprockets. Otherwise, shifting is good, 9/10 it happens without any delays or the chain getting stuck between gears. I am still observing the behavior of the whole setup but as far as front derailleur goes, 3x10 seems to have ~93% compatibility with a 3x11 drivetrain. Thank you all for your time and answers.

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