We all love a project, whether it’s upgrading your pride and joy or getting a tired old bike back to its best.. Join us this Autumn as we take on a brand new project, show you how to do it yourself and answer all your bike tech questions!
Find out more:
Welcome to the Chain Reaction Workshop! Shredding the trails can take its toll not only on you but the bike itself, so in this section we want you to keep rolling without the worry of a mechanical holding you back.
Drop your question below and join us back here next Wednesday when one of our tech experts will answer your troublesome tech queries.
Your questions, answered!
Shannon from the tech team took time this week to answer your questions, keep sending us your questions and find the answers here every Wednesday.
If you any other questions please get in touch with our tech team by emailing – firstname.lastname@example.org
I can’t remove my lock ring on my cassette, any tips?
It’s most likely due to the length of the levers on the chainwhip and the tool you’re using to turn the lockring tool. It’s very likely that a couple of minutes with the appropriate tools will get it off for you. Check that your tools have adequate leverage.
What bike would you guys recommend for a beginner MTB rider who doesn’t ride a lot so doesn’t want to spend to much money?
Because of the numerous options available, making a first-time purchase can be challenging. There are so many different types of mountain bikes on the market these days that it can be difficult to decide which one is best for you. Identifying the terrain you will be riding on is often the best way to determine which bike will suit you best.
Hardtail mountain bikes combine incredible value with incredible simplicity. A hardtail is ideal if you are on a tight budget, want to challenge yourself, or want a bike with less fuss. Hardtail Mountain bikes are extremely cost-effective to manufacture due to the added simplicity provided by the lack of suspension linkages. This means you can get a great bike at a great price.
I would recommend the Vitus Nucleus 27 VR, which has fantastic specifications and is very reasonably priced.
I have a nucleus 2022 VRS (medium frame) and want to put a dropper post in, what are my options?
I would recommend the Brand-X Ascend 31.6mm In relation to the drop required (125mm or 150mm). Dropper post sizing is based on a few points; the frame insertion depth and the length of the post outside the frame. Set your saddle to your preferred riding height and measure from the saddle rails to the top of your seat clamp collar.
This will give you an idea of what height/length is required outside your frame. Then establish the maximum seatpost insertion depth of your frame.
The Brand-X Ascend Dropper 125mm post has an overall length of 412mm. When slammed requires an insertion depth of 233mm, leaving approximately 182mm outside the frame from the dropper collar to the saddle rail when extended.
Can you advise the best brake pads to avoid screeching for SRAM Level Ultimate brakes? I am not worried how long they last I just want a quiet brake for winter!
Squealing brake pads are usually caused by contamination. Because brake pads are porous, they absorb grease and oils easily, causing the brake pad to squeal and fail to function properly. Chain lube, bike polish, degreaser, and brake fluid can all get into your brake rotor and contaminate the pads. Contamination can be caused simply by touching your rotor or pads. I would recommend organic pads. They are the least noisy option. They also provide sharper braking and do not require warming up before they begin to work properly.
On my gravel bike I have a compact on the front and 11/32 on rear all Ultegra. When changing to a 11/36 on rear do I have to lengthen the chain?
Generally, if you’re adding 4 teeth you should add 4 links to compensate. There are various online resources to help with chain length.
You should also check the maximum capacity of your rear derailleur. For example. a RD-R8000-GS rear mech has a maximum cassette size of 34t and a total capacity of 39T,
If your drivetrain has a 50-34 chainring on the front and a 36-11 cassette on the rear, then…
[50-34] + [36-11] = 41
This is outside of the capacity.
I have 130mm travel at the front and 120mm at back can I upgrade to 150mm front 140mm back?
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to increase the rear travel of because most bikes are built around a specific shock size. Depending on the model, you may be able to increase the fork’s travel.
The bike will, however, have a maximum fork travel. A longer fork, for example, will raise the bottom bracket and slacken the head-angle, resulting in a negative effect on the geometry.
How can I use a 203mm brake rotor on a 200mm post mount?
Theoretically, you can do this as long as you add 1.5mm to the brake caliper spacing to account for the larger rotor diameter.
How often should I top up my tubeless tyre sealant?
Because sealant is water-based, it will eventually dry out. Depending on the weather, we recommend topping up the sealant levels every 2-3 months. If the weather is extremely hot or the wheels are kept in a warm place, you may need to top up the sealant more frequently.
I used to race MTB years ago on my Trek fuel 980. What’s your
Bikes have changed considerably since the Trek 980. The bike you choose is determined by your riding style and preferred terrain. I recommend the Nukeproof Reactor, which was built from the ground up to be the ultimate aggressive trail bike. It thrives on technical climbs but is most at home thrashing the most technical trails you can point it at. Another option is the Vitus Sommet; Speed comes naturally to the Sommet, whether threading the needle through Enduro tape or launching into your preferred downhill.
What are the best winter tyres for wet conditions?
The terrain you ride on and your personal preferences can influence which tyres you choose. For a mountain bike tyre, the Schwalbe Magic Mary stands out in wet weather conditions, whereas the Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasons is an excellent choice for a road tyre. The Grand Prix is based on the GP4000 S II, but with additional weather protection layers.
Can you still use all the gears with a single chain ring?
Yes, you may use every gear on your cassette regardless of speed.
Indexing gears? I know how to do it, I’ve watched videos on how to do it, I’ve read books on how to do it, I’ve watched other people do it on my bike, but I have never got it perfect in every gear, ever!
Setting gears can be challenging. Shifting performance may be impacted by drivetrain wear. Make sure to replace your worn chain, cassette, chainring, and jockey wheels. A damaged hanger or rear derailleur should also be changed. I would advise going to a nearby bike shop for assistance if you are still having problems.
Having the tools and the proper know how to stop my BB30 from
Bearing migration inside the frame’s bottom bracket shell when the frame is being used is the main cause of BB30 bottom bracket creaking. The dreaded creaking noises are caused by a tiny amount of bearing movement. I would recommend contacting a local bike shop for advice as the issue will need to be resolved by someone who can work with your bike.
I wish I knew how to fit a firmer spring to my fork.
Depending on the fork brand, spring options can vary. In order to replace the spring with one that offers better support, I would suggest getting in touch with the fork manufacturer. They can point you in the right direction.
How to service a suspension? To unfreeze it?
The procedure for maintaining your fork varies depending on the model. I’d advise taking your bike to a nearby bike shop or suspension specialist.
What’s the best way to make the wheels go round quicker?
The amount of drag/resistance there is in a hub is mainly down to three components, the quality of the bearings, the type of grease used in the type of seals. You can improve how well the wheels spin by changing these however there are drawbacks that can come with degreased rolling resistance.
You can upgrade the bearings. The biggest gains are had when moving to a ceramic bearing. These are the fastest rolling. You can also upgrade to higher grade (rounder) steel bearings such as ABEC 5 cartridge bearings if your wheel doesn’t have them.
The grease will be more relevant if you have a cup and cone bearing (commonly found in Shimano. Campagnolo and Fulcrum hubs), you can purchase higher grade greases that have a lower kinematic viscosity and additional additives to degrease rolling resistance. Some old school riders would have stripped hubs for races and just used oil! I wouldn’t recommend the oil option though as it doesn’t last and you will likely damage your hub!
Lastly the seals found on the bearings. There are a whole range of seals, and I could write this much again explaining them all but essentially the more seals the slower the wheels will spin but the longer you will have between maintenance. So it is a trade off. Some road wheels will only have cartridge bearings with an external seal, halving the resistance. Track hubs sometimes go with out any seals at all, but these hubs would only be used on indoor Velodromes.
So to summarise, the easiest way to make your wheels spin faster is to change the bearings to a higher grade. However the most important thing is to keep on top of the bearing maintenance especially if you have a cup and cone hub (Shimano/Campagnolo/Fulcrum are three brands that use this). I would leave playing around with hub seals to the professionals who don’t have to pay for the replacements!
Do you supply/sell 26” fox forks with straight steerer?
I’m afraid the number of 26″ wheeled forks with a 1 1/8″ steerer are very limited these days. Most modern mountain bikes are running 27.5″ or 29″ wheels, along with a tapered steerer and have been for sometime.
We do not list any Fox forks but we have the RockShox Recon Silver TK Solo Air Forks (QR-2020) 2020, RockShox 30 Silver Coil Forks – 9mmQR (2018) or Manitou Circus Comp Suspension Fork, you would just need to make sure the front hub has a suitable axle type for the forks (the RockShox are quick release and the Manitou is 20mm), and the fork travel is suitable for your bike.
Can I put a stiffer coil in my RockShox silver fork? And were can I buy one?
yep you should be able to purchase a stiffer spring for your fork. However I would need to know the exact model to help you find the part you need. All RockShox forks have a serial number in the back of the fork crown. It will start with two digits then a T followed by a string of numbers. If you reach out to us on email@example.com with this we will be able to find the RockShox part numbers for the stiffer springs.
We will not stock the springs though and are unable to do do special orders, so you would have to source them elsewhere.
I want to change spring rates on my new coil shock – What numbers do I need to check?
To determine what spring you need you will need to check that the spring you are buying has the required amount of free stroke and that it isn’t to long for your shock (the shock has suitable free length). The free stroke of the spring will need to be as close to the free stroke of the shock as possible but not shorter (otherwise you will get coil bind).
So if you have a shock which the dimensions 205x60mm, you have 60mm of stroke on the shock, so you will need the spring to have more than 60mm of free stroke. The free stroke of springs is often given in inches so you may need to convert, just divide stoke of the shock by 25.4, so 60/25.4=2.36″. So you will want a spring with more than 2.36″ of free stroke. Something around 2.38-2.4″.
Generally speaking if you choose based off this the spring will be short enough in overall free length for the shock. However you can make sure by measuring the available free length of the shock, to do this wind the preload off completely and measure from the inside of the spring collar to the inside of the preload nut.
The final thing to consider is the inner diameter of the spring, different brand shocks required different size inner diameter coils. Here are the inner diameter requirements of some popular brands Fox = 35mm. CCDB, Bos, Ohlins= 36mm and RockShox = 38mm. You can buy reducers if the inner diameter of the spring is larger but it will not work the other way around.
Can you mix and match cassettes between brands?
The short answer is no, it is not recommended. Manufacturers design the drivetrains as completer systems and mixing brands will potentially lead to poorer shift performance. However, you definitely can mix some brands cassettes and chains without any notable issues, I, currently running an 11speed Shimano cassette with a SRAM derailleur and shifter and it works flawlessly. Shimano and SRAM have had the same cassette spacing and up until the latest 12speed groupsets the chains had the same pitch and width, so there is no really reason for it not to work (just maybe not as crisply).
Campagnolo on the other hand will require Campagnolo parts as the spacing is different and it will not mesh with Shimano and SRAM shifters.
I suspect as the number of gears increases the chances of being able to mix will become even less. As can been seen with the latest SRAM 12speed road where the chain has a larger roller diameter so has to be used with the SRAM 12speed road cassettes and chainrings.
What’s the best dirt jumper fork for under £450
I will assume your dirt jumper has 26″ wheels? If it does the best DJ fork we have at this time for less than £450 would be the Manitou Circus Expert Suspension Fork (100mm travel). You will need a 20mm front hub for these.
Is it fine if I pressure wash my bike?
No, its not advised to use a pressure washer when cleaning your bike as the high pressure water can wash the grease out of hub bearings, headsets and bottom brackets. Worst case it could potentially damage seals. So unless you are an avid mechanic and are happy to deal with the extra servicing a pressure washer could lead to, its best to stick to the brushes and Muc Off!
I will note you can get some low pressure pressure washers which are designed for bike use which will reduce the chances of these issues but I would still be careful spraying it around the mentioned areas.
How do you fix a sticky freehub?
It will really depends on the design of the freehub and if it is a serviceable unit. Basic wheels and some Shimano wheels just require a replacement freehub body as all the workings are sealed.
If your freehub is serviceable I would recommend following the service guide for the hub. If you cannot find the one you need for you hub please contact the tech team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sticky freehubs are usually caused by dirt or too much grease in the freehub mechanism or a failed bearing.
What is your recommendation for the best brakes for Enduro
Everyone has an opinion on which brake is the best and a lot of it comes down to personal preference and preferred lever feel. Here are some of the best options available from the big brands:
– Shimano Saint M820 Disc Brake
– Hope Tech 4 E4 Brake – No Rotor
– Magura MT7 Pro HC Mountain Bike Disc Brake
– SRAM Code RSC Front Hydraulic Disc Brake
Do you have a good Enduro bike recommendation for budget of £1300?
For £1300 you would be much better off looking at hardtails as you are not going to get an Enduro ready full suspension bike for that price. I would recommend looking at the following:
– Ragley Mmmbop Hardtail Bike – Olive Green
– Vitus Sentier 27 VR Mountain Bike
– Vitus Sentier 29 VR Mountain Bike
– Commencal Meta HT AM Origin Hardtail Bike 2022
Whilst maybe not thoroughbred Enduro bikes they are capable of taking some abuse.
My front wheel makes a wiggle noise like something is loose, but it’s tightened down. Is this normal? What could it be?
If the thru axle/quick release is tight but its making noise of has some play at the rim it would suggest that the hub bearings need some attention. If the hub bearings are ok I would check the spoke tension. If all of these are ok, make sure the brake isn’t rubbing.
Less common but possible causes are if there is any loose bits in the rim post manufacturing, which can rattle in the rim. Or if you have tubeless sealant (such as Stans) this can form a ball when it dries up which can roll around in the tyre.
How to secure a back wheel (tight) with a thru axle?
Most thru axles are simple done up with an Allen (Hex) key to a torque usually specified on the end of the axle. I would recommend putting a light coating of grease on the axles shaft before installation to help future removal. If you have a less conventional thru axle I would refer to the manufacturers manual for instruction. If you need help with this please contact the tech team at email@example.com
My Suntour Air 120mm feels clunky, any advice?
It sounds like they might need a service. However, if they are an entry level fork it may just be that the design of them is fairly basic and they will never be that smooth, in which case the best option would be to upgrade them.
Is it possible to add clutch to a non clutch derailleur?
No, you would just need to purchase a new derailleur. If you need help finding a compatible one for your bike, please contact the tech team at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I make my chain slap less without a chain silencer?
To decrease drivetrain noise modern mountain bike drivetrains use clutch derailleurs and narrow wide chainrings. This not only reduces the chain noise but also helps keep the chain on. So if you do not have this you could consider upgrading parts of the drivetrain (if possible, contact the tech team at email@example.com).
Other things you could try is purchasing a thicker chain stay protector, something like the Lezyne Smart Chainstay Protector, providing it fits your bike.
What are signs of a blown shock as when I flick it to the soft
mode it makes a noise and bumps sometimes?
Some tell tale signs your shock is blown:
– Excessive amounts of oil on the shock stanchion, and leaking out around the seal.
– There is no rebound damping, the shock is like a pogo stick, and turning the rebound damping to make it slower has no affect.
-Lockout or compression damping isn’t working.
If there is a knocking noise then I would recommend getting the shock looked at. Some shocks will makes some noise as the oil is pushed through the damper circuits, but its hard for me to confirm what the noise is without hearing it.
Somehow the valve broke while i was pumping with a hand pump. I replaced it with a spare one and it seemed alright but when I sealed the tubeless tyre after a while it started loosening and air was getting out and the hand pump didn’t seem to work. Any advice?
Firstly just check the valve core is tight on the tubeless valve and the valve is tight in the rim. It might even be worth trying a replacement valve core.
However, It sounds like there might be an issue with the sealing of the valve stem in the rim. I would recommend you check there is adequate sealant in the tyre. If there is, make sure you give it a good shake with the valve located at the bottom to try and encourage sealant to get around the valve on the inside of the tyre.
If its still leaking I would recommend you check the rim tape isn’t damaged. If you have replaced the valve its possible the tape has torn around the valve hole. If this is the case you may need to re-tape the rim
What should I do if there is play in my back wheel?
Firstly I would check that the bearings are still in good condition. If a bearing has collapsed it will cause excessive movement in the wheel and if you continue to ride on it it could cause more damage. If the bearings are ok, just make sure the end caps are tight/pressed on properly.
If you are still having issues it would require more investigation, and I would need to know a few more specifics about what hub you have and what bike its fitted to. If this is the case please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details and ideally a video of the issue.
Can you buy a replacement cage for Shimano 12-speed rear MTB derailleurs?
Yes you can, however we do not sell them. The best thing to do when you need a spare part for a Shimano product is to visit si.shimano.com, here you can search for the technical documents for all their products.
Just look for the part code on the derailleur, it will start RD-M, followed by 6100, 7100, 8100 or 9100 depending on the level. Pop the full code into the search bar and you should find a few documents. Just select the Exploded view (EV) and it will show you the derailleur and have full list of the spares and their part numbers. You can then use these to search online.
You can use this for any Shimano product, they all have the component part code written on them.
Do you know why RockShox Reverb dropper seat posts always get saggy after a while?
The saggy Reverb is generally caused by air being drawn into the system. The most common cause of this is riders lifting their bike up by the saddle when the seat post is in its lower position, or hanging it on a bike rack/stand by the saddle when its down. It can just happen over time with use but if its happened prematurely its likely caused by the above.
Previously the only guaranteed way to fix this was to service the post but the latest C1 Reverb and AXS Reverb have a built in bleed valve which allows you to bleed the post of this trapped air without the need to take the post apart.
Is it worth buying a set of winter/wet weather wheels VS using carbon wheels all year round?
If you are running rim brakes I would definitely recommend a second set of alloy wheels for winter use, for two reasons. Firstly the alloy rims offer much better braking in the wet compared to a lot of carbon offerings. Secondly, carbon rims are expensive and during the wetter winter months when there is more dirt and grit on the road rim wear is accelerated, so you are much better off wearing out a cheaper alloy rim.
However if you have modern bike with disc brakes, the reality of owning one set of good carbon wheels is much more realistic. You no longer have to worry about not stopping at a junction on a wet day, or wearing out your carbon rims prematurely.
The only a couple of reasons I can see why you might not run the one set of wheels. Firstly, if you live somewhere the roads are salted regularly and your not that hot on cleaning the bike after a wet ride, as the salt can accelerate corrosion, particularly of aluminium nipples. Secondly you are probably slightly more likely to hit potholes in the winter due to more standing water and lower light levels, but I am not sure this is something that would put me off. I guess it depends what your track record for hitting them is like!
How do I know when it’s time to change my chain?
There are a few ways to tell if your chain needs replacing. Generally, this would be the first thing to start wearing on your drivetrain. There is a specific ‘chain wear indicator’ tool you can buy to measure this. You place this on the chain, and if it is worn out it would sit flat with the chain. If it measures 0.5 then it may be time to start thinking of changing your chain. If the tool fits in at 0.75, then your chain does not yet need replacing.
When I change my chain do i also need to change rear cassette and front drive?
When changing your chain, it isn’t always necessary to change the cassette and front drive (chainring). These generally wear at different rates/times. It is worth noting that using a new chain with a worn cassette will increase the rate of wear of the chain. Though, it is recommended that you check your cassette and chainring for ‘wear and tear’ over time. Some main signs to look out for would be, missing teeth, the teeth becoming more ‘hooked’ in shape and if your gear shifting is still ‘skipping’ even after replacing your chain. If you are unsure, you can always go to your local bike shop for a quick inspection.
I’m currently getting a sore back and neck when out on my MTB, is there
anything I can do to try and fix this?
Neck and back pain is fairly common. It is generally related to bad bike set up such as the reach, saddle position, and handlebar width. In addition, weak core muscles and posture can also play a factor. If you feel too ‘hunched’ over it would be recommended to move your saddle forward on the saddle rails. Adjusting your saddle position more forward along the saddle rails can help pull your reach closer to the bars. If possible and there is enough alteration on your stem, you could raise this up with ‘stem spacers’ so that you are not bent forward as much straining your neck and back. Getting a biking buddy to look at you as you are pedaling can allow someone else to see any factors they think could be causing this in regards to your riding position. Though, the best recommendation would be to go to a local bike shop that offers a bike fit and they will be able to assess your riding position and suggest amendments that could help.
Is it possible to convert my 29er into a mullet?
It can be possible depending on what bike you have. However, it would alter the bikes geometry that it was specifically designed for originally for 29 inch wheels. Due to the change of geometry you would need to confirm with the manufacturer if it would affect your warranty. Yes, there would be both positive and negative factors, which is something you would need to weigh out yourself. With the bike being designed as a 29er, putting a 27.5 rear wheel on would make the front end feel a lot lighter. It would also lower your bottom bracket height significantly potentially leading to more rock strikes. The reach of your bike would also shorten due to the rear end being lower, making the bike feel more compact.
How can I tell when my wheel bearings need to be changed? Is it feasible or
worthwhile for me to replace them on my own?
Checking your bearings on a regular basis can help with the smooth running of your bike. Over time, dirt, grit and water can lead to these rusting and eventually seizing. The time period of changing bearings can alter depending on your riding conditions, and the method you often use to wash your bike and how often your bike is ridden. When they are near the time to be changed, you can feel the ‘roughness’ and slight friction in the bearings when the wheel is turning. Before taking the wheel out of your bike, if you grab the wheel and move it side to side, if the bearings need changed there may be some ‘freeplay’ motion. These would be 2 key indicators to then replace the bearings. You can also take your wheels out and turning the axle to see if there is any friction. Changing the bearings yourself can be tricky if it is something you have not done before., but relatively straight forward There are plenty of videos out there to help, but if in any doubt, take your bike to a LBS for assistance.
Retro Hall of Fame
Share your favourite retro bikes and get featured on our Hall of Fame! Send us your pictures by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook!
Specialized Rockhopper Comp – 1989
Lovingly restored by Chain Reaction’s Head of Customer Service, this is a 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp, converted to a budget gravel/bikepacking/randonneuring rig. It’s 1x narrow/wide ring up front, with a single friction shifter on the bars. Brooks saddle for comfort, and for ease of mounting saddle bags. Shimano SPD/flat combo pedals for short jaunts to the pub.
Specialized Rockhopper Comp
Kona Cinder Cone
Classic Manitou Fork
1994 Orange P7
Giant ATX 890
Specialized Stumpjumper 1989
1989 GT Karakoram gravel conversion
Retro Giant collection
1995 GT Tequesta
1982 GT Barrego
1992 Specialized S-Works
Giyom’s retro bikes
1998 Santa Cruz Heckler
If you’ve followed us for a while you’ll know we love looking at the newest and greatest technology on the market today! So when we tasked Matt and Lauren to get two second-hand bikes and restore them back to their former glory, they had a challenge on their hands.
In our latest series, we take two bikes that have seen better days and show you how we got them back to a trail-ready machine. Lauren got her hands on a Giant Upland SE whilst Matt went with a classic Raleigh M-Trax.
Watch: MTB Scrapyard Challenge
Check out the rest of the series here
Wrecks in the Wild
Relive the carnage and wreckage at one of the world’s most iconic races – Megavalanche! Starting at the top of Alpe d’Huez, hundreds of riders descend down the dizzying height of 2600 meters in little over 37km to make Megavalanche the world’s longest and craziest mass-start enduro races!
Watch the carnage unfold, as bikes and humans are put to the test in the ultimate race of bravery.
Save your wreck
Check out our guides to upgrading and keeping your bike in top shape!