Your mountain bike: it’s one of your favorite toys. Whether you’re climbing rocky mountains or cruising down a ski-hill trail, your mountain bike is your steady companion. It’s also a significant investment that you want to keep in the best possible shape! To keep your mountain bike in excellent working condition, though, it’s essential to understand how to maintain it. Luckily, you can learn to maintain a mountain bike at home!
Here’s your complete guide:
- 1 Maintain a Mountain Bike With These 10 Tips
- 2 Better Mountain Bike Maintenance Starts Here
Maintain a Mountain Bike With These 10 Tips
Regardless of whether you ride daily, weekly, or monthly, these genius maintenance tips can keep you rolling:
1. Check Your Tire Pressure
Before every ride, take the time to check your bike’s tire pressure. Improper tire pressure can lead to flats, awkward pedaling, and sloppy handling.
To keep your rides rolling smoothly, purchase a digital tire gauge.
To check your tire pressure, remove the dust cap on your tire and fit the gauge over it.
As you test the pressure, do a quick inspection on the tire for damage or things stuck in the rubber. Depending on the results of the reading, inflate or deflate your tires accordingly.
2. Check Your Brakes
Mountain biking is a high-impact, high-speed sport, and it’s never fun to realize there’s a problem with your brakes as you’re flying down a hill.
To prevent a disaster, test your brakes before you set out on a ride. Do this by hopping on the bike and taking a quick spin around the block.
As you ride, pump your brakes a bit. If they feel loose, there may be an air bubble or other obstruction in the reservoir that you can get rid of by pumping the brakes.
If you can’t work the obstruction loose, or if the brakes feel soft, check your pads and lines to ensure everything is as it should be.
3. Ensure Proper Shifting
Your bike’s gears help you climb hills and cruise around town, so it’s essential they work properly. Test them by taking a short bike ride and running through all your gears as you do.
Ensure they shift smoothly, that your chain links run the way they should, and that your gears aren’t skipping as you shift.
If you notice sticking or skipping, lube your chain for smoother operation.
4. Tighten and Repair Your Pedals
Mountain bike pedals are particularly vulnerable to impacts by rocks, logs, and hard-packed ground. As such, it’s important to inspect them before every ride. After all, you don’t want to realize your pedal is loose only when it comes off during a ride!
To check your pedals, flip the bike over and inspect the housing and contact points. Ensure everything is tight and intact. You should also check to see that the pedals are clean since dirt and grime can freeze the pedals’ motion and make it harder to operate them correctly.
Here’s a video to help you service your pedals the right way:
5. Tighten Your Axles
Mountain bikes are transported more than virtually any other type of bike. When you put a bike on a rooftop bike rack, remove the front tire to put it in a car, or remove the wheel for maintenance, it can be easy to overlook putting it back on correctly.
As such, one of the key duties as you maintain a mountain bike is to check the tightness of the axles. Check your axles by inspecting them visually and ensuring all fixtures are hand-tight.
If you’ve recently removed the front tire, give it an additional once-over.
Few things are worse than having your front wheel come off on the trail, so this is a critical maintenance step you can’t afford to skip.
6. Wash the Bike
Mountain bikes love the mud, dust, dirt, and grime! Unfortunately, these materials can work their way into your bike’s components and damage them. Because of this, it’s essential to wash your bike after use.
While you don’t want to use a pressure washer or high-powered fixture (as this can strip paint and damage the fixture), you can use a garden hose and a bucket of soapy detergent, like Dawn dish soap and warm water.
Using a sponge or clean cloth, soap the bike with the detergent mixture. Pay special attention to moving components, like the chain, pedals, stem, and axles.
Once the bike is thoroughly soaped, spray it clean with a garden hose. To give it a nice shine after its wash, rub on some hard wax once the bike is dry.
7. Maintain Your Suspension
Most mountain bikes have several inches of suspension, which absorbs the impact from rocks and uneven ground and makes for a smooth ride.
Unfortunately, lots of people just ride their bikes, spray them down, hang them up and never think about maintaining their suspension stanchions.
Over time, this approach can damage your forks and shocks, and make for a rough and uncomfortable ride.
Avoid this outcome by wiping your suspension stanchions after every ride. You may also want to check the air pressure in the shock and fork to ensure it’s where it should be.
8. Lubricate Your Bike’s Drivetrain
Your bike’s drivetrain is what’s responsible for getting you from point A to point B.
Make sure it stays in great shape by lubing it on a regular basis – especially after riding in wet, muddy, or dirty conditions.
Need help lubing your chain? Read our guide here. While it may sound difficult, it’s important to remember that this is a process anyone can learn to do with a little practice and instruction.
9. True Your Wheels
If your bike wheels aren’t rolling straight, you’re in for a bumpy ride. To avoid this, true your wheels by turning the bike upside down and spinning the wheel.
Watch it to ensure it’s turning consistently. If not, you’ll need to adjust things accordingly.
Here’s a video to help you complete the job:
10. Tighten Your Grips
Your grips play a significant role in the quality of your ride, and checking them is a critical way to maintain a mountain bike.
Before you set out on that new trail, check them to ensure they’re tight.
Grab the grip and squeeze it. If it’s not tight, spray some hairspray toward the inside of the grip to seal it further.
Replace your grips when they wear out.
Better Mountain Bike Maintenance Starts Here
Learning to maintain a mountain bike is critical as a bike owner. Luckily, these ten tips are a great place to start!