Keeping your bike clean is the most basic of mountain bike maintenance tips. Real maintenance involves not only thorough cleaning but attention to wear, lube, and pressure:
Stand for Inspection
Find a clean space with enough elbow room to get to all parts of your bike that has a sink or hose connection. A garage, basement, shed, or backyard should do. Invest in a good bike stand to keep the bike up off the ground so that you can spin the wheels, test the gears, and inspect the drivetrain.
Chain, Chain, Chain
After you rinse off last season’s dirt and mud, your next move is to clean all the moving parts, and pay special attention to the drivetrain. Use a toothbrush and gentle soap to get grit and grime off the chain, chain rings, derailleurs, and other small areas. Rinse and dry the chain before you give it a new coat of lubricant, but don’t drown it in grease. Too much lube attracts dirt and grime, which causes wear and reduces the lifespan of the chain and chainrings.
Gear Up – Or Down
Test the gears. If shifting is smooth, with no skipping or grinding, you’re in good shape. If shifting is sticky or you hear rattling, inspect your cassette and chainrings for any bent or damaged teeth. Check to see if the chain has stretched out too much as well. If it stretched, replace it. You don’t want a worn out chain snapping or sagging that leaves you carrying, instead of riding, your bike down the trail. Take the bike to a shop if shifting is choppy and won’t adjust.
Tires and Wheels
Check your tire treads for wear, and carefully remove stuck pebbles or clumps of muck. Look for gashes or tears in the sidewalls. If you have the tubeless type, check the sealant, and replace it if necessary. Pump the pressure up to where it should be for your kind of riding. Replace tires that show excessive or uneven wear.
Also check rims for dents and damage. With the bike up on the stand, spin the wheels and check for wobbling. Use a spoke wrench to fix wobbling, or have your bike mechanic true up your wheels and even out spoke tension.
Fork it Over
Put your bike upright on the ground or the floor, stand next to it, and push down on the fork. If it sticks, dirt might have gotten in there. It needs cleaning and a dose of the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant. Check the air pressure and use a shock pump to get it to a 25-30% sag, according to your preference. Look at the seals as well; if you notice cracking or a build up of fluid, replace them.
You need to check the brakes. Do they scrape or squeal? Take the wheels off and check the pads. If the brake pads have thinned noticeably, replace them. If your brakes are hydraulic, air can build up in the fluid. Bleed them if you know how, or let a pro handle it.
At GovVelo.com, the online mountain bike shop, we believe a great bike is a great investment in your health and happiness. Take good care of it with these mountain bike maintenance tips, and it will take good care of you.