Surrey Hills MTB


Bike Maintenance

Spaced Out: Nicolai Mojo G13

Ok, so grab your anoraks people!

Anyway, I felt like I should give a view of fettling with forks, specifically the forks on my Nicolai G13. I’ve been reading around various websites and it seems that changing the air spacers in a fork is a common thing to do (!) and manufactures cater for this, making it relatively simple to do so.

However, for me, being a bit “old school”, taking your forks apart fell squarely into the “difficult / if ain’t broke don’t fix it” category.

However, I’m still working on getting my new bike dialled in and having owned a number of forks, both Fox’s and Pike’s, I was a bit perplexed that my new Fox 36’s weren’t as comfortable for me as they felt they could be.

It has been a latent itch that really needed a good scratch. So that was it, I decided to MTFU, I was going to have to take the forks apart and experiment with this spacers thing. What could possibly go wrong?

The story is that if you’re getting a bit fat (Ed: Aren’t we all…) then you simply put some extra volume spacers into the forks, and hey presto, you don’t bottom out as easily and the forks hold up better.

I totally get this. Very logical.

My problem however was the other way round. My forks were feeling very much “firm” and “sluggish” and not as “compliant” as I wanted.  I also still have a dodgy shoulder following an Alpine stack of biblical proportions a couple of years ago and I know that this wasn’t helping but compared to my old Rockshox Pikes, it was definitely noticeable.

I also think I have lost a bit of weight (not always a good thing) and more to the point with slack angles the forces directly into the axis of the fork are diluted just a little bit.

So I concluded to open the fork up and take out a spacers….and, I’ve got to be honest, it is extremely easy. I did miss out on the slick honey, let out the air, undid the big bolt, slid off “o-ring”, slid off extra volume spacer, put “o-ring” back on, slid in the “spikey thing” (technical term) after coating with slick honey, tightened up big bolt (220 lbs/in), pumped back up the fork and hey presto, job done!

All I have to do then was go for a ride.

The result? Well it did just exactly what I wanted to achieve. A noticeably “softer squidgy” feel, with a bit more rebound in the fork. Or perhaps I was now getting the right amount of sag at the recommended forks pressure.

Also of note was that before I would have everything wound fully open,  low speed compression, high speed compression and rebound compression. Now I can put on a few clicks on/off to get further dialled.

If you are contemplating doing something similar I suggest you watch this 2 min video from Fox. And a massive thanks to Bob M for the loan of a torque wrench.

So I am one happy camper with this little fettle, and I’ve have a nice little introduction into the black art of forks tuning.

Spacers are a good thing. All you need to do is just get comfortable with idea of fiddling with your forks. Gulp

Mark T


Shimano XT M8000 brake issue

I wrote recently about a deeply satisfying weekend spent fettling my Bandit of which part was a second bleed of my front brake.

I have Shimano XT M8000’s front and back and I have to say, I love them. They are reassuringly powerful when needed but precise when full on anchorage is not required. However, on returning from Morzine this year I’d noticed my front brake was palpably spongier than my rear. Not horrendously so, but enough to cause the occasional “heavier pull” on the levers.

So I bled them with a slight improvement but it didn’t last. Working on the principal I’m mechanically incompetent (tis true…) and therefore must have stuffed up the first bleed, I bled them again last weekend, fitted new pads and spent a good 30 minutes bedding them in on a nearby hill.

All seemed well until Thursday night’s TFIT when I had the very unpleasant sensation of ‘lever back to bar’ as soon as a sharp pull on the brakes was required. Thankfully that ride was forgiving enough that I could get away with mostly rear brake action to slow me when needed.

Anyway, this morning I headed off to Cycleworks in Haslemere to see Tom P to see if he could offer any advice on the issue. And he did! Apparently there is a known warranty issue with the lever of certain batches of N stamped (mine is NF as shown below) M8000 brakes. Check out this forum thread and see the post by Buck aka ‘Oh My Sack’ on MBR here

Shimano batch sticker

Apparently Shimano just ship out a new brake so I’ll slap it back on as soon as it arrives. So if you have Shimano XT’s – check the little silver sticker on it for a batch number and if it’s an N and you have brake pump up issues – that could be a cause.

And I’m feeling at least 32.5% less mechanically incompetent…




Therapy needed

So I spent a deeply satisfying weekend fiddling with my bike. Thankfully just new gear cable, new pads and a front brake bleed required which aside from the indexing of gears was mostly trouble free.

However when I noticed the “immeasurable, deep and utter satisfaction” I got from lining up my cassette bits in order I decided to stop there. Immediately.

And in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, I also line my skittles up before I eat them.


It must be Autumn

Yeah, I’ve decided… it’s officially Autumn.

This has nothing to do with the weather which is still officially most pleasant at the moment. Case in point, we even managed most of last night’s post-TFIT pub session outside.

No it’s because my bike bits are all reaching a state of “terminal demise” all at exactly the same time.

Flipping typical.

It’s always the same. About this time of year I’m usually contemplating the “shiny bits I might like to put on my bike next year” which up until last night was limited to a new set of riding specs. But as I was getting the Bandit ready for TFIT I noticed that my gear cable has just about frayed right through at the shifter (which would explain why I’m not enjoying the 11 of my 1×11), my front brake needs a damn good bleed and I need new rear brake pads as they are as thin as a roadie on a diet.

Now maybe it’s the Yorkshire man in me (you know, we’re like the Scottish except with all the generosity squeezed out) but it grates soooo much that just as the weather is about to turn the trails into “gloopy-puddles-of-gloop-with-super-component-destructing-powers-of-death” I end up putting new kit on which I just KNOW is not going to last through to spring next year.

I personally suspect the engineers at Shimano are so clever they construct their things to self-destruct just when you least want them to. And all at the same time. And usually a week before I get paid. I’m telling you, it’s a conspiracy and just remember you heard it here first.

So I guess I will be LBS bound this weekend for some supplies of gear cables, brake fluid and brake pads.

And I suspect a chain.

And possibly a cassette.

And how’s that rear-mech looking…?


Sometimes you don’t miss what you’ve got until it’s gone

A handful of weeks ago, whilst we clattered down Fatboy 4 on the Punchbowl. As we hit terminal velocity over a few roots, my chain uncharacteristically dropped. Pulling over as everyone else hammered past with a few “you ok’s” but with no real intention of stopping unless I’d lost a limb or snapped the bike in half, I noticed the primordial grey ooze that had come out of the rear shock.

Being a bike expert I realised straight away that is not right, so upon sitting back in the saddle I knew (with relief) that I could still ride the remaining few miles to the pub. The rear end now resembled a bouncy castle style journey as all the damping had gone from the shock.

As I mentioned, being a certified bike mechanic I called Steve from so he could fix the problem. A week later and £120 lighter my refurbished bike returned, I’d even forgotten how different the three switching modes should have felt. What impressed me was just the level of detail and care they take when servicing, they even give you a little bag of all the broken bits and bobs they replaced.

So suffering for one ride on the hardtail whilst all this took place made me vow to service all the shocks and bearings on an annual basis. Lesson learnt.

Steve F

Maintenance is nothing but trouble

So Dave D sent me a text this weekend demonstrating why pre-ride maintenance is highly dangerous!

Personally I prefer the ignorance is bliss approach – but that is mostly because I’m crap at fixing things. It would also possibly explain why I have had more ‘long and lonely walk home’ days than most people.

However, I should note that the cracked spoke hole did NOT stop him actually going for a ride (and an 18 mile 1,300 ft ride at that!) – well done Dave


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