It’s every mountain biker’s worst nightmare – your mountain bike breaking down and falling apart when you’re in the middle of nowhere!
Keeping your bike well maintained is one of the best ways to prevent unnecessary breakdowns and accidents, and will help to extend the life of your bike, accessories and gear.
If you’re new to mountain biking, it can be difficult to know where to begin – completing all the steps in this easy maintenance guide after every ride will help to keep your bike in tip top condition.
Before you start the maintenance process, you’ll need to prepare your bike. Start by checking your accessories, like the lights, the bell, your water bottle and your repair kit to ensure that they are all in good working order, then remove them from the bike. You’ll now want to release your V brakes (if you’ve got them). Take careful note that all these tips are for mountain bikes only, loads of readers have been asking me about their scooters, electric scooters are popular these days so I get that a lot. I don’t know much about them and you should seek a specialist.
If you’ve got a repair stand, hang your bike on that. Alternatively, lay out an old towel or dust sheet on the ground, then turn your bike upside down, so it’s resting on the saddle and hand grips.
Next, you’re going to need to remove the wheels, using the quick release mechanism. Start with the front wheel, then remove the rear, carefully easing the rear cassette housing from the derailleur mechanism.
You’re now ready to clean the frame, wheels and mechanisms.
Start with the drive system – cleaning the derailleur using a bike cleaning brush (or an old toothbrush at a pinch), and some solvent cleaner or soapy water. Make sure you clean all the moving parts thoroughly, working the brush into them to remove all of the gunk.
Next, use a wet cloth or rag to clean the chain, working the pedals to move the chain around. You can also use your bike brush for this. Use the brush to clean the front cog, before wiping it with a dry cloth. Clean the front gears using a wet cloth, making sure you get right into all the moving parts.
Now, it’s time to wash down the frame, the handlebars, the pedals and the seat, using a damp, soapy cloth or rag. Finally, you’ll want to wash down the wheels with a wet rag, cleaning the spokes, axle and rims.
At this point, you can also clean your disc brakes (if you’ve got them), using an appropriate degreaser. You will also want to clean the gear cassette on your rear wheel, removing any small stones, before cleaning out any dirt and old grease using your brush.
Checking the wheels
The next step is to refit the wheels, ready for checking. Refit the front wheel first, tightening the quick release, before dropping the rear wheel back in. Slide the gear cassette back into the assembly.
You’re now going to check the wheels and tyres for damage. Start by spinning each wheel, to ensure that they are straight and true. Next, check the rim for any dents or knocks, and tighten any loose spokes.
It’s really important to check your brakes. With disc brakes, you’ll want to thoroughly check the rotors to ensure that they are straight. For V brakes, spin the wheel, and make sure there is no contact with the rims.
Check your tyre pressure, and look for any tyre damage, so you can make repairs before you take your bike out again.
Pedals, gears and brakes
For your pedals, you’re going to want to check them to ensure that they turn freely, and there is no noise coming from your bearings.
Now, examine your gears, starting with the front. Turn the pedals, and use your gear lever to move up and down the gears – checking for any signs of snagging. Repeat the process with the rear derailleur and cogs. If you find any snags or misalignment, then it’s a good idea to adjust them before your next ride.
Stand your bike the right way up, and give the top of the frame a good clean and wipe down. Next, do a quick brake check, by standing in front of your bike, and applying each of the brakes in turn, before pulling your bike towards you to check they’re working properly.
Examine your brake blocks and cables for misalignment, and adjust them accordingly. If there is any sign of wear on either your cables or blocks, you’ll want to replace them before you go out riding again.
The last job is to lubricate the entire drive system, using an appropriate spray lubricant. Rotate the chain and spray the entire length, before spraying the teeth of the chain ring.
Stay Safe With Ridersmate
Look after your mountain bike, and it will look after you. Whilst all that maintenance might seem like a lot of effort, with practice, the whole process shouldn’t take you much more than half an hour.
However, even the best bike maintenance schedule won’t stop you from falling off – but that’s where Ridersmate comes in.
Ridersmate is there to help if you do have an accident, springing into action and notifying your loved ones immediately – providing you with the confidence, security and peace of mind to ride wherever your adventures take you.