Ask Pinkbike: Tire Casing Choices, DH Bike Wheel Swaps, Knee Pads Picks, & Clipless Tips

Jan 5, 2021 at 14:13
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.





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?

bigquotesTurning 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.






Should I Pick Maxxis' EXO or EXO+ casing?

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?

bigquotesGo 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.

Interbike 2018




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!

bigquotesI'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.

Best pedal friendly knee pads review
Chromag Rift
POC Joint VPD Knee
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!


bigquotesI'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!

2020 Zermatt EWS





99 Comments

  • 126 0
 Pinkbike, Can I turn my bike into the Grim Donut with a hacksaw, yarn, duct tape, soldering iron, and some zip ties? I also have some industrial strength velcro if that is of any help.
  • 7 0
 Nope, no donuts for you!
  • 23 0
 Yes. You can. Take pictures.
  • 8 0
 Absolutely! Please post photos of your first huck to flat.
  • 5 0
 It'll only hold if you add some JB weld too.
  • 2 0
 Yes, but you must have someone filming you on your first trail ride.
  • 3 0
 bonus points for using yarn.
  • 57 1
 Ask Pinkbike: Hey Pinkbike, why haven't the advent calendar winners been announced?
  • 2 0
 Agree
  • 26 0
 @Noeserd: it seems to be broken as my name is not on there?
  • 1 0
 @Taylor084: Neither mine, yet Smile
  • 11 1
 @Taylor084: Yeah, my name is also not there. ....It's rigged, like the election.
  • 37 1
 @IluvRIDING: they stole it from us!

In all seriousness, whats happening down south (in US) right now is absolutely ridiculous.
  • 29 1
 @IluvRIDING: Time to storm the Pinkbike headquarters!
  • 6 1
 @ajaxwalker: I think we should! You can't trust the mainstream cycling media. It's all fake... Advent giveaway, edited tricks in videos, plus they are pushing the progresive industry agenda of 5k+ bikes and e-mtbs (regardles of what I am interested in). Which I both can't afford. ....We need to take back control and stop this deep-industry madness.
  • 12 0
 @IluvRIDING: I won those Michelin tires by a landslide! C'mon PB, "recalculate" that for me, ok?
  • 1 0
 Wow, we're barely over halfway?! As of mere days ago there were still only the first 3.
  • 1 0
 @Noeserd: Damn, this thing is rigged! #PinkBikeGate!
  • 19 1
 A note on EXO vs EXO+ from my own experience - I've been running EXO with CushCore for several years now. Cuts have never been an issue for me, but I would get a few snake bites a year from bad landings or screw ups on sharp rocks. No pinch flats since I added CushCore.

When EXO+ came out, I thought I'd give it a try, but I got 3 sidewall cut flats in a single month on two different EXO+ DHRII's. Regular EXO is 60tpi, whereas EXO+, while overall thicker than EXO+, is comprised of a 120tpi casing plus Silk Shield.

Individually, a 120tpi layer and Silk Shield are less cut-resistant than a 60tpi casing. My theory is that while the two weaker layers of EXO+ combine for more thickness than regular EXO, the thinner single layer 60tpi EXO casing is still going to be more cut-resistant. To note, I'm only speaking of cut resistance. Pinch flat resistance isn't a concern to me as I run CushCore.

Since switching back to regular EXO, I haven't gotten any flats, and I typically average 50-60k feet of climbing/descending per month.
  • 6 0
 Anecdotally, the only 2 flats in the last 3 seasons I've helped with were exo+ maxxis.
  • 1 0
 Interesting findings. I've been running EXO+ on my trail bike and I always feel like the first couple of rides they have no grip. It's like they take a little while to break in and start to flex, which is a feeling I never had with regular EXO. I've had plenty of flats with both (and DD) so can't speak to if EXO+ are any better for that
  • 6 1
 Yep, EXO+ a sham and likely not as tear resistant as EXO due to 60tpi as you said. I bought into + when first came out and tore on mellow mixed, rocky XC trail on first outing making tire useless (28-30psi). So a tire money dump. For me it is EXO with tire liners or DD for mixed, aggro trail riding. Really happy how my Aggressor 2.5 DD did all last season without a hiccup with many tears prior. Was tossing out tires in little as 2-3 weeks on average cause of large tears
  • 6 0
 My experience with EXO+ has been the opposite. I'm running them on a hardtailand riding lots of east coast granite with no issues.
  • 1 0
 @craigcanucks:
Good deal, keep running til’ they fully wear down hopefully. Mtb tires so expensive, so went to hold up or feel like get most the worth out of it, hard to go back to same tire. Cheers ????
  • 1 0
 Same experience here except I stepped down from DD to exo+ to try and save some weight. I had puncture after puncture with exo+, sometimes multiple in one ride, through the tread, sidewalls, at the bead. Back to DD and WTB tires and zero flats since.
  • 1 0
 Did you upgrade to a longer WB bike somewhere in this time frame?
  • 1 0
 @Varaxis: This all happened on the same bike.
  • 1 0
 @Varaxis: interested to know why you think this would make a difference, unless you just mean riding the bike faster
  • 3 0
 I've had a very similar experience. Brand new Minion DHR II EXO+ massive sidewall tear on first ride. Another lasted maybe a month. When I run EXO with CushCore I wear the knobs down to nothing with zero punctures and replace when nearly bald.
  • 2 0
 informative thread. Been running EXO casings and cushcore since 2017 (and procore since 2015) and had no issues on sharp rocky enduro type trails with maybe 3 pluggable flats in 5 years. I typically ride about 2000 mi a year. new rear tires every 500-600 miles and fronts every 2000. Sounds like there's no reason to switch to EXO+. Some locals even ride DD+cushcore.
  • 2 1
 @erkkilaurila, were you running CushCore with the EXO+ tires too? If not, that would make a difference in how hard it is for an object to get through that sidewall.
  • 3 0
 Same here, been riding exo without worries for years, ride 1 with exo+ tires got me a sidewall slash after 1km.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: no, the EXO+ failures are what convinced me to finally give cushcore a shot...
  • 17 7
 Son : Dad which type of shoes, should i choose ?

Father : STRAIGHT FLAT, my boy !
  • 3 3
 hells yeah
  • 9 3
 I am a bit wary of EXO+ casing:

I had 3 DHRII EXO+ rear tires get holes in almost the same spot near the rim bead within 2-3 rides. These small holes/tears right along the rim are impossible to seal and make the tire a throw away. This happened on 2 different wheelsets and I tend to run 25-27 psi in the rear without inserts. Of note all of the holes were within 3-4 inches apart from each other on the drive side and all of these tires were purchased from TBS (Which others have noticed sometimes come with the serial numbers scratched off).

During this same time I had one DHR II in EXO casing on my other bike that that rode on the same trails without an issue. So I am wondering if I got a defective bunch of tires?

Never had issues like this with DD or even my standard EXO casing in the past
  • 12 1
 Are you sure this isn't the work of the flat tire Gnoams hiding out in the dark corner of your garage, and waiting til night to come out and puncture your tires.
  • 3 1
 If it's in the same spot on the same side have you checked your rim for for damage like shards, splinters, or other sharp edges?
  • 1 0
 @Jimmy0: TWO different wheelsets, rims are in perfect shape
  • 8 0
 One can perhaps fix these holes with an old school vulcanised rubber puncture patch on the inside of the tyre
  • 2 0
 I also did the same thing to my DHR EXO+ within a few rides. 2 different spots on the tire, right above the bead. I don'1 remember any impacts that should have done that damage.
  • 5 0
 I've also had a bunch of pinch flats on my first exo+ DHR where it hasn't been an issue on regular EXOs. At first I thought it was just me.

I'm going to go back to a exo casing and if I keep pinch flatting I'm gonna bite the bullet and do a DD
  • 1 2
 Using a dynaplug in this type of flat has proven to be super reliable for me
  • 4 0
 I’ve got Mallet E with Hellcat and standard release cleat and it’s a great set up. Didn’t tinker around with pins or anything, just left as is. And as the reply says, it’s almost impossible to get cleat to engage into pedal without pedal on the bike, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to get in and out once bike arrives. My other tip, if you are lucky enough to run another bike (hardtail etc) make sure you mix it up with flat pedals. I found after about a year or so I’d become lazy and had almost forgotten how to jump properly. Having a second ride with flats means I’ve maintained technique, though weirdly I can actually jump higher/further/smoother with flats.
  • 1 0
 I did the opposite. Flats on the enduro bike, and clips on the hardtail (Transition transam). The hardtail was a hoot to ride, your feet won’t bounce so much, and less tiring after 3 or 4 hours of riding.
  • 9 6
 LMAO.. gave up my clipless run after stalling on a climb, over the trailside into the poison oak patch.. nothing like thrashing around to get the extra poison out of the leaves while trying to unclip upside down... week later.. never saw blisters that big on anything..
I do still clip in for road rides of 50+m and I have lapses on flats and lose my pedals in the air, but I think skill wise I am ahead of where I'd be if I ran nothing but clips.
  • 4 0
 Don’t know why you’re getting downvoted lol I ride clips but stalling and tipping over is a real thing. I’m in the Southwest and have tipped over into cactus. Blisters sound worse than picking needles out though... good story.
  • 3 1
 I can't remember if the mallet E's have pins or not. But if they do, remove them or back them out halfway. The extra grip into the rubber of your shoe will make them hard to clip in and out of. And in my experience the pins aren't that necessary. I have lost all them on my clipless pedals over a season of smashing them into rocks. Works just fine without them.
  • 2 0
 The Mallet E does have pins, and I agree that it's useful to get them out of the way when setting up and getting used to the pedal (although I'd call it "forward them in" rather than "back them out" - they're accessed from the top of the pedal, so you want to thread them further into the pedal body to get them more out of the way).

I'll also repeat that correct shimming is really important for these pedals. Too little cleat height from the shoe bottom will make release really difficult. Once you get the cleat to the right height, release is really smooth, similar to SPD.
  • 4 0
 the first thing he needs to do is put them on the bike. I did what he did once and couldn't get them apart until I installed them lol.
  • 1 0
 @MtbSince84: yup, shims for cleats to be used with mallets are crucial.
  • 2 0
 I find 5.10's and Mallets an awful combination. I run a cleat spacer and would still have to wind the pins in fully to be able to reliably unclip. I prefer a more enduro style shoes which doesn't require the pins to be adjusted.
  • 1 0
 This. Atrocious advice in the article. Take the pins out for sure. Set the cleat to release quickly. Consider an extra shim. Once comfortable you can start to move back to stock. Got seriously hurt on this setup when I took a fall and one of my feet didn't come unclipped.
  • 2 0
 I ended up on the ground a couple of times (rather light falls) and noticed that I am still clipped in (Mallet E + 5.10's). I investigated a bit and figured out that I was unable to unclip in certain crank positions (mainly crank down) - there wasn't enough space for the shoe to release. I tried long spindle, then easy release cleats - it helped a bit, but ultimately I decided to go back to Shimano's multi release cleats.
  • 2 0
 @muscogeemasher: Agreed on the advice being useless. I had this same issue and ended up spraining my wrist as I wasn't able to reliably release my feet particularly on technical climbs when I stalled out. The only thing I found that worked was removing all of the pins and then upgrading the axles to the Long Spindles that come with the Mallet DH pedals. This improved it but I never felt comfortable on them as I did with SPD's so switched back to flats and sold the mallets.
  • 1 0
 @skill7:
Mallets are great pedals with the right shoes, I find that quite flexible soles work best to give a flat pedal feeling of support but the security of being clipped in. I think 5.10 soles are just too flat and sticky, as you're attached it means a stealth rubber sole isn't that important. I'm running DMT enduro style shoes(can't remember the exact model) with vibram soles which work really well.
  • 1 0
 @skill7: Agreed. Sold mine and back on flats most of the time and using spd's when I want to clip in.
  • 2 0
 On the subject of tyre casings, does anyone know if the double down casing will help me avoid the dreaded Maxxis wobble? I have been using minion dhf with exo casing on tight carbon rims. The tyres seem straight before fitting, but fitting is so difficult i seem to damage the casing getting the bloody things on! Have tried using soapy water to lubricate as i fit the tyres but they always end up with a wobble. Does anyone know if tougher casinds will help? It has happened to 5 tyres in a row! P.s. i have checked the tyre is seated properly in the bead all the way round so it is not the problem.
  • 1 0
 I used to have "tight" carbon rims. At the time ran high roller II exo's front and tomahawk DD rear's and the DD fit way tighter and were harder to mount. I did get a slight wobble once from mounting the DD, never with the exo. I've also ripped the casing (wobble) on the DD' s plenty by just landing poorly off jumps/drops. Short answer, No. Most newer rims have lower sidewalls and are much easier to mount tires, that would be a nice expensive fix to your problem.
  • 2 0
 I remember one of the inside line podcasts where the guy was saying that 60 tpi is actually stiffer than 120 tpi, apparently the more threads are thinner and the purpose is to conform to the terrain better, not add additional puncture resistance, which is what I always thought...
  • 2 0
 With regards to the Gambler question, surely you could add a 29er fork and go mullet? You’d have to tweak the geo slightly but I think the reason Neko filed his fork crown was because no FOX 49 was available at the time...
  • 4 0
 Is anyone else living a lame life and browsing Pinkbike at 10:30 at night?
  • 1 0
 Of course. The world is in COVID lockdowns.
  • 1 0
 sometimes i see what the cheapest bike for sale listed is , then find the most expensive and compare which gets me the most bang for the buck
  • 1 0
 Anyone running the IXS knee pads? Looking for something that stays in place better than the Race Face offering but can be removed without taking off your shoes.
  • 8 0
 I am running the ixs flow+. They are awesome. Fit great, secure, and very comfortable.
  • 2 0
 Highly recommended.
  • 1 0
 But they still require shoe removal. Not sure if they have a zipper version of it so that you can keep your shoes on. If they do, I will be in for a pair once mine wear out.
  • 2 0
 @tonyplanet: Yeah they have a zip version of the IXS flow (It's listed under moto for some reason but clearly not). Would have been skeptical about the lack of a top strap but sounds like people are pretty happy with theirs!
ixs.com/us/moto/motorcycle-garment/protectorsslider/protectors/1467/flow-zip-knee-guard-grey
  • 1 0
 The Flow Evo+ knee guards are nice. They do not move and are light weight.
  • 3 0
 IXS flow are fantastic. Like what someone said, you do need to take your shoes off to put them on.
  • 3 0
 Flows stay in place like they're glued on. I sized down a bit, where I normally wear a large in pads I'm wearing a medium in the Flows.
  • 2 0
 I do feels good but both my pads broke on half less than a year after use.
  • 3 1
 ixs Flow are great except the foam/pad inside which tears within months and isn' t available as a spare.

I got a warranty replacement twice, but still...

Maybe a D3O or SasTec pad fits but I've yet to find one.
  • 3 0
 @JohSch: lucky you got replacement I bought mine over a year ago for my girlfriend but she didnt use them so once I used them after a few months they teared apart and no warranty, I'm done with ixs, pads should last more than a few months
  • 1 0
 ION K-Pact zip - excellent. Stay put, comfy, lots of protection, zip if you need to use it.
  • 1 0
 I have IXS FLow and they are incredibly comfortable pads. I put them on to start the ride and take them off when I get home. Feels like wearing a pair of roadie knee warmers. You can't take them off without removing shoes, but you won't have to.
  • 1 0
 FWIW, I find a leg-warmer type guard with a removeable D30 main pad and without lots of other mostly useless foam sewn in to be best, currently using the Fox D30 Enduro pads. D30 seems much more pliable vs SAS Tech, I've crashed plenty in both, and both are surprisingly effective but SAS Tech is less comfortable ime.
  • 2 0
 I love my IXS Flow Zip pads especially when I realize I’ve already put on my shoes and not my pads,I’ve had them since July and have zero issues,durable and in my experience they stay put very well
  • 1 0
 Like everyone else, I love my IXS Flow. Amazingly comfortable and never seem to move. Mine have been washed many times and have held up really well. I did rip the back of one though, not long after I got them. Doesn't really matter, but the material on the back is quite thin. They don't have as much coverage as something like a VPD 2.0, but they are a lot more comfortable.
  • 2 0
 In my experience, 2.6 Exo+ Minions are noticeably stiffer than Exo ones, given the same pressure.
  • 1 0
 I've had the same experience with the few different Exo+ models that I have tried. The Exo+ casings are notably stiffer at the same pressure. Personally, this is something that I like about the exo+ tires.
  • 2 0
 Anyone remember seeing those "magnetic clipless pedals?" It was about a year ago but nothing current on them...
  • 1 0
 I see instagram ads about them every once in a while. I think Mag-pedal, or whatever the name was, did come out with an updated model not that long ago.
  • 1 0
 I still see google ads of the mighty megped sometimes Smile
  • 1 0
 To be fair the Scott guy wasn't asking about whittling fork crowns et al, just swapping for a 29" fork and using the adjustable geometry
  • 1 0
 I use the Mallet E pedals with their "easy" release 10 degree, 0 float cleat. I really like it. Give that a try.
  • 4 3
 Ugh. 2.8 tires?

Pick a tire width. Be a dick about it.
  • 2 0
 Less squirm than a 3.0 with no noticeable difference in traction. Have you tried them?
  • 1 0
 How about solid tyres and split rims?
  • 1 1
 Pinkbike is it safe that I am runninig 29ers on a 27.5 kona proces?
  • 1 1
 When is the new specialized demo coming out
  • 1 1
 can we get more grim donut content?
  • 2 4
 @sfb123 DD is the correct answer
  • 1 3
 There are dumb questions.
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