|Two things can cause the issues that you're describing: incorrect cable tension or too much friction between the cable and housing caused by contamination. Did you replace your shift cable and housing when you installed the new derailleur? If the cable can't move freely in the housing, either from grime, rust, or damage, it can actually keep the derailleur from being able to move freely. One shift cable and some lengths of housing are relatively inexpensive compared to a new derailleur, so it's always good to replace those bits as well when you're going to do such a job.|
The other culprit could be simply that you have too much cable tension in the system, which allows you to shift to an easier gear just fine but makes it slow to come back down the cassette. This is easy to spot by putting the bike in a repair stand or flipping it upside down and shifting to the smallest cog - does it stop at the second smallest, or does it drop down all the way? It it stops before shifting to the smallest cog, and you can see that it isn't the limit screw that's keeping it from reaching it, then you have too much tension. Take a look at this Tech Tuesday that shows you how to get the job done from scratch. - Mike Levy
|Minimize the variables when you start riding clipped in and you will get up to speed much more quickly. I suggest you buy a pair of Five Ten Maltese Falcon shoes to start with, as you are already familiar with the fit and feel of their flat-pedal DH shoes and that will simplify your learning curve to clipping into and unclipping from the pedal mechs. The Specialized Rime shoes feel closer to an XC shoe and while a stiffer, more ergonomically profiled enduro-style shoe may ultimately be the perfect solution for you in the future, I'll bet you will ride the Five Tens with much greater confidence on both the ups and downs. Your choice of pedals is a good one. I would have recommended Crankbrothers platform-style Mallet pedals instead of the more minimal Candy-2, but the key benefits to the Crankbrothers pedal are the same in both cases: You can enter the pedal mech' forward or backwards in a pinch - which is the main reason that the Mallet is the pedal of choice for DH pros. Also, the Crankbrothers mech' allows the foot to move around a little without disengaging, which benefits maneuverability. - RC|
Two iconic staples of gravity and enduro racing: the Crankbrothers Mallet pedal and Five Ten's Maltese Falcon shoe. The trail-oriented Crankbrothers Mallet MK3 pedal (left) and the Mallet DH pedal to the right famously easy to engage. Riders coming off of flat pedals for a first crack at clipped in pedaling should probably stick with flat-soled gravity-style shoes to minimize the learing curve.
|There aren't quite as many option these days in the 24" wheel size, but don't worry, you're not completely out of luck. I'd recommend checking out Sun Ringle's MTX series of rims - either the MTX31 or the MTX33 would be good options for your Big Hit, especially since they're available in both 26" and 24" versions. The MTX rims are plenty wide for DH usage (the 31 or 33 refers to the outer rim dimensions), and have a welded seam to help prevent them from separating. I've had good luck building them into reliable wheelsets that are capable of withstanding a solid beating in the bike park. Plus, at around $50 per rim they're not terribly expensive either. One thing to keep in mind during your wheel build is that your bike has an asymmetrical rear end, which means the rear wheel needs to be dished 6mm to the non-drive side. Specialized designed the bike this way to create a zero dish rear wheel, a setup that allows all of the spokes to be under an even amount of tension. - Mike Kazimer|
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