Ask Pinkbike: Fixing Rattling Brake Pads, Best Backcountry Bike, & Are Shock Lockouts Necessary?

Ask Pinkbike: Fixing Rattling Brake Pads, Best Backcountry Bike, & Are Shock Lockouts Necessary?

Here at Pinkbike, we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic

Here at Pinkbike, we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic “Can I have stickers?” to more in-depth, soul-searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we’ll be hand-picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we’ll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.

Best Bike For Backcountry Adventure?

Question: @Bleeder asks in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country Forum: After riding Lord of the Squirrels last summer, I had to rethink what type of riding do I want to do heading into my 50’s. I still love bike parks, but the big epic rides in the back country are more enticing to me these days. Question is, what’s the best bike for such rides? What climbs like an XC, but is still fun on the downhill? Trail bike? XC bike, that’s got a big fork and shock? Enduro bike, that’s gear super low? All can be great big day adventure bikes, but what’s the best combo? Also, I’m a big guy, and struggle with the climbs, for now at least.

Your timing couldn’t be better – there are more bikes than ever aimed at exactly the type of riding you described. I’d recommend starting by watching the downcountry section of our recent Field Test. Bikes like the Revel Ranger, Specialized Epic EVO, Transition Spur, SB115, and Cannondale Scalpel SE are all a blast to ride up, down, and all around. The lighter weight makes them much easier to deal with on the climbs, especially if you’re coming off a longer travel, heavier enduro bike, and modern geometry makes them much less sketchy on the descents.

However, as a bigger rider, and one who still loves bike parks, you might want to look at bikes with a little more travel and a slightly beefier build than those 120mm(ish) downcountry machines, or at least think about going with a RockShox Pike instead of a SID for a little more front-end stiffness. In the trail bike category, options like the Norco Optic, Santa Cruz Hightower, or Ibis Ripmo could all fit the bill.

How do you choose? Well, the best way is to test ride a few models to start figuring out what you like and dislike. If a local shop has demos you’ll be able to try them on familiar trails, which will make it easier to compare them to your current bike. You can go as wild as you want with geometry and parts spreadsheets, but actually swinging a leg over a potential new bike is going to make it a whole lot easier to see what works for you.

Cure for Shimano XT Brake Pad Rattle?

Question: @tom-mega asks in the Mechanic’s Lounge: Hi all, just had my Nukeproof mega built with XT four pot brakes. 1st ride out this afternoon and I’ve noticed that going down a slightly rough fire road there is a major rattle. Seemed to go away when I touched the front brake. Had a feel of the front pads and the fins seem to rattle against the caliper. Has anyone had this and what’s the fix as it’s going to drive me mad?

You’re not the only one who’s experienced this annoying issues – there are pages and pages of forum posts out there from riders trying to quiet those brake pads down. The easiest (and most expensive) option is to ditch the finned pads. I know, the fins are supposed to help keep things cool, but I’d be surprised if you noticed a massive performance difference between finned and non-finned out on the trail.

If you don’t want to buy new pads right away, it’s time for some arts and crafts. Purchase some velcro tape, and either place it on the top of the caliper, underneath the fins, or you can stick it to the underside of the fins themselves. Another partial fix is to remove the silver spring that holds the pads apart and spread the four arms a little further. Be careful, you don’t want to bend it too far. The goal is to put a little more pressure on the pads to keep them from slapping back and forth against the caliper on rough terrain.

New Wheel and Fork Compatibility?

Question: @cascaderanger asks in the Bikes, Parts, & Gear Forum: I am working through my front wheel/fork upgrade and need an informed judgement.

I would like to upgrade the fork on my 2015 Santa Cruz Bronson to one that runs a 15x110mm axle. My original fork/hub uses a 15x100mm thru-axle. I am looking to buy a Hope Pro 4 15x110mm hub, lace it up to a Spank 27.5 30.5mm inner diameter wheel, and use my current Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5″ 2.3″ wide tires. The frame doesn’t support much wider tires and there’s mud in my future. Any issues you see with this Hope/Spank/Maxxis configuration?

bigquotes That combination shouldn’t pose any problems. You don’t mention what fork you’re purchasing, but most modern forks will have clearance for even wider tires while still retaining plenty of mud clearance, something to keep in mind when that DHR II wears out.

Is a Lockout Absolutely Necessary?

Question: @Jtait05 asks in the Beginner’s Forum: I am new to this world but loving every ride! That said, I went from a Trek Stache to a Scott Spark 910. Went that route mostly based on the TwinLoc system (and friends have them). I have found that the lockout is valuable but annoying at the same time. If I forget that I am locked out (very minimal travel) and start to bomb down I quickly realize that I forgot to open my suspension.

I enjoy the climbing portion of this sport, as much as flow sections and smaller jumps (for now). I am under the belief of, if I don’t have the ability to lock out my suspension I will be wasting a ton of energy when going uphill. It’s nice to have the remote option vs a switch on the shock. My question is, for a bike that would have 140ish millimeters travel does a solid “tune” negate the lock out? As I continue to ride, I’m finding my likes and dislikes and I am thinking of the next chapter – do I need dual lockout or not?

bigquotes Paging Mike Levy, paging Mike Levy… Welcome to the world of mountain biking, and the small corner of that world where riders love to debate the pros and cons of lockout levers. Some riders prefer to set up their suspension and not need to touch it at all during a ride, while others don’t mind firming things up for the climbs, and then opening it up for the descents.

As far as the ability to fully lock out a rear shock goes, that’s not an absolute necessity, and I don’t think any rider needs a lockout on their fork, no matter what style of riding they’re doing. Most modern bikes are relatively efficient climbers and don’t require a complete shock lock-out, one that turns them into a hardtail. Fully locking out your suspension can make your bike feel extra-efficient on paved climbs or smooth gravel roads, but it can lead to a loss of traction on chunkier, more technical climbs.

Of course, some bikes pedal better than others in the fully open position due to their suspension designs – you’ll need to try a few to determine how much movement you think is acceptable.

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