When you put in the miles (or kilometres), ride in the UK’s soggy wet gritty winter conditions and ride in the UK’s soggy wet gritty summer conditions you will find that your jockey wheels need replacing from time to time.

X7 Rear Mech Fitted
X7 Rear Mech Fitted

Admittedly this is the first time I’ve need to change the ones in my original X5 mech and MuddyGoose is now 2.5 years and many miles old. But if you ride regularly then it’s something you can expect to need to do.

So I started my hunt for replacement X5 jockey wheels and found that the ones I need (2008-10, not the ones on the latest X5 range) with the two offset holes on one and a central hole on the other were pushing towards the same price as a whole new rear mech. Well, they were half the price of a full rear mech anyway! So I took this as a good enough reason for me to upgrade to a new mech anyway. Have I convinced myself that it was a justified purchase yet? I think I have…

One of the Old Jockey Wheels
One of the Old Jockey Wheels

So I decided to upgrade to the 9-speed X7 instead of replacing the X5. In theory being X7 instead of X5 means it should be better and maybe a few pointless grams lighter. An additional advantage being access to after-market, blinging, sealed bearing alternatives if I fancy replacing my jockey wheels again. I also changed to a medium cage which is better suited to my double and bash chainset than the long cage X5 that came with the bike and its original triple.

Actually replacing the rear mech isn’t a hugely difficult job especially if you plan to use the existing gear cable like I have. You’ll need to snip off the end cap to get the cable out of the old mech and fit a new end cap when you tidy things up but using the existing cable does give you the benefit of knowing approximately where to clamp the cable at the mech pinch bolt (hint: same place as before). Then adjust the mech screws (B, H & L) and cable tension so that your gears index correctly. There are plenty of guides covering this on the internet.

I also took the opportunity to replace my chain at the same time. It had ‘stretched’ measurably so was definitely in need of replacement. The last one was a SRAM PC 971 and although I wasn’t disappointed by the SRAM in any way I decided to try out one of the Clarks chains instead.

Just be careful to route the chain through the wheels the correct way, especially if using a Clarks chain like I have because the quick release link is uni-directional. If using a new chain remember to shorten it to the same number of links as the one taken off, count the links rather than measuring to account for ‘stretch’. As I was switching to a medium cage from a long cage with my mech change, I also needed to remove an extra couple of links to allow for this.