Yes mountain bikes are great, but they are really bloody annoying sometimes too. Here's my list of pet hates...


The best mountain bikes are brilliant things, capable of tackling seemingly impossible terrain at silly speeds, they’re great for our happiness and our health. But that doesn’t stop them being really bloody annoying at times – who among us hasn’t got the hump while trying to seat a tubeless tyre? It can be a nightmare, even if you are using one of the best floor pumps around.

So, in honour of the sport and the bikes I love so much, here’s my list of the things I hate most about MTBs. Chime in with your own on the YouTube video if you think I’ve missed anything.

Pumping up fork pressure - how to set up MTB suspension

The fork valve is easy, but the pressure chart is buried way down by the axle… take a photo of it for reference

1. Fork pressure charts

These days you can work out how much air to put in your fork just by looking at it. That’s because there’s a pressure chart on the lower leg, which is a brilliant idea… at least, until you realise it’s buried on the inside of the stanchion.

Yeah it looks better there but it means you literally have to get on your hands and knees to work out how much air to pump in.

And you’d better take your glasses with you too, because the font size is just ridiculous. How does Fox and RockShox expect us to look like proper mountain bikers when we’re crawling round the carpark squinting at our forks? Your best bet is to check out our guide to how to set up mountain bike suspension.

multi-tool stem tighten

Is the mountain bike god trying to make us mad by speccing a different sized bolt for everything?! Top tip: get a multitool

2. Too many tools

Modern mountain bikes are marvels of engineering, they can handle terrain impassable to any other vehicle. What they can’t do, it seems, is use the same allen keys throughout and that means you need about a dozen tools in your hands at the same time, just to make minor adjustments.

Want to change the stem height? You’re going to need a 4mm for the steerer clamp bolts, and a 5mm for the headset bolt. Then you’ll need a Torx driver for the bolts for brakes and gear shifters too. And you’re going to need three hands, or a tool belt to put them all in. And ideally, the best mountain bike tools to do it all with.

Shock pumps can be a nightmare to attack on some bikes, get a pump with a long hose to make things easier

3. Attaching a shock pump

If you’ve got a full suspension bike the shock can be just as annoying to adjust too. Very occasionally the valve pokes out with enough space to let you thread even the best shock pump on nicely. Most bikes need the finger dexterity of a teenager to get the valve head on there though. Would it really be so hard for shocks to have valves you can actually get to without skinning your knuckles?

And heaven forbid you should have the audacity to run a coil shock, I hate trying to set the sag on a coil shock with a passion. Not only do you need a friend to check the sag you’re running, to do anything about it you’ll need a completely different spring, and the tools to fit it.

TwinLoc remote uses two levers for three suspension settings

Scott’s TwinLoc is a great feature for locking out your suspension, but it does cause a lot of unsightly sprouting

4. Poor cable routing

There are so many things to hate about cable routing it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters there’s so much of it on some bikes, with the usual brake hoses and shifter cables now joined by lockout cables and even wires for your electronic shifting.

The problems don’t stop with the bar and stem though, some bikes have cables that enter and exit the bike at inexplicable intervals, giving easy entry points to water and mud.

And the worst for last, the single most maddening thing about poor cable routing is the rattle. If those cables are not sleeved inside something then your ride can quickly turn into a noisy nightmare, a cacophony of cable rattle.

If that happens to you, don’t throw your bike in the nearest bush, It’s tempting. Instead get creative with some moto foam and see if you can pack out the space.

5. Creaks

This one. You knew it would be along soon. We’ve all been there I suspect, the trick here is to keep calm and systematically work your bike over for dry or loose bolts, which account for 99% of creaks in my experience. Do this at home, if you’ve not fixed that pesky noise in the first five minutes by the side of the trail, you’re not going to. Here’s our guide to fixing creaks, if you want something simple to follow.

6. Inconsistent brake bite points

I nearly died the other day when my brakes suddenly decided to change their bitepoint half way down a run at BikePark Wales. Imagine how cross I would have been if I really had died. What this really means of course is that the brakes need some attention, if you experience this kind of fade then check out our guide to bleeding your brakes.

2024 Canyon Spectral:ON CFR

Ah, the one piece bar and stem – Canyon’s G5 is actually really good and comes in three widths, but there’s still no way to roll the bar forward or back

7. One piece bar and stems

Eurgh. Nuff said.

Prologo Proxim W850 mountain bike saddle

Plenty of room to ship a wave of brown water through this thing

8. Saddles with gussets

Since when did it become a good idea to have a big gaping hole in the middle of your saddle? Quite apart from the fact that saddles like this don’t appear to be any more comfortable, it lets mud and water flick up onto your shorts. And bingo, you get an instant wet bum, even on rides where the rest of you might remain dry. If saddles must have slits in them for ergonomic efficiency, a short length of duck tube underneath usually solves the problem.

9. Tubeless tyres

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with tubeless tyres, in that I love them when they work, and hate them when you’re covered in sealant. Don’t get me wrong, tubeless setups are sooo much better than tubes – I almost never get a flat and the choice of running low pressures is always there.

But you’ve got to get air in them first, which is a total lottery. Who hasn’t played and lost at that game?

The Kenevo SL has a cool through-shock suspension design, but that means the dropper can’t slide in low enough

10. Tall seat tubes

I’m a big Andy Barlow fan, the Dirt School coach is my go to guy for skills. His advice is to get low on the bike when it’s steep and give yourself plenty of time to move around. That’s completely useless though when bikes come with seat tubes tall enough to play in the NBA.

I hate how it limits which size you can ride too, the choice of Large or XL is always a tough one for me but I don’t want it defined by which size I can actually swing my leg over. The travel should be in the seat post itself, not the frame.

Formula Cura rotors are thick at 2.3mm and should be less suseptible to warping and rubbing

11. Rubbing rotors

I think I probably hate this one more than anything. The very thought of my hard won leg power leaching away to nothing makes me mad. And even though it probably makes very little difference to my speed it gets in my head. Suddenly the climbs seem ridiculously hard, and I’m nervous on the descents in case I don’t have the speed to clear a jump.

And the worst thing is, two hours earlier you know those brake callipers were lined up perfectly with the rotor.

The only surefire way to set it right is to get low, loosen the calliper bolts slightly, and every so carefully line it up again. Just be careful to tighten the bolts slowly and in turn to prevent the calliper moving.

There’s another technique you can use to sort brand new brakes too. Loosen off the calliper bolts completely, squeeze and tightly hold the levers, then nip the calliper bolts back up again.

santa crus 5010

I’ll take a trusty threaded BB anyday over a press fit

12. Press fit BB

Threaded bottom brackets are better than press fit. I don’t care that press fit is technically a lighter and more efficient option, in practice they always end up creaking, and tend to need more maintenance. 

The threaded BB on the other hand is way more reliable, and you can also service the thing more easily yourself at home, without the need for a removal tool and press.

13. Forks where the hub doesn’t line up with dropouts

This is another one that makes you look like an idiot in the carpark, and that’s when the hub doesn’t actually line up with the dropouts. Sometimes I’m there for what seems like minutes, trying to ram the fork axle through the front wheel. Surely wheel companies and fork brands could get together and have a chat about this. 

14. Steering limiter

And while I’m on the subject of carpark pain, I actually despise those steering limiters people like Nukeproof put on their bikes. I guess it’s there so the bars don’t spin around in the crash, but it’s a pain in the bum when you’re trying to lay a bike down flat in the back of your car. Actually it can’t be done.