Ask Pinkbike: Stubborn XX1 Cassette, Paying the Price of Progression, Knee Pads For AM and DH

Mar 24, 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.

Stubborn XX1 Cassette

Question: Pinkbike user enduroFactory asked this question in the SRAM forum: As the title says, my XX1 cassette is stuck on the XD freehub body. Being told my someone that this was a common issue, I even greased the threads when I installed it. The lock ring splines have now sheared off... Any tricks out there to make removing the cassette easier?

bigquotesWhat you're describing isn't an uncommon issue, although it does sound like your problem went from a relatively minor annoyance to a good sized headache rather quickly. The splines on the XD driver body are only deep enough to engage the 42 tooth cog, and a lot of torque is passed through the cassette and onto them. This can cause a very slight amount of deformation or burring of the aluminum splines, which then don't want to let go of that large cog when you back off the lock ring, thereby holding the entire cassette on the freehub body as the other ten cogs are all attached to the 42 tooth. All it needs a bit of a gentle knock from the backside, so flip the wheel so the cassette is facing down and put a rag underneath the axle's end cap before using a punch (a T25 screwdriver works just fine as well) to very gently tap the backside of the cassette free from the splines. It takes only lightest of strikes, so don't go smashing it hard or using anything pointy.

Saying that your ''lock ring splines have now sheared off'' has me a bit confused, though. Are you referring to the lock ring's threads being damaged by you turning it but it not clearing the freehub body's threads due to the stuck cassette? Or the actual splines themselves on the freehub? Either way, it sounds like you'll have to replace something, but at least you have a quick trick to keep it from happening again.
- Mike Levy

SRAM XD drive and X-Dome cassette mech

It's not uncommon for SRAM's X-Dome cassette to need a little love tap to get it off of the freehub body.

Paying the Price of Progression

Question: Dmurphy48 explains in the All Mountain and Cross-Country Forum: I got a new set of 26-inch DT Swiss X1600 spline wheels at the end of last summer and I rode them from around August through October. They replaced the stock DT Swiss 445D rim wheels that came on my 2012 Yeti 575. I had no issues with the 445D wheels and figured, even though the X1660 splines are more on the cross-country end of things, so were the 445D's, and that I should be fine. I noticed a ding at the seam on the rear rim when I was cleaning them up to get ready for this season. I emailed pics to DT Swiss and they basically said to buy a wheel specific more for its intended use next time. I was a bit surprised by this. Even with cross-country riding you hit rocks. I don't jump cliffs or do big drops but I do ride downhill on the bike in rocky terrain. The other wheels seemed to hold up fine. Anyone have any opinions of the damage to these rims and if it is a big deal or not?

bigquotes The X1600 and 445D wheels are both built for those who ride on the tougher side of the cross-country performance realm, but both would be damaged like the rim in your pic after taking a hot lap on a rocky, enduro-style descent. Broken parts are the price we pay for progression. You're probably improving and along with that, the speed and amplitude of your riding has increased. It doesn't take much to start trashing your components, because the energy of an impact grows larger exponentially with the increase of velocity. Bend back the ding with a crescent wrench, get the tension of the afflicted spokes as close as you can to its neighbors and ride the wheel into the ground. Consider the ding as a wakeup call. Buy wider, all-mountain specific wheels next time and as you upgrade other components like tires, handlebars, and suspension items, buy up to the next level of strength and durability. Your bike will should evolve along with your skillset. - RC

DT Swiss X1600 Spline rim
Dmurphy48's dinged rim (above) came as a surprise, because a similar wheel, spec'ed on his Yeti held up for a full season of riding. Broken parts are the price of progression. He's probably riding faster and the only cure is to move up to a stronger all-mountain-specific wheel like DT Swiss' E1900 (right).
X 1900 Spline wheel 2015

Knee Pads For All-Mountain and DH?

Question: frampo asks in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: Over the weekend I crashed and ended up cutting and injuring my knee. I wasn't wearing pads as the only pads I have are big, bulky and hot. I'm looking for knee pads that are comfortable to wear for all day riding, don't move around/slide down, and aren't too hot to wear. I will probably be using them on my DH bike as well so want them to also be durable. Any suggestions?

bigquotesThere's currently a bumper crop of knee pads on the market, a growth that's been fueled by the increasing number of riders looking for a little additional security on trail rides as well as in the bike park. I've been able to try a wide range of knee guard styles over the last couple of seasons, but a there are a few standouts that meet your do-it-all criteria. Troy Lee Designs' T-Bone II would be one of my picks for knee guards that can be used for both all-mountain and DH duties without making too many compromises. They're comfortable enough to wear while pedaling, but have enough padding to help protect your knees from bigger impacts. Lately I've been testing 7iDP's Convert pads (look for a review in the near future), and they've proven to be up to the task after a few crashes that left me battered and bruised, but with knees that were unscathed. The Convert pads use a modular design that allows riders to choose their desired level of protection by swapping out different thicknesses of foam, so in theory you could remove padding for trail rides and add more for DH days. I've mainly been using them with the middle amount of protection by using the thinner foam layer combined with a hard plastic shell, a configuration that has turned out to be a good option for all styles of riding. Race Face's Ambush Knee pads make the grade as well, although they are a little bulkier and thus warmer for sustained pedaling, but luckily their open back design makes it easy to remove them for long uphill approaches. - Mike Kazimer

Troy Lee Designs T-Bone II knee pad review
Troy Lee Designs' T-Bone II knee guards work well for both all-mountain and DH riding.

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


  • 114 4
 is this not the most ENDURO Ask PB of all time? Knee pads. 1x11, breaking lightweight wheels.
  • 9 1
 This comment deserves more recognition.
  • 4 9
flag chyu (Mar 24, 2015 at 23:23) (Below Threshold)
 Neck brace is all you need for protection.
  • 20 0
 No helmet just neck brace. Because neck brace protects all injuries even shins.
  • 1 0
  • 13 0
 enduroFactory: unfortunately the "love tap" method described above won't work, as you were correct when you said that you sheered the splines. Mike, the splines to which this user is referring aren't on the xD driver body, but rather are contained within the cassette itself. I have seen this happen once before, and there is literally nothing that you can do to remove the driver from the cassette. In the situation that I dealt with, SRAM replaced both parts, though I would recommend that the shop employee who makes the call clearly state that no excessive force was used, that the cassette lockring tool being used was new/had sharp splines, etc. Minor inconveniences aside, the cassette/driver that you have is still good; you simply have to treat the two parts as one unit now, but once SRAM replaces it you will have a backup cassette in your parts bin. Hope that helps...
  • 3 0
 Happened to me as well. Fortunately SRAM warrantied the cassette
  • 8 1
 I believe that this post might be relevant to your interests:
  • 2 2
 If the splines strip, couldn't you just use a chain whip to turn the cassette off??
  • 2 4
 I mean two chain whips in opposite directions should do the trick. One on the 40 tooth, one on the main cassete body.
  • 1 0
 That works with freewheels but not freehubs to my knowledge.
  • 11 0
 Once your XX1 cassette mates with your free hub its for life
  • 1 0
 @foghorn1 - that would only work if the 10t cog were somehow threaded onto the freehub body. The fact is that the XD cassettes use an internally rotating threaded cylinder to attach to the freehub body, and the bottom cog is also splined. Also all but the 42t cog are machined from a single piece of steel, so nothing can turn independently from anything else.
  • 1 0
 @n-d-p I've had the same happen on traditional cassette lockring when the tool can't fully seat, but your link is a very good illustration of how much more critical it is on a XX1 cassette.
  • 1 1
 I wanted to chime in my experience. The same happened to me on a Haven wheel with the XD driver and 11 speed cassette. I had to push out the driver (freehub) that was still attached to the darn cassette with the shredded splines, and send the whole thing back to SRAM (through the bike seller) to be warrantied (which they did). Thankfully the seller gave me a free replacement driver, as those cost a lot. What I've learned since then, and is critical, is that the removal tool must always be properly engaged with the splines, as it can easily slide out a bit while you are cranking down on your wrench to try and loosen the cassette ring. To keep the cassette removal tool engaged I thread an old quick release (QR) axle through the wheel and semi-tighten the QR down so that it holds the tool snug to the cassette (snug, but not so tight that it won't allow counter-clockwise rotation to loosen the cassette lock-ring). Once snug, I can crank down on my wrench in one hand and whip in the other without fear of shredding the delicate little splines. That's my 2 cents.
  • 16 6
 You guys are inept.

Anyone with a basic level of reading comprehension could tell which splines the guy was talking about.
And anyone that tells you all about why you should buy stronger wheels(that will still dent if you run them into rock whether you're riding "enduro style trails" or not) without mentioning tire pressure at all in the whole useless answer.
Is a tool.
The same tool that tried to tell everyone that lock on grips where one of the most useless inventions ever, sometime way back in the day at mtn bike action.
Don't bend back your sidewalls.
Thats how you crack your rim.
Lay them on the metal lip of a vice or something similar. And hammer them back carefully like a blacksmith.
That's how aliminum likes to be treated so it doesn't crack.

"Enduro style trails"
Ya, enduro style trails are the ones with rocks on them.
  • 9 0
 That ding can easily be "ghetto panel beaten" out, i have done it twice and my rim is fine. Just lay the rim on a hard wooden surface, so it doesn't get further damaged if placed on concrete etc. then place something hard on the inside of the rim over the ding and then hit it gently with a hammer. Sorry about the horrible explanation, but hopefully you get the idea. Never try bend it back, rather "beat" it, well that's what i do.
  • 79 3
 Me too. Just did it. Some times I "beat" it twice a day, when my GF isn't around.
  • 28 7
 Ya my girlfriend say's she doesn't like the sound from me "beating" it, so I will usually have to go into the garage to do it. Sometimes I even have to get my dad to give me a hand when a hard beating is required, usually after quite a rough ride.
  • 10 1
 I can count 23 dings in my ex721's that have been taken out just by bending it back carefully into shape. it works fine, just bend it with a clamp using sufficient surface area and don't bend back and forth or you'll break it.
  • 4 15
flag therealtylerdurden (Mar 24, 2015 at 17:02) (Below Threshold)
 Haha j-lin13 I'm not sure if you understand what is implied there..
  • 7 0
 No i do, should have worded my first comment a bit better I suppose. Oh well!
  • 3 3
 You might want to see a psychiatrist about that
  • 5 1
 Or you could put some air in your tires!! When you run 20-25 psi you will hit your rim on rocks. Free air vs $$$ wheels, no brainer.
  • 4 0
 Yep, I used a crescent wrench many times to bend back the rim that came on my glory. Never had any problems. Not saying it's the wisest choice, but worked for me!
  • 8 0
 Dainese Trail Knee and Elbow pads. Wow! They were absolutely designed for enduro riding. They stay on really well while pedaling, are extremely lightweight, and ridiculously well ventilated. I have not crash tested them but I'm sure they are much better than having nothing on at all, especially with the Crash Absorb material they utilize on the pads throughout and surrounding the knee and elbow areas.
  • 4 0
 Can confirm: Trail Skins are the bees knees.
  • 5 0
 @streetfighter848 "I have not crash tested them"

I have and they're pretty good. Wouldn't trust them to save a fall from height onto solid rock, but they definitely took the sting out of my tumbles and allowed me to continue riding/racing without stopping to curl in a ball and sob Wink
  • 3 0
 That feeling when you tumble hard and just lay there not saying anything or moving while the pain sets in.
  • 2 0
 @sourmix Thanks for that crash report. Been riding mine for about 6 months, been starting to really wonder how they'll do in a crash. I've bailed, but it's all been sliding & stuff, no direct impacts. Sure are comfortable on the bike though.
  • 2 0
 Yeh, me too. Good to know they offer some protection as they feel pretty thin.
  • 1 0

LOL, I know that feeling all too well, and it is not pleasant. Thanks for the insight on crash-worthiness of these pads. I absolutely love them for most types of riding, especially ones with climbing. But I definitely switch to my full battle armor for full on DH runs as I suspect exactly the same thing you do, that they would be insufficient for really high speed impacts to solid or extremely sharp objects on the trail.
  • 10 4
 T-bone II pads... So much pad for so little protection. Too hot for AM, not enough protection for DH.
  • 4 0
 Scott Grenade everyday.
  • 14 1
 Fox Launch Pro I think is what I have and they are great to wear all day.
  • 7 1
 661 Rage. Use them on full on Dh uplifting and spins round the trail centres on a 160, no problem
  • 5 0
 I have no problem wearing my POC VDP 2.0 all day and they offer great protection as well!
  • 3 0
 My launch pro's fell apart after a month of riding. Would not recommend them
  • 2 0
 Yeah I bought a set of the new T Bones expecting DH level protection like my previous pair of T Bones. I was amazed to open them and find an AM pad and how little protection they offered, especially on the sides of the knee. Given the T Bones have forever been a DH pad, this new, AM friendly version could have done with a different name...
  • 3 0
 Ive been using the 661 rages for ages and just replaced them with Fox Launch Pros. Both are ideal for a bit of DH and trail. Although I definitely prefer the fox.
  • 3 0
 +1 for the 661 rages - even the ones with shin guards aren't too bad when pedaling. Maybe a bit hot but comfy
  • 5 0
 I am definitely a devout follower of the Dainese Trail Skins.
  • 1 0
 Semenuk pads are much more protective of the knees than the T-Bone II, with very similar feel.
  • 1 0
 I'd really like to try a set a T-bones but can't find anywhere that have them in stock.
  • 1 0
 +1 on these pads, pedal in them all day and once they break in you forget they're there. Been using them every weekend for 5 months and they hold up well. Keeps my gorilla knees cool.
  • 2 0
 I've wrecked wearing my POC VPD 2 DH knees and elbows and always so very happy to have 'em on. Definitely a bit bulky and hot for any extended climbs, though they stay put and the longer shin protection has kept my pedals out of both shins and calves on many occasions.
  • 1 0
 i love me poc vpd s. I didnt get the hard shell on the out side and i am hoping they will be ok for the slopes this summer. I have been using them at the bike park and all the local techy single track. Lots of falls on them great protection but they are showing wear. I use the poc elbow pads when I ride hard the rest of the time I use the poc knees with gform elbows, works great.
  • 2 0
 Sounds like the guy with the XX1 cassette has a hope hub XD driver. You must pull out the driveside adapter before removing the cluster. The step on the adapter doesn't allow the tool to sit very deep. It's not uncommon to see garked up XX1 cassettes from this
  • 3 0
 If you have a X01 cassette you need to check this out:
  • 1 0
 I have been running the 661 evo d3o knee pads for two years. I'm ready for something new. How much hotter are the race face ambush d3o knee pads than the 661 evo knee pads? Which is more comfortable. Is there a noticeable difference in pedaling effeciancy between the two?
  • 4 0
 I haven't used the 661's in years but I love the Ambush knee pads. So easy to put on (don't have to take off your shoes) stay in place while pedaling or crashing, and very comfortable for pedaling. They are the best I've used ever.
  • 1 0
 Yes, I am surprised other companies are not following race face ambush's detachable design. I have used both 661s and the race face ambush and i didnt feel any difference in terms of "heating up" but i am leaning towards the ambush because of its detachable system without having to take off your shoes.
  • 1 0
 how about a review on body protectors? Leatt 3DF Airflow vs 7 Protection basesuit and control suit? what is the best combination of comfort and protection? looking for something that has shoulder and rib protection and works with a Leatt neck brace, but isnt so hot and uncomfortable that you dont want to wear....
  • 1 0
 661 core saver vest.
  • 1 0
 have the 661 vest from a couple years ago. works pretty well, but doesnt work great with neck brace and shoulder protection isnt what i am looking for (seperated shoulder last summer while wearing it) - it is ok if you land on the top of your shoulder, but no protection on the side.
  • 11 10
If you can buy a 1500g set of wheels capable of rocky AM descent for $500 or less why would something even on the XC side of things get so easily damaged, or is this making things out of cheese for the sake of it?

Also the uber expensive XD hub and X-dome cassette are clearly inferior and worse engineered than common cassettes. It only attaches to the hub via freaking 42 tooth cog? Well duurrrrr, even my unqualified engineering brain can obviously see there is far too much torque going through the drive-train for it to be able survive reliably long term. SRAM just stick to conventional proven designs, stop making people pay through the nose for landfill components! SRAM and the idiots who designed press-fit creak creak BBs are everything that is wrong with the cycle industry. Proprietary 'innovation' for the sake of it with a high price tag and retrograde lackluster performance, always trying to introduce new standards when the established standards work perfectly well, turning what should be a green industry into a garbage producing industry from pure greed. So sad.
  • 13 1
 I wouldn't bag on SRAM so hard. They do push the envelope which sometimes leads to some cool stuff. Remember you don't have to purchase their components.
  • 3 1
 I have no problem with them designing some heavy-ass geared crank as long it works within current standards or something.

It's the 'standards' that bug me, in 2-3 years time we'll likely find that their new 'standards' mean it will be impossible to have a new frame or bike without any of your current stuff being able to fit.

Bad enough with 27.5, new rims, new fork, frame, spokes. Now new hubs too. So soon they be eyeing up the brakes, hmm 8 bolt pattern, better rigidity? How about going back to a 5 bolt crank, well I'd prefer that if I hadn't spent loads on 4 bolt stuff...seems like they'd like to out-date every single component.

Forget using an old wheel if you break a spoke or are waiting for new bearings or whole bike will be un-ridable if something breaks and you'll be at the mercy of the delivery driver until your next ride.

In the guise of SRAM and Avid they have been pretty much idiotic over the last five years, dumb innovations, their brakes are terrible compared to Shimano.

I'll be honest and say I have no problem with what they make under Rockshox, with the Pike and Reverb being mostly pretty solid products. I like the SRAM RDs and shifters, but that stuff was largely designed over 10 years ago. They should sack the Avid and SRAM staff and rebuild the whole company around the Rockshox engineering methodology.
  • 2 0
 I see what your saying and I'm inclined go agree. I'm all for engineering and innovation, you should always strive to improve because nothing is perfect but these last few years what SRAM and other companies are doing is 'fiddling' with stuff. They are quite literally re-designing the wheel every year. Yes there may be reason behind it and on the World Cup circuit it's justified but it's at the expense of every cyclist who very soon will be struggling to justify the cost. the industry needs to simplify its standards to reduce costs and improve product availability to the masses not make it so that even hardened cyclists don't know what's going on.
  • 2 0
 Well new standards could be OK if...
You discuss improvements with other manufacturers, potential improvements are put forward and discussed openly and the benefits of a new standard is thoroughly understood, including a season or two in prototype development. Then the idea put forward to the consumers and if any new standard's advantages are very minimal or nil then the idea be dropped, if the end consumer is overwhelmingly positive and keen about the changes then they are implemented.

Otherwise you constantly have some SRAM or Giant new or someone else desperate to re-invent the wheel. A new standard appears and trying to use bully tactics to force this new standard through as they know they'll be making big money if they are successful. There is no point in trying to re-invent the bicycle unless it is really tangible for the benefit of bicycle performance and not shareholders. Also don't expect any sympathy from journalists as they get free bikes to test, so the costs are lost on them, who would mind a new rear dropout if they are permanently demoing bikes? Also the are under ransom from all the advertising. There are bikes that have terrible user reviews and great press reviews....go figure. Also pros don't pay for bikes, they will use what they are given and say it is great, that's their job. So it's down to the riding public to tear the likes of SRAM a new one if they deserve it, on one else will.
  • 1 1
 You can't blame engineers for progressing their art.
And it's not like it's just SRAM doing this.
It's the whole industry, and the whole WORLD.
Frame companies want press fit more than anyone.
In a lot of cases it works fine, and it allows them to make some aspects of the bike better.
So does the xd driver.
It's idiots that aren't careful that wreck that shit anyway.
Maybe you should go ride a 40lb steel hardtail with 8spd, Marzocchi z1's and those cool sun rims with the plastic strip down the middle for no reason? Name a company that isn't coming up with new shit all the time to convince people to buy it.
It's life.
Get over it.
  • 2 0
My bike has a tapered steerer, 15x100, dropper post, disk brakes. I'm perfectly happy with REAL innovation and REAL development. What SRAM and others are doing is just 'tinkering' with no real benefit. Bad for home builders and small shops who will soon have yet more piles of outdated old parts. I'm fine with having outdated old parts like straight steerer forks, V-brakes etc.

Read this for a better written version of my opinion....
  • 1 1
 It's not Sram bud. It's the whole industry full of dickweeds trying to sell you the next big thing. In a world full of dickweeds trying to do the same. Get over it and worry about something that matters. Like curbing the inequalities of our world, or the education of our future generations, Or ensuring our food sources stay healthy. Bikes are still fun. Fun to fix, fun to ride. Every time something changes everyone freaks out saying it's gonna make shit so hard for the bike shops and the little guy building bikes out of parts. It's called progress and it's why our bikes are a million times more awesome than they were 10 years ago. And again 10 years before that. Quit whining.
  • 2 0
 DO you work for SRAM? Or are you just dumb?
  • 1 0
 We you're implying that I'm either dumb, or I work for SRAM. But you've already made it pretty clear that in your opinion Sram is dumb. So you're logic is already fucked. and you're fighting things that won't change. Deal with it or be a big baby.
  • 1 0
 For knee pads I found Kali to be the most comfortable pads I've worn them date. U can't tell they are on whilst riding and they stay cool with plenty of protection. Try not to over do them in the washing machine as this can ruin the material....soak them in the shower and then drip dry on the line. They are not easy to get hold of anymore but well worth the hunt. I've had two sets now and will buy more if need be. I hear the new fox range are very good also. (Friend uses them and he hated pads before buying these)
  • 1 0
 The Coverts are my first pair of knee pads and so far I don't really love them. I bought them for all around riding. The quality is great and the ability to outfit them for the level of protection I want is nice. My issue is fitment. They put a lot of pressure on my shin and the thigh material slides down and bunches up behind my knee. Maybe it's just how knee pads work but I don't enjoy pedaling in them.
  • 3 1
 "Buy wider, all-mountain specific wheels"
lol, RC, with wider rims it's obvious that this kind of damage will happen more often...
  • 1 0
 Just crashed in my new Tbones for the first time a couple days can see exactly where abouts too from the big graze on the side on my knee!! oh well I guess it would have been worse if I was a no pad nody...
  • 3 0
 7idp looks to be the top shelf stuff. Ill take one of each please
  • 2 0
 Oh my god, is it ever! Just got my hands on a few of their items today, and holy shit. They're going to swamp the industry. Seriously quality stuff, nicely molded soft plastic/rubber that molds around impact to protect the rider and very excellently put together -- smart constructions, too. In one of the knee pads i put on, there was an articulating knee on a soft/impact hardening pad, and it was so comfy both in the standing position, the pedal position and the attack position.

Can't wait to see some reviews.
  • 1 0
 661 d30's perfect in my opinion, think n comfy and making use of new d30 technology, prob wouldng want to use them for extreme dh and hhuuuuggge jumps.
  • 2 0
 Scott Grenade Pro II for life...
  • 2 0
 Kali Aazi's work well too.
  • 1 0
 I use my weightlifting Rehband knee sleeves for DH riding. You can find them in 5mm or 7 mm. They work for me.
  • 1 0
 Gform pro knee, XC enduro and DH and just riding my bike. Knees can bruise but they stop most of the impact
  • 1 0
 Had both, Converts hands down
  • 3 2
 simple...quit riding AM and just ride DH. heavy pads...problem solved.
  • 1 0
 These are all of my problems haha
  • 1 0
 oneal pumpguns.
  • 1 0
 IXS carve
  • 1 0
 trojan magnums FTW
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