SRAM Type 2 Derailleur - Clutch Overhaul

IMPORTANT: The information provided here only applies to the original Type 2 derailleurs. Do not attempt this procedure on a Type 2.1 derailleur or you will damage the mechanisim. SRAM changed to the Type 2.1 system for 2015 and these are no longer servicable or adjustable as shown below.

Clutch style derailleurs are great; benefits include reduced chain slap for a quieter ride and better chain retention over rough trails. We’ve had good success with using SRAM’s Type 2 clutch derailleurs but there’s one niggling annoyance that can rear its head with this system. On some Type 2 derailleurs, the clutch is excessively tight and resistant to movement. When it is forced to move, it does so with a ‘knock’ that can be felt through the bike. On a suspension bike that employs chain growth – that means the chainstays get longer as the suspension is compressed – you may feel the knocking when pedalling over bumpy terrain. In extreme cases, the clutch tightness can be detrimental to the shifting quality.

We encountered the Type 2 clutch knock on our very first review of the XX1 drivetrain and we’ve noticed it on a number of test bikes too. It doesn’t happen with every clutch equipped SRAM derailleur and many newer Type 2 units have a very light clutch action. It's something that may go totally unnoticed on a hardtail  or a suspension system that has very little chain growth. Still, it was enough of an annoyance on our XX1 equipped Pivot Mach 5.7c that we went in search of a solution.

Inside the Type 2 cage pivot, SRAM uses a one-way roller bearing clutch—it rotates freely in one direction but not the other. This bearing sits inside a conical nylon bush and the knocking noise emanates from this area. Greasing the bush and the roller clutch has eliminated the noise on every derailleur that we’ve tried. Our first guinea pig was the XX1 test unit and it’s still running noise-free a year or more. We’ve also has similar success with a number of X.9 and X01 derailleurs.

Now, before you launch in there and rip your rear derailleur apart, we need to include a few words of warning. First up, if you haven’t noticed the ‘Type 2 knock’ on your bike then leave it alone. If you think you’ve got the problem, isolate the cage movement to confirm that it’s the derailleur and not a loose shock bush or something else—manually push the cage forward you’ll feel the knock when overcoming the clutch friction.

This procedure isn’t rocket science but it is a bit fiddly and clearly at the more difficult end of the ‘how-to’ articles that we publish in Mountain Biking Australia. Whilst some SRAM technicians are using the same method to silence problem derailleurs, they don’t openly suggest this procedure to the public. In other words, only attempt this fix if you are mechanically adept and if you stuff it up, don’t expect to slink back to SRAM and cry ‘warranty!’ Do it at your own risk. If you aren’t comfortable doing the work yourself, show this article to the mechanic at your local bike shop and see if they are happy to do the work for you.


Manually push the cage forward and engage the ‘lock’ button to hold it in place. Remove the rear wheel and press the main shift lever a number of times to move the derailleur inboard (as if you were shifting into the easiest to pedal hill-climbing gear).


Disassemble the cage and remove both jockey wheels with a 3mm allen key. Take note of how it comes apart as the jockey wheels are sometimes directional (marked with an arrow) and the dust covers will come apart when removed from the cage. Clean everything, keep it in order and place it aside.


With the lock still on to hold the cage in place, remove the small stopper as shown (this generally requires a 2.5mm allen key although XX1 uses a 3mm allen key). Place it aside and don’t lose it! Push the cage forward to release the lock button and carefully support the cage whilst the spring unwinds—it’ll spin around almost 180-degrees.


Pop a blade under the plastic cap that sits in the centre of the pivot. Lever it up gently to create a gap on one side, then use a flat-bladed screwdriver to lift it completely. With care you should be able to do this without marking the cap, although they can be tight sometimes and may not come out easily. Don’t stress if it’s damaged as it’s only a cosmetic cover and it’ll all work fine if you leave it off.


With the plastic cover removed, you’ll have access to the main cap. This uses a big T55 torx fitting but we’ve also had good success using an 8mm allen key to undo the cap. SRAM assembles this part with a bit of thread lock but it comes undone without too much effort.


Inside you’ll see the outer part of the roller clutch. Place a 4mm allen key in the centre of the pivot and use a 3mm allen key on the bolt that’s on the inner side of the pivot—this holds the cage to the spring and clutch mechanism. Turn them in opposite directions to undo the assembly. It’s a regular right-hand thread but be careful not to round the countersunk 3mm allen bolt—it’s a small fitting and they can be quite tight sometimes.


With the tension removed from the clutch, you can shortcut the rest of the procedure by working some light oil into the mechanism. We’ve found this to be a shorter-term solution whereas full disassembly and greasing the internals does a much better job.


As you undo the 3mm allen bolt, the cage and spring will come out. There will also be a plastic dust cover that goes between the cage and the spring. Pay close attention to the orientation of these parts and keep them in order for reassembly.


The roller clutch is now free to slip out through the outer side of the derailleur. It’ll usually come out with a push from the inner side (i.e. push on the centre part where you just removed the cage and spring assembly). If it needs extra persuasion, thread the derailleur cage retaining bolt back in (that’s the countersunk allen bolt) and give it a gentle tap to dislodge the clutch assembly.


Here’s the clutch up close. As with everything we’ve shown so far, keep it all in order to ensure that it goes back together the right way. The roller bearing is directional and it’ll actually increase chain slap if you put it back in the wrong way!


Keep clutch components clean and grease everything. We’ve had good success with light suspension grease such as Slickoleum and Slick Honey but any good quality grease should do the trick.


Reassemble the clutch with the roller bearing oriented correctly inside the tapered nylon outer bush. Wipe the inside of the derailleur body clean and slip the well-greased clutch back inside.


Look into the inner side of the derailleur and find the small hole that locates the end of the spring. Wipe the spring over, apply some fresh grease and guide the protruding spring tab into the hole that’s inside the derailleur body.


Place the dust cover on the end of the spring and slip the other spring tab through the corresponding hole in the derailleur cage. Have the countersunk 3mm allen bolt in place and thread it into the back side of the clutch assembly. Don’t tighten the entire assembly yet; do the bolt up most of the way but leave a small amount of play at the cage.


Wind the derailleur cage up in a clockwise direction when it’s oriented as shown. Give it one full turn and use the ‘lock’ to hold the cage and prevent it from unwinding again. Having the cage pivot bolt a little loose (as described before) ensures that the nylon dust cover is able to rotate all the way around without binding on anything.


Now you can fully tighten the 3mm allen bolt that retains the cage. Hold the assembly steady from the opposite side using a 4mm allen key whilst you do this. Make it tight but don’t get too carried away as it relies on a small fitting that’ll round out easily if you are heavy handed.


Re-insert the small cage stopper bolt and snug it up with your 2.5mm allen key. Now you can release the cage lock and the arm should spring back with good tension to rest on the stopper.


Push the cap back into the derailleur body and tighten with the T55 tool or 8mm allen key. SRAM uses a thread lock on this part; we choose not to and haven’t encountered any issues. Just tighten it until you feel it ‘stop’. Increasing the torque on this cap adds a bit more resistance to the clutch but there’s less chance of the knock returning if you employ a light touch.


At this point it’s worth checking that everything feels right. The clutch should offer resistance to movement but spring back with some authority. If all’s well, reassemble the cage and jockey wheels with the chain routed correctly as pictured. Always re-check your gear adjustment once the wheel is back in place. Now hit the trail in knock-free silence!

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