The JTek Engineering Shiftmate matches otherwise incompatible components for lower gearing made easy for a relatively low price.
Over the past 15 years, maybe more, there has been one pretty universal rule in cycling components: You cannot mix and match drivetrain components from different manufacturers. For example, Shimano shifters will not work properly with SRAM derailleurs, particularly rear derailleurs. Or for 10 speed drivetrains, you could not use a Campagnolo drivetrain with a Shimano cassette. Why? Cable pull ratio, that’s why. Each of the major component manufacturers (Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo) design their components to work together. The shifters pull a certain amount of cable with each click, and the derailleur is designed to move a specific amount with that amount of cable pull that will result in the derailleur moving the proper distance to move the chain to the next cog of a cassette that was designed to work with that shifter and derailleur. Each manufacturer’s shifter cable pull is different. The rule was, stick with one manufacturer for all shifter and derailleurs. Oh, there have been those rare exceptions to the rule, but not many.
JTek Engineering Shiftmate Design
The JTek Engineering Shiftmate now offers many, many exceptions to the above rule. The design is fairly simple. The rear derailleur cable passes through the Shiftmate, which changes the cable pull ratio. They offer 8 different Shiftmates, offering different amounts of cable pull change, with each Shiftmate offering a 2 alternative ratios depending on the application.
JTek Engineering Shiftmate Lower Gearing Options
So what does this mean in everyday language? Well, examples will probably illustrate this best. Say you have Shimano Ultegra 6800 shifters, but want to have some really low gearing to get up the climbs on the Bump Series of hill climb races that includes Mt. Washington. Being here in the Mad River Valley, one of the climbing Mecca’s of the Northeast, we get this question a lot. With a Shimano 6800GS rear derailleur, you can use a 11-32 cassette. But if that is not low enough, with the correct Shiftmate you could use those road shifters with a Shimano mountain bike rear derailleur, such as an XT M8000SGS derailleur, and a Shimano 11-42 11 speed cassette, all while keeping your compact double chainset. Another example is one we see several times every year: bikes with Shimano 10 speed road shifters trying to operate a Shimano 9 or 10 speed mountain bike rear derailleur. This does not work well at all (with a rare, now unobtainable exception), despite what you may read on-line. However, with the correct Shiftmate, no problem. Campagnolo 11 speed shifters, Shimano 9 speed mountain bike rear derailleur, and a Shimano or SRAM 10 speed cassette? Yup. That combination should allow the Campy owner to use an 11-36 cassette, and quite possibly, with a bit of “B” screw fiddling, an 11-40 or 11-42 cassette. You get the picture. Many of combinations, oddball or otherwise, are now possible with the correct Shiftmate, set up correctly.
JTek Engineering Shiftmate Compatibility Options
Lower gearing is not the only use for the Shiftmate. Various combinations of shifter, drivetrain, and cassette are now possible. An odd one would be mixing a pre-2001 Campagnolo 9 speed shifter, Shimano mountain bike 9 speed rear derailleur, and Shimano 9 speed cassette. Many such mixes of components can be accommodated, so the JTEK Engineering Shiftmate should really allow creativity to flourish with some drivetrain combinations.
While the JTek Engineering Shiftmate does offer many combinations, it does not have a solution for everything. For example, no Shiftmate will allow those of us with Campagnolo 11 speed drivetrains to replace our derailleur with the aforementioned Shimano M8000SGS rear derailleur for use with an 11-42 cassette. Also, there is no relief for those with worn out Shimano Ultegra 6500 9 speed shifters by slapping on a JTek Engineering Shiftmate. Shimano has not made 105, Ultegra or Dura Ace 9 speed shifters for a long time, so if your 9 speed Shimano STI wears out (which hit inevitably will), your options have been to either replace it with one of Shimano’s low level Sora shifter, replace the whole drivetrain with a 10 or 11 speed group, or to take a creative approach and replace your shift levers with Campagnolo 11 speed levers, which (oddly and inexplicably) seem to work with Shimano 9 speed derailleurs and cassettes in most cases. The JTek Engineering Shifmate does not expand on these options… (2017 Note: Jtek has continued to add options and some of the above are now available. Check with us for availability.)
If you have a need for lower gearing that your current drivetrain will allow; want to use that set of Campagnolo 10 speed wheels on a Shimano or SRAM equipped bike; or just have a collection of mismatched components lying in a box that you would like to combine, JTek may well have a solution for your dilemma. Contact us, let us know your problem, and we will see whether the ($58 at the time of this writing) JTek Engineering Shiftmate offers a solution for your situation.