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.
Should a first MTB owner look something less aggressive geo with a higher bottom bracket and 120-140mm travel? Like a Giant Stance 2, Vitus Mythique or Whyte G130?
This question comes up quite often, and it ties right in with a recent episode of the Pinkbike podcast, where we discussed the concept of being over-biked vs. under-biked. You can listen to that here.
There's nothing wrong with starting out on a long travel bike like the G160, but it's best to assess your skills and think about what type of terrain you'll be riding the most. If you're just starting to get your wheels off the ground, and still learning things like proper cornering, braking, etc..., then those shorter travel, more trail-oriented options that you listed will be easier to learn on. They'll feel more maneuverable at the slower speeds that you'll be traveling, which will let you focus on dialing in those skills rather than struggling to handle a big, cumbersome beast of a bike.
Now, maybe you're entering the sport with dreams of hitting big jumps, going as fast as possible downhill, and eventually seeking out and riding the hardest trails around. If so, that Whyte G160 or something similar will certainly work, just keep in mind that it's not as well suited for the tamer terrain where you'll learn the basics.
You'll also inevitably encounter riders who think that everyone should learn to ride on a fully rigid hardtail with cantilever brakes, but don't pay attention to them. Hardtails are fun, and can be a useful learning tool, but they're absolutely not a necessity for learning how to mountain bike. I'd also suggest taking a lesson or three if there's a good skills coach in your area – that can speed up the learning process, and get you tackling those advanced trails much more quickly (and less sketchily).
A do-it-all trail bike like the Vitus Mythique can be an excellent entry point into mountain biking.
Carbon Wheels in the Bike Park?
Question:@Lando406 asks in the Downhill Forum: I'm thinking of purchasing a set of carbon wheels for my 2020 Norco Sight, and I plan to ride a lot of bike park this summer (pandemic conditions notwithstanding...). Is bringing carbon wheels with a lifetime warranty to the bike park a bad idea? Better to run the aluminum wheels I have at the bike park and run carbon elsewhere? Is the carbon game worth it in the end? $1650 for a carbon wheelset with a lifetime warranty or $700-$1200 for a nice set of aluminum wheels with less than a lifetime warranty. What do you guys think?
Carbon wheels can certainly handle bike park usage, but you'll want to make sure the wheels you buy are designed for that type of riding. An ultra light set of carbon (or aluminum) wheels designed for XC racing obviously isn't going to be the way to go for smashing through brake bumps all day long.
There are two schools of thought here – you can go with aluminum rims and save some money initially, but it's likely you'll need to replace a rim or two by the end of the season once they get dented and dinged beyond repair. Those dents and dings won't happen with carbon wheels, but if they do break you won't be able to repair them – there's no bending back carbon, and they'll need to be sent in for a replacement.
In the end, it's up to you and your wallet, and how long you plan on keeping that set of wheels. Either way, I would suggest investing in some DH tires and possibly some tire inserts for either wheelset if you're planning on racking up a bunch of park days – those heavier duty tires and the addition of a foam liner can help protect your investment by reducing the chances of a rim vs. rock incident.
Carbon wheels are getting stronger and more reliable, but aluminum rims aren't going away any time soon due to their excellent price vs. performance ratio.
SRAM Chain With Shimano Chainring?
Question:@Endosch2 asks in the Mechanic's Lounge forum: I am building an SB-100 for my wife. I want to go with the new XT 12-speed. I have a set of take-off wheels with an XD driver rear hub. I know I can use an XT 12-speed shifter and rear der with the 10-50 SRAM Eagle Cassette. I plan to use a SRAM GX chain.
Can I also use an XT 12 S crankset ? No problem, right? Just need confirmation, I am trying to delay the wheel upgrade for a bit by using the older wheels. I cannot change the freebub on these.
Ah, the classic, “Here honey, I built you up a bike with all my leftover parts” scenario. The short answer? Yes, you can use an XT crankset as part of your hybrid drivetrain – that SRAM GX chain should work fine with Shimano's tooth profile.
However, I'd strongly recommend getting that MicroSpline-equipped wheel along with a Shimano cassette and chain as soon as possible. The cobbled together drivetrain you're proposing will work, but it lacks the defining feature of Shimano's new drivetrains – the ability to shift under load, which is only possible with a Hyperglide+ chain and cassette.
It's possible to mix and match certain SRAM and Shimano drivetrain components, but the best results occur when sticking with one brand.
How Do I Check Coil Shock Sag By Myself?
Question:@gnarcissistictendency asks in the Bikes, Parts & Gear forum: Hey guys, I’m wanting to know if there’s a company out there that makes some kind of gadget that makes checking your sag on a coil shock easy...? Since we're in quarantine I have no one to help me measure my shock sag.
Reverse Components has a device on the way that's designed to accomplish exactly what you're suggesting, although I haven't had a chance to check it out in real life. Measuring coil shock sag can be kind of a pain without someone to help, especially if the shock doesn't have the handy sag gradients found on RockShox's coil and air shocks.
In a pinch, I'll slide the bottom out bumper (that sort of dome-shaped foam piece at the bottom of your shock) up to the base of the shock body, using it the same way I would with an o-ring on an air shock. Sit on the bike and get off, and with a set of calipers or a tape measure you'll be able to see if you're in the ballpark. The coil spring's position sometimes gets in the way of totally accurate measurement, but this should do the trick until you're no longer in quarantine.
Reverse Components' travel and sag indicator might be just the ticket for checking sag in a time of social distancing.