Ask Pinkbike: Chainguides on Older Bikes, Changing Pads and Roost Guards

Sep 2, 2015
by Pinkbike Staff  
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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.

What a Drag

Question: Pinkbike user TheFlyingHawaiian asked this question in the downhill forum: I recently bought a used Norco Six and found that the bike needed new pads for its Hayes brakes on both ends. My local shop installed them for me, but now the front brake has a lot of play in it and doesn't return to the locked position, while the rear brake lever is fine. There's also a lot of brake drag on both ends - if I lift the back wheel off the ground to spin it, it will do maybe only half a rotation before coming to a stop. I'm not sure what the issue is.

bigquotesInstalling a new set of brake pads often leads to a very negligible amount of pad and rotor contact that usually goes away after the first ride, but there can be an excessive amount of brake drag if the pad installation isn't done correctly. The issue is that as a set of pads wear, brake fluid is transferred from the master cylinder up at the lever into the system in order to compensate as the pistons move out to make up for the thinner pads and preserve brake feel. This is called an "open system" whereas a "closed system" (which isn't common these days) would force the rider to make a manual adjustment to compensate for pad wear. So you have your worn pads in there and the pistons behind them out past being near flush in their bores, but the pistons need to be pushed back in, otherwise known as being reset, before the new, thicker brake pads are installed. It sounds like that process wasn't done completely right when your new pads were installed, meaning that they're are closer to the rotor than they should be.

You'll need to get the fluid that's transferred out of the master cylinder in order to compensate for your worn pads back into where it came from. Remove the wheel and replace your new pads with a set of older ones that you don't mind destroying, then you use a plastic tire lever to push on each pad until the piston behind it is flush within its bore. This may take five or ten minutes of fiddling, and I'll sometimes even wedge the lever in there to apply constant pressure and just leave it for awhile. You can also push directly on the pistons if you don't have any old pads lying around, but you have to be VERY careful and use only plastic tools so you don't gouge the piston. Reinstall your good pads when the pistons sit flush. You might also have to re-center the caliper to have the rotors spin drag-free.
- Mike Levy

Clean Caliper
  The pistons have to be reset before installing new brake pads. Photo Romna Sch

Chainguide for 2004 Heckler?

Question: stickboypole asks in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: Can anyone give any advice on what chain guide and bash ring will fit my 2004 Santa Cruz Heckler?

bigquotesChainguide compatibility always seems to be more confusing than it needs to be, since every frame model is slightly different. The first step is to figure out what mounting options are available - is your bike equipped with ISCG or ISCG-05 tabs? If it is, you'll see three mounting holes arranged around the bottom bracket shell. If not, which is the case with your Heckler, a bottom bracket or seat tube mounted guide are the only possible options.

The next step is to decide what type of retention you're looking for. Now that clutch type derailleurs and narrow-wide chainrings have become common, many riders are only running an upper guide, and forgoing the lower pulley wheel. Full bash guards have also decreased in popularity, superseded by taco style bash guards, the type that are mounted to the frame and extend just below the chainring teeth. Since it looks like you're running a clutch derailleur, I'd be tempted to start with something as simple as MRP's seat-tube mounted 1x guide and giving that a try for a few rides. If you find yourself smacking your chainring more often than you'd like, a BB mounted bashguard would be the next step.
- Mike Kazimer

Light, simple, and easy to install, MRP's 1x guide is a quick way to add extra security to a single ring drivetrain, and a taco style bash guard can be added on for chainring protection.

Roost Guards

Question: Pinkbike user EuroinSF commented in the Photo Epic article from EWS Round 6 in Whistler: Anyone know where I could buy some of those AVS tree guards that Nico Vouilloz sports?

bigquotesThe hand guards are available from AVS-Racing in France. there are a choice of seven anodized colours for the machined alloy bracket, eleven colours for the plastic protector and thirty-five graphic kits to adhere on top - so you can mix and match to your hearts content. Customised decals will be available in the future. The guards are being shipped worldwide and will cost 49 Euros for the guards and 11 Euros for the decals (about $66 USD in total). Unfortunately the site is only in French at the moment, but English, Italian and German will be online soon.

While there has been a lot of talk about these looking stupid, cool, 'too moto' or whatever, I think they are a pretty good idea. I personally have two cases of 'Mountain Bike Finger' and know plenty of other riders who have broken, dislocated or generally smashed their pinkies in to trees, rocks and even walls when riding. Also, when riding in overgrown areas these guards could be useful when branches start getting grabby in the vicinity of your brake levers and try to send you skywards. - Paul Aston

Nico Vouilloz looked to be in the mix early on but was never able to make a challenge to the front runners.
If they're good enough for Nico '10X' Vouilloz, they are good enough for you.

Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.


  • 164 8
 To the Hayes brake guy:
Step 1- Buy Deore brakes as you're probably on a budget

That's about it
  • 12 1
  • 78 2
 Well, technically that's step 2. Step 1 is throw Hayes brakes in the trash where they belong.
  • 13 12
 Not sure what your problem is with Hayes?! I run Hayes Prime on my xc and have not one issue with them in two years of riding. Even rode trough most of last winter and still not one issue this season. Still work like the day I bough the bike!!
  • 1 0
 Aren't they like $100 on eBay? That is a killer deal.
  • 2 1
 Never checked what they cost. They came on my bike from new.
  • 10 7
 As the bike prophet of our day, t-swift, so aptly said "Hayes haters gonna hate hate hate." I've had great luck with Hayes since 1999.
  • 12 6
 Excuse me but can we redirect our hate of brakes back to Avid/Sram for a minute? I own the new Guides and while they are an improvement over Avid "Squishy's" they are still really inconsistent and need constant attention. I have to constantly reset the piston in order to have close pad contact and they've already been professionally bled 3 times this year.

I want my XT's back.
  • 7 2
 Dont know what to tell u. I cant say anything bad about my elixirs on my DH either.
  • 1 0
 I once had to drill the callipers of a pair of Avids to push the pistons out - even pumping 120psi into the circuit couldn't budge them.
  • 1 1
 @SomeGuy30 I actually have a similar experience. Ran a new set of Hayes Primes all season with no problems at all, they're decent brakes. Modulation is probably better than my Shimanos... but to be honest, I just don't care about modulation that much. Maybe it's just that I'm used to them, but I really like the on/off grabby feel of Shimano, and it definitely seems like the Shimanos have more power with less effort.

Ended up switching back to SLX. But there was nothing wrong with the Hayes brakes at all.
  • 13 16
 I had XTs hated the feel, have Guides and absolutely love them. As to Hayes... I love Answer products and have a lot of sentiment for Manitou, but their brakes. How about no...
  • 2 1
 I paid waaaaay to much money for a set of XT's a couple of years back. The only nice thing I have to say about them is that they've survived my efforts to kill them so I can justify buying a set of brakes that actually works.

Shimano brakes are much to "On/Off" for me, no matter how I set them up. If only Guides used mineral oil -_-
  • 1 0
 My hayes brakes start to rattle 2 minutes into a trail and make an awful sound, time for me to get an upgrade
  • 2 0
 Went stroker ace after saints and before xt and slx I have on my bikes now. 0 complains, would buy again.
  • 1 19
flag ShreddieMercury (Sep 3, 2015 at 5:44) (Below Threshold)
 I made $450 this week just surfing the net! Check it out:
  • 2 0
 Lubricating the piston is also important on those old Hayes.
Chances are that if you are still using Hayes brakes and have only now gone through a pair of pads the piston and seal in the caliper are dryer than the bible belt.
Drip some dot fluid onto the pistons before forcing them back into place, pump them out with the lever and repeat two or three times before cleaning the whole thing off with rubbing alcohol or brake cleaner.
Hayes brakes are older than most of the people on Pinkbike so I can imagine that they are needing some extra love.

BTW; next paycheck, buy some new brakes
  • 2 1
 A local shop installed the pads? And they did not mention any issues when you paid for the service?
I blame the bike shop.
Its unfortunate that it is probably cheaper to buy new/ used brake set than to try to repair your brakes. Sounds like a stuck piston.
The mechanic would have retracted the pistons when he put in the new pads.
The mechanic should have noticed the stuck piston.
  • 59 5
 Hayes brakes? Pinkbike, do you want to have this guy's blood on your hands???.
  • 6 1
  • 4 2
 His name was the Flyin' Hawaiian - But I'm not so sure HOW serious this guy is about actually flying.
  • 5 3
 hayes 9s were the best and have always worked better than my avids.
  • 5 1
 I've been running Hayes Stroker Trail brakes on both of my bikes for years now. No issues at all, easy to service, good modulation and no squeeling. Sounds like I'm in the minority though.
  • 3 0
i actually have a set of hayes stroker aces that are currently sitting in my spare parts bin. not because i dont trust them, i just dont have a bike to put them on! some of the best brakes ive ever tried before, ill never get rid of them. also getting them for 75 a side wasnt too bad either Wink
  • 2 0
 i have those Hayes Stroker Ryde brakes that came with my 2009 reign x2. that was the first thing i replaced coz i was starting to grab on to trees just to stop. got myself some XT's, problem solved.
  • 1 0
 Yeh, I am told the XT's are really good. Most of my riding buddies are now running them.
  • 47 0
 I'd be peeved at the bike mechanic for not knowing how the hell to work on disc brakes. Resetting pistons and adjusting the caliper is brake pad installation 101.
  • 4 1
 My guess is dirty pistons that won't reset nicely. Common on older bikes, or ones that aren't that old but have been sitting. I bet the shop reset then as well as possible.
  • 1 1
 I have had a hayes 9 with a piston that won't retract. Needed dropped in a bucket of diesel for a week to loosen the bugger
  • 1 0
 redbaronmulisha, only use dot for that. Its safer than contaminating your brake with foreign fluid product.
  • 22 0
 Why are the mentioning roost guards when they appear to be talking about bar mounted hand guards? Aren't roost guards chest protectory things?
  • 5 0
 yes. these would be better off called brush guards or something similar.
  • 1 0
 more than likely a motocross term , i think they are a great idea i have bashed up the fingers lots of times off trees and rock faces , plus in the winter these would help keep the wind from freezing the fingers and hands
  • 14 0
 Was this posted like a week ago and then removed and re-posted? I'm either going nuts or I'm spending too much time on Pinkbike at work...
  • 5 0
 glad i was not the only one who noticed this. wonder what the deal was.
  • 1 0
 Maybe you saw it on your dashboard first. Sometimes it takes a couple of days before the blog post gets posted on the front page.
  • 8 0
 Pretty sure you missed the mark on the brake pads question. Slight misunderstanding perhaps? I'm guessing he's talking about play in the pads as those Hayes pad clips were notorious for. Not sure what his issue at the lever would be though. Most likely need a better description of the problem.
  • 3 0
 I was curious where the play was that he was talking about also. I would guess you are right with the pads (and levers perhaps) having play as I remember that being an issue with the HFX 9's. The front brake not returning to the "locked" position is curious also? Is this a pressure thing? Were the brakes bled when the pads were changed?
  • 1 0
 Yeah probably needs a new internal kit in the master cylinder as well.
  • 3 0
 I used to have some Hayes stoker rides, and I think I know what he's talking about.

It developed some play in the lever, where I'd get ~5mm of play back and forward before the pin pushing on the piston was "engaged" and moving the piston. The lever wouldn't spring back from braking to the "rest position" as he calls it, where the lever is all the way out, meaning the piston (in the lever?) wasn't returning properly.
This resulted in a horrible dead feeling brake that always rubbed the disc a bit and if you took your finger off the lever when riding, it would rattle like mad.

Long story short, I binned them and bought some Shimano SLX (I'd recommend Deore on a budget, same brake, just need a tool to adjust them). Couldn't be happier with them. 3 years~ and not needed to touch them (except when pulling the lever to slow down)
  • 8 0
 bet troy wishes he had those moto guards in di sole
  • 3 0
 This is one of those things that I would find useful and prevent some serious pain, but I don't know how the mountain bike community would react to these, aesthetically.
  • 5 0
 I'll buy it. Caught a vine with thorns between my pinkie and next finger. 5 stitches, 2 weeks off bike in prime June riding. These same vines have ripped my hand off the bar many times. My trails are overgrown and narrow.
  • 1 0
 yah me too, a big old blackberry runner got caught between my fingers going off a lip. Ripped all the thorns off with my hand, landed with bars turned and crashed, still limping 5 weeks later.
  • 1 0
 those won't do much in harder impacts like hitting a tree. they will deflect small branches and such, but your hands will still bear the brunt of a hard smack. they would be good if its really cold, windy and fast because they do deflect a lot of that stuff.
  • 1 0
 I don't know. If they're like moto hand guards, they will have an inboard clamp on one side of the alloy loop that goes around the hand to the end of the bar. That is pretty damn stout. The plastic visible section is just a cover over the strong alloy loop.
  • 1 0
 Where I live these would actually be pretty awesome in the summer months when thorns and overgrown trails leave cuts and scrapes in my hands almost every ride. I'd likely take them off the rest of the year.
  • 1 0
 @rattpoison for a full wrap, yes those are almost indestructible, but there are just deflectors
  • 1 0
 I had these stock on my Huffy White Heat back in the 90's...with neon green splatter paint no less.
  • 4 0
 Hayes Brake dude, if you don't end up throwing the old brakes in the bin straight after this here's something that might help you out with that front brake issue. If the play you're describing is the lever blade moving in and out with out the feeling of it contacting anything, then the master cylinder isn't returning/springing out and it needs to be replaced, or at least taken apart/cleaned/lubed and reassembled. Also, the brake dragging is not only limited to the pistons in need of being pushed back into the bores. take the pads out, clean the exposed part of the piston with a cotton swab and some isopropyl alcohol and lube them with a drop of brake fluid before pushing them back in. Seized pistons or pistons not returning into the calliper can cause the brakes to drag quite a bit, even if the mechanic did everything right when installing the pads at the shop.
  • 2 0
 Good stuff Ryan. Also, if those brakes are "stroker" brakes there was an issue with the tolerance on the master cylinder that caused the pistons to not retract all the way. I had this issue on one of my Stroker brakesets and Hayes gave me a kit to take down some of the "extra" material in there so the piston could move freely.
  • 7 1
 Heckler! The best single pivot ever!
  • 2 0
 Upvote!! The original was flexy as hell but was fun. Z1 Marz up front made it siiick!
  • 4 1
 if you can get the superstar chain guide, £20 for a seatpost mounted one, a little fiddly but it works and is cheap compared to all the others.
  • 1 0
 Not sure why there are such negative comments on the Hayes. Running Dyno Comps and so far they have been great, with minimal adjustments required, especially compared with the Avid systems that many of my riding buddies are using.
  • 1 0
 They aren't that bad for an average rider. I will say that there is a nipple on the pistons, at least on the ones I had, that hold. the pad on. These sometimes break off so you gotta be aware of them when prying back the pistons.
  • 2 1
 Not bad for an average rider? haha ok then. I guess I'm an average rider! I pull the lever and bike stops every time! no rubbing no squealing! ever! Cant say one bad thing about my Hayes Prime! Even got me trough last winter and still no issues this season.
  • 1 0
 Its ok to be average.
  • 2 0
 One of these question/answers articles should include topic of rotating many, how often, why, what does sram, shimano, kmc, etc mechanics. Topic creates huge threads.
  • 3 0
 I recommend running three chains, swapping them BEFORE they get to .75% wear (you have a chain checker, don't you?). Then cycle through them for the life of the drivetrain. A worn chain accelerates cog and ring wear as it loads only one tooth at a time. Three chains is enough to get enough life out of your cogs and rings, but not too much that when you swap over to the 'least worn' chain that the chain doesn't skip (as would happen if you put a brand new chain on worn cogs/chainrings). I've used this method for years, and when I sell a bike I even give them the two chains that go with that drivetrain. I've done this for old Shimano, Shimano 10spd HGX, and XO1. Dirty chains are no good and degreaser is no good - use rags and brushes but no chemicals. Shimano found some years ago that flipping the chain over regularly also improves chain life (the part of the chain that used to be against the chainring is now on the outside). Source: ex-mechanic and full on OCD measurer of chains for twenty years.
  • 1 1
 Good feedback. Ya its interesting theres rarely a bike ad that mentions extra chain incl. That's an automatic indicator of a well taken care of bike.
  • 1 0
 I'm still riding a Giant VT1 from 2003 that I recently converted to 1x. I picked up a Race Face ISCG Bottom Bracket mount and an MRP G3 Mini guide. Went on without a problem and works great. I'm running the standard 32 tooth RF chain ring from the 3x drive chain I removed and due to the wrap of the chain with the full guide I have not had an issue. The extra weight (not noticeable) and drag from the pulley (not noticeable) is worth never having to think about dropping a chain...ever.
  • 1 0
 Can anybody venture an answer to this? So as pad wears, hydraulic fluid migrates from master cylinder into the caliper to move the worn pad closer to the rotor...but what keeps this movement from going all the way into the pad? How does it always (usually) keep the proper gap between the pad and the rotor so the wheels spin free?
  • 4 0
 The master cylinder port is blocked off once the lever piston is moved a very short distance. So the brake pads are pushed and then sucked back until the port is uncovered. However it takes a bit of negative pressure to over come the piston friction. So when the port is uncovered fluid from the master cylinder rushes in to rebalance the pressure. When the pads hit the disc pressure builds and so the pads won't move until there is some negative pressure occurs which can only have a limited amount so the piston needs to retract until the pressure stops and then some. Once the pressure reduction only equals the master cylinder when the port is reopened no adjustment is made. If brakes are applied for a while heat causes the fluid to expand and increases the pressure. Next time the port is opened the pressures will rebalances by releasing fluid from the system to the master. Hope that helps.
  • 1 0
 @Tristanssid wow! good job! thank you! I got a bit lost in your explanation but by reading this site too,

it's more clear now. I think maybe 1 out of 1,000 mtbkers understands this subtle nuance in how their hydraulic brakes work.
  • 1 0
 according to this sram link below, the force that retracts the caliper pistons after applying the brakes is the piston seals and it's a fixed amount, not related to how far out the piston is, so that it always backs the piston off the rotor a set amount, say a couple millimeters. I think that was the missing piece of your explanation...
  • 2 0
 Hayes 9 since 2005. Came with the bike. Change body lever on one the other one is still the original. Riding 7 - 8 per week. Can't complain.
  • 1 1
 Everybody is bitch about Hayes and don't say a word about the incompetent bikeshop the probably sold pads and labour at premium price. Changing pads is not rocket science and if a shop can't even do it properly what is the point of a shop then ? Direct sales all the way, fu** those wan*ers that charge you for "service" but can't do shit. Hayes are what they are, can't be worse than Avid and has nothing to do with the problem here anyway.
  • 2 0
 Hasn't this already been gone over in a previous version of this article, or can I see into the future?
  • 1 0
 Problem with chainguide compatibility ? Sometimes, narrow/wide chainrings are usefool, and perhaps the best option... Wink
  • 5 0
 what'd you call me?!
  • 1 0
 @conv3rt I don't understand your message, but if you ask for a good chainring, I personnaly have the Hope narrow/wide one, 34t, on my YT Play DJ (slopestyle bike from YT, 100mm suspension), and I NEVER had a problem with him in 4-5 months ! And I used it on bike-parks, downhill tracks, etc... because my slopestyle is my only bike. So, it' worth the 45€-55$ Wink
  • 1 0
 I'm sorry I was picking up on the word "usefool" and not "useful". don't mind me.
  • 2 1
 Is it just me or did was that 1 tech tip and 2 thinly veiled product placements?

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