Happy Riding

Ask Pinkbike: Tire Inserts, Jumping, NX vs. GX, and Extreme Angles

Happy Riding

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.

Going Tubeless Without Protection?

Question: @ItsMartY asks in the Downhill Forum: Hey guys, I’m considering going tubeless. I need your advice. I got stock Alex rims on my bike but they’re tubeless-ready and pretty durable for me. I know that tubeless has no disadvantages but I don’t want to spend so much money on Cushcore or something like this. I like to ride jumps, brap berms and this stuff but I’m only 66kg, so I think it would be no problem, what do you think? Should I go for it without CushCore or no? I have front Assegai kevlar tubeless ready but my rear is DHR 2 Dh casing not tubeless-ready.

Consider no more, you should absolutely go tubeless…especially if your bike is as close to being ready for it as it sounds. Tubeless is really the best way for most riders to get more performance out of their bike by giving their tires a better feel through the ability to run lower air pressures, which increases traction, increased protection in the event of a puncture, and it’s less weight. Now, if you’re going to set it up tubeless and then let your bike sit and not ride it (you know who you are), the sealant will eventually dry up and fail to work. Older tires that don’t fit tightly on the rim or seep sealant also present problems, so keep that in mind but, if you ride much at all tubeless is the way to go.

Now as far as using tire inserts goes, I weigh a bit more than you and rarely use any sort of a tire insert. Inserts are good for a lot of things, and may keep you from dinging your rims and getting pinchflats at lower pressures, especially when you’re riding really technical terrain, but they do add rotational weight and are more challenging to set up. They also offer the benefit of keeping the tires standing up a bit more when you’re going into turns. Personally, I typically opt for a heavier duty casing tire before considering an insert.

The bottom line? I think you’ll be totally fine as is, without a CushCore and if I were you, I wouldn’t fuss with it – especially for riding flowy trails. You may end up being able to get that rear tire set up with just some sealant but, I’d always recommend using a tubeless-ready tire…insert or not.

Problems Jumping

Question: @itay123 asks in the Downhill Forum: Hey guys, I’ve been biking for some time now but my area has a lack of real jumps. As such, whenever I go to bike parks I notice I tend to case most jumps at best, and far more often than I would like I feel my feet come off the pedals. Any advice on keeping them planted and getting a little further to clear the jumps?

bigquotes This is an issue a ton of people have and if you ask around, you’re bound to get a lot of different advice. I decided to get the word from someone who is no stranger to jumping and coaches people on how to get in the air daily, Walker Shaw.

Walker suggests, “One thing that I feel really helps get the comfort level higher on bigger jumps is practicing bunny hopping. This could be done around the neighborhood or anywhere really. Bunny hopping with flat pedals and not relying on your suspension or clip pedals is going to help with bike awareness and is a key fundamental skill as you continue to progress. While “clip” (clipless) pedals may be beneficial when it comes to pedaling efficiency and at times being able to unweight the bike through chattery sections of trail, I don’t see them as something you should ever rely on, especially when jumping.

As far as keeping the feet on the pedals, I would play around with different shoe and pedal combos to find what works best for you. The mix of grip and comfort is important as being able to feel the pedal underneath you can help you feel at one with the bike.”

NX or GX or?

Question: @RonB asks in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country Forum: Hi! Looking for some user feedback. I am currently riding a 2019 full susp with 1x NX drivetrain. No issues with it, but see a lot of good, bad and ugly being said about that line. Is the GX line that much better? Would I benefit from upgrading to GX, or should I consider going a step higher? I am NOT a basher, speed demon, or jumper…. just an old man that enjoys riding most everything and wants things to work good. Thanks for any assistance! Ron

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That certainly can apply here, especially if you’re happy with what you’re running but at some point, you’re going to eventually wear out some components of that drivetrain. Is it worth upgrading? I find that the GX does shift ever so slightly better, as it should, but it’s a marginal gain. The big upgrade there is going to be that it’s lighter, and you’ll also get a MatchMaker compatible shifter, which will make it easier to get that cockpit setup just how you like it. Go on up to the XO1 and, you guessed it, even lighter and a much nicer shifter.

One thing to keep in mind is that with the NX group you’re using, the cassette works with a HG (Shimano style) freehub body and the GX uses SRAM’s XD driver. At the very least you’ll have to switch out the freehub bodies on your hub, and that’s if you can interchange them. It’s not always cheap. At worst, you’re looking at a new rear wheel with a compatible hub.

It’s also certainly worth looking at Shimano’s HG compatible drivetrains. Their SLX or XT systems offer a lot of performance for the price but, you’re not going to have as wide of a range in the back without going to their new Microspline freehub body and, you guessed it, that’s not the same as HG.

The bottom line is you have some options but, without upgrading that freehub body, you’re going to be limited to a more entry-level cassette or a smaller gear range than you currently have. That’s not to say you can’t upgrade the rest of the drivetrain and stick with a NX cassette, but your biggest performance gains will come from a nicer cassette, so invest wisely.

Is a 58-degree head tube angle too slack?

Question: @Tripmo asks in the Downhill forum: Hello guys, I just finished my mullet setup on my bike. I used one of those phone apps to measure my headtube angle, it’s around 58.6ish. So roughly I have a 58-59 degree headtube angle. Is this too slack that can make my frame snap? Little worried.

What was your head angle before? Looking at the numbers, if you only put a smaller rear wheel on the bike I would have expected the head angle to change by 2-degrees or so, which would mean that you started with a sub-62 degree head angle, which is already very slack. I’d start by re-measuring to confirm that number. If you’re on a DH bike, you can run the crown of your fork low as possible (measure this) or consider reducing the travel of the fork by 10mm or so to level things out a bit and get a more reasonable geometry. You could also use angle adjusting headset cups to steepen things up to a less extreme number.

Going that slack on a DH bike with a dual crown fork isn’t as concerning as it would be on a single crown trail bike, but along with the potential for sub-par handling on everything except the steepest tracks, I’d also be worried about the extra stress on the headtube, and on the fork’s performance. Grim Donut aside, there is a point at which things get too slack, and you may have passed it.

The easiest solution is to stick the proper wheel back on the bike and have a worry-free ride; at the very least I’d look into the various ways to bring that head angle back over 60-degrees.

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