Mountain biking is one of the most fun and rewarding hobbies that you can have outdoors, but it isn’t just something that you can pick up and do without thinking about if you want to be a serious rider. Think of mountain bikes the same way you’d think about your car in the fact that it needs proper maintenance to perform at its best and keep you safe. Here are five essential maintenance tips for your mountain bike that every rider should be following.
Keep It Clean
One of the biggest mistakes that new mountain bike riders make is not keeping all of their equipment clean. Most figure that since you’re going to be going through the mud and dirt when biking that it’s always going to get dirty, there’s no point in doing a deep clean every time that you ride. This is sort of the same way of thinking as making your bed every day. However, your bed will still function properly whether or not you make it, whereas your bike won’t.
Instead of giving it a quick spray down with a hose, always make sure to deep clean every part of the mountain bike, making sure that there aren’t any clumps that could hinder its performance. The chains, especially, need to be cleaned thoroughly to prevent any damage. Clogged-up dirt and mud in the chains can cause them to snap while in use, and any biker knows how dangerous that can be.
Don’t Get Tired
Obviously, your mountain bike isn’t going anywhere unless you have tires, and you won’t go far unless those tires work. Before every ride, make sure that your tire pressure is optimized for the trail you’re about to embark on while always checking for any leaks. Some trails will require some lower air pressure, but if they feel too soft, then always add air. Also check to see if there are any dents in your rims, which could be causing air pressure issues.
Every couple of months, do a thorough inspection of your tires to see if there is too much wear and tear. Because you put your bike tires through so much, the tires can end up being worn down pretty quickly. While our cars don’t need their tires replaced every few months, your bike might if you’ve been riding some tough trails. Cornering knob tearing is a good indication that it’s time for a new tire.
Take a Brake
We’ve covered the most important part of any mountain bike, but the brakes aren’t too far behind the tires in terms of importance. You depend on your brakes to keep you safe, and they can end up getting worn down much faster than your tires. Before any ride, always test your brakes to see if they’re up to snuff. If you can tell that they’re cinching hard, you’re fine, but any softness or give is a cause for concern.
When that happens, check your brake pads for wear. It could be time to replace them after even just a few weeks of riding depending on how much the trails have caused you to use them. The good news is that solid brake pads from reputable companies don’t cost that much, and replacing them is easy. Every few months, bleed your brakes so that hydraulic fluid and air are let out.
Don’t Break the Chain
Earlier we mentioned that your chain is what keeps everything running and should be cleaned with great care after every ride. On top of keeping your chain clean, you’ll also want to ensure that your chain is still operating at a high level. One of the surefire ways of telling that your chain is on its last legs is when you start to hear it slap or bounce. When shifting gears becomes an issue, then you know it’s time for an immediate replacement.
While the other aspects of the mountain bike that we’ve touched on so far are more related to time, chains can vary due to mileage and usage. Some chains can get you as far as 2,500 miles before starting to show signs of wear, but others need to be replaced after about 1,500 miles. Keep an eye on your chain and if you can tell that you’re getting to about its last couple of hundred miles, then it’s a good idea to replace it before things get too bad.
The suspension on your mountain bike requires frequent care and attention as the way you stand up and sit down while taking on tough terrain can do a number to the suspension with each ride. It’s suggested that as little as 30 hours of riding can be cause for suspension service, and it’s also recommended that you bring the bike in rather than do it yourself as it can be tricky to change your own oil and replace important parts.
Test your suspension before any ride, making sure that it goes up and down with your body weight smoothly. If it feels jerky or is giving you any resistance, it might be time to have it looked at sooner than you think. Both the fork and rear suspension are under frequent stress, even if you’re on the lighter side.