1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Cool-blue Rhythm A couple of newbie questions

    First, this forum has been a wealth of info. I bought a Giant Boulder SE about 2 months ago, I commute a few miles on it and take it out on trails on the weekends. I haven't owned a bike in probably 8 years so pretend I don't know anything. For reference, I'm 6'2" and about 200 lbs so I guess I'm borderline Clydesdale.

    I now see why you don't shift going uphill, I broke a chain out on the trail. I do have a bike tool (Topeak Alien II) but of course didn't have it with me on the trail. Luckily I was close enough to a parking lot to ditch my bike and have some kind stranger give me a ride back to my car. i know you can take a link off in a pinch, or use a masterlink, so to try and learn I tried to take a link out. I now know you are supposed to only push the pin out about 3/4 of the way? I popped it all the way out and of course couldn't get it back in. So I ended up buying a new SRAM chain with a powerlink. the chain I bought was for an 8-speed, and I'm on a 7, so I tried to take a link out and put it back together without the powerlink. I couldn't seem to get the pin lined up so I ended up using the powerlink anyway. Is there any trick to this? I've tried looking at a few youtube videos but they aren't much help

    Also, I went for a 8 mile road ride today, and noticed my back tire was running really low. I stopped at a gas station and filled it back up, but does this mean I have a leak and should replace the tube? Or wait a while longer (and carry around an extra tube)?

    I also notice that the back (v) breaks squeak when they get wet, is there anything to do about this? It's loud as hell and there are some hikers on the trail I frequent, I don't want to piss them off any more then I have to. I've also quickly learned that the front break is by far the most important. Any reason to put a disc break only on the front? Would I have to replace the lever i.e. are all disc brakes hydraulic?

    Thanks in advance. Any recommendations for a pump, or chain tips would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    1. Is there a reason you want to remove the powerlink? Constantly breaking the chain by removing and reinstalling pins can weaken the chain and / or give you stiff links. The 8 speed chain should work fine for a 7 speed cassette. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they are the same width. Any time you install a new chain, it needs to be sized for your bike. Since all frames have different chainstay lengths, you will need to remove a few lengths. Park Tool's website has good guides for this.

    2. You might have a leak. I find the easiest way to fix it is to take the tube off, submerge it in water, and look for bubbles. Leaky tubes can be repaired easily with a patch kit. I wouldn't ride far on it if it's really low. You can damage your rim and tire. You should always carry and extra tube as well. It is easier to replace a tube on a ride than to mess with a patch kit on the side of a trail. It never fails, you will get a flat when you are as far away from your car as you can get and when you don't have the proper tools to make a repair. Edit: An old tube can make a good chainstay protector.

    3. V-brakes can squeak if they aren't properly adjusted. Especially when they are wet. Unfortunately, they don't work as well when it's wet or muddy. Earlier this week, I had my v-brakes fail for the first time in my life. Kinda scary when you can't stop. The kool-stop salmon colored pads are supposed to be the best for v-brakes, especially in wet and muddy conditions.

    I've seen people with discs on the front and v-brakes on the rear. This won't be a problem. Mechanical discs will use the same levers and cable as v-brakes. Installing discs would require disc mounts on your fork and a front hub that can accept a rotor. The biggest advantages mechanical discs offer over v-brakes is increased performance in mud. They are more forgiving if you tend to bend your rims quite a bit.

    So welcome to the forums and the sport. Keep asking questions that you have.

  3. #3
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    Well...where to begin? Congrats, of course, on getting out and riding, and taking it upon yourself to maintain and upgrade your bike. The force is strong within you.

    Chain:
    Powerlinks are great, and you can take them apart without a chain tool, but if you actually break your chain on the trail while shifting, you're going to need a chain tool to re-assemble the chain anyway since it probably didn't break on the Powerlink. Keep working at the powerlink. They do take a little practice, and I always forget my technique by the time I need to remove one again. Should be able to just push each link towards eachother, and the slots should line up and pop out.

    Tube:
    If you have a slow leak, you might as well just replace the tube now. It's only going to be a headache if you ride on it. Tubes are $5. Replace it anyway just so you learn (or re-learn) the steps involved.

    Squeaky brakes:
    I usually run new pads over some coarse sandpaper to get that smooth new-rubber patina off the surface. That helps a bit. You can also angle the pads inward oh-so-slightly, so the front part of the pad hits the rim first, followed by the rear when full pressure is applied. This tends to keep the squeak down.

    Discs in front:
    As you know, the front is the most important and powerful brake. If your frame does not have disc tabs (older frames), then you'll have more luck putting a rotor on your front wheel, because your fork will likely have tabs for your caliper. Lots of people run a disc brake up front, with a V in the rear because they've upgraded a non-disc frame. You can get retro-fit disc mounts for your frame, but they're all rather klunky and none are as good as real disc tabs. If you go with mechanicals, you don't need new levers, but if you go hydro you do.

  4. #4
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    I wanted to take a link out, and reconnect without the powerlink so I could keep the powerlink in my bag for use in a pinch. I also wanted to learn how to reconnect a chain without one but failed. I bought the 8-sp chain at my LBS, they told me to put it on the two biggest sprockets without the rear derailleur being stretched too tight which would mean taking out a link or two, and then I could keep the powerlink for an emergency.

    I will buy some more tubes and more powerlinks.

    As far as pumps, would you recommend one with a gauge or not?

    I was looking at turbo morph
    or the mini

  5. #5
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    They sell new pins to use when popping an old pin out of a chain. It sounds like you may be trying to re-use the original pin in your above posts. The replacement pins have a small diameter guide portion that makes it much easier to install using a standard chain tool/pocket multi-tool, and once the new pin is pressed securely into the chain, you break off the excess pin at the groove (it breaks off fairly easily with hand pressure). You should carry a few of these pins with you as well as the powerlink.

    Here's what they look like:
    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...hain+Pins.aspx

  6. #6
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    ^^ No offense, ignore the advise above. The pins in SRAM chains are different from Shimano chains. Whitedog is correct if you were using a Shimano brand chain, the pins are only meant to be used once. SRAM, KMC and other manufactures' pins are reusable. It is a fine line between removing the pin enough to seperate the links and having the pin fall out. It's tough replacing them once they've fallen out, but it's possible when they are lined up just right. Try practicing on some of the links you removed to size the chain.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate
    It is a fine line between removing the pin enough to seperate the links and having the pin fall out. It's tough replacing them once they've fallen out, but it's possible when they are lined up just right. Try practicing on some of the links you removed to size the chain.
    I use a small Leatherman like tool ( pliers actually) to hold the fallen out pin while pressing it into the link with chain breaker. It is a better idea though to avoid pushing the pin out completely - by checking if the links are already separated, while the pin is still in.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMook

    Tube:
    If you have a slow leak, you might as well just replace the tube now. It's only going to be a headache if you ride on it. Tubes are $5. Replace it anyway just so you learn (or re-learn) the steps involved.
    I'd get a patch kit, and fix the tube, especially if its your first hole. Reusing tubes is much friendlier for the environment than dumping it. And it's cheaper to patch too... one patch kit costs as much as a tube, and it fixes 8 holes - $5 vs $40.

    Just my $0.02.

  9. #9
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    I think I confused you...you are both right. The original chain (that I tried to pop a pin all the way out and put back in) was a Shimano. The new replacement chain was an SRAM. I tried popping a pin 3/4 of the way out in the SRAM, taking a link out and reconnecting with no luck. It sounds like this is possible if done right, but obviously using a powerlink is easier.

  10. #10
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    We have similar situations it seems. I have a 21" Boulder SE, I'm 6'3" and about 215. I commute with it, and occasionally trail ride it. Haha. Anyway, I put a disc on the front of mine with the original V-brake on the rear, and it works great. I got the Avid BB7 mechanicals. I love 'em. Very easy to install myself (bike repair noob here). The only problem is when they get wet, they squeal like a stuck pig, and I had to get a new wheel set to fit the rotor. The new wheels look pretty sweet though, so it was fine, plus they were fairly reasonably priced because they had blemished stickers on them. My original brake pads do not squeak on the new rear wheel, and I feel like they have more bite than before.





    But anyway, I stumbled across this thread while looking for a solution to my problem. Hopefully it doesn't happen to your bike, but my front fork squeaks like crazy now. I didn't ride it much over the winter but I have been riding it for a few months now, and I kept hoping it would just stop if I worked it out. This seems to not be the case. Any ideas on how to get it to stop? Could it be taken apart?

  11. #11
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    I figured that problem out a while back with my squeaky fork, in case it happens to anyone else. This bike got left outside while I was moving for about 2 weeks and apparently got rained on. Water got down in the fork, and rusted the spring. I took it all apart, wiped it all down and re-greased it. Not a squeak since. Also, the guts of that fork are super crappy quality...

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