Tips For Mountain Bike Maintenance

Todd Richardson
Todd Richardson, VVS Mountain Bike Coach, gives tips on how to keep your mountain bike in top shape for mountain bike trails. #sedona #sedonamountainbiking #mountainbiking
How To Care For Your Mountain Bike

At some point within the past year you finally did it. Your gym closed and your weekly game of pickup basketball got canceled and you very nearly convinced yourself that the entry price of a new Peloton was worth it, but then you remembered- you hauled those old moving boxes to the other side of the garage, dusted off your trusty two-wheeler, and you rode your bike again.
Good on you!

I imagine at this point things are starting to need a little keeping up, so since it’s been awhile, let’s review some very basic bike maintenance tips to keep your old friend running smoothly. 

Start with the chain. Pop your bicycle upside-down and grab a bucket of soapy water and an old rag. Soak the rag and allow the chain to slide through it while you spin the pedals. It’s a good idea to do this a whole bunch because gunk and buildup will affect the chain’s ability to do for you what it’s supposed to: ride like the wind. I like to use an old toothbrush at this point to really get into each chain link as well as the derailleur and cassette (if your steed as those) and get as much of that gunk out as you can. Removing an old chain generally requires a chain-breaking tool so if you have one lying about, you can remove it entirely and give it a bath overnight in a dish soap and water solution. If you’re going through that trouble though, might as well replace the chain altogether and this is supposed to be basic. Let’s keep it basic. Scrub that chain until the water stays clear.

With the chain thoroughly degreased, it’s time for some new lube. A trip to the bike shop is in order as you really don’t want to mess this up. There are many options for bike chain lubricants. Wet lubricants are for wetter, rainier climates (or times of the year) where dry lubricants are for dryer, dustier conditions. A wet lube in the desert will actually cause more buildup and a dry lube in Seattle won’t provide proper protection to the chain to prevent rust. Follow the instructions on the bottle since some go on easy and wipe off clean right away while others need to sit overnight.

At this point it’s a good idea to give it a once over and make sure all the nuts and bolts are still tight. Check the tires and make sure there’s still some tread. Add air if they feel too squishy. Give the brakes a squeeze and make sure they provide enough stopping power. Cycle through the gears and make sure they slide easily from one to the next without any big weird chunking sounds. Brakes and shifters are not necessarily basic maintenance things so if you’re worried about them and you’ve never worked on a bicycle before, schedule a service at your LBS (Local Bike Shop, now you know some sweet cycling lingo!). While you’re there, talk to the mechanics and the cashiers and introduce yourself to some of the coolest people in your community. A bike shop is never just a bike shop. These people know a thing or two.

To all those new or newly-returned to biking for fitness, sport, leisure, therapy, or adventure, welcome. It takes a special kind of something to go outside and spin your legs round in circles for hours but I’ve found there’s just nothing else like it.

There are no bad days on a bike and if you take care of it, it will take care of you.
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