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DIY TIPS FOR MOUNTAIN BIKE MAINTENANCE

If you do nothing else, make sure to give your bike a weekly all-over clean and wipe down. Remove mud and other grime on the same day when possible, and do the general clean once a week if you’re riding routinely.

Make sure to use bike cleaner to avoid damaging any surfaces or the finish, and grease and lube all moving parts after washing.

You should be able to wipe down and inspect your bike in about ten minutes or less. Look for anything rubbing, clicking, or loose and inspect the frame and wheels for cracking.

You should also do a larger clean after really muddy rides or before major service. 

1. Headsets, Hubs, Cranks

The headset affects steering. Hubs affect your wheels, and cranks are what turns the chain. These components are vital but easy to overlook. Make sure they are all tight and moving smoothly, and carefully adjust them if not. They also may need to be greased.

 

2. Brakes

If you have disc brakes or calipers, you need to clean and service them regularly to make sure your bike can stop when you need to. There are four simple steps to spot trouble with disc brakes.

 

Brake Pads

Worn pads need to be replaced promptly. Calipers are fairly straight-forward: Unscrew the pads, remove them, replace them with new. Disc brakes may be a little more complicated. Remove them whenever they are less than 1 mm thick

Brake Cables

Caliper and mechanical-style disc brakes both use cables to operate the brakes. Sluggish braking may be a sign that you have a frayed cable or a leak in a hydraulic system. Leaks can be fixed by bleeding, and worn cables should be replaced promptly.

Bleed Disc Brakes

If you have disc brakes, you probably need a bleed kit. Air in the line will make your brakes work poorly. Some brakes are easy to bleed, even on the trail, and others are more complicated.

 

3. Shifting Chains and Cables

Shifters are similar to brake levers; grease the moving spots, and typically you’re set. Shifter cables also fray and wear, and may need to be replaced.

 

Derailleurs

These parts actually move the chain up and down the gears. They can be finicky and tend to be easily damaged, especially the rear derailleur. Clean and adjust these components once in a month.

Bike Chain and Cassettes

We’ve already covered cleaning and lubing the chain, but make sure to check for wear and stretch when you clean. You can buy a chain stretch tool to measure, or simply go to the bike shop whenever it feels sloppy and ask them to check. If your chain is stretched or worn, you’ll need to replace it and the rear cassette, which wears with the chain.

 

4. Wheels and Tires

Your mountain bike wheels should freely spin around the hub without rubbing, touching, or hitting anything else. If the wheels don’t spin true, in a proper circle, they’ll need to be serviced. Problems include spokes, broken or loose, worn-out hubs, and possibly even damage to the rim.

Truing mountain bike wheels is not a basic maintenance task: Make sure you go to a professional if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you have a cracked rim, it’s unlikely that the wheel can be saved; better to buy a new one.

 

5. Pedals

Clipless pedals should be cleaned and lightly greased, particularly the contact points where your cleat connects and any internal bearings or moving parts. Flat pedals don’t need external greasing, but should also be cleaned and gently greased where they spin around the crank.

 

6. Seatposts and Saddles

It’s probably the one part you think least about: Where you sit down. Failing to maintain this essential part, however, can actually ruin the frame of your bike.

Make sure it can move smoothly up and down, never overtighten it (use a torque wrench!), and put a little grease for alloy seatposts in alloy frames. Don’t grease carbon: It can degrade the plastic and ruin the frame.

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