Jockey wheels compatibility

If you have worn jockey wheels on your derailleur then you may want to replace them. They will be noisy when cycling and may affect gear shifting. Finding the correct pulleys may feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. But fear not as in this article we will show you how to find a like-for-like replacement for your Shimano and Sram pulley set.

About jockey wheels

What are jockey wheels?

Jockey wheels (often called pulley wheels) are the little cogs on the rear derailleur. Their function is to move the chain while keeping it in line with the cassette sprockets. The derailleur has springs so they also add tension to the chain. 

Rear mechs have two pulley wheels. They are called ‘top’ or ‘upper’ and ‘bottom’ or ‘lower’. When you look at a rear derailleur fitted to a bike, one of the pulleys always lies above the other. The top or upper is the jockey wheel closest to the cassette or freewheel.  The top jockey is called the guide wheel and helps to locate the chain onto the sprocket. It has slightly more side-to-side movement than the lower one and this helps to compensate for any imprecise movement when changing gears.

The lower jockey is called the tension wheel and helps to keep the chain taut.

What are jockey wheels made of?

Pulleys that are fitted to a new derailleur are made out of plastic. This cuts down on chain wear. It is possible to buy after-market pulleys made out of aluminium. Any improved performance is negligible. 

How do you know if jockey wheels are worn?

As with other transmission components, pulleys wear out with use. If they are noisy when riding and the teeth are spikey then it will be a good idea to replace them. They also wear out on the inside because the bushings are metal and the wheels are plastic. This stops the derailleur change from being as efficient as it could be. When selecting a replacement pulley set it is important to select compatible part to make sure that the derailleur functions properly

The correct replacement

The best way to ensure that you have the correct replacement is to buy a pulley set that is recommended by the derailleur manufacturer. This will normally be the same brand unless they are no longer available. If you can’t buy replacements then it probably means that your derailleur is very old and the parts have gone out of production. At this point consider treating yourself to a new derailleur. Not only will you get an up-to-date pulley set, but you will also have a whole new derailleur that will have all-new and tight rivets that will give excellent performance and a snappy gear change.

Finding like-for-like Shimano jockey wheels replacement

  • First, check the part number on the rear derailleur. It is located at the back.
Finding model number on Shimano rear derailleur
  • Now visit the website: .
  • In the search box type the derailleur part number.
visiting shimano website
  • In the next window click on “Service and Upgrade Parts” and the compatible pulley set will show up.
finding compatible Shimano jockey wheels
  • If there are more than one set of pulleys showing up this means that all of them will be compatible.
Two different models of jockey wheels can be compatible with rear mech
  • Click on the pulleys and on the next page copy the serial number and put it in your web search.
the unique jockey wheels part code is placed on this page
  • You can now see the list of sellers with the exact part.
after putting the code in the web search   the correct jockey wheels will be displayed

How to find the correct Sram pulley set replacement

  • Check the model of your rear derailleur.
where to find Sram rear derailleur model to know which jockey wheels you need
  • Now visit the Sram Service website:
  • Scroll to the  “Popular Manuals” section and from the Sram column click on “Sram spare parts catalogue.”
Open Sram spare parts catalogue to find the code for jockey wheels
  • In the table of content find the page that has your derailleur listed.
in the catalogue find your Sram rear derailleur
  • Scroll to the correct page and find the part number for the pulley kit.
Find jockey wheels and copy the code
  • Copy the serial number and put it in your web search.
  • You can now see the list of sellers with the exact part.
put the code in the web search and the exact jockey wheels will appear

Finding the right Campagnolo pulleys replacement

RD-RE500 – All Campagnolo 8 speed derailleurs. These are now out of production. Consider using Tacx ceramic jockey wheels as a  replacement.

RD-RE600 -All Campagnolo 9 speed derailleurs and Record 10 speed carbon cage derailleurs.

RD-RE700 – All Campagnolo 10 speed derailleurs except Record 10 speed carbon cage derailleurs and Centaur 10 speed derailleurs from 2011 to 2014. 

RD-CE500 – Centaur 10 speed derailleurs from 2011 to 2014.

RD-SR600 – Campagnolo Super Record 11 speed derailleurs 2018.

RD-RE900 – All 11 speed derailleurs, replaces RD-CH500.

RD-RE612 -Record 12 speed 

RD-SR612 – Super Record 12 speed.

Other brands

There are plenty of other brands that make pulley sets but not derailleurs. Check the following when buying pulleys that are not the same brand as your derailleur:

  • Don’t mix the pulley wheels of the big brand derailleur manufacturers i.e. Shimano, Sram and Campagnolo.
  • Count the number of teeth on your current pulley and make sure your new one match.
  • Make sure your derailleur speed matches the advertised jockey wheels.
  • Do follow the manufacturers’ advice. If a brand says that the pulley set is for Shimano 8 speed derailleurs only, then that’s what you should fit them to and nothing else.

Now you found the right pulleys, it’s time to replace them. In our next article, you can find out how to do this and learn which jockey wheel goes where.

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