Guide Mountain Bike Servicing
Mountain bikes are a considerable investment, but no matter how much you spend on your mountain bike, not looking after it properly can result in hefty bills and missed rides. One additional thing that you may not have considered is reselling your mountain bike when it comes to upgrading it. Potential buyers are put off when they spot a poorly maintained bike.
Depending on your time constraints and skills, some jobs are best left to bike shops. Some bike maintenance tasks require expensive specialist tools that you will only use every so often. A bike shop will have the necessary tools and parts to work on your bike and they will also have the expertise allowing them to do the work in a fraction of the time you can, especially when it comes to waiting for parts and tools to arrive.
There are plenty of things we can do to protect our pride and joy. In this post, I will go through a few things you can do before and after your rides to keep your bike running smoothly.
Before You Go For A Ride
Before you jump on your bike, there are a few things you should check. These simple tasks will ensure that your bike is performing as well as it should do and that it is safe.
Check Your Bolts
Bolts can loosen off after a ride or two. This is especially the case if you have fitted a new component, or if your bike is brand new. Therefore, before you head off, it is an excellent idea to check that all your bolts are tight enough.
You may be tempted to pinch your bolts up before every ride, but this is not a good idea. Over tightening your bolts can fundamentally damage them. This is especially the case with carbon frames and components, so make sure you use a torque wrench to get it right.
By regularly checking your bolts, skewers or thru axles, you will ensure that you don’t have any nasty surprises on the trail.
Check Your Brakes
You don’t want to find out that your pads are worn or have a bubble in your hydraulics on a steep downhill section, therefore give your bike a little ride around before you leave home. Pump the brakes to see how they feel and perform. If they are a bit soft, check your pads and your lines to see if there is a leak. It is better to find a problem at home than on the trail.
Check Your Gears
Not being able to change gear is very frustrating; therefore, during your test ride at home, cycle through your gears. If there is an issue, you may need to check that your wheel is on correctly, if the cable has stretched, the drivetrain is OK, or if your mech is bent.
During Your Ride
Sometimes while riding, your bike may develop creaks and noises. Don’t wait until you get home to see what the problem is. Stop and try to locate where the noise is coming from. Hopefully, it’s not anything serious that needs immediate attention, but if it is, you can fix it before something dangerous or expensive happens.
If you are riding a new bike, it is a good idea to give it the once over during your ride. It is not uncommon for wheels and shocks to become loose on new bikes. You really don’t want to experience an issue that will seriously damage you or your new bike.
After Your Ride
After your ride, it is a good idea to cast your eye over your mountain bike. A good time to do this is when you are cleaning it, as washing the mud off can reveal the results of the punishment you have put your bike through. Here are some things you should check:
Check Your Frame
This is more important if your mountain bike has a carbon frame, but you should check the frame for cracks, especially if you have had a crash. This is also the case if you have carbon handlebars, as cracked carbon can cause disastrous consequences.
Check Your Suspension
Your suspension components are expensive things to replace. Therefore, after your ride, give the stanchions a wipe down. This will keep them running smoothly and reliably while extending their service intervals. While you are looking at your stanchions, have a look at the seals to check for damage. Damaged or worn seals will let in dirt and water, which is not good for their otherwise smooth running.
It is well worth checking the pressures of your suspension now and then. If you have lost pressure, it may be due for a service.
Lube It Up
To ensure that your drivetrain runs smoothly, and your cassette does not wear prematurely, you should clean and lube your chain. Cleaning the chain with a good chain cleaner will remove all the dirt that acts as a grinding paste on your drivetrain.
Once your chain is clean, you need to lube it up with the right kind of lube. There are a few options for lube to suit the conditions you ride in.
Wet lube can be used in any condition but is designed for use when it is soggy. It is water-resistant, so it won’t wash off when you ride through puddles.
Dry lube is a solvent that dries on to your chain. This stuff prevents dirt from building upon it, but it wears off quickly, so it needs reapplying regularly.
Wax lube is essentially a very dry lube and is good at repelling dirt. It needs reapplying as is wears out quickly, especially in muddy conditions. It is ideal if you are just using your bike for a short ride at the weekends. However, make sure you don’t go overboard and put too much on, as it can gunk up your chain.
Ceramic lube is expensive, but it does last much longer.
A Note on Cleaning Your Mountain Bike
It isn’t completely necessary to wash your bike after every single ride. In fact, if you wash your bike too much, the bottom bracket and hubs can wear out much quicker thanks to too much water. Obviously, how much you wash your bike depends on where you ride and in what conditions, as muddy rides will warrant more washes. But, in general, a gentle wash once a week or so will be sufficient, as long as you give it a more thorough clean from time to time.
When you are washing your bike, be careful to not squirt high-pressure water on to bearings. This will remove grease, causing them to wear out much more quickly than they should. Be sure to use a bike-specific soap and be careful where you use a degreaser.
Long Term Servicing
Much like a car, a mountain bike needs a proper service. You should service your bike every season yourself, or get a bike mechanic to do it for you
A proper service will include your bike’s forks, shock, brakes, refreshing tyre sealant, a deep clean and thorough inspection. The inspection may highlight potential issues and jobs to be done on your bike. These jobs may include bottom bracket replacement, new wheel bearings, frame bearing replacement or hub rebuilds.
Once all these things have been done, you will be surprised how nicely your bike will ride, especially after a proper suspension service – I’ve used Bike and Spanner Edinburgh bike service and can recommend them.
It is excellent If you have the time, skills and tools to do all this yourself, but there is no shame in getting a bike mechanic to do it for you.
How often your mountain bike needs to be serviced depends on how much you ride. It also depends on how well you look after it and the conditions you ride it in. But, in a nutshell, the better you look after it, the less it will cost you in the long run.