Monday, October 31, 2011

Shimano Deore DX And Rarity

I love rare things - but I never finished college, so I will never be able to afford to buy the rare things that anyone else wants. Therefore, I have to work very hard to discover what is rare, worthwhile, and inexpensive. Once I acquire those things, I have to work even harder to make people know just how rare they are by writing a blog post about them. You thought you were hardcore with your hobbies? Pfffft.

Thankfully, bicycle components meet all of my criteria above, and today I'm going to tell you a little about one of Shimano's mountain bike lines, Deore DX. Shimano's top of the line system was Deore XT, and DX was the step below that from 1990-1993.  I've tried to find the differences in the two designations but don't find anything significant in the derailleurs; the XT having ceramic pulley bearings and gold lettering is the only difference I could find between "top" level and DX. There are some finish and weight differences in brakes and some other parts of the group, but all I have are the derailleurs and shift levers, and I don't think any of the small differences make one (DX vs XT) better than the other.

Original catalog page 1991 This doesn't show the thumbshifters.

DX was only sold 1990 through 1993, when it was phased out and essentially became XT; XTR had been introduced and Shimano must have felt that three high end groups were too many. Because of its short run,  I'd hazard a guess that good examples of this group are fairly rare eighteen years after it was discontinued. This most likely would have been on a second tier bike, probably mixed in with the other components to give the bike some Deore "flash".  I look on eBay now and again (gotta keep an eye on my retirement accounts) and I only see the quantity of auctions going down while prices are gradually moving up. Not by leaps and bounds, but the front derailleur has gone from a $15 item (NOS) to a $30 item. I question how much of that is people actually looking for this stuff, as I did, and how much is just part of the general inflation of prices we are seeing lately on eBay. It's the economy, you know.

Rear Derailluer Deore DX

When I built the High Sierra, I actually started with the Deore DX front derailleur, and went out of my way to find the rear and the shifters. Luckily there was one on eBay right after I made the decision to "curate" the bike with a DX drivetrain, so I picked it up for a reasonable bid and was soon shifting without worries. DX is solid stuff, and if you are reading this trying to decide whether you want to pull the trigger on an auction for a DX component or buy a bike with DX on it, I vote yes. This setup on my bike started with a 5 speed rear freewheel and mountain triple up front, and now runs a 8 speed rear cassette and a road triple up front with no problems. I'm a big fan of the thumb shifters, as I'm able to run them in friction mode now because of the wider range I have added in back. DX was speced on several touring road bikes as well, so it is suitable for just about anything you want to throw at it. Even though I have a collector's crazybrain I do actually ride this stuff, and have never had any sort of mechanical problems. Setting these up was a breeze, and I have had to make zero adjustments after everything was dialed in. Installation and adjustment is all done with the same size Allen wrench (5mm) and I appreciate the thought that went into that. Fit and finish is very nice, and in my opinion the look is very classic.

Deore DX Shift Levers

I am interested in curating a couple of other mountain groups in addition to my DX setup. Campagnolo made a few "offroad" sets in the eighties and early nineties, and I would love to put together an Elucid set and then find an Italian MTB frame to hang it on; the only problem with doing that is that it leans away from one of my principal tenets, which is that no one else must want it. Since it is branded Campagnolo, there is obviously some desire out there for it, which also makes it expensive. The other group that Id like to put together is a set of Shimano Deerhead stuff for the Ross Mt. Whitney. I'm not to familiar with the ins and outs in Deerhead derailleurs but I will learn and be able to relay it to you in another post AFTER I put the group together. I don't want to queer my market by creating a competition for pieces, so my preliminary research needs to stay under wraps.

I hope you have enjoyed your walk through what my Rain Man brain thinks is worth wasting hundreds of nano bites of storage and hours of painstaking research on.


  1. I don't know much about SRAM, but I'm interested. My taste tends to Shimano, and Campy, and I'm in the process of learning more about Suntour and Zeus stuff. My only personal experience with SRAM stuff is an early pair of gripshifts I had on an MTB once.

  2. 1. I know this post is old but, whatever. And
    2. Sorry to use my brony account, but it's the only one I've got.
    Anyway, My old '90 stumpjumper came with an all deore dx drivetrain on it, everything is still going strong.

    Also, the suntour AG tech deraileur seems to be a pretty difficult to find. It wasn't exactly the best, but it definitely was unusual, it was designed to run on a 10 speed set up while allowing for some pretty low gears (14-38, yes 38 teeth)

  3. Wow - I'll have to check out the Suntour. I think I want to get a Zeus setup as well.

  4. In the process of refurbing my '91 Trek 970 (with complete Shimano Deore DX front and rear, hubs, chain ring set, etc). This bike, stock, was a virtual Deore DX show floor. The Deore compopnents are as solid today as they were the day the bike left the shop in Ventura CA, including a couple of gigantic endos in Sycamore Canyon on the PCH. Deore DX was a great line of componentry!

  5. For all you Deore DX fans take note. If the shifter gets hard to work, fix it right away. I kept just pushing harder on the thumbshift thinking better workout for the hand, and it worked for awhile. Then, at CiClavia last weekend the rear shifter started slipping. Well, I took it apart, noticed some damage no doubt caused by my forcing the shifter and, take note again, some frayed cable which probably led to the hard shifting. I would have done well to replace the cable. Now, finding a replacement has turned out to be impossible and I forced to put to rest my faithful 1991 Giant ATX 770 and dropping a couple of grand on a new bike. Ouch. Think maintenance.

    1. Dave makes a good point that I'm sure a lot of us are guilty of - if something doesn't work right, don't force it, and don't expect it to get better on its own.

    2. Just a comment, I also have a 1991 ATX 770 and wouldn't trade it. Probably not as many miles as yours, but convinced me of the quality of the vintage XT(730) and DX.

  6. Hi just in the process of building a GT with Deore DX and have just brought a pair of DX hubbed wheels all i need now is the brake levers with the quick fire gear changers

  7. Hi I have a stumpjumper with a dx rear derailleur and 7 speed cassette but i swapped out the flat bars for drop bars and the thumb shifters crammed on the flat part of the drop bar. It worked ok, but now I want to ditch the thumb shifters for bar end shifters so I can free up the flat portion of the drop bars for my hands, but if I'm going to do that and maintain index capabilities I am trying to decide if I can go to an 8 or 9 speed cassette (leaving the option open for combo brake/shifter levers in the future). What do you think, can the DX rear derailleur handle 9 speed, or just 8. And do you happen to know if there's a reliable bar end shifter for an 8 speed mountain cassette that won't break the bank?

  8. I have a 1991 Gary Fisher Montare and I want to replace the original Deore DX Front Derailer (Custom Mount) w/ an "Up-To-Date" replacement!
    One major problem is the custom mount!
    I'm in the process of changing the entire drivetrain!
    The custom mount Front Derailer is the only "Hang-Up!"
    Any suggestions?

  9. Wow, another person with a Gary Fisher Montare! I have an orange one. My Deore DX left shifter is no longer working. The front derailer is stuck in the middle chain ring. Reading the stuff here is making me worried about finding a replacement or repair for the shifter.

    I had no idea that the Front Derailer mount was custom. I just hope mine doesn't crap out anytime soon.

  10. I am in the process of repairing/reconditioning a pair of Deore DX front and rear shifters from 1993. These are the ones that are integrated with the brake levers, and are a different design than shown at the popular "deore dx" repair tutorial at
    If anyone is interested in my travails or has a similar problem, let me know by e-mail at miken277 at gee mail dot com.

  11. i have a complete set of deore dx. collectors item..

  12. anyone who like them?

  13. I have the bike in the background,, my is orange

  14. Nice read! I found this post after searching Google for Shimano Deore DX repair hints and tips.
    As a 16 y.o., I bought me a MTB (Minerva Elevator) with a Shimano Deore DX group on it. Spent every cent I made during my summer job on it and still my parents had to chip in :-)
    What a cool bike that was, aluminum frame with a shape that allowed you to take off the chain without breaking it (a bit like the Merlin Titanium). But then, my interest in biking perished and the bike started catching dust. Tires went hard and crackled. After about 10 years, I had a flash of "I'm going to ride again" and put new tires on it. Drove a couple drives and put it back aside to have it catch dust again. 10 years later, I had the great idea of stripping the frame of its paint and have it "pure" aluminum. Took it completely apart, stripped the paint and left it in my workshop for another 10 years.
    So here we are today; bike fully assembled and ready to go. But... front shifter doesn't shift up anymore :-(
    It isn't stuck or anything, it moves but doens't 'hold' when pushed up.
    So far my intention of finally getting back on this bike again :-)
    Thing is that I don't want to put any other shifters on it. I think the bike still looks awesome and don't want to mess it up by installing non-Deore stuff on it. Off to eBay it is, hoping I find what I'm looking for. If there's anyone out there with tips; please reply here. Thx!

  15. Ciao caro,

    Mi piace il tuo blog Molto ... Guardo quotidianamente il tuo blog, è molto utile per me.

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