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Run bigger gears on Shimano R9100/8000 derailleurs w/ Wolf Tooth RoadLink DM

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It seems like as soon as a new group is launched, riders are already looking for ways to maximize its gearing. Fortunately, for those so inclined to reach for bigger cassettes, companies like Wolf Tooth Components are always looking for solutions. This time it’s the RoadLink DM – a new version of their popular GoatLink which makes Shimano R9100/R8000 derailleurs play nice with bigger gears.

Run bigger gears on Shimano R9100/8000 derailleurs w/ Wolf Tooth RoadLink DM

Like the originals, the RoadLink DM is slightly longer than the stock link and effectively repositions the rear derailleur to allow for larger cassettes. Key to the design is the ability to maintain what they consider factory levels of chainwrap and shifting performance with most cassettes.

Run bigger gears on Shimano R9100/8000 derailleurs w/ Wolf Tooth RoadLink DM

This particular version is specifically for the Shimano R9100 Dura Ace or R8000 Ultegra rear derailleurs and is direct mount to the derailleur, not the hanger. WTC points out that this is compatible with standard derailleur hangers only, not direct mount hangers. Weighing in at 20g, the link is about 8g heavier than stock thanks to its added length, and is CNC machined from 6061-T6 aluminum with stainless steel hardware. Of course, it’s made in the USA by WTC in Minneapolis, MN, and is black with a Type II anodizing.

Run bigger gears on Shimano R9100/8000 derailleurs w/ Wolf Tooth RoadLink DM

WTC says that the RoadLink DM is optimized for use with 11-36t, 11-40t, and 11-42t 11-speed cassettes. It will also work with 10-42t 11 speed cassettes, but they point out that with this cassette it will improve the performance, but not to what they consider factory levels. For more tech info, make sure to check out the RoadLink Tech page here.

The links sell for $27.95 each and are available now.

wolftoothcomponents.com

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33 Comments
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terp
terp
4 years ago

guaranteed to make your bike shift like garbage

suede
suede
4 years ago
Reply to  terp

“Key to the design is the ability to maintain what they consider factory levels of chainwrap and shifting performance with most cassettes” At least be honest about the impact your product has on shifting performance, let the consumer decide whether the trade-off is worth it. You can’t hang a derailleur an inch+ farther below the cassette and expect it to work as the factory intended. Package the hanger with an offset pulley replacement cage, or at least offer it.

Zachary M. Jones
Zachary M. Jones
4 years ago
Reply to  suede

yea it would be really great if they had a whole cage replacement and offset jockey wheel assembly for road derailleurs like they have for the shimano mtb stuff. then we could avoid the whole tanpan thing altogether and run sensible wide range cassettes with a wide double up front

Marc L
4 years ago
Reply to  suede

Suede,

I would have to argue that WTC goes much further than most in terms of disclosing impact. You’ve quoted the story rather than text on our website which reads “…while maintaining near-factory levels of chain wrap and shifting performance.” and we provide this chart showing the impact of the RoadLink DM on various cassettes: comment image

We’re better able to position the derailleur with the DM than the RoadLink (a generally well-regarded product, if I may say so) so it is more effective at balancing the competing demands for wrap vs. free chain. Riding a number of iterations, we found that we were willing to give up a little in terms of free chain in order to improve drivetrain life.

Tradeoffs in terms of price, performance, durability, weight, ease of installation, and so on are inevitable but rather than attempt to mislead anyone we work hard to be as transparent as possible in the hopes of giving everyone the tools they need to make an informed decision.

Anthony Bunt
Anthony Bunt
3 years ago
Reply to  Marc L

Just installed it on Ultegra RX and I’m running an 11-42 SLX cassette. Ran a new chain and still have a double crank up front. Basically, If you calculate the derailleur total capacity, I can safely run all gears in the big ring and have to be mindful of higher gears on the cassette in the small ring. I’m pretty sure this is going to be awesome. Less shifting off the big ring, plenty of low gearing for ultra steep gravel roads around here. Every component selection has trade-offs, I find the Roadlink DM to be excellent so far!

Patrick
Patrick
4 years ago
Reply to  terp

Well guys, their original roadlink and a short cage Ultegra derailleur shift perfectly with an 11-40 cassette and their goatlink has been perfect with my 10 speed 11-42 and XT rear derailleur. I don’t know why this one would magically shift like garbage.

Kev
Kev
4 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

A derailleur needs to be a certain distance from the cassette in order for it to shift well. Generally, closer is better, but too close can cause interference and more shifting resistance. The goat links work by spacing the derailleur farther away from the cassette in order to run a lower gear sprocket, but does nothing to alter the path that the derailleur takes along the cassette, so higher gear shifting suffers.

So it will allow you to run a higher range cassette, but will consequently place the derailleur farther away from the higher gears, causing shifting to be slower. And as the chain wears out, chain skipping will be more common.

A better solution is what One-up and Garbaruk do: A replacement pulley cage, designed to trace a more progressive line along the cassette, so distance between the top pulley and the cassette is more consistent throughout the range of the cassette.

John
John
4 years ago
Reply to  Kev

@Kev: I was looking at a bike with the new R8000 rear derailleur next to a bike with the 6800, and the R8000 Shadow+ is really “a thing”, it inboards the cages and pulleys by a not-insignificant amount over the 6800. I’m guessing that may be the reason this is offered only for the R8000 and R9100? I’m wondering if you’ve seen one of these IRL?

FWIW, I’m solving this problem with Di2 road shifters, a 1x chainring and an RD-M8050. YMMV.

Patrick
Patrick
4 years ago
Reply to  Kev

Kev, it doesn’t sound like you have seen or used one of these things in real life.

satanas
satanas
4 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

I tried a Roadlink on my Sequoia, which came standard with an 11-36 cassette and 5800GS RD; stock shifting was fine but I needed a lower gear. With 11-42 or 11-40 it would sorta barely work with truly wretched shifting, but with no indexing possible; adjustment didn’t help. 11-40 worked (just) without the Roadlink, and shifted about 1000% better that way. Unless this new version is magical somehow I cannot see the point, especially given there are numerous reports of 11-36 or 11-40 casettes shifting okay without it. FWIW, I like Wolftooth, but IME the Roadlink is worse than useless (but cheap).

SAWTOOTH
SAWTOOTH
4 years ago
Reply to  terp

I used the original Roadlink on a Campy record bike with zero issues. YMMV

FFM
FFM
4 years ago

I appreciate that Wolf Tooth not only listens to what riders are asking for but also implements their solutions this quickly. I’ve always been a fan and, although I don’t have any plans to run 9100, I’m glad they’re doing this.

Ricky Bobby
Ricky Bobby
4 years ago

I put an 11-36 sram 1170 11sp cassette on my bike paired with an 8000 rear mechanical. I didn’t need a road link, and the shifting is spot on. I used a road link in the past with my old 7000 series derailleur, and it was flawless. At this point my MTBs only use Wolftooth chainrings, and I have a handful of other things from them and find them to be all top-notch and extremely well engineered. I met Brandon from Wolftooth last year at PA Dirtfest and was impressed by him and his operation. Fast shipping, excellent customer service and top-notch products .

Me
Me
4 years ago

Ooorrr. . .Just use SRAM.

John
John
4 years ago
Reply to  Me

@Me: I am never running SRAM hydro brakes again. Ever.

Trevor
Trevor
4 years ago
Reply to  John

Why? Because the leaking caliper, clogged hydro lines and cracking pistons on Shimanos are better??

SAWTOOTH
SAWTOOTH
4 years ago
Reply to  Trevor

What are you on? I’ve never heard of pistons cracking on Shimano or any brake. Leaking, swelling of the lever piston, failure of the teflon lining are all issues with SRAM brakes. Avid had such a poor reputation that SRAM killed off the brand.

I’m sitting on two boxes of replacement Guide levers for all those that will come in for “stuck levers”.

Trevor
Trevor
4 years ago
Reply to  SAWTOOTH

Clearly you lack real world experience.
There are plenty of issues with Shimano brakes, including pistons cracking and what I listed above. Ask any reputable high volume shop and they will say the same. Indeed SRAM Guides have problems, you’re correct about that. I never stated they didn’t, merely saying shimano has just as many if not more problems.
The main difference is SRAM will actually help the customer or dealer with replacement parts. Your two boxes of Guides that are ready to go is evidence for this. Shimano on the other hand is generally more difficult to deal with and sometimes doesn’t have replacements available for months.

Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot
4 years ago
Reply to  SAWTOOTH

Seriously I’ve only heard about complaints of lever feel with Shimano stuff other than that I’ve never heard any real horror stories. Whereas I still have nightmares about Avid XO’s that were on my wife’s mtb.

John
John
4 years ago
Reply to  Trevor

@Trevor, since we’re keeping score…

Due to SRAM’s hydro brake recall four years ago, I was without a new bike for *weeks* while waiting for a temporary refit with cabled disc brakes, and waited *months* for them to redesign and manufacture their “new and improved” hydro brakes.

In contrast, Shimano hydro brakes have never given me a bit of trouble.

FFM
FFM
4 years ago
Reply to  John

This entire thread really puts the phrase “first world problems” into perspective.

Durianrider
Durianrider
4 years ago

40 cassette works fine with the 8000GS rear derailleur no road link required on most vertical drop out bikes.

Paul
Paul
4 years ago

Or just put the double chainset back on

Filip Polkington
Filip Polkington
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Why would you need two chains?

John
John
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul

34/32 is about the limit for a double chainset, and guys (in this thread and elsewhere) are clearly looking for lower gearing than that from road bikes. Despite what the big three are manufacturing.

JBikes
JBikes
4 years ago

xt/xtr plus gevenalle shifters seems like a better option if you are going dedicated big cog low range cassettes

D-con
D-con
4 years ago
Reply to  JBikes

For third would touring maybe, but unless you’re talking about a scratch build, that would cost about 20x what this does and the ergonomics would be… An adjustment. Sram or Tanpan would be an easier sell.

Jimmy
Jimmy
4 years ago

I love small businesses so please don’t take this the wrong way:
What the heck are the big industry’s thinking when these small businesses are needed to give cyclists what they want? Does it honestly take “that long” for a major bike business to listen to consumers then make the products the consumers want? Ex: wide range gearing Ex: low gears

Matt
Matt
4 years ago
Reply to  Jimmy

Shimano is Stubborn.

Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot
4 years ago
Reply to  Jimmy

The vast majority of consumers aren’t looking for sub 1:1 gearing on drop bar bikes there is a smallish market in the gravel side but shimano’s core business is bike MFG’s who don’t want such low gearing options because they’ve determined the market to be too small to be profitable. The outliers are more vocal on sites like BR but for the average joe on the street the gearing options from Shimano and Sram are sufficient. I do hope Shimano can come up with a clutched rear derailleur for CX and gravel but 1x is a small market on the road and going by Shimanos mtb line I doubt they’re going to go heavy fisted into 1x road.

SAWTOOTH
SAWTOOTH
4 years ago

Shimano doesn’t consider the end user to be their customer and has a design philosophy to engineer everything as a system.

Since bike companies are Shimano’s customer base, bike companies aren’t looking to spec bikes with band-aid style long hangers. Also bike companies are not demanding that Shimano make a Shadow Plus road derailleur.

1x is a mostly an American marketing trend, not a global trend for all road bikes. Anyone that has seriously ridden a 1x road bike will see it’s limitations.

Stephen Connor
Stephen Connor
4 years ago

I’m running 1x on both my race bike and training bike and using an alternative manufactures derailleur hanger extender (same design as wolftooth roadlink) with short cage Ultegra 6800 rear derailleur on an 11-36 cassette. Once the derailleur is properly setup shifting is spot on. II will probably upgrade to a ultegra 8000 gs mech on both bike eventually but no real need until the derailleurs are worn out or damaged.
There is no real need for a clutch mech on the road unlike cx or mtb, chain tension is sufficient on standard road rear derailleurs in factory default setting when used with a narrow wide chainring. There is also the option to up the P-Spring tension (cage tension spring) to the higher setting which is built into shimano road derailleurs. The higher spring tension is an easy adjustment for a qualified bike mechanic to complete.

Stephen Connor
4 years ago

I’m running 1x on both my race bike and training bike and using an alternative manufactures derailleur hanger extender (same design as wolftooth roadlink) with short cage Ultegra 6800 rear derailleur on an 11-36 cassette. Once the derailleur is properly setup shifting is spot on. II will probably upgrade to a ultegra 8000 gs mech on both bike eventually but no real need until the derailleurs are worn out or damaged.
There is no real need for a clutch mech on the road unlike cx or mtb, chain tension is sufficient on standard road rear derailleurs in factory default setting when used with a narrow wide chainring. There is also the option to up the P-Spring tension (cage tension spring) to the higher setting which is built into shimano road derailleurs. The higher spring tension is an easy adjustment for a qualified bike mechanic to complete

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