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I want to buy a new front shifter for my 3x9 speed MTB. The XTR M970 shifter is rare and expensive. Can I just use the front shifter from a 2/3 x 10 system? e.g. Shimano XTR M980 ? Are Shimano front derailleur 3 speed the same pull ratio for 9 and 10 speed? My front derailleur is FD-M430. I am aware that the rear shifter has to match, but not sure about the front. Thank you in advance

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Yes, Shimano 3x mountain front pull can be considered universal. Their official charts make it look otherwise and it's possible that there is some very small difference in the cable travel, but in many combinations I've never seen an issue with this.

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