Ask Pinkbike: Chain Troubles, Road Gaps and Rear Shock Upgrades

Apr 14, 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.

Chain Troubles

Question: Pinkbike user Aengis asked this question in the Mechanic's Lounge forum: I need a reality check on somethingt a mechanic told me at my LBS. I have a SRAM X01 drivetrain and when my chain is on the biggest cog and I spin the cranks backwards, the derailleur wants to pull my chain down to the 2nd or 3rd cog. The mechanic told me that this is common and normal for one-by setup because the chain is in the most extreme position. When I asked him why this doesn't occur on new bikes, he said it was probably because the gears on a new bike are "meatier" and haven't been worn down yet. Granted, I normally don't spin my cranks backwards in the lowest gear, but it seems to me if I did, I shouldn't have to worry about the chain wanting to fall down to the 2nd or 3rd gear. Does what the mechanic said seem right to you? Or was he giving me "lip service?"

bigquotesYour mechanic was correct about it being a common issue and that part of the problem is because the chain is in its ''most extreme position'', but it has nothing to do with the gears not being worn down on new drivetrains. The chain wanting to drop down could be put down to two reasons: 1) it might be as simple as your freehub body not spinning freely. If the freehub's clutch mechanism is sticky and not allowing the cassette to spin backwards as you rotate the cranks, the chain will tend bunch up and want to come down a cog or two when you try to pedal backwards. The solution could be as easy as popping the freehub off to clean and re-lube it. Or, 2) the more likely issue is that your chain line is just a touch out from being ideal. If your chain ring is sitting outboard by just a few millimeters more than optimal, it will force the chain to take an extreme angle when you shift onto the largest cog. This angle can mean that things won't spin freely, and you'd likely suffer from the exact problem that you're describing. This can happen with any drivetrain, and one of the solutions is to make sure that your drive-side crank is not spaced out too far. - Mike Levy


Making sure that you have the correct chain line is important in order to keep things running as they should, regardless of how many chain rings you have.

Road Gap Courage

Question: WhatsEnduro asks in the Downhill forum: Hey guys, there's this road gap that I've been eying up for a while now, but simply can not muster the courage to hit, what is it that you guys do to get in the right mindset to hit something that scares the sh*t out of you?

bigquotesEvery rider has their own techniques for overcoming mental hurdles, but I try to abide by the 'three strikes and you're out' rule. After scoping out the lip and landing of the jump or drop to make sure that everything lines up well, I'll allow myself to roll in three times, and if I'm unable to commit by the third try I'll hold off and save it for another day. This helps ensure that I'm focused and mentally ready, rather than rolling up dozens of times and then taking the 'Ah, f*ck it' attitude that can lead to bruises or broken bones.

Following behind a buddy can be beneficial as well, although you'll want to make sure they're confident in their abilities - the last thing you want is to land on them after finally deciding to go for the send. The biggest thing to remember is that the gap will still be there tomorrow - taking the time to make sure your abilities match your aspirations is the best way to stay healthy and able to ride, rather than rushing into something and suffering the consequences if goes wrong. Everyone has on and off days, but with patience and by starting small and working your way up to bigger drops and jumps, it's likely the time will come when that gap will look small and doable, and you'll be able to hit it without trouble.
- Mike Kazimer

Cam envisioning what he will do and then heading up and doing simple as that.
Patience and mental preparation are key when trying to commit to a big drop or jump, no matter the size.

Nude Shock Upgrade?

Question: Pinkbike user mattarrules asked this question in the Bikes, Parts, and Gear: Hi all! So my rear suspension is completely gone now and I am thinking of upgrading! I am unsure however; what I can even put in as a rear shock? Right now I have a Scott Spark 20 with the standard Nude TC shock on it. What are some examples of some shocks I could put on? Is it possible for me to use the remote lockout features still?

bigquotesYou will be able to replace the Nude TC shock on the Spark with any other unit that has the same eye-to-eye length and stroke. You can find these numbers either by measuring them yourself, or checking the technical specifications on the manufacturers website. All Scott bikes are listed in the archive section of their site, backdated to 2008. For the eye-to-eye length, use a rule to measure the distance between the centre of the two eyelets where the shock mounts, and the stroke is the length of the shock shaft when fully extended.

Clearance is something that should be checked when installing a new shock. To do this, first fit the shock with no air pressure, and cycle the suspension through its course and make sure it doesn't foul the frame or linkage. Also, in an ideal world you would get the new shock correctly tuned for your Spark, rather than just popping a new shock in there. You won't be able to retro-fit the Traction Control system to a new shock so you will lose that adjust-ability, unless you find another shock with a lockout system. Ask yourself first, why do you want a new shock? Getting the correct tune for your bodyweight and style, and a thorough service might improve performance more than you think, and will be cheaper than an upgrade. - Paul Aston

2013 Scott Spark 900 RC

Make sure you check clearance when fitting any new shock to a frame.

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


  • 63 3
 the thing that has surprised me about road gaps is going to a park for the first time and rolling up on one and not being able to think about it at all and hitting it. kind of amazing what your body can react to without letting your mind get in there to mess it all up.
  • 74 4
 I'm not so sure that's a best practice =)
  • 3 1
 @betsie i was scared to bits the first time i followed you in on the gap at oaks
  • 19 2
 @preach That reminds me of my first ride down A- Line at Whistler

I hit every jump blind on the first run and managed not to crash.Then again I was much crazier back then
  • 2 0
 I agree with the mind problem. my friend built a new jump that had a pretty good kick to it and I decided to run up to it just once and then I hit it. smooth landing and I was fairly confident on it... seems like I kinda know what I can hit and what I can't, but my mind is holding the halter
  • 6 0
 Most of the time when im riding park im behind a bunch of people so I just follow what they do and expect the best.
  • 3 0
 @hutchJR Always look before you leap, do a cruiser check out run. If everything looks well built, the lip feels good, the wind is not to high (we get 70 mph winds here regulatly) the landing is clear... then just hit it. Smile bit like I did with kdawgs step up.
It takes a bigger man to walk away and ride the rest of the day than try it and eat dirt To A&E.
  • 1 1
 speed is your friend Wink and there won't be too much of speed, is my mindset then hitting something new.
  • 1 0
 Had this on a day out riding last week, there's a gap that I wasn't keen on, because it's simply a huck, so I followed my mate in, and he screwed it up both times which resulted in me coming up short both times -_- Despite my attitude of 'what's the worst that can happen' sometimes it's just not meant to be
  • 39 0
 I use the "three strikes you're out" technique too. I also use the "self preservation" excuse when I decide not to hit something. Being 55, I don't heal quite as fast as I used to. I'm out to have fun, not get hurt.
  • 7 0
 Yea things change when you age. I'm not as old as you but I'm not a kid anymore either. I tell myself all the same thing all the time. I think about how much fun I have riding and then I remember that if I fuck up I'm not riding at all for a while and common sense prevails.
  • 7 0
 I hear ya. I may not be hitting the huge features like some, but I'm still having just as much fun as the rest of the crew.
  • 13 0
 Yep same thing here, I'm only in my early 30's but still, I have a physical job and if i hurt myself I won't be able to do it. No point overdoing anything and then I lose pay by being off sick!
Also I just have a very healthy fear of pain Smile
  • 10 0
 i just built up my first dh bike in my 40s. i wanna carefully scare/challenge myself a little bit this year. baby steps.
  • 11 0
 You guys all rock. Keep up the good work. Selectively scare/challenge yourself and have fun.
  • 4 0
 Well said @binchaser
  • 7 0
 I'm 43 and I'm hitting bigger stuff now compared to my younger years. I still think about the consequences, and some risks are just not worth it, but I still have fun.
  • 7 0
 I always say I ride like I have to go to work tomorrow.... Cuz I do.
  • 2 0
 ^true but sometimes I ride like I don't wanna go to work the next day...and I mean don't NOT can't. Hehe. A lot of it is for my kiddo so it hopefully inspires him to always try and enjoy the outdoors whatever his passion that gets him there
  • 1 0
 Yup...52 now.
  • 2 1
 im 35. im going all out, every chance i get. YOLO!
  • 1 0
 You ma ma make me haaaaappy
  • 30 0
 when Im hitting a new BIG jump I like to sacrifice a chicken first. i find the adrenalin of the kill aids in my focus, and as an added bonus the fresh blood on my hands helps with grip too.
  • 3 0
 I'm gonna try that, cheers!
  • 3 0
 it also gives you +9 to hp
  • 2 0
 Sacrifice a chicken! Now that's funny.
  • 29 1
 For gaps and drops I look at them from the landing spot up in addition to the looking at the route from the downward direction. that way I remember it is not as high as it looks/feels from when going the other direction. I get standing on pedals throws this off, but even on ground level, looking down always looks bigger than looking up. helps with the perspective.... a little.
  • 5 1
 It's also helpful to have a good look at the landing so you know where to aim yourself in the event it goes wrong.
  • 32 0
 One trick I learned from a pro (especially for drops) is not to roll out to far when your checking it out, i.e. don't stand at the end, look straight down and crap your pants. Roll in until your sight line hits the edge of the lip/take-off and spot the landing from there; this is the trajectory you should be working out.
  • 6 1
 I actually found looking up to be scarier. Maybe that is because I only ride park (I really do actually), so I get more abn more comfortable on the bike without realizing what I'm actually capable of riding.
  • 13 54
flag jumpman2334 (Apr 14, 2015 at 14:18) (Below Threshold)
 hitting gaps tips #1: stop being a pussy.
  • 7 37
flag scott-townes (Apr 14, 2015 at 15:04) (Below Threshold)
 Haha, you're all pussies. I just line up my bike, close my eyes and point it. You have big wheels and suspension, you'll be fine.
  • 19 1
 Spoken like Josh Bender. Problem was, he wasn't always right...
  • 8 7
 Bender was always right. How dare you partake in such blasphemy?
  • 3 0
 I had a fellow rider "tow" me into it. I just stayed up with him speed wise and followed him of the lip. It took all the thinking out of the equation. After I landed it, I couldn' believe how many times I had previously let my mind get in the way.
  • 1 0
 For drops, my buddy also draws an arrow for the spot he wants his tires to go through in order to hit the landing as best as possible. .
  • 8 0
 Freeride owes a lot to Bender for pioneering what was possible on a bike. Someone's got to hit a gap the first time, and it usually was him. Once he survived a gap, sometimes with a crash, then people would often follow sometimes landing it better than he did. But he was usually the first to prove a gap was doable. For being the guy with the guts to try things first, he deserves a LOT of respect.
  • 2 0
 @plyawn, that's a great tip , I get vertigo just looking off the pavement !
  • 3 0
 @fatenduro he proved some stuff *wasn't* doable as well, for which the followers probably owe him even more!
  • 1 0
 My first roadgap I landed on the road. It's a huck to flat but not all that bad. Didn't help that I was following a mate in a bike park and the first I knew about it was way past point of commitment!
  • 18 0
 Following a capable buddy always helps me. On my own, I tend to over analyze too much, but following someone else allows me to switch off my brain and just copy their speed and line choice.
  • 10 0
 When it comes to gaps, you're mind likes to play tricks on you. I find its best to think about speed, pump and pop only.. everything else is just white noise.
  • 1 0
 Same here, but it sure helped following someone the first time. Now, when I get freaked, I draw on that experience to get me over the hump.
  • 8 1
 "The biggest thing to remember is that the gap will still be there tomorrow"(c)

Not always, couple of month ago, gap that I've jumped on the trail was destroyed by park police in 20 minutes...
  • 5 0
 I had the same issue with my XX1 drive train. I would pedal backwards and the chain would hop down from the biggest cog to the 2nd or 3rd cog. It was really annoying when trying to get started in the middle of a technical steep up section. I would spin my cranks backwards to get the pedals in the best position to start and it would jump down. I started messing with limit screws and cable tension and nothing. I checked the chain stretch and it was close to the limit. I put a new chain on and haven't had the issue yet after 8 rides. So I'd check the chain too.
  • 1 0
 Ya my 1x11 xo will do this. Also, after a good dh, it won't stay in 42 for climbing out. ..but then it eventually seems to stay after a few curses at it...its a strange one (need 2 adj clutch screw proly)
  • 1 0
 I had this problem with my x01 cassette/derailleur. I took my bike into a shop to get it sorted and my derailleur/cassette were warrantied...
  • 14 12
 For road gaps, I stand on the lip and even if I'm scared and don't really want to hit it, I tell myself, "I didn't come all the way out here to not send this." Then I push up the run, give whoever has the camera thumbs up or shout to them, and then I drop in.
  • 36 0
 I just say, "Right I am only running up to it" then sort of switch off all my negative thoughts then fly my unicorn back to mars
  • 94 0
 My technique is to blame it on windy conditions.
  • 2 0
 Personally I always do one test run-in, where I slow down on the last moment. This is purely so I can get a better feeling if I think I will be able to make it with that speed (and not overshoot it either). After that you get a reasonably good idea of how fast you have to go and in exactly which direction you have to go to land on the landing. Once you did this test run-in it should give you some convidence, and you should run back up and hit it right away, as you don't want to miss that warmed up feeling.

Usually I always hit it that time. If you feel good on your speed and direction on the test run-in, you need to hit it right away and NOT chicken out, because this is the easiest moment to hit it courage-wise. If you grab your brakes the second time, you'll probably be doing that same run-in and chickening out the next 10 times aswell. Then maybe you won't even end up hitting it.

Long story short: One test run-in to see if the speed and direction feels good, and then "F#%&!NG GOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!"

Big Grin
  • 3 0
 Ya, I just don't do it.
  • 5 0
 @mayha49 Yeah that's me. Don't try and ditch your bike mid-flight on a 35 foot step down double...
  • 1 0
 There are a lot of variables. I always like to envision the gap as a tabletop which helps me put it into perspective. Coming from a moto standpoint that is just what I grew up on. Plus when you look at a table in your mind the distance always feels smaller. As for the commitment, I just keep reassuring myself that its easy and don't be a pussy. As much as I want to squeeze the brakes sometimes, I just roll to the point of no return and go for it. That's the only way if you are scared. The best way would to be focused and keeping as calm as possible but in reality your heart will be racing and you'll be scared shitless. Sometimes I hit sketchy stuff for the first time when I'm out alone, so when I have a friend with me it not only gives me a little extra push of courage, but security as well.
  • 4 0
 Good somismtb started talking about riding alone vs. riding together. I really don't recommend trying new stuff and pushing your level hard when you're out there alone: If you crash there's no one there to help you. No one to call an ambulance for you. Worst case situation if it terribly goes wrong is that you'll just lay there not being able to move, maybe even slowly dying, while your riding buddy could have saved your life if he was there.

Never risk anything when you ride alone. Only push yourself when others can see it.
  • 4 0
 I left the iron on!!
  • 1 0
 I just hit first time, I try to ride it the same way I ride any other trail, one feature at a time and this usually helps and it stops me from getting nervous
  • 1 0
 Its all about how im feeling about that paticular jump/drop (bigger stuff)... if im not fine with it, I wont hit it. If everything looks well enough... I will roll in enough times to get the feel for the speed and the rollin it self... Everything is thought true, its what keeps the odds of making it in my favor.
  • 1 0
 Think about it real quick and just do it! Every time I hit a jump/gap that I have previously psyched myself out on I think how easy it was and how I should've been hitting it all along.
  • 1 0
 holy. crap.
  • 3 1
 i am assuming you can hit jumps/drops fine but this road gap would be your biggest jump or drop. If it is a road gap that is more of a drop don't think about it so much. With drops you use the same form/technique you would use of it was only a 2ft drop but you will just be in the air for a longer period of time. Now if it is a jump style road gap with a lip do the same thing. For example... lets say this road gap is 20ft and you can hit 10ft jumps easily. Focus on using the same techniques you would on a smaller jump and just like the drop you will just be in the air for longer. Also make sure you know how much speed you need because that is another important factor.
  • 2 0
 For the upgrade of the shock on a Scott bike. I have a Scott Genius 740 (2013) and went with the Fox Float CTD BBV, adjusted to bikes geometry, and still have the twinlock remote. Its definitely a more plush ride. Rides like the bike was meant to ride.
  • 2 0
 @"chain troubles" Its probably in you rear der. hanger .... I've had to put hangers out of spec to make certain bikes work! when looking from behind bike the top jockey wheel should be parallel to cassette. Any major changer to there hanger should be done off the bike in a vise.
  • 3 0
 Lol I recently crashed my derailleur only to find the slightly bent hanger results in better shifts than new.
  • 1 0
 There is a tool for that. Every mechanic should own a derailleur alignment gauge. Never use a vise on a hanger. If it's that bad, replace the hanger.
  • 1 0
 @dualsuspensiondave you have to put the derailleur in the vise then use the DAG tool any good mechanic should know how to do this....reason being the frame could get damaged....
  • 1 1
 No, no you don't. In fact, it's made to be done on the bike with the rear wheel. You are gauging it off of the rear rim. Haha. A hanger bends so easy that if you hurt the frame, you did it wrong.
  • 1 0
 Obviously you have never done it I've worked in a bike shop for a long time and this is the right way to do it....for simple adjustments leave it on the bike !! we are talking about putting it out of spec to make make the bike work but if you don't have the experience bring it to someone that does!!
  • 1 1
 I was the head mechanic for the biggest shop anywhere around. Haha. Told a couple of other wrenches about what you said and we all had a laugh. The hanger needs replaced if it's that bad dude. Do whatever you want to an aluminum hanger though man. Haha.
  • 1 0
 and this is why i smile when bike comes in from another shop that they couldn't fix.....
  • 2 0
 As for gaps, if I can spit that far, or if I could just run really fast on foot and jump the distance, then I definitely go for it. If it's so big that you would HAVE to be on a bicycle or moto to have speed then I usually take a step back and reconsider.
  • 4 0
 ha! that's pretty funny!... i never thought to spit across it. but it makes sense... I suppose you could pee across it to. but that usually happens in the air when u realize you're not making the lander...
  • 1 0
 Love the mental game of your next big gap!...I really take a good look at the gap and work out how much further it is than the biggest thing I've hit to date, do a couple of speed checks, then visualise me sending it successfully constantly going back to my last big successful gap and being comfortable in the air, "its only X ft bigger than my last", be confident, then send it! yeeeew
  • 1 0
 Best source for that info I've found ( Also I second the rebuild suggestion, I had my Tracer 2 shock "Avi'ed" and it transformed the bike, can't imagine not doing it for every bike moving forward, Push would be the same.
  • 1 0
 I recently started digging in the 1x11 42T backpedaling problem and in my case it seems to be chain incompatibility. Pinkbike: freehub friction has no effect when simply rolling the bike backwards so that's easily tested. There is no way to adjust the chain line in my X1 setup.
Heres proof of the chain being the culprit: (not my video, use google translate on the text guys). I'm still waiting to get my bike back from Canyon but I think the chain swap will do the trick.
  • 1 0
 As with any stunt, move, skill, jump, drop, or corner, start small and work your way up. Ingrain the skills before moving up. Also, learning the lunge technique for drops his helpful in a lot of riding situations.
  • 1 0
 That sounds about right. If you work your way up nothing should be ridiculously scary since its never that much bigger than something you've already done. Common sense would dictate that you probably shouldn't be hitting say a 20ft drop if you've never done anything bigger than 10ft before, or you shouldn't be hitting a 40ft gap if you've never done anything longer than 20ft.
  • 1 1
 For gaps drops and every tricky stuf, if I feel I can do it and fear is the last problem, I lie to myself.
"what could happen if I fail? No seriously, nothing. And if I'm short, the bike would handle it anyway..."
Then check if your bike and body are ok, get ready, think of it for one last time and stop thinking.
When done, do it again but don't stop thinking this time; and start to really enjoy it.
(you can make a crappy edit and post it on the internet. Then watch it again when older. )
  • 3 0
 Good tips on sender approach
  • 2 0
 on my downhill bike: can I move the spacers that are above the head tube to below the headtube for a higher geometry?
  • 1 0
 So what the first one is actually saying is you all need boost 148 hubs and the issues of pedaling backwards will be a thing of the past.
  • 1 0
 I hit a big gap, 30fter, and i crashed, everytime now I've wanted to hit it but keep making up excuses... any help/tips?
  • 2 0
 Analyze what went wrong and adjust appropriately. Also make sure you're feeling good that day, and not being peer pressured into it
  • 1 0
 Shred that bitch !
  • 1 0
 Key to hitting jumps to me is to get one good look at it then keep telling myself i'm good Razz
  • 1 1
 Any one know the eye to eye and stroke length of a santa cruz Tallboy XL rear shock?
  • 1 0
 this year is a 200x51 but i bet it's different depending on the year and model
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