Mountain biking isn’t just about riding your bike and heading into the mountains to have fun. You also need to know how to maintain it so that it works well. Proper maintenance also means that it’s safer to ride and can handle more difficult trails.
So, what mountain bike servicing and maintenance tips do you need to know? And how to do them the right way?
That’s what this article is about. Because here, we’ll show you the most important tips to service your bike. So you can have more fun on it out on the trails.
The first thing to consider before every ride is properly set up. Setup is important because this controls the ride feel of the bike. Make fit adjustments on your bike before you ride out. Check the PSI of your tires and make sure that the rear tire is harder than the front. This is important to prevent slideouts in every ride. The recommended PSI is 25 and 30 at the front and rear respectively. But you can lower this to 10 and 25 PSI if it rains or if the trails are muddy.
Check your saddle height and make sure that it’s the proper height. Sit on it and stretch out your legs as you pedal. Your legs should be stretched in a straight way if it’s in the farthest position. This makes it easy to pedal on long rides. It also helps you reach the destination faster because you have full leg extension. Furthermore, it’s also where hub integrity, dropper posit, bike chain, cable housing, and bottom bracket longevity depend on. Also always pay attention to proper bolt checks to ensure proper brake performance and if you want to become a reliable mechanic who follows guidelines on correct bike repair.
The shifters and brake levers should also be accessible. The rider should easily reach them and you shouldn’t exert too much effort just to stretch your fingers. This is important for a rider because it’s where access, safety, and comfort depend on. You can use an Allen tool and torque wrench to adjust the shifters and brake levers to your preferences and riding style.
Always remember ABC before you ride your bike. ABC is an acronym for:
Check the air of your tires and suspension. This is also where your riding style depends on.
25 to 30 tire pressure is ideal for dry trails and cross-country riding. meanwhile, 20 to 25 tire pressure is great for muddy trails and enduro or downhill rides. You should also check the air of your suspension system.
This includes your suspension fork and shock if you have a full-suspension bike. Others measure air with the amount of PSI placed. But it’s better to just check the sag. Premium forks and shock-like those from Fox have a line that indicates the sag.
The recommended sag for enduro rides is 30% and 20% at the front and rear respectively. But you can play with it and adjust to your ride style. You can also have them at 30% sag front and rear if you are into jumps.
Then comes the chain. The chain is a vital part of your bike because it makes you move and pedal. This is why the chain should run as smoothly as possible. It’s best if you clean your chain every after rides.
Use water, a hose, and a chain-specific soap to cleanse it. You can also use a soft bristle brush. Put it directly on the chain and rotate the pedals backward.
This makes it easier to clean the chain. Then rinse it off with water via the hose. Wipe it dry. And don’t forget to apply chain lubricant. One cycle will do. One of the best chains lubes out there is Muc-off. It might be a bit pricy. But it’s worth it because it lasts.
Related: 8 Best Mountain Bike Chain Lube
Keep it squeaky clean
You don’t just clean your bike to make it look good. It also helps you save money because its parts are less likely to break. You might also think that it’s alright not to clean your bike if you ride on dry roads or trails. Well, you’re still wrong. Because it can still attract lots of dirt and grime!
It’s best to always clean your bike after every ride. But take note that pressure washers aren’t a very good idea. This is because water can seep into the nooks and crannies of your bike such as its bearings, drivetrain, tire tread, and derailleur pulleys. It will then make the steel parts rust.
There are also times when the strong water pressure can remove the grease from moving parts. And a bike without grease won’t function well because the connections aren’t any more smooth.
Focus on your drive train and ensure that the chainring and cogs are clean. Brush it with soap and rinse with water afterward. Then wipe it dry. Also, re-lube the chain after. It might take some time. But that’s normal and you need to do it so it won’t deteriorate.
Remember that wet bikes can cause rust buildup. This then leads to shifting problems, noises, and rounded bolts.
Avoid brake rotor contamination
Have you heard a squeaky noise when you use the brakes? If so, then you might have a contaminated disc brake or brake pads
Mountain bikes today already have disc brakes instead of rim brakes. They’re more powerful and more reliable. But they also need more bike maintenance just like brake fluid because the metal rotor should be clean. It’s where your brake calipers latch onto when you pull the brake levers.
This is why these parts shouldn’t be contaminated. Contamination is common for these parts because they’re below your bike. Contamination also means dirt, oil, mud, or other particles that stick to the rotors and calipers.
You won’t have much braking power if you have these on your brakes. They impede the brake power and lead to weird noises. Avoid this at all costs with regular bike cleanup. It’s best to wash your rotors with water if it’s hung on a bike rack on a long trip.
There’s a good chance road dirt stuck into its rotors. If you’re just in your home, you can hose down the brakes with water. Use soap and brush for a more thorough cleaning. Then wipe it dry with a different towel.
Remember to not pull your brake levers if you’ve removed the front wheel. Don’t squeeze the brakes! Because the calipers will close the brake pads. And you can’t anymore put your wheel back easily. You have to use a stick or a specially dedicated lever puller to open it back.
Learn how to deal with flat tires
Know how to fix flat tires. This is a vital mountain bike skill because flat tires are very common. You are bound to get a flat tire sooner or later. So, it’s best if you know how to deal with it! We recommend you go tubeless.
This means that you use tubeless-ready tires. These don’t have any tubes inside the tire. And tubes are usually the culprit with flat tires. The tubes easily get pinched when you ride through sharp rocks.
This happens because they touch the sharp edges of your rim. But you don’t have to worry about any of these if you don’t have any tubes. Tubeless setup tires only have a semi-liquid sealant inside the tires.
This sealant seals the possible cuts your tire will get. And all these happen in just 2 to 3 seconds! Your tire becomes virtually invincible to flats. But there are still times when flats happen despite all this bike tech.
So, always bring bacon strip patches with you. Just plug these straight into the damaged area of your tire. And it will harden along with the sealant. You can also just bring an extra tire and remove the tires from the rim with a tire scoop.
You can also bring a portable tire pump or CO2 canister. CO2 canisters are very helpful if you are in a race.
Simply plug it into your tubeless valve and switch it on. It will then fill your tire with air. Unfortunately, the air doesn’t last that long. And you have to eventually fix it with conventional methods.
You can even have tire inserts inside your tires to add an extra layer of protection. The best brands out there are:
- Nukeproof ARD
Maintain your suspension
Suspension maintenance is another important thing to do especially that you ride on rocky trails. Your suspension system includes your fork and rear shock. Make sure they are clean from debris and dust.
Always rinse them with water every after ride. But ensure that the water is flowing gently. Just a quick sprinkle will do.
You then wipe it with a clean towel. Then apply silicone spray to the stanchions. Spray some silicone spray into a different towel. And then directly wipe it on the stanchions. This will get rid of the dirt that sticks to it later.
It’s also wise to bring your shock to the nearest local bike shop for servicing.
Knowing the best mountain bike servicing and maintenance tips is important. This lets you enjoy the trails even more. It also avoids problems that can hassle you when you’re out on a ride.
Mountain biking is all about enjoying the outdoors. But you also need to know the different technicalities to get rid of issues along the way. And that includes knowing essential mountain bike servicing and maintenance tips.
Remember our tips and you’ll surely have a better ride in no time.