There’s nothing quite like hopping on a new bike. Everything feels crisp and dialed, there’s no creaking, grinding or squealing. Most bike parts are wearable items, so the squeaks, creaks and grinding are inevitable. However, with just a few simple maintenance tips, your bike could feel new and run smooth for much longer.
Get dirty, but keep it clean: We’re firm believers that bikes should be ridden and ridden hard, but we all know that a clean bike is a happy bike. Your bike doesn’t need to be washed after every ride, but if you went out of a rip and your bike is muddy or dusty, it’s a good idea to give it a quick 5 minute wash. This helps extend the life of bearings and the drive-train because it helps keep grit and grime from working its way in. Just note, if you wash your bike, never spray directly into your hubs or bottom bracket and ALWAYS dry your bike. If you don’t have a compressor to help dry your bike, give your bike a few quick bounces (you’ll be surprised how well this works).
Stay lubed: Use chain lube appropriate for the conditions you’re riding in. Wet lube is for wet/muddy conditions and dry lube is for well….dry conditions. It’s also important to not use too much lube. Too much lube is almost as bad as not lubing at all. A simple way around this is to apply the lube, let it sit for 2-3 minutes and then take a rag and and quickly run the chain through it.
Don’t be that guy: Don’t be that guy (or gal) with squeaky brakes. When you have your bike in the stand, don’t forget to give your brakes a once-over, after all, they are (arguably) the most important part on your bike. Give your wheels a quick spin to check for rotor alignment. I know most of you are running thru axles, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t smacked your rotor out of true at some point. Also take this opportunity to check your pads for wear and check for noisy brakes. If your brakes are squeaking a bit, wipe your rotors down using some rubbing alcohol and a CLEAN rag/paper towel. If they’re still squealing, pull the pads out and hit them quick with some 120 grit sandpaper. If the sandpaper doesn’t work, you probably have some contaminated pads and we recommend replacing.
Check your teeth: The conditions that us mountain bikers ride in really takes its toll on the drive-trains of our bikes and you’d be surprised just how quickly you can wear through your chain, front chain ring and cassette. As a rule of thumb, every other time you lube your chain we recommend checking it for stretch with a tool like the Park Tool CC-3.2. Keeping tabs on your chain wear will help extend the life of your drive train and keep your shifting nice and crisp. A quick and easy way to tell if your drive-train is worn is by looking for the infamous “shark fin”. As chain rings wear, the teeth become more and more pointed, resulting in a shape that closely resembles a shark fin or shark tooth. If yours are looking like this, it’s probably time to replace. For some more drive-train maintenance tips, check out this video by GMBN
By following these 4 general rules you’ll greatly extend the life of your bike (or bikes because you know….n+1, right?). If you have any questions for us or things to add to this list, drop them in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!