I have a rear wheel with a 142x12 Shimano road 11 freehub body. That body can take 11-xx Shimano 12 speeds cassette.

I have the opportunity to get a SRAM Force eTap AXS kit with front and rear dérailleur and levers for a very low price.

I know the rear derailleur pulleys is meant to receive a flattop chain with the slightly larger roller.

In practice however, can AXS derailleurs deal with a Shimano 12 speed chain and cassette, as well as a Shimano crank.

I know it works on the mountain side of things, but it's not clear if a Shimano 12 speeds chain will run sufficiently fine through the road AXS pulleys.

Thank you!

  • The rear derailleur works perfectly with the cinch chain and cassette. But the front one doesn’t handle the Shimano chain very well. I also installed axs stars [they are absolutely terrible] on the stars it works fine.
    – Sam Gold
    Commented Jan 5 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


Adam Kerin of Zero Friction Cycling does a lot of research on chains and chain lubricants. He has made some comments about AXS drivetrains with non-AXS chains here.

Briefly, as you stated, the AXS chains have larger rollers than standard. Therefore, the profile of the cassette cogs are made for those rollers to sit nicely. In addition, the AXS chain is thinner both internally and externally than standard chains.

If you put a standard chain on an AXS cassette, that would be like putting a new chain on a worn cassette, which means you could see the chain skip under load. Kerin reports that in practice, he has had people tell him they've used AXS cassettes with 3rd party chains, and that they work fine. He still recommends against doing so.

Now, the question asks about using just the AXS derailleurs on an otherwise Shimano setup, including the chain. My notion is that the front derailleur should work. On the rear derailleur, the issue is that the jockey wheels are profiled for the AXS chain. That said, at least the jockey wheels are not under much load. What could happen here? It's possible the Shimano chain won't interface properly with the jockey wheels. Post #18 of this thread on MTBR.com describes something like that happening with a Shimano HG+ chain (where the MTB chain is the same as the road chain) plus a SRAM Eagle AXS RD (which uses the same chain standard as normal road chains). You open yourself up to situations like these, but they aren't possible to foresee in detail without trying the combo out.

  • Thank you very much, I have read the content from your links. So the blocker here are the pulleys. I couldn't find Shimano 12x compatible pulleys to go on a SRAM road AXS derailleur. I wondered if Eagle pulleys could go on a AXS road derailleur. No, teeth count is not the same, except for the tension pulley, which you might fit 2 of, but then the guide pulley would be a tension pulley and probably not doing its job well, let aside being able fit this without going around width and fixing bolts length issues.
    – SuperBab
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 13:58
  • Knowing all this, I'll have to go all in and test that out to find out how a 12x shimano chain behaves through an AXS flattop compatible derailler. Roller size could create an issue. Inner chain width shouldn't be as the flattop chains have a smaller inner width then the "standard" 12x chains. So flattop pulleys's teeth are narrower and would welcome a standard 12x chain fine. Leaving aside the roller size issue... Success here would prevent replacing the freehub body, crank (or at least chainrings, if possible) and cassette. I'll report when done, but that will be a few weeks.
    – SuperBab
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 13:59
  • @SuperBab Did you ever realize the project and made some experience about that?
    – DoNuT
    Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 10:55
  • I haven't had the time unfortunately. It is still planned and it will be a winter project.
    – SuperBab
    Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 15:19

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