Industry standards are a very useful tool. A dimensional consensus increases compatibility and reduces development costs, helping everyone from customers to shops to manufacturers. The problem is, the bike industry has long been crazy for them, constantly inventing new standards, to the point that they don’t function as standards at all. Look at bottom brackets, for example – there are at least 19 currently in use! Manufacturers seem to be competing to come up with the best, forgetting the object of the exercise (and that Chris King’s T47 already wins).
Most frustrating of all is that one place where bikes desperately need a standard has been totally overlooked – rear derailleur hangers. Nearly every bike has a unique hanger, which is nuts. The scale of the problem is clear when you look at the online specialists who talk of stocking up to one thousand different hangers.
You mech hanger does more than simply connect your mech to your frame. It is designed to be sacrificial, bending to save your mech in the event of an impact. While it is possible to carefully bend them back using an alignment tool, for the best shifting performance you’re better off replacing it. (Some hangers are not replaceable, which is obviously an even bigger problem).
If you have a current model bike and a dealer close by, getting a replacement probably isn’t too hard, but they still might have to order it. If you have an older or rare bike, or you’re away on a dream cycling holiday, then you might be stuffed. Imagine having to shell out on a hire bike – or, worse, missing some precious riding days in the Pyrenees – for the want of a €15 component.
Given that every derailleur mounts with an M10x1mm bolt and needs to be positioned in a near identical position relative to the rear axle, the only question when you walk into any shop and ask for a spare hanger should be, ‘Quick release or bolt-through?’
Of course, that would require frame manufacturers to commit to designing around a single standard but in this instance that shouldn’t be too awkward. It also needs someone to come up with a hanger design that everyone can adopt. Now SRAM has.
SRAM’s Universal Derailleur Hanger is for mountain bikes only but hopefully a road version will follow. It works with all drivetrains, not just SRAM, and it has a built-in pivot to provide some added protection for your mech. It costs just $15 and will be available nearly everywhere. Sadly, it can’t be retrofitted as it still requires a frame to be designed around it, but if enough bike brands get on board then we could see this problem solved for good.