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Last year just before 'cross season I bought a bike with SRAM Rival grouppo. While I like it for the most part, I have almost always had issues with the front shifting - either it takes a fair amount of effort to get the chain to climb up to the big ring or I have to *really* soft pedal to get it to shift, or it tosses the chain to the outside of the crank. I have had the shop I bought it at adjust the front derailleur, I've tweaked it, and several other mechanics that are well-regarded have adjusted the front derailleur. Limit stops, cable tension, and angle have all been adjusted to get this dialed in.

When it works, it works pretty well but it's been unpredictable as to when it acts up. Lap Two at USGP-Louisville it didn't want to go to the big ring but laps one, three and four were just fine (as an example).

On the workstand it works beautifully. Under feet it feels like a fight to get it to shift sometimes. Several other people locally have also had issues with SRAM front shifting including the mechanics at one of the shops (he doesn't dislike SRAM, just says the SRAM fronts are more difficult to work well). What really puzzles me is my monster crosser with Tiagra shifters, 105 front der and ancient Deore rear der just shifts soo much easier. This shouldn't be - the newer, more expensive stuff is supposed to work better, right?

Is there something obvious I'm overlooking? I'm about ready to toss it.

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I have a Force FD and it isn't part of the solution. CX Magazine story referenced in a comment above states that GoreTex cables and a quality, covered pulley fixed the issue.


For next year I'm either going back to my trusty 105s, or converting to a single front-ring set up.

One well-regarding mechanic who's worked on this for me several times said that yes, SRAM front derailleurs are difficult to get to work well and that the Red derailleur is the *worst* of the bunch, Force not being any better in functionality than Rival.

Yes, the Goretex cables and a pulley with a bushing will undoubtedly help. Hell, I thought I was going to have to get the Wick Werks chainrings. These are all good, worthy upgrades but only SRAM seems to need them in order to just work.

Frustrating. I like the feel of the levers, I like the double-tap system, the rear seems to work well (but there's a lot more cable stretch than other systems). I want to really like the whole system but I'm about ready to go to 9sp 105 or Veloce levers.

Same problems described here with both Force FD and Gore cables.

I and several friends have fought like hell with SRAM FD's with mixed results. Red by far is the worst. The titanium cage on the Red FD is too flexy. That's why so many pros were running Force FD's for years. Sram has come out with hardened titanium and stainless front derailleurs for 2012. From what we've figured out, here are a couple things you could do.

QBP sells an angled shim that wedges between the mount of a braze on derailleur and the frame mount (or strap for a braze-on). I'm trying like hell to find a picture of it, but no luck. Your LBS should be able to get it for you for around $10-15. It rotates the derailleur so the angle of the cage more closely matches up with the smaller big ring. 

If you're handy with a pair of vise grips you can SLIGHTLY bend the inside plate in and up. It sometimes works, but YMMV. Thanks to my fellow wrench Cliff for that tip. 

I just tossed my force FD on my CX bike and went with an FSA energy compact front derailleur. Haven't had a problem since. 



Will a shimano FD work with SRAM Rival shifter?

Yes. I did just that all summer (Rival shifters with 105 FD) 

Stupid question, are you happy with the performance of the Rival/105 set up?  Also, are you running a pulley?

It was fine and it was a bottom pull. 



I'm so glad I found this thread! I thought it was just me. I have had the identical problems that you all have described. But now at least I have some potential solutions. I'll post again if I have any luck with any of the ideas you all have offered.

 My bike with a 34.9 clamp Rival FD was the one that I could never get dialed in and it wasn't until I switched to the braze-on version (using an adapter) that all of my problems went away.  My theory is that SRAM FD's are really particular and the braze-on version allows easier parallel alignment of the FD cage with the crank-set's outer ring.  It seemed as if whenever I tightened the clamp-on version onto the frame it moved around until the bolt was tight enough to hold it in place.  The cage needs to be spot on parallel (amongst other things) for the shifting to be exact.  That along with the proper cage height from the outer chain ring (1-3mm) and the inner and outer limit screws being set correctly (1mm inside and outside cage distance from inner and outer rings) - use a dime for spacing.  If the cage isn't parallel than all of the other measurements will be off, resulting in - chain rub, not picking the chain up,  shifting the chain off, etc.)

Also if you run the chain tightly for Cx races this may not allow the FD to shift up properly while in the larger cassette gears (28, 27, 26...) depending on how short you're running the chain.  I had this problem for awhile and after adding a few links back into my chain - problem solved.


Quick update: I was about to break down and either buy the pulley with the bushing (as mentioned in the CX article) or drill it out and install a bushing myself. As I took it apart last night, turns out I had a pulley WITH the bushing already from the factory. Since I had this problem from day one, looks like that is not the cure. Installed teflon-coated stainless front der. cable and we'll see. If that doesn't work I'm going to take a tip from some others here and install a Shimano front der - I've an XTR, Ultegra and even a Campy Mirage to try. I've got nothing to lose at this point.

On the plus side for SRAM, I had broken my rear shifter lever (lack-of-sleep induced bad rear der. cable adjustment). As the lever was less than two years old, SRAM warrantied it out - no muss, no fuss, new lever at no cost. Even though it was my own bone-headed mistake. Wow. OK, thank you SRAM for the excellent customer service. I was about to toss the whole shooting match but this made me want to make the Rival system work again.

Recently I installed Jagwire's Racer Cable Kit and it has really improved my shifting and breaking.


I wish you the best of luck!


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