Bikes are no longer only a recreational tool. They have somewhat become a part of our lifestyle these days and they are just as important as any other vehicle. Your bike is undoubtedly a precious possession for you. The life of your bike will be prolonged to a great extent if you follow a basic mountain bike maintenance regime. Since you have already spent a chunk of money on the bike or you want to buy, so let’s take a moment to see how you can bring out the best outcome from it.
We have divided this review into two parts: things you need to do before you take your bike out and the things you do after.
Maintenance Before Every Ride
Check the Tyres
Check the tires prior every ride. Always have a thorough look at the air pressure of the tires and make sure they are maintained at an optimum level. If there’s any recommended pressure by your bike’s manufacturer then try to follow that. Also, check for any cut or scrape that may lead to a tire blowout.
Check the brakes
Discovering that your brakes aren’t working during a downhill will be an absolute nightmare. Never forget to check the brakes before you take it out to avoid that horrific experience. Have a close look at the brake blocks to see if they are worn or not. You’ll hear a screeching sound while pressing the brakes if the blocks are worn out. If the brakes aren’t working properly your wheels will be affected too when you’re trying to stop.
Check the Pedals
Pedals are usually not given much importance and they are usually overlooked when it comes about maintenance. Most bikes usually come with plastic pedals. Try to get metal or clipless pedals. Clipless pedals tend to catch dirt easily and freeze up. Make sure you properly clean the pedals and lightly grease them before you hit the road to have a smooth ride.
Check the bolts and screws
Bolts and screws usually loosen up after a ride or two. Check them up and make sure none of the bolt or screw is missing. Avoid tightening up the bolts too much as you might over tighten them and damage the part. Invest in a good torque wrench since the carbon parts have a distinct tolerance level. A torque wrench will help you to tighten them at an optimum level.
Check for Fitness
Be sure that your bike doesn’t feel off or different than the last time you rode it. Have a thorough look especially if you’re riding after a while.
Maintenance After Every Ride
Clean the Bike
It is not necessary to clean the bike after every ride. It might have a harmful effect instead. But, a regularly cleaned bike is a lot easier to ride and maintain. A sponge and hot soapy water are enough to clean the bike. After the bike is cleaned, let it dry and add a little lubricant to the gears and chain. Avoid getting water and soap to the bottom bracket and hub as it would make them wear out faster. A thorough cleaning is essential during wet weather and winter months when the corrosive salts from the roads form a coating on your bike. However, avoid using high powered hoses and pressure washers on your bike.
Have a Thorough Inspection
After every ride check your frames, brakes and other components for any wear and tear. This is more crucial if you had an accident because a small crack in your bike can have a massive consequence. Take your bike to a service center or a professional if you face such issues.
Lube the Chain
A squeaky chain is a pet peeve for the bikers. This noise occurs due to the friction between the cassette and the chain. The sound is not only annoying but it also wears out the cassette with time. Lubing the chain after every ride makes it less prone to dust and sand. Try to add tiny drops to all the links and wipe off any excess. Don’t be tempted to use too much lube as it will result in a heavy grease build up. You may use chain cleaners to keep the chain dirt and grease free.
Some Routine Maintenance Tips
The saddle bar, handle stem and seat pin receives a high level of stress, so make sure they are tightened up to avoid any mishap. As we have already mentioned investing in a good torque wrench to avoid overtightening.
Your cable doesn’t wear out or snap overnight. This is nothing that you need to check after every single ride. Check the cables once in a while, especially during the winters when the corrosion usually takes place. Remove the cable from the housing and check for corrosion. Apply lubricant before placing the cable back in its place and get a replacement if the cables have worn out already.
It’s always a plus if you can do things like rebuilding the hub, replacing the bottom bracket, refreshing the tire sealant etc. However, if you are not accustomed to these services or you don’t want to take any risk, then take your bike to a professional for annual mountain bike maintenance especially during the winter or late spring.
Maintaining these basic routines will extend the life of your bike to a great extent and they will also provide a lot smoother and safer riding experience throughout the year.