You may remember that in March 2013 I fitted a SRAM X7 rear mech as a replacement for my X5 that came with the bike. The X5 needed replacing due to it’s jockey wheels having been worn down to points and one of the reasons I gave for upgrading to X7 was the availability of replacement jockey wheels when the time came round again!
And this is exactly where I found myself 1 year on in March 2014; needing new jockey wheels! I don’t know if I have ridden more, or not kept them as clean and well looked after but the X7 wheels haven’t lasted anywhere near as long as the ones on the X5 did. Ah well, hopefully the replacements will last better.
Let me answer the unasked question: When do you replace jockey wheels then? Eventually the teeth become worn to a point. If this happens to the upper wheel it affects your gear shifting; the lower wheel is just there to keep the chain tension and so although very important, it doesn’t need perfect teeth, you can get away with pointiness. This was the situation that I faced. So of course I carried on riding with a good upper and a worn lower. I then experienced the other type of possible failure, the bearings.
Both jockey wheels need to be able to rotate freely, this much is crucial. So I found myself around 10 km from home on a Sunday lunchtime with a seized upper jockey wheel; yes, that’s right, the one that didn’t appear as worn! I was still able to ride/limp the bike home with the chain skipping very noisily over the rigid wheel but it wasn’t fun.
Fitting is both simple and tricky and would be made much easier with one of SRAMs new rear mechs with ‘cage lock’. All you have to do is remove the bolt that runs through the centre of the old wheel and then put the new wheel in place and put the bolt back in; making sure the chain is in the right place of course. The new wheels don’t include a new bolt by the way. The trick part is that the rear mech insists on trying to spring closed all the time, preserve and you will succeed, or be wise and just get a second person to help!
Once fitted, they look great and run super smooth. They are available in a range of colours and although XCRacer only stock black, gold and red you can have them order one of the other colours for you. I deliberated on colour for a good while but finally decided that black was going to be best for me, I don’t want to overdo the colourful bling on MuddyGoose; that said if I get replacements for Podgy then I think red would be pefect.
As for performance, they are quiet, shifting is still brilliant and I’ll have to wait and see how long they last. I expect them to last much longer, they have sealed bearings so hopefully I won’t have one collapse as spectacularly this time and with them being machined out of aluminium rather than moulded from plastic, I’m also confident that pointiness will be much further down the line. They’re also very lightweight if that interests you. I’m happy and all set for riding the trails again.