FIND ME FORKS
I know you’re probably going to laugh, but what the heck. I’ve got an old Cannondale frame that is just perfect as it’s kitted out with XT running gear. The only problem is that my forks have just gone. I’m hoping you might know of someone that still does front suspension to suit a 1in head. I did hear of Marzocchi Pro Comp Air but I’ve found out they don’t make them anymore. Please help!
Matt Orgill, email
You’d be surprised how often queries regarding forks for old machines come up, and thankfully one manufacturer still sees fit to provide a solution. Granted, it has limited availability and won’t be around for ever, but Marzocchi’s MX Pro ETA is offered with a 1in steerer tube. With only 100mm travel versions available, you will end up with a slacker head angle, but running a little more sag should make the ride bearable. To lower the front end during climbing, the ETA reduces travel to 25mm. At least the lowers have canti bosses to suit the age of bikes with 1in steerers.
Contact Windwave on 02392 521912 for your nearest stockist. You can expect to pay £224.95 with external rebound adjustment and canti and disc mounts.
Firstly, great mag. I bought the first issue and it’s still as good after returning from an absence of mountain biking.
I am going on a last-minute trip this coming weekend to Les Gets/Morzine. I have never been biking in the Alps before and I was wondering what you would recommend as essential kit to take with me.
I am taking my own bike, a Whyte E5, but what tyres (size, profile, manufacturer) would you recommend I take? I have spare disc pads, tool kit and stand (I’m driving so can take plenty of stuff).
Any further advice would be much appreciated to improve the enjoyment of my poorly planned trip! I will be concentrating on doing mostly XC/singletrack downhill riding, avoiding the bike park extreme stuff (this time round anyway).
Mark Slater, email
Firstly, an apology for this coming too late for this year’s trip (you didn’t give us much notice!), but hopefully this advice will still be useful for future foreign forays.
The most important things, as you’d expect, are tyres. A thick sidewalled 2.35 tyre should be the minimum considered. On our readers’ holidays we’ve had excellent luck with Maxxis Minions, and in particular the soft-compound Super Tacky. They may not last too long but for the week or two you’re out there you’ll stick to the ground like the proverbial to a bedspread. If you are particularly heavy or ungraceful on the bike, you may want to think about downhill tubes as well. Stiff sidewalls and thin tubes are always better than standard tyres and thick tubes if you want to try to reduce your rolling mass.
If your stem is still standard a shorter one may be in order, as you’ll spend a lot more time with your front wheel pointing down the slope than up it, so a more upright position will help you to react to the terrain. As for pads, spares are a good idea, but think about upsizing your rotors too, especially the back, as you’ll spend a lot of time hanging on to the rear brake. From experience it’s the rear brake that’s most prone to boiling in the Alpine environment. A minimum of 180 front and back is recommended.
Last but by no means least, don’t forget you. Insurance that covers you for off-piste biking is essential. Even if you’ve never worn them here in the UK, don’t scrimp on pads. Wear as many bits of the stuff as you can without overly compromising maneouverability. Knee/shins and elbows are the bare minimum. You’ll be going a lot faster over some big old terrain — that stuff hurts when meeting the torso unintentionally and helicopter evacuation ain’t cheap. Even with insurance, you have to cough up first and claim it back later.
THE REAL SQUEAL?
I’m looking for some advice on XT V-brakes. I’ve heard conflicting reports, whereby some people find them to be decent brakes for your money, with ample stopping power, but others who say they squeal like a pig and are basically mince due to a hefty amount of judder (which could well be a set-up issue). I find the bit about them being mince hard to believe, but the squealing could get right on yer chuff.
I’m running Mavic Ex 721 rims. Ideally I’d want a set of Juicy 7 discs but they’re way out my price range at the moment. My standard Deore Vs are beginning to run out of stop power no matter what I do with them — they’ve been run into the ground for about four years and I think general wear and tear isn’t helping them much,
Simon Willis, email
Juddering V-brakes? It was common 10 years ago and, to be honest, it is probably from this era that your friends’ fears come from. Loose parallelogram linkages plagued original XT V-brakes, but subsequent redesigns have eradicated the issue.
Current XT V-brakes are among the best rim brakes on the market and are very unlikely to cause you any problems when used with the machined braking surface of your Mavic rims.
It’s easy to understand why you want some Juicy 7’s — they are among the best disc brakes on the market — but nowadays there are plenty of lower priced brakes that come pretty damn close in terms of performance. If your bike has disc-ready hubs and the frame/fork mounts required then you could pick up a full set of hydraulic stoppers for around £80, only £30 more than the list price on a pair of XT V-brakes.
However, if you don’t have the disc-ready bike or you can’t stretch to the extra dough, ignore your friends. The XT brakes work well enough and will be an undoubted improvement on your old Deores.
I was in the fortunate position of having some spare cash and happened across a Whyte PRST-4 XT with lots of money off. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Then, while I was away overseas it was stolen, even though it was in a locked shed and anchored to the ground with two Abus locks.
Then my household insurance declined to reimburse me as the bike was stolen from a place other than that specified. When I first got the bike I looked at getting it insured with a specialist company but baulked at the premium of £31 per month or £372 per year. I am now thinking of getting another bike but before I proceed, is there any way to reduce the insurance to below £100 without being as restrictive as my household insurance?
Insuring your bike as an individual item is very expensive, generally costing around 10 per cent of the cost per annum. Plenty of companies offer such schemes, and discounts are sometimes available for members of a cycling organisation like the CTC.
A cheaper way is to change your home contents insurer to one that offers improved coverage and isn’t so site-specific.
One firm that continually receives good feedback for insuring bikes as part of home contents is Marks & Spencer. It may be worth checking if Saint Michael can help you — good luck mate!