|The general consensus is that your new bike's XTR Trail brakes are the best in the biz, and looking at how often they're spec'd on dream builds confirms that they're the brakes chosen most often when money isn't a concern. They are not perfect, however, as you've discovered, with a lack of any sort of effective bite point adjustment that most of their competition sports. Most other high-end brake systems include a dial that allows the user to adjust the amount of free stroke that the lever has before the pads make contact with the rotor, usually offering a massive range that will allow the lever to either pull to the grip or have almost no pull at all, but the small philips screw that is supposed to control this function on the XTR Trail's has almost no effect at all. It's a strange ball-drop from Shimano on an otherwise near perfect component, but there is a go around that you hit on that allows riders to tune the free: artificially moving the brake's pistons out of the caliper.|
Advancing the pistons is as simple as removing the wheel and pulling the brake lever just enough to push the pistons out a touch, and because the pads don't make contact with the rotor they will tend to not retract back completely to their resting position. And now that they're sitting out of their bores slightly further - we're talking about a millimeter or less on each side - the pads are obviously closer to the rotor and don't need to travel as far to make contact. They key is to take your time when pulling the lever when the wheel isn't in place, as going too far can mean that you'll have excessive brake rub and need to carefully push them back in, or even manage to force one or both of them right out of their bores - that's a worst case scenario. All you're doing is moving brake fluid from the brake's reservoir into action, with there being enough volume in the system to account for the small amount of fluid that you're displacing, but don't be surprised if that fluid returns to the reservoir over time and your brake begins to feel like it did before you advanced the pistons. It's for this reason that your best bet for consistent performance in the long run is to first advance the pistons and make sure that you like the amount of free stroke that you have at the lever, and then bleed the system with the pistons pushed slightly out. Doing this will creates a brake that will not only have the amount of free stroke that you like, but also feel predictable. - Mike Levy
|The short answer is that a SRAM 1 X 11 with a 32 tooth chainring is a near-perfect gear spread for aggressive trail riding on a 26-inch-wheel bike - up or down. If you ride a 29er or a 27.5-inch-wheel bike with a 1 X 11, you'll want to drop the chainring size to 30, even 28 teeth to compensate for the extra distance the bike travels with each revolution of the larger wheel. SRAM's eleven speed cassette, with its ten-tooth high and 42-tooth low gear provides a wider, more useful range of gearing than a standard 11 X 36, ten-speed cassette can offer.|
Converting to a 1 X 10 drivetrain forces you to compromise between top speed and a good climbing gear. Most err towards a climbing gear, because climbing hurts all the time and descending, not so much. Your chainring selections will be limited to the BCD (bolt circle diameter) of your crankset. Assuming that you will be converting a double or triple crankset with the common, 104-millimeter BCD, you will be using the inside "middle-ring" position of the crank spider, which restricts the smallest available sprockets to either a standard 32 or a special 30-tooth sprocket. If you have a 26-inch-wheel, medium-weight trailbike with an 11 by 36-tooth, ten-speed cassette, your best option is a 32 tooth chainring, because it gives you a decent top speed, with a low enough granny gear to climb steeps for a reasonable distance. Choose s 30-tooth ring if you need a better climbing gear. If you need lower gearing than a 30 tooth can offer, and are lucky to own a bike with a SRAM or Truvativ GXP crankset, you can remove the spider and replace it with a direct-mount chainring. Direct-mount sprockets are sold in even numbers from 26 through 48 teeth, so you'll be able to match your drivetrain to your leg power.
Unfortunately, those who ride 29ers and mid-sized 27.5-inch bikes and are stuck with a 104 BCD crankset will need World Cup legs to power a 30 x 36 up a tough climb. In this case, a 40 or 42-tooth cog can be installed on select Shimano and SRAM ten-speed cassettes to achieve the proper gear spread.
Those who are converting their multi-chainring drivetrains to a one-by should be warned to use chainrings with a narrow-wide tooth profile to keep the chain on and, unless your rear derailleur is the new clutch type, you will need at least an upper guide to ensure that the chain stays put when you are bouncing down the trail in a "cross-over" gear selection. - RC
Pivot's Mach 5.7 with a Shimano XTR 104 BCD crankset converted to a 1 X 10 with a 32-tooth MRP chainring and a Lopes SL chain guide, and a OneUp 42-tooth cassette cog.
|Although the Vitus may work fine for a beginning mountain biker, I wouldn't recommend it for any sort of aggressive riding. Along with the components not being designed to handle the abuse you'll be dishing out, the bike's geometry isn't designed for that style of riding either. You'll want something with a lower standover height to give you room to maneuver in the air, and extra short chainstays to help you pop off the lip of jumps. I'd try to figure out exactly what type of bike you're looking for, rather than searching for the elusive (and non-existent) $500 do-it-all slope/freeride/DH machine. It's a matter of choosing the right tool for the job, and if you're interested more in jumping and learning tricks as opposed to getting down the gnarliest runs you can find, I'd suggest a used dirt jumper. Take a look at the Pinkbike Buy and Sell, and you should be able to find a number of options in the $500-$700 range that will be able to take a beating and keep on rolling. Something from Specialized's P series, or Norco's Ryde series could be good options. A singlespeed, hardtail dirt jumper will help you gain skills that you can transfer to a full suspension bike when your budget allows.|
If you have dreams of Red Bull Rampage style hucking or full-on downhill riding, the dirt jumper isn't going to be the best tool, but it will still be better than the Vitus, at least from a durability standpoint. Unfortunately, for freeriding or downhill your price range should probably be a little higher - it might be time to start thinking of ways to scrounge up some more cash in order to afford a downhill worthy rig. - Mike Kazimer
The Vitus Nucleus isn't going to be the best option for riders looking to get into slopestyle riding.
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