Shimano specifications and component compatibility can be found quickly, if you know how. Cycle 2 Health guides you through four search methods on Shimano’s website. Reading the examples below, should make it clear as to when one search method is better than another. There is even an email competition at the end which will test your understanding and perhaps earn you a little prize.
Although it is easier to find Shimano specifications if the part is still in production, even discontinued parts since 2004 can be found in just a few minutes.
Before you visit http://productinfo.shimano.com and click on one of the searches, you may end up saving time by reading our explanation of each search method below.
Shimano Specification Searches Explained
1) Shimano’s Line-Up Chart Search
The Line-up chart lets you search by keyword, discipline (i.e. Road) or groupset (i.e. Sora) for products still in production.
Example A – Finding a Replacement Freewheel
Let’s assume you have a cheap 21 speed bike. The rear screw on freewheel is 7-speed, but the ratchet mechanism has failed. You have chosen to replace it with a new Shimano freewheel.
Search for a suitable keyword, such as ‘freewheel’. You then get to refine your results. In this example select ‘3×7-speed’ as in our example you have a 21-speed bike. Then scroll down the results page to the ‘Cassette sprocket / Multiple freewheel’ section.
Because we are just interested in screw on freewheels we look at the product codes beginning with MF, which is Shimano’s prefix for multiple speed freewheels. CS is the prefix for cassette sprockets.
The suffix CP means the Freewheel has a built-in spoke protector. We also notice that the MegaRange freewheels have a 34T low sprocket.
2) Shimano Compatibility Search
This search method is ideal when you are planning to change a part for one that is not identical to the existing broken or worn part.
Example B – MF-TZ31 Freewheel Compatibility
Example B follows on from the scenario in Example A. Lets assume you had been struggling on those local hills with a 28T lowest gear, on your cheap 21-speed bike prior to the freewheel breaking.
In Example A we found which 7-speed freewheels Shimano has in production currently and you want to fit a MegaRange 14-34T Freewheel due to those local hills. Next lets look for compatible rear derailleurs (RD Prefix) by searching for MF-TZ31. Scroll down the results page until you see the highlighted search phrase ‘MF-TZ31’.
Following the thick grey line from the CS/MF (Cassette/Freewheel) column to the RD (rear derailleur) column, we get a list of compatible current derailleurs. Conclusions from this search are that SGS (long cage) rear derailleurs are likely compatible. We also see that the MF-TZ500 freewheel is an equivalent to the MF-TZ31 freewheel.
Next you should find the part number on the back of your rear derailleur. If your lucky enough for your derailleurs part number to be exactly the same as the ones above i.e RD-TY500-SGS or RD-M360-SGS then your job is done. Try to find the cheapest MF-TZ31 or MF-TZ500-7 Freewheel and replace your broken freewheel.
Example C – Finding road bike flat bar brake levers
I understand Example B was not the simplest to follow. This example should be easier to follow. When I refurbished my vintage road bike I had to fit long drop caliper brakes so the pads would line up with the rim’s breaking surface.
I ended up buying BR-R451 Dual Pivot 57mm Drop Brake Caliper. Eventually I will be converting my vintage road bike to a hybrid with flat bars. I needed a compatibility search to help me find which brake levers had the correct mechanical advantage and were safe to use.
Here we see there is only one ideal option. I had to buy the BL-R550 mechanical brake levers. The dotted line means those combination produce weaker breaking force.
3) Shimano’s Archive Search
Lets assume your bike was bought a few year ago or last year but older components were used in it’s assembly. You have searched the line up and compatibility charts and came up with nothing.
I suggest having a download of the pdf documents that make up the Shimano Archive. These documents are large and re-downloading them for each search is data intensive, especially on your mobile. I keep a folder on my cloud storage (One Drive) with all the earlier year’s specification documents. The Shimano archive goes back to 2004. These documents are easy to search for keywords, product codes or code fragments (i.e ‘RD-M3’). Keep searching year by year until you find your answer.
Example D – Finding RD-TX55-SGS Specifications
Lets assume in Example B that when you looked at your rear derailleur’s product code, it didn’t match the ones compatible with the MegaRange cassette you wanted to fit. Lets assume it said ‘RD-TX55-SGS’ on your derailleur.
A quick search for the product code fragment ‘RD-TX55’ in the 2015-16 specification document, helped me find that this rear derailleur will accommodate a 14-34T MegaRange freewheel.
Tip – Ebay Research
When I find a potential bargain on eBay and the seller is kind enough to give the part number. I tend to search through the archive to answer questions such as, Is the RD-5700 105 rear derailleur from 2011 10-speed or 11-speed? It’s 10-speed by the way.
4) Shimano’s Specification Search
Shimano’s specification search is ideal when you are replacing an existing part. Lets assume our existing derailleur is broken. First find the broken derailleur’s product code. Typically you’ll find the product code stamped onto the back of the derailleur. Either take off the derailleur or try to find a suitable viewing angle. You may have to put the bike in a stand or take off your rear wheel.
Example E – Road Derailleur Replacement
If I have a relatively new component, I tend to use the specification search. Lets assume I have a broken Sora RD-R3000-GS and I want to see if I can use a trekking derailleur in its place. In this scenario I have a 50 / 34T compact crankset and an 11-34T cassette.
Using what we know about the drivetrain (cassette and crankset) we can make a list of key features. Then by looking through the 9-speed rear derailleurs we can just select a suitable replacements from the trekking range.
– Max. Front Distance has to be 16T or more (50 / 34T crankset)
– 34T low sprocket must be allowed
– 11T high Sprocket must be allowed
– Cassette range (34 – 11) = 23T
– 9 speed derailleur
– Total capacity is 39T or more
On the specification search page start off by clicking on the left hand side menu ‘Trekking’ and then ‘Rear Derailleurs’. This gives me a list of 4 derailleurs. Two are 9 speed and both are compatible. I can choose between the RD-T4000 or RD-T3000.
Example E – Conclusions
In considering what we have learned so far, if I was on a budget, I likely search the archives and find suitable discontinued derailleurs. Then I would look for suitable model on eBay to replace my broken Sora RD-R3000.
However, by doing a compatibility search for the term ’11-34T’ look what I found. In the RD column although the RD-R3000 isn’t listed there are eleven potentially suitable mountain and trekking rear derailleurs. Most have SGS long cages and can likely handle the modest 16T Max. front difference I need.
I checked each of the eleven derailleurs above and found every one could handle the 16T front difference. Similarly all eleven could accommodate an 11-34T cassette. The top group of six derailleurs can even handle a 36T low gear. I was even surprised that many could handle both 11T and 12T high gears. This is useful to know as I bought a 12-36T 9 speed cassette 2 years ago and I’ve not been able to use it yet.
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Not all of the eleven 9-speed derailleurs are compatible! Email me with the which one(s) wouldn’t work in the Example E setup and explain any incompatibilities. There are two prizes, so let’s have two winners.
A) Hand made paracord shoe laces. They are much more durable than normal shoe laces. I make these laces for my commuting shoes and walking boots.
B) A long grub screw with threadlock coating. Perfect for replacing your rear derailleurs B-Tension screw. This should let you fit a cassette with larger low gear than your rear derailleur says it can handle. Modify to your hearts content but at your own risk!
I hope you understand but due to postage costs, I’ll only post prizes within the UK.