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

Aug 18, 2020
by Mike Kazimer  

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.


bigquotes
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.

Revel Ranger review Margus Riga photo
Fun-country? Categorize them however you want, bikes like the Revel Ranger are opening riders' eyes to the benefits of short travel combined with modern geometry.



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?


bigquotes
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.

Velcro tape on the top of the caliper, under the fins, can help quiet things down, or you can forgo finned pads altogether.



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?



bigquotesThat 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.

Some riders love lockouts, while others would rather have a clutter-free cockpit and not need to worry about accidentally dropping into a rough descent with rock-hard suspension.





100 Comments

  • 99 0
 A way to stop the rattling is to take a spring from a pen, and put it on the pad locator pin, between the pads. I did this on my Magura MT5s and it completely stopped the rattle. It's a little fiddly getting it in place but totally worth it.
  • 6 0
 That's an awesome suggestion.
  • 2 0
 im going to do this right now.
  • 2 0
 But don't the maguras have magnets on the pistons to stop rattle? Good idea regardless
  • 20 0
 I put an o-ring around the fins on each pad, so there’s effectively a wee rubber bumper at the front and back edge. Silent.
  • 1 0
 @Tmackstab: this is what I thought... but if you put some non-magura pad with alloy backplates, you are screwed ? anyways, I mostly use the 2 pieces pads, no the annoying 4 piece ones which need the screw... cheers..
  • 1 0
 Best tip I've seen in a while!
  • 6 2
 Altogether now - HAAAACKS N BODGES
  • 3 0
 @Tmackstab: Fkn magnets. How do they work?
  • 2 0
 @thustlewhumber: unpaired electron spins
  • 1 0
 @thustlewhumber: ions and poles and stuff. its technical
  • 26 0
 At least in the alps the lockout is absolutely correct in place. Here to climb we have fire roads...that's it...there is nearly no place where you can climb singletrail in the alps and in those that you can it's basically a fire road, so the need for traction and compliance is not really in place. That's at least my impression. Having said that the best type of bike for the alps involves a plush big travel suspension platform with a nice firm lockout that you use maybe 3 times a day.
  • 6 0
 Unless your name is Ludo May. Then you climb the trails too Smile

But, I agree completely that a firm pedalling platform (not necessarily a full lockout, just firm setting) is great to have in Alpine regions with long or steep climbs.
  • 2 1
 Correct. The amount of uproad enduroing we do here is nuts.
  • 7 0
 Wow, no single track climbing in the alps!!?
  • 1 1
 I just rode the Colorado Trail (supported trail riding) and didn't touch my lockout once during 44,000 feet of climbing (entirely on single track). The added traction benefits far outweigh the efficiency gains of locking out. Fire roads are a different story though - I'll still lock out on those.
  • 7 0
 @jrocksdh: there is, but not everywhere, and some if it is so steep it’s only doable for short portions or better enjoyed on the way down
  • 4 0
 @Greghoin: that sounds awesome but climbing single track is funner than climbing fire roads. Still it must be sweet knowing you don’t have to worry about running any one over on your way down
  • 4 0
 @Greghoin: agree, same here, except some little up and down uptrail, it's almost impossible climb single tracks... long (and steep) fireroads. Always have to pedal on 15% climb...
  • 5 0
 @jrocksdh: there are, of course, but quite often uphill trails aren't as suitable for modern enduro bikes with high gears and slack geometry. So the majority of the riders just don't bother and use (fire)roads instead (or push), unless they've got an eMTB.

I'm generalizing a bit, naturally there are riders who like to battle technical uphills, but in my experience they're in a small minority.
  • 4 0
 @jrocksdh: Dont counfuse that with no singletrack descending.....cuz if you like multi hour long singletrack descents, we have tons.
  • 1 0
 I do a mix of road, fireroad, and singletrack climbing on my 170mm coil. I never touch the suspension settings. Unless you are standing pedaling, the bob is so minimal, it is just silly.
  • 1 0
 You don't need a lockout in the alps, tried and tested. But a shock with an adjustable low speed compression (the open position, if a switch is present) enables you to dial in a bit more LSC to lessen any possible bob without influencing the suspension performance when it comes to dealing with bumps. Tried and tested as well through a (forced) shock change where the new one has only a 3 position platform level as opposed to the LSC setting of the old and an on off switch.
  • 1 0
 @mtbluka: modern e duro bikes have wide range 1x drivetrain and steep seat tubes. It's not a problem anymore, semi recent history is what you described. We've moved on from there, luckily. Modern enduro bikes climb exceptionally well.
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: You're absolutely correct, the bikes climb better than ever - on the (fire)roads Smile It's just an odd phenomena that no one is utilizing that exceptional climbing ability on the trails, apart from a few exceptions. Yup, people have move on from there, to the easier access roads...
  • 1 0
 @mtbluka: My ultra long 29er allowed me to climb a non-fire road, steep as hell technical climb on the first try with it, where there was no chance on my old 2015 very-modern-at-the-time 27,5" enduro bike. Plus it's a bit of an generalisation that everybody only climbs on fireroads if I'm honest. But yeah, a big factor in this is the steepness of the terrain. It's hard to climb on singletrails when you need Eagle and a 30T front ring on a 29er just to get up the fireroads Smile
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: what you're listing is anecdotal evidence and own biased opinions presented as "facts" (eg. claiming one doesn't need lockout). Of course, they don't "need it", but it makes things easier or more efficient in some circumstances. Just like pedal platforms and adjustable LSC does - and some would say you don't "need" those either.

Observe the trends and compare the numbers on bikers climbing (fire)roads vs. trails, especially technical ones, and after carefully reading the previous posts you will see that the generalization (with already mentioned exceptions Wink ) is a pretty good assessment of the current state.
  • 1 0
 @mtbluka: Physics doesn't deal with opinions, even less so biased ones. And of course that goes for anecdotal evidence too. It deals with numbers and therefore with facts.

It's relatively easy to design a bike that has the correct antisquat level to reduce pedal bob. Sure, you get some, you lose some and other characteristics will change, but it's up to the designer to define the priorities and make the bike what it is. As for LSC vs. lockout, the lockout closes off the compression damping circuit and relies on the blowoff valve to start moving, which makes it very harsh. Dialing in the correct amount of LSC makes the shock much less harsh which manifests itself in the ride comfort. In the levy vs. kazimer lockout battle of last year (?) I actually tested out my lock switch on my Super Deluxe RCT in earnest for the first time on a flat gravel road. My bike bobbed about the same as in the open position, but I was jumping around over all the potholes, that the suspension nicely took care of in the open position.

Design the suspension not to bob and then let it work. If a passive, mechanical solution is achievable, it is ALWAYS better than 'active' solutions (for example live valve) as those are reactive through a feedback loop as opposed to the inherent design of the system.

As for climbing, I guess we are back to anecdotal evidence, even though you bashed those in the first line of your comment. But nevertheless, my anecdotal evidence is that I've been riding the same (the exact same) trails for the past 20 years, first off with an XC hardtail and then with different all mountain/enduro/trail bikes. The only thing that has changed is the speed on the climbs and the descends, other than that it's more or less the same. Except for one trail, where I always went up the long way around, on the (asphalt and gravel) road, but since I started riding trail bikes, I've also started taking the single trail, which is much shorter, on the way up too. So my personal anecdotal evidence (or observing the trends) is opposite to yours.
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: "Physics doesn't deal with opinions, even less so biased ones. And of course that goes for anecdotal evidence too. It deals with numbers and therefore with facts." -> precisely. And yet you contradict yourself twice in the last two posts. Anecdotal evidence is exactly what you're listing, especially in the last "me me me" paragraph.

Mentioning "testing" lock out switches without providing measurements and timing is again anecdotal without a stopwatch, HR monitor, and power meter.

The comment thread started from the premise that lockout and/or firm pedalling platform is great to have in the Alps, also because not all suspension designs are equal. But no, you went the other way "you don't need it" ... as said, where do you draw the line, you don't "need" gears and suspension either, just look at the SS rigid enthusiasts.

Last but not least, provide a number then, eg. how many people on a popular local hill climb trails, especially where there's a (fire)road option. In my experience, this number is almost 0, zero, niente. Not saying there aren't any, but I've yet to see someone climbing trails up the local hills if there's a road option. Hence the assessment that's the general trend.
  • 14 1
 The Scott is also a special case as it messes with your fork too... Don't mind a rear lock out, especially on a bike that calls for it, but messing with the fork is just uncalled for.
  • 19 5
 GO Coil and forget about the lockout.
  • 21 1
 Name checks out
  • 4 1
 @Longtravel.. this guy gets it. COIL RULES!
  • 4 1
 I have a coil with a climb switch. And I’m really glad I have that switch.
  • 1 0
 @Upduro: If it is Cane Creek, it isn't quite a lock out. I guess that makes quite a difference as you still get to enjoy the improved traction on the climbs (which the suspension allows) unlike lock out which takes that advantage away from you too.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: DHX2, and yeah it’s not a complete lockout but enough to prevent any pedal bob during steady climbs. We don’t really have any techy climbs in the alps, it’s all fire roads, so I don’t need a huge amount of traction during climbing anyways.
  • 1 0
 The Ohlins has a "climbing" position on the TTX, I never use it. Pedal bob is so minimal on my 170mm E29.
  • 1 0
 Even the Scott “lockout” position isn’t actually zero travel, pretty sure.
  • 1 0
 @masonskis: That's true, it's just very, very stiff. Technically there's a little bit of travel but so little that it wouldn't make much difference if it was solid.
  • 13 3
 Never had an issue with rattling pads. Utterly inconsistent bite point on XT however.....
  • 14 4
 CBF, baby. Not once have I used my lockout and my bike weighs 34lbs.
  • 4 0
 Can confirm, I never use it on my Riot
  • 6 0
 100%. I'm a recent balance convert; a 170mm bike with a coil shock should not be this pedalable... yet here we are
  • 1 0
 Ride my rail with dudes running 100mm and I'm right behind them on the way up. Then I shake their asses and have a blast on the downs. No lockout, just a nice stiff suspension set-up and some CBF.
  • 9 1
 Three minutes with a dremel tool and you've got yourself some non finned shimano pads.
  • 4 1
 Off topic I know, but how good is a Dremel? And to think I baulked at the purchase for about a decade.
  • 6 0
 @iamamodel: one of the most handy little tools there are.
  • 1 0
 @iamamodel: They are brilliant, and the cordless ones aren't terrible either. Get one, and make sure you buy Dremel cutting discs for it, as aftermarket ones snap much quicker in my experience.
  • 1 0
 @GilesSTurner: the cord is the worst thing about it. Time to upgrade! Ta.
  • 8 2
 I've got a question for next time: does mountain biking (without crashing) do damage to your brain? Even without crashing your head gets jiggled around a lot, and I wonder if this is harmful.
  • 19 0
 I think this question provides the answer. Kidding, couldn't help myself.
  • 4 0
 Speed induced brain jiggles are actually proven to be the opposite of brain damage. The flow state is your friend.
  • 3 0
 My suggestions is that when you ride, imagine that your head is floating down the trail. Two reasons: it won't jiggle around so much, and you will ride smoother as your brain will automatically move your arms and legs up and over obstacles like it does when you walk up and down stairs (you don't dead sailor stairs, because you don't think about them).
  • 1 0
 @Spindelatron: I played the shit out of Porrasturvat back in the day but I never knew it was on mobile!
  • 4 0
 @Jtait05 " I have found that the lockout is valuable but annoying at the same time. If I forget that I am locked out"
Thank goodness you've come to the sport since the abolishment a front shifter... imagine having to change gears with your left hand while riding along.
In all seriousness, I just built a Genius with a Float dps (no remote) and not having the twinlock and 0-120-150 adjustment feels like a travesty.. The spark is not a "winch and plummet" bike, as such you should start practicing using the twinloc as much as rolling trail gradient allows.. I'd suggest that you should be using the twinloc far more than you ever would have used a 3x front shifter and probably as much/more than a dropper.
Between Open and TC mode is the most important change of the bike and having a compression damped 90mm of travel at the push of a button is exactly what this kind of go fast bike needs.. plus it'll go down anything in this mode just fine.. better wide open of course when the descents get steep/spicy!
None of this is because of any suspension shortcomings.. but for moar speed! Wink
  • 6 1
 Anyone else not notice any rattling with zee or saint calipers & pads, or is that just me?
  • 2 0
 Have never noticed in 5 years on Saints
  • 2 0
 Heavy rattling on m820 saints. Two different sets.
  • 2 0
 @spenswick: sorry to hear that
  • 1 0
 You have bike tinnitus. Lots of cures online.
  • 1 0
 @twonsarelli: The o-ring method above does solve it however.
  • 1 0
 I hadn't until I bought a new frame that appears to be quieter than the old one - I now notice pad rattle on my zee's. to be honest not enough to make me do something about it! Although I do like the idea of the small spring in the retention pin.
  • 1 0
 I have XT M8000 4 pots and I've read about rattles many times, but never experienced them. I'm picky about having a silent bike too, so I'd notice. Maybe I'm just lucky.
  • 2 0
 Re lockout question: I am addicted to seeing improvements on my climbing times. I've had many FS and HT bikes and both Spark RC and Spark, both with TwinLoc. The differences in times on a popular windy 20 minute ascent when I am going 100% is +/-10 seconds overall on the XC race bikes, no matter the layout. At the pointy end, grip under power is king. Mind you, this isn't a good example for those cruising on HTs, FS, and FS with lockout. I don't have the data on that.
  • 2 1
 On the brake pads, I have the same rattling issue with non finned slx 4 pistons...to the point that the front will reposition itself in chunk and start chirping. Quite frustrating. Spreading the return springs helps some, but increases pad to rotor gap and resulting free stroke in the levers. I will definitely stay 2 piston slx or xt and jump to larger rotors for future trail bikes at 160 lbs.
  • 7 0
 Keep the fins. Stretch a high-temp silicon o-ring around the base of the fins where they contact the calliper body. Silence.
  • 1 0
 @spenswick: one around each fin (ie two total)? Or one around the two fins?
  • 9 1
 Those aren’t return springs and they have zero to do with rotor gap. All they are supposed to do is hold the pads against the piston so they don’t rattle. They just don’t do that very well.
  • 1 0
 @spenswick: ayeeee nice tip
  • 5 0
 @powderturns: Apologies, that was unclear. One around each pad at the base of the fins. I don't recall the exact size that I've used but generally you're forced to buy a full assorted set anyway so you can try a few different sizes. I've found that the ideal size ends up being about 2mm in diameter after stretch. Doesn't impede movement and provides sufficient isolation.
  • 4 0
 @AccidentalDishing a very small (3mm) strip of stretched mastic tape on the caliper body under the fins. Cheap, easy, fast - zero noise after a year.
  • 2 0
 A small bit of cut road bike tube around (vertically) each fin works as well to silence things... and free if you have them around! Although, I'm sure it could impact heat retention.
  • 1 0
 @Someoldfart: If you spread them enough out of frustration they sure seem to. I Agree that isnt their intended purpose though.

To clarify, I am already running
Non finned pads in search of silence.
  • 5 0
 @rschmidt1: Okay, so find a roadie's bike and cut out some of his tube. Got it.
  • 1 0
 @powderturns: the easiest solution would be to make the back plate wedge shaped like pretty much every other brake manufacturer so the pad can fit snuggly and migrate outwards when it heats up instead of making a square pad with two expansion gaps ether side but expecting that level of technical expertise from shimano is asking a bit much really. To be fair though I can definitely tell the difference between finned and non finned pads even though the noise is ridiculous.
  • 2 0
 Okay, I'm getting old...175mm drop is plenty for me. I can run a 210 one up, but it's so far to stand up from over and over later in a long ride. The 210 is great in the bike park, but for trail 175 feels about right.
  • 1 0
 Another adventure biker here. I've discovered all of my favorite riding these days is on "multi-use" trails in the high alpine. I've been super pleased with the SB6 TR on the downs, but the grueling (1k' per mile is pretty typical) climbs associated with these trails has my heart feeling like it is actively trying to punch its way out of my rib cage. I don't have any advice yet, just another rider facing a pleasantly difficult decision for next year!
  • 1 0
 "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."

It's just another tool; you will get used to using it effectively. That is to say: for the same reason you don't forget where you left your dropper post, you will quickly stop forgetting which suspension mode you're in (or start remembering to check it's open before hitting a descent). If in doubt, you can always feel the lever position with your thumb.
  • 14 10
 Lock out with your c@(k out.
  • 4 4
 Finned pads work better than standard and one can easily notice it.I used to think that they do not work and was always buying EBC golds anyway, since I hated the rattling. But recently I change for 4-pot in the rear and the caliper price with metalic Shimano pads was like +5EUR compared to standard pads which I usually throw away. I was very surprised when I managed to overheat the front (4-pot with EBC) and the rear was braking flawlessly.
  • 7 11
flag edulmes (Aug 18, 2020 at 13:17) (Below Threshold)
 Your front is doing way more work than the rear, thus generating more heat.
  • 5 1
 @edulmes: maybe, but have 200front and 180 rear. And always had problems with rear, until used finned pads.
  • 1 0
 @jaydawg69: that is so f*cking interesting
  • 2 0
 Never been to Whistler, but was considering it this year before Covid! LOTS on the top of my list. The advice I saw was definitely don’t bring a cross-country bike.
  • 1 0
 Just did it a few days ago. You could do it on an XC, but not likely a racing one. It really does depend on how skilled you are.
  • 1 0
 It’s no so much that the decent is hard but you might be totally gassed after Into the Mystic. It is rated blue but there was talk of changing the rating to black to account for descending fatigued. Perhaps a bike that leaves you less tired would be more safe? I’d hardtail it no problem. But once you’re done LOTS, there are some pretty challenging trails down. Some easier too but it’s nice to have a more capable bike at that point.
  • 1 0
 Regarding the "backcountry adventure bike" suggestions: Wouldn't the SC Tallboy be more interesting than the Hightower, if the person needs a little more bike than the ones from the ongoing field test?
  • 2 1
 Don't worry about the brake pad rattle...If you ride your bike in all conditions the rattle will soon go away once the pad screw / pin gets dirty! Smile
  • 2 1
 The pads need to travel along that pin, to recenter. If it's bunged up with build-up, your pads won't relocated as they should. Way better ways to fix that issue.
  • 2 0
 Brake pad rattle on your $50 brake pads, thanks shimano
  • 3 2
 Or... Cut the XT pad fins off!
  • 1 0
 Another tip for brake pad rattling: youtu.be/sRzI3HXC0QM?t=1239
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