Long Term review Shimano M396 Brake

I wave these brakes on a trek 3900 I Rebuild from leftover parts from my other bikes+ some new ones, So this is a bike I don’t ride often, But 2 years ago I rode these the bike with these brakes the whole winter, in various temperatures down to -11 Celsius ,And of course I used the brakes very often, but I noticed oil leaking trough the master cylinder on the left/rear brake, So I checked it it was the Torx screws that were the issue, but that was not the case, the threads I in the master cylinder were destroyed, they were polished to powder, so the screws did not hold the seal and the lid in place properly, so I ordered a new complete lever, but after only 2 trips about 10 Km each trip, the part which pushes the got scratched,and this was not caused by a crash, these brakes are just too weak.

New lever

The lever body is flexing when you press the lever blade all the way, Which I probably why the part that pushes the piston in gets scratched, and why the threads fail, and why the brake leak.

But there is significantly less flex in the 396 than m615, the m615 flex about halfway,and the m396 flex at near to all the way.

I had not had any issues with the seal in the calliper, or the calliper, But I have not ridden the bike with these brakes as often so it’s most likely why.

Master cylinder,failed threads
Failed Threads
The spring & the black plastic part had no damage.


New Lever

Verdict:

This is a way too flexible & weak brake, I strongly advise against buying these.

Long term review on 3 bikes: Shimano Deore M615 I-Spec-B brake set- it’s garbage

I have used these brakes on 3 bikes, some more than others, the one That the threads for the Torx screws failed, was the one I used on my main bike.

Cons:

  • The brake lever body/Master cylinder flex when braking harder than 50%,which is why the plastic lid & the separator &  the Master piston unit to bend or get damaged, and cause leaks, so the lever will be soaked in oil, and oil will spit out through the middle where the plastic lid is.I compared the flexing in the levers on m396&m615 and there is significantly more flex in the m615, if you press the lever blade half way you wont see flex on the m396,but on the  m615 you will.
  • Leaking caused by plastic cover bending upwards, and front and the back is also being pushed upwards but sideways too, causing a leak.
    temperature changes, will cause this, a minor hit can cause this. the design is clearly flawed.
  • I had to replace one master cylinder due to failed threads, and I had the leaking issues with the new one too,but with a set of pliers it was fixed, by pressing the cover into the master cylinder until it was straight/flat against the master cylinder,but this is pointless to do, you are better off buying a mechanical brake or a proper hydraulic brake.
The threads for the Torx screw failed, which is clamping the cover which clamps down the grommet, SO fluid leaked, But I don’t know if it just failed, of if it was due to a crash, but the Torx screw was not damaged. In my opinion these screws are way too small,the design is way too fragile.
  • Impossible so far to get placement seals/grommets/diaphragms, or just the master cylinder separately.


I don’t know what caused the threads to fail, it was certainly not over torquing  the screws,I don’t know if its caused by fluid pushing the parts and girding the threads apart until they are so polished that they cant hold the cover, maybe I don’t know, I certainly was not a crash that caused it,because I never crashed with this particular brake.

Pros.

  • Hinged clamp,no need to remove grips & shifter.
  • the levers are easy to bend back if you bent them,which I have done on 2 bikes so far.
  • good modulation
  • good braking power,at least if you use Metal pads, ( if its wet or ride a lot)
  • it’s not too  expensive
  • it’s not too heavy
  • no need to take off grips to take off the brake, because of the swing arm clamping mechanism.

The Brake Lever will bend if you crash into a tree(before I upgraded the handle bars i was used to ride on the fuel ex 7 with 720 bars),at low-speed,don’t just let the bike fall on the ground,it can bend the brake lever.

  • 23779701854_0a5eeb02bd_b

You can of course bend it back with proper tools and technique.

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The I spec B system, is flawed, it’s quite flimsy, the shifter will move if you did not use Threadlocker and torqued it properly,
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2016 Shimano Deore XT M8000 Ispec B shifter mounted to Deore M615, (there is no B on the brake but its compatible jsut look for the I spec B holes) i know  the brakes are bit steep in this picture but I have tweaked that later.
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The Deore M615 on a 2010 trek 6300

Extra Info

M615 Piston seals:

IUY 21.1 25  3.19 78 NOK

Verdict:

The Both brakes are too fragile.

Because the brake lever body/master cylinder is way too flexible and that there is a palstic lid,instead of metal lid,which causes the brake to leak.

I have seen a lot of reviews claiming these brakes are a good value at a low price point.

I agree with the braking power for the money is there, but not the reliability, these brakes are too fragile.

same goes for the other brakes with the similar design, for example, M396, M395,but at least it’s possible to get seals for M396, M395.

Failed tHreads on M396 right lever/rear lever.

Flickr album

Updated 2 Years plus Review: 2014 Trek Fuel EX7 29er

I really needed a full suspension bike, at minimum 120 mm travel, I got the the best bike, I could as fast as I could.but I knew I might need to change few things, but I test ridden the bike around the store, but that was not good enough test.

It was a lot better to ride than the 2010 Trek 6300.

This is my first full suspension bike, and my first 29er, I have never ridden other full suspension bikes, so can’t compare it to others.

Don’t let others decide for you if 29er is the right choice for you.The ride quality not only depend on the bike, but the person sitting on it and the correct size, but for me it climbs well and turns well even in gnarly sections.

The ride:

I and I felt at home straight away, I noticed the smooth and easy controllable steering straight away, But 800mm handle bars would fit my arms better, but this is will depend on your body measurements.

I think this bike is easy to ride, much better compared to my 6300(100mm stem & 720 bars) even its heavier it goes much faster, no matter if its downhill steep up hills, even doing a wheelie.

with 720 mm handlebars you get easy and controlled steering,720 mm bars, the 18,5 frame and the 29 wheel is just perfect for me.

The bike does not accelerate as fast as a 26er would do but it maintains the speed longer, but the bike is fast & stable in corners.

Technical climbs is not an issue with this bike, but with most trail bikes there is not.

Get a Dropper post

the lack of dropper post hides the capabilities of this bike.

with a dropper post I can get my body in the correct position for going downhill.

Even the dropper post adds more weight, it get you in the correct pedalling position when its up, and for technical sections you just lower it, and the capabilities of the bike increases, the dropper post made me alto faster in descents and on technical climbs.

Routing a dropper post on this frame:

internal:

the cable should go alongside the brake hose, For the Race Face Turbine 440mm 150mmdrop dropper pos.

External:

if you use 1x drivetrain, you can use the front dérailleur routing for the external dropper post.

The suspension

do not have every adjustment there is, but the CTD (climb,trail,descend)
work pretty well for me I am bit more than I am somewhere close to 75 kg with gear on.

So I ride with 180 in the shock and 80 psi in the fork.

I did not want to bottom out the fork so I ran 110 psi for doing drops and jumps, but I later reduced it to 80 psi because the fork was but it too harsh on the roots.
The recommended psi for my weight(with gear of course) is 80 psi.

I am ca 180 cm high,the 18,5 frame and the 29 wheel is perfect for me

I experienced some knocking, clicking sound from the spokes grinding, in turns or when the temperature was way over 20 deg Celsius.

The bike is 13,600 Grams in size 18,5 so it could be too heavy for you if you really need a light bike, but for me it’s not that heavy I can ride pretty fast with it anyway in fact it’s a huge upgrade from my 26 inch 6300,lighter bikes are more expensive and have to break these parts is expensive to replace.

Drivetrain

the 10 spd 11-36 x3: I don’t need the 42 tooth ring at the front where I live,  but if you have long roads or steep 40 degrees downhill(where you can run out of gears with 36T) its nice with a 42T ring.I have upgraded to 11-42T cassette and 36T Race Face Narrow Wide ring, I will test it out without chain-guide.

You can watch  Seth’s Bike Hacks review to see how the narrow wide chaining performs

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Saddle: Bontrager Evoke 2

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Pros:

  • The saddle grips well.
  • it flexes and got cushioning
  • I don’t feel the rail inserts
  • the foam cushioning does not work that well, my weight compress it all the way down(  I am somewhere between 170 and 180 KG + gear)
  • I can feel folded synthetic leather where the fabric and the synthetic leather is stitched

Cons:

  • the wheels: way too flexy,get untrue way too fast
  • Weight
  • the rims had alloy machining residue, on the inside of the rim, it came out of the spoke holes.
  • trek should have done a better job with selection of components.
  • front resin brake pads got worn out in ca. 2 months,I upgraded to Shimano J02A IceTech
  • the saddle is not so comfortable as it should be,I can feel the sides of the saddle.(I notice it if i use the climb mode on the rear shock)

    26156162020_97a7da149b_h
    I can feel the bump where the fabric and pleather is,I can feel the side of the saddle
  • The screws on the seat post are too long for mounting lower saddles with shorter rails,the Bontrager saddle got the rails higher s other is more space between the saddle and the screws.if you are using a carbon saddle with higher rail profile,instead of round rails, it’s nice to have long screws,but not that if you plan to upgrade saddle to  a lower profile saddle, like i did, you might need to cut the screws,

I upgraded to Fabric Scoop Shallow Race, which is more comfortable for me, but the screws on the seat post hit the plastic underneath the saddle.

PROS:

  • The 2014 Shimano Deore BL-M615 brake got good modulation, feels perfect to me. it’s a excellent brake set for a excellent price( as long as it works) but of course at a weight penalty.
  • Shimano Deore SL-M610 Shifter triggers,gives smooth and very easy to shift, a lot better than the 2010 Deore, more ergonomic than the past model like the 2010 from my 6300 bike.
  • handle bar got stripes to help you with brake and gear lever alignment.

    Enter a caption
  • handles well on the rough downhills
  • holes for internal cable routing  for dropper post
  • external toptube routing support for shock remote or a mechanical dropper post.
  • the bike is stable in the descend and climb
  • Shimano Deore brakes work well and are not expensive brakes.
  • the frame got SCG-05 chainguide mount
  • no tools need to take off the wheels
  • fork: work well, even its not the top of the line fork from Fox it’s good in my opinion, i don’t notice any flex when riding.
  • the rear suspension works very well.
  • The EVO link is stiff  & light
  • feet & legs do not hit the swing-arms

 Updated 12.04.2017:

CONS:

  • The rear bolts on the Evo Link are getting loose very fast, it takes few weeks for them to get loose, but the other bolts stay tight,I think this is caused by the flex in the chain stay and down tube,which then flexes the chain stay so the bolts get loose.
  • On one the main bike/the bike with hamburger bell) the threads on the rear/right master cylinder failed, so the brake was leaking fluid,and NO I did not over tighten the Torx screws, first I tough the brake just needed a bleed, so I bled them, so there was no air but the next day I lost a lot of braking powers, there was air in the master cylinder, and oil was leaning,I checked the screws they were just spinning endlessly, I opened up the master cylinder and I saw the threads were polished away, I don’t thin kit was caused by a crash, at least not this particular brake, because I have never hit the brakes in a crash with this master cylinder.
  • one of the frames had uneven welding for the zipties the gap was too small for the big zipties on the upper cable guide on the downtube,.I could use bit ziptie all over but the one spot.
  • Noticeably Flexy down tube & chain stays:

After upgrading to the much stiffer Race Face Turbine Cranks, I noticed that the frame is flexing on the right side in the chain stay when turning /leaning the bike to the left,and it hits the tyre 2.3 tyre,I have a tube wrapped around the chain stay , It’s  between 1-2 mm. So by upgrading to the stiffer cranks instead of the cranks flexing the chain stay is flexing,so the flex in the frame is more significantly more noticeable with a stiffer crank.

.

You can see the tyre is pretty close to the chainstay.

2014-trek-fuel-ex-76-29explain

  • I would not recommend using tyres wider than 2.3,the seat stay&chain stays are too close for bigger tyres.
  • SHIMANO RT56 RESIN ONLY rotors, After few months of use with Metal pads I worn out the rotors, the holes are rounded off, and I lost a lot of bite.
  • Noticeable flex in the Shimano Deore M552 crank arms, the cranks failed on both of the bikes, without any abuse,so faulty crank arms, or the they are just too weak for a track stand, flexy cranks like this should not be on a trail bike.
  • like any suspension bike there is some pedal-bob, but its minimal, I get about 10% of the travel.
  • The chain stays near the bottom bracket could be made stiffer,but the flex is not I did not notice the flex when riding relaxed on flat surface,unless your tyre or wheel is untrue,the design should be improved.
  • no chain guide,the chain fell off more than 10 times the 2015 season,when jumping and riding ruff places hard, I jumped from 3 steps of stairs and if fell off)
  • 24173105230_3bcbca165c_c
    I will never use A plastic press fit shimano BB’s I had to use pliers to remove stuck parts.

    (as you can see the paint got stripped off by the chain)

  • one Allen bolt  on the EVO link was over tightened from factory ,but I managed to unscrew it by using warm water and Allen key in the freezer for few minutes & the big bolt on the chain stay and seat tube fell off,but the bike shop replaced it.
  • chain fall off when jumping sometimes, my plan is to get 11 speed and get a chainguide.
  • Tyres: Bontrager XR3 Expert, is not a very lasting tyre, because of the soft trubber, l the rear tyre lasted me few weeks,so i upgraded the rear with SE4 Team Issue tyres,witch has last me to the winter came.
  • the weight is 13,6 on 18,5(virtual)(real 17.5)
  • the Fox 32 has flex/twisting,from side to side, but not noticeable when riding, but this is quite common for 32 mm stanchion forks ,my RockShox tora sl 2010,Marzocchi Corsa 2012,the flex is a lot less than these forks, but when the wheel is on it can be flexed to about the same, but when wheel is off the fox 32 evo is clearly stiffer.
  • no dropper post.
  • Bontrager RL(Race Lite) lock on grips: they are way too hard for me,but got good grip,but they are too hard for me and give no dampening, so I replaced them with ESI Extra Chunky green grips in is a pretty good match.19525248243_5d21846fca_b
  • this bike really need a chain guide. If you ride hard or jump you will need a chain guide.
  • 3 chain rings for a trail bike is not optimal, the problem is over big roots or obstacles you can hit it some time times, and as bigger the chainring is as more chance there is for you to crash or damage the ring.
  • The chain-stay protector does not work well, the chain will hit the zip-ties, and they will snap so the protector will be loose and will scratch the paint,and because it does not cover the whole chain-stay the inside of the chain stay will get hit by the chain, i replaced the protector with a old inner-tube instead.
  • chain slap on the Front Dérailleur: which crapes of the pant and make visible scrapes on the puller arm.
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Chain slap

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Upgrades I did:

gallery of the upgraded bike upgraded-2016

  • Shimano M8000
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    Shimano Deore XT M8000 I spec B shifter on Deore M615 I spec B brake(the rbake is too steep in this picture,I don’t use them like this any more.

     

  • TRP Spyke Dual piston mechanical brakes
  • Race Face Atlas Ø35 50mm
  • Race FaceSixc Ø35 800mm

Flickr albums of the 2 bikes:

Race face turbine_20170329_095509961
2017 upgraded XT m8000 2014 Fuel EX 7 29er checkmate _20170411_183811_1

Verdict/Conclusion:

Disappointing build, too flexible BB area.

the bad choices of components, and flexy frame, is Disappointing, the must be some flex in a frame or it will snap, but this is too much in one place.

the bike rides well, very stable no matter how I ridden it,but ,trek did not do a good job on selecting all the components, the drive train is outdated, The wheels are too flexible and get out of true way too easily, triple chain rings is outdated,and the crank arms have too much flex. In my opinion most riders do not need triple chainring setup,wider range cassette just replaces the Front RD so there is no point in having a front Rd.

The frame:

I think the frame will be too flexy in the left chain stay for  average riders.

after 2 seasons the bearing in the chain stay worn out,(by worn out I mean they did not turn smoothly and they made noise even when I repacked them with grease,but they had not noticeable play in them) so I had to change them,So I did,but even though I have had repacked them with grease once, I think I should have done it sooner.

I have been riding with the second bike in -11 degrees, and on wet rainy days, and al lkinds of weather, I had to repack the bearings after few weeks of winter riding, but the bearings were running smooth, So I guess I will just have to cheek the bearings more often.

buy new rear tyres,

If you ride very steep downhills a, A dropper post will definitely be the next upgrade.

Full Specs:http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Bikes,3/Trek/Fuel-EX-7-29,12595

Other reviews:

http://reviews.mtbr.com/review-trek-fuel-ex-7-29

http://www.bikerumor.com/2013/05/22/first-look-2014-trek-fuel-ex-29er-weights-details-ride-impressions/

http://www.pinkbike.com/v/embed/458872/?colors=c80000

Videos of me riding:

Some street/Urban mountain biking:

18.04.2017 Updated Review: Ironside 191271 assortment box

The only reason I purchased it was because I had to have something fast.

This is a very flimsy assortment box, & am ran out of space in them.

Overpriced, low quality, easelywhichI can’t recommend this product at all.

the plastic hinges are all different, one falls off if I try to close the box open the case.

There is risk of the plastic hinges falling off, but there is even greater chance of the hinges falling off if you drop the box.the transparent cover, does not cover/close properly, which leaves a gap so tiny parts can fall out.

the design wastes space which could be used to store something in, strange shapes which are silly, this looks m ore like a kids toy that a proper assortment box for professionals.

One more thing I hate about this box is that you can’t stack them, if I put one on top of the another one it moves in all directions, and there is no way to secure them together.

http://www.ironside.eu/the-brand/

I have an adjustable wrench and a screwdriver from Ironside, and they worked fine so far, but I have not tried other tools from Ironside.

Long term review: MRP AMg V2 chainguide

Even trough the guide itself is made of plastic, it held up well.

I have been riding pretty fast in rough terrain, up and down steep trails, jumped, did some stunts, and drops, riding down steep stairs(40-50 degrees)in low gears, the chain never came off, there were not many signs of wear, but eventually you will have to change the guide,(the plastic part with Mrp logo), but I have been using it over a year and held up well, not much wear.

one of my first thought about the guard was it might get much mud stuck in it, but even though I have been riding in bad weather, there were not much dirt or mud stuck in there. But as long as you don’t ride in extreme condition, with a lot of mud, in something like Danny Hart’s 2011 world cup run, or even thicker mud, I am sure It won’t be an issue.

Updated 17.05.2017:

I there was some missing spacers, and I lost some of the thin spacers,but later I found them, so I switched to 2x thin spacers, which should, be better, but I still think bigger gravel can get stuck in between the chain ring and chain guide, but this is impossible to avoid.

But Now as I have a Sortimo boxes I don’t have a mess so it won’t loose any more small parts.

Make sure you Use the right spacers.

After riding a lot in the spring I noticed scrape on the 36T cinch narrow wide race face chainring, which I think is caused by a stone getting stuck between the chainring and the chain guide, causing a perfect circle scrape.

I had the bike in the repair stand, after riding on gravel paths, I noticed that there was a stone stuck in the chain guide and was scraping the chainring, and fell down again, I think that’s what happen the last time.

The red circle shows where the stones/gravel get stuck.

Pros:

  • Very easy to install, & setup, No need to remove crankset or chainring to install the chain guide,
  • Minimalistic design, no bulky or unnecessary big parts.
  • after few hits, no damage done

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Cons:

  • all of the guides I got had missing thick spacers, and missing short screws.
  • the provided screws round off very easy, I have (3 guides all of the screws are as weak)the first time I screwed them in they rounded off, screwed them in gently at 5 nm, the screws should be torqued to 8-9nm according to the manual.
  • Mrp claims it should fit 38 T chainring, But in my opinion, 36T is the max, with 38T the plastic will be too close to the edge of the chain. so if the guard was few millimetres bigger, it would fix 38T better, but I don’t need a 38T ring anyway.

 

Verdict:

Recommended, but get better screws.

Product page: http://www.mrpbike.com/amg/

Shimano SLX M675 Shadow+ vs XT m8000 Shadow+

Using your 10 speed deore,slx,xt,xtr, rear dérailleur for 11 speed is possible, but it wont be as smooth.

but of course to compare this you have to have exact same setup, which I had here.

And of course The clutch tension must be properly adjusted & all other adjustments, I set mine up by decreasing tension until it the shifting performance was acceptable.

I recently rode the bike with SLX M675 few days and then the xt m8000 bike after wards and the performance is definitely noticeable.

Even on 11-42T cassettes with stock links/without goat link, the difference was noticeable.

the difference was most noticeable in the lower gears/bigger cogs.

If went up and down much faster, and made less noise.

I used KMC 11X SL Silver on both setups.

on my 2014 Fuel ex 7 29er I had to get a Goatlink to run 11-46T cassette possible. this picture shows the Rear dérailleur adjusted to the max,with a 1|1-46T XT m8000 cassette.

Is it absolutely necessary to upgrade? absolutely not,but on rougher trail  it’s nice to have better shifting.

Review: 2016 Fox Rampage Pro Carbon Full Face helmet

I have used the helmet since summer 2016 and now it’s spring.

This helmet is probably one of the most popular & reviewed helmets out there but here is my review. I was so satisfied with this helmet I ordered the exact model for the second time.

I will never do mountain biking without a full face helmet,even For just commutes I use this helmet.

Pros:

  • Very comfortable & secure fit, This is the most comfortable helmet I have ever worn so far.
  • Lightweight, you might notice the weight, over a normal helmet, but I got used to it, now it feels super light.
  • Good air flow, the ears stay cool, and every thing else, but of course the motofoam in the front of the chin guard will, of course, give less air flow, so on really hot days you might notice the extra heat, but it does not bother me.
  • double D-ring
  • does not scratch easily.
  • the carbon shell makes this a very durable helmet, unlike helmets with plastic shells, that dent just by hits from some small branches, the carbon shell won’t crack or dent even if the bike the back of it in a downhill fall.
  • the inserts are easy to remove.

Cons:

  • The glue failed to rubber skirting, the adhesive is not strong enough to hold it, Fox helmets had problems with this in the past. when you hold the helmet on the chin guard you will flex the skirting in many directions which loosen it up. but of course, you can glue it back, it’s an easy job.

I have not had any issues with this helmet apart for the chin guard skirting.

I used a  2014 model, the shell got loose so it will be returned.

and the strap sleeve had damaged button, but this must have been someone in a store that managed to damage it, but with the 2016 helmet I have not had any issues with the buttons, which I was not sure about would hold up, but so far they did.

If there is anything else I will update you on it,but so far I love this helmet.