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.
Can I Make My 27.5" DH Bike Into a 29er?
Question:@Dannyboi1997 asks in the 29er forum: Hi guys, Currently running a 29er enduro bike and love it, wouldn't go back. I'm wanting to change my Scott Gambler 720 2017 from 27.5 to 29 but not sure where to start. Would I need to change much to run a 29er? Or would it mean swapping out the forks and running the frame in 'Long' permanently?
Turning a 27.5” DH bike into a 29er requires more than just swapping out your wheels. Even if that did work, the increased bottom bracket bike wouldn't be ideal. Neko Mulally took on nearly the same project you're proposing back in 2016, and he ended up running a shorter shock, offset bushings, and a +1-degree headset cup to help get the geometry where he wanted. He also trimmed some material off the fork arch to increase the tire clearance, something that I don't recommend at all.
Basically, it takes a fair bit of tinkering to get those wheels to fit, enough that I don't think it's worth it in this case. You enjoyed your 27.5” Gambler when you first purchased it, right? It's still going to be just as fun even without the same size wheels as your enduro bike. Rather than dumping a bunch of money into this project, I'd recommend riding it in its current condition, and then considering moving on to a newer, 29” wheeled model once your budget allows.
Question:@sfb123 asks in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country Forum: Forgive me if this has been discussed before, I just can't find a good consensus online. I'm wondering if I should go with the EXO+ casing for a set of 2.8 Minions that I'm getting, but I'm also concerned they will feel too much like a 60 TPI gravity tire and not enough like a supple plus tire which is what I prefer. In your experience, is this casing worth the added weight, and does it generally feel nice and soft like standard EXO or is it hard as a rock?
Go with the EXO+ casing. It barely adds any weight, and it'll still have the softer feel that you've enjoyed with the EXO casing – the feel on the trail is virtually identical. The difference between the two is the addition of what Maxxis call 'Silkshield' to the EXO+ tires, a puncture resistant layer that runs from bead to bead.
If you aren't regularly getting pinch flats or tearing sidewalls the EXO+ protection is a good choice, since you get a little extra protection without the weight penalty and less-supple casing of a DoubleDown or DH tire.
Chromag Rift vs. POC VPD Knee Pads
Question:@MrTylerHaines asks: Since you’ve reviewed many knee pads, perhaps you could offer me a quick note on your preference between two options I’ve got at my disposal: Chromag Rift and POC VPD System Knee. I already own some DH type pads and my old trail Alpinestars are worn out. I like to set and forget my trail pads and don’t mind wearing them thru whole rides on the North Shore/Squamish including climbs.Thanks!
I've spent lots of time wearing both of those options, and either one will fit the bill if you're looking for pads you can pull on and forget about until the end of the ride. The Chromag Rift pads do have more padding on the side of the knee, which is useful for warding off those frame or stem impacts, and they have a more slip-resistant fit than the VPD pads. Neither option is cheap, but the Rifts are around $25 less than the POC VPD.
Those VPD pads do get a bonus point for just how comfortable they are – when I originally reviewed them I called them 'pillows for your knees,' and that description still holds up.
It's a tough call, but in this case I'm going to give the nod to the Rifts due to the extra protection and slightly better fit – that could come in handy if you take a spill on those rocky North Shore and Squamish trails.
POC VPD Joint System
Should I Worry About Switching to Clipless?
Question:@Ghotmer asks in the Beginners Forum: I purchased a pair of Crankbrothers Mallet E pedals and a pair of five ten Hellcat shoes for a Santa Cruz Tallboy I have coming in February. This is my first clipless set up. Watching some YouTube videos I decided to put the cleats on the shoes and engage them onto the pedals. I have the shim in place and found it impossible to engage the shoe to the pedal? Granted the pedals are not mounted to a bike but I did not expect it to be so difficult. The only way I was able to engage them was to put the shoe on and step on the pedal on my living room carpet. This helped spread the springs so I could engage them.
Once they were in they were impossible to remove. I spoke to a rep at Backcountry where I bought them and he has the same set up and he seems to think that once I get them on my bike and give them a week of riding to break in the y will be fine. Anyone else have issues like this and should I be worried? It was not an easy decision to go clipless, I have visions of myself not being able to unclip. Help!
I'm very impressed by your eagerness, but rest assured that things are going to be much, much easier when you actually have those pedals attached to a bike.
One tactic that can help speed up the learning process is to practice with your bike in a trainer, or using your pedals on a stationary bike at a gym. Being able to clip in and out without needing to worry about tipping over will let you focus on getting the basics down, and start training yourself to twist your foot outwards when you need to get out.
Once you're ready to try it in the real world, start by pedaling around a grassy soccer field or something similar. That way, if you do happen to tip over it won't be into a pile or rocks or a bunch of poison oak.
If for some reason you're still having trouble with the pedal / shoe interface you might end up needing to use another shim under the cleat in order to get it to sit far enough away from the sole for interference-free clipping in and out. Those Mallet E pedals also have different heights of traction pads that can be used to further fine tune how they work with your shoes, although the pads are kind of a pain to remove and install – I'd concentrate on the cleat first. Good luck!