Braze-on derailleurs are typically lighter weight and offer more precise shifting. However, they can be more difficult to install and adjust. Clamp-on derailleurs are heavier but offer easier installation and adjustment. They also tend to be more durable.

What is a derailleur?

(Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash )

picture of a derailleur

A derailleur is a device that is used to move the chain from one cog or sprocket to another on a bicycle.

There are two types of derailleurs: The Braze-on type and The Clamp-on type.

The braze-on derailleur is attached to the frame of the bicycle with bolts, while the clamp-on derailleur is attached to the frame with a clamp. Both types of derailleurs work in the same way and serve the same purpose.

What is the difference between braze-on and clamp-on derailleurs?

Braze-on derailleurs are typically found on higher-end bicycles as they offer a more secure and reliable attachment. Braze-on derailleurs are permanently affixed to the frame via brazing, This means that braze-on derailleurs are generally more difficult to remove and replace. Braze-on derailleurs are typically lighter and more durable than clamp-on derailleurs. You may need to purchase a separate adapter to use them with certain types of frames.

Clamp-on derailleurs use a bolt-on clamp to attach to the frame. Clamp-on derailleurs are easier to install than braze-on derailleurs, but they’re not as durable. They also tend to be heavier than braze-on derailleurs. Clamp-on derailleurs typically have a shorter reach than braze-ons, meaning they can not accommodate larger cassettes and bigger chainrings.

Braze-on Vs. Clamp-on derailleurs – Key differences

Braze-on derailleurs and clamp-on derailleurs are two different mounting options for attaching derailleurs to a bicycle frame. The key differences between them are:

Mounting Method: Braze-on derailleurs are directly attached to the frame using brazing or welding, whereas clamp-on derailleurs are secured using a clamp that wraps around the frame’s seat tube.

Frame Compatibility: Braze-on derailleurs require a frame that has specific mounting points or tabs designed for them, while clamp-on derailleurs can be attached to a wider range of frames without the need for dedicated mounting points.

Adjustability: Clamp-on derailleurs offer more flexibility in terms of positioning and adjustment since they can be moved and repositioned along the seat tube. In contrast, braze-on derailleurs have a fixed mounting location and may have limited adjustability.

Aesthetic Appeal: Some cyclists prefer the clean and streamlined appearance of braze-on derailleurs as they blend seamlessly with the frame, while others may find the clamp-on derailleurs more practical and easier to install or remove.

Choosing between braze-on and clamp-on derailleurs depends on the specific frame design, compatibility, and personal preferences of the cyclist.

How to install a derailleur

Installing a derailleur is a relatively simple process that can be completed in just a few minutes.

To install a braze-on derailleur, simply place it onto the frame where the mount points are located and then use a wrench or Allen key to tighten the bolts. Clamp-on derailleurs are the more common type and can be installed onto most frames regardless of whether they have pre-existing mount points or not.

To install a clamp on derailleur, first, identify where you would like it to be positioned on the frame. Once you have done this, use an Allen key to loosen the screws that hold the clamp in place. Next, slide the derailleur into position and then retighten the screws. Be sure not to overtighten as this could damage the frame or cause the derailleur to function improperly.

Can I use a braze-on derailleur with a clamp?

No, a braze-on derailleur cannot be used with a clamp directly. Braze-on derailleurs are specifically designed to be mounted on frames with dedicated braze-on mounting points or tabs. These mounting points are typically integrated into the frame during manufacturing.

However, if your bike frame does not have braze-on mounting points but instead has a round seat tube, you can use an adapter called a “braze-on clamp” or a “braze-on adapter.” This adapter consists of a clamp that wraps around the seat tube and has a tab or plate where the braze-on derailleur can be attached.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you have a road bike with a round seat tube but no braze-on mounting points for the front derailleur. In this case, you can purchase a braze-on adapter that matches the diameter of your seat tube. The adapter will have a clamp to secure it to the seat tube, and it will provide the necessary tab or plate for attaching the braze-on derailleur. The derailleur can then be mounted onto the adapter, allowing you to use a braze-on derailleur on a frame without the dedicated mounting points.

Using a braze-on adapter with a clamp allows you to enjoy the benefits of a braze-on derailleur, such as precise shifting and a cleaner aesthetic, even on frames that do not have the specific mounting points.

Why are motorcycle frames brazed instead of welded?

Motorcycle frames are often brazed instead of welded due to several reasons:

Design Flexibility: Brazing allows for more intricate and complex frame designs. With brazing, different types of metal tubing can be joined together, enabling manufacturers to create frames with varying thicknesses and shapes. This flexibility in design helps optimize the frame’s strength, weight, and overall performance.

Reduced Heat Stress: Brazing involves lower temperatures compared to welding. This lower heat input reduces the risk of distortion, warping, or weakening of the metal tubing. It also minimizes the potential for heat-induced stress and damage to any delicate components or finishes attached to the frame.

Increased Vibration Damping: Brazed joints tend to have better vibration damping properties compared to welded joints. This is beneficial for motorcycles as it helps absorb and dissipate the vibrations generated by the engine, road conditions, and other factors. The improved damping characteristics contribute to a smoother and more comfortable ride.

Enhanced Aesthetic Appeal: Brazing typically produces cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing joints compared to welding. The brazed joints have smooth contours and minimal visible weld beads, resulting in a visually appealing frame. This aspect is particularly important for high-end motorcycles where aesthetics and craftsmanship are valued.

Repair and Modification: Brazed joints are generally easier to repair and modify compared to welded joints. If a frame needs to be repaired or modified, brazing allows for easier disassembly and reworking of the joints without compromising the structural integrity of the frame.

It’s important to note that while brazing offers several advantages for motorcycle frames, welding is also used in certain applications. Different manufacturing processes are employed based on factors such as frame material, desired strength, design requirements, and cost considerations.

Which type of derailleur is best for you?

Determining the best type of derailleur for you depends on several factors, including your cycling discipline, bike type, personal preferences, and budget. Here are some common types of derailleurs and their suitable applications:

Road Bike Derailleurs: Road bikes typically use braze-on derailleurs. These derailleurs are designed for smooth and precise shifting on paved roads. They are optimized for high-speed riding and offer a wide range of gears to accommodate various terrains.

Mountain Bike Derailleurs: Mountain bikes often utilize clamp-on derailleurs due to the wide variety of frame designs and mounting options. Mountain bike derailleurs are built to handle rough off-road conditions, with features like improved durability, increased chain tension, and better clearance for obstacles.

Touring and Commuter Bike Derailleurs: For touring or commuting bikes, a reliable and durable derailleur is preferable. Depending on the bike’s design, either braze-on or clamp-on derailleurs can be suitable, but prioritize ones known for longevity and smooth shifting.

Single-Speed/Fixed Gear Derailleurs: Single-speed or fixed gear bikes typically don’t require derailleurs since they have only one gear ratio. However, if you opt for a bike with multiple gears, you can choose derailleurs based on the bike type and usage.

Budget Considerations: Your budget may also influence the choice of derailleur. Higher-end derailleurs often offer advanced features, lighter weight, and increased precision but come at a higher cost. Consider balancing your requirements with your budget to find the best derailleur for your needs.

Ultimately, it’s recommended to consult with a knowledgeable bike shop or a cycling expert who can assess your specific requirements and help you select the most suitable derailleur for your riding style and bike setup.


Featured Image By Wayne Bishop on Unsplash

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