Winter MTB Upgrades

My old Maguras finally gave up the ghost this year, so I’ve decided it’s time to put some modern hydros on. I’ve been dealing with sticky pistons all year. Mostly putting up with them, but I’ve also spent some time trying to unstick them, with less success than I’d like. They’re 11 year old brakes that have needed almost zero maintenance in 11 years aside from two bleeds, two sets of pads, and a few alignment adjustments.

I decided to replace them with a set of Shimano SLX brakes with Ice-Tech. Shimano has been killing it on their recent hydro brakes, and the SLX model is a good value. Up until recently, they were the best value models they offered.

The install process went mostly smoothly. The only hiccup was when removing the old Maguras and one of the rotor bolts stripped. I had to dremel a slot in it so I could remove it with a common screwdriver. Adjusting them was easy peasy.

Like the old Maguras, I went with a 180mm rotor in the front, and a 160mm rotor in the rear. I like the additional power I get from the 180mm rotor. It allows me to feather the brakes and helps me avoid hand cramps on steep descents.

Looks like I’ll probably be bedding these in in the snow. Should be interesting. Snow cover right now is probably just about perfect for snow rides with a regular mtb. Enough to give the winter character, but not so much that I have problems with it being too deep, like on my last ride during the first few inches of a big snowstorm (falling onto a few old inches of snow).

Speaking of snow, I’ve moved to platforms this winter. I got a set of Blackspire Sub4 pedals for Christmas. Unfortunately, they came after the optimal conditions period before the last snow storm. I should be able to get out on them this weekend. I got a purple set of these for my wife’s bike and she loves them, so I decided to give them a try.

Mine are the older model, which come with longer pins and little washers to shorten them up, whereas my wife’s came with stubby pins.

I’m not sure yet if I’ll like the longer pins or not. I’ll have to see. I do intend to get some flat-specific shoes this spring, though. For the winter, I’ll just be wearing boots to keep warm. My initial impressions are that the FiveTen Freerider XVi shoes will be about what I’m looking for in a flat shoe for more xc-oriented rides. I’ll post more about footwear selection when that time comes.

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