Mountain Bike Maintenance Schedule
Mountain biking helps us to appreciate nature and leads us to explore parts of our world we might have never seen otherwise. Here’s everything you need to know about servicing your mountain bike, from check-ups to cleanings to the inevitable replacement of parts. By the way, did we mention that if you buy your bike from us you get free maintenance for life?
average riding 10-20 miles
|10 RIDES||25 RIDES||50 RIDES||100 RIDES|
|CHECKUP||Inspect Tire Pressure||Pump to 30 – 45 psi based on rider weight and trail conditions. Check before every ride.|
|Inspect wheel true|
|Inspect nuts and bolts|
|Inspect and tighten cranks|
|Inspect chain stretch|
|Inspect wear of chainrings|
|Check wheel skewers for tightness|
|CLEANING||Lube and clean chain||Based on riding conditions. You want a quiet, relatively clean chain – dusty is okay, but it parts should move freely.|
|Lube cables – brakes and gears|
|Grease nuts and bolts|
|Bleed disc brakes|
|REPLACEMENT||Replace cables and housing|
Replace shock seals and fluid
|Replace grips / bar tape|
|* Replacement of drivetrain will be sooner if regular lubing and cleaning is not maintained.|
Inspect Tire Pressure
Mountain bikers tend to be very specific about their tire pressure. For mountain biking, 35-45 psi is generally recommended (it varies based on terrain and body weight – the trickier the terrain and lighter the rider, the lower the psi). If you’re riding your bike with a tubeless tire setup, you can run significantly lower pressure for increased traction. Tubeless tires are not susceptible to pinch flats. Often times riders may lower pressure right before a nasty downhill for improved traction and comfort. For street riding, you’ll want to run a higher pressure. Check your tire sidewall for specifics.
Inspect wheel true
Wheels get out of true when spokes settle or if you bend the rim with an impact. Check your wheels often, because a wheel ridden out of true can permanently bend a rim and put undue tension on the spokes. To inspect the true of a wheel, gauge how much space between your brake pads and the rim – if it varies while spinning the wheel then it needs truing.
Inspect nuts and bolts
Your nuts and bolts will get loose over time – if this occurs it may damage your parts and worse yet cause injury. Make sure to have metric allen and socket wrenches. Torque your nuts and bolts to the specification on each component. If you have any questions, give us a call. It’s better to check before overtightening something or riding something that is loose.
Inspect and tighten cranks
Cranks can come loose often – makes sense considering how many times they turn when you ride. If your cranks are loose, torque them to the spec on the crankarm. If you notice your cranks continuing to get loose, bring your bike into the shop.
Inspect chain stretch
Your chain doesn’t actually stretch – the bushings between your links compress. This makes your drivetrain not function as it should, and will cause gear skipping and premature wear on your cassette and chainrings. Come by our shop and we can quickly gauge your stretch with our tool. You should replace your chain if it reads beyond 0.7 mm.
Inspect wear of chainrings
Worn chainrings will slow down your shifting because the special shift-ramps lose their effectiveness. You’ll know if they’re worn if they are sharp and pointy to the touch. By the way, a new chainring intentionally has different shapes to the teeth (some look worn and dull) – this helps ramp the chain quicker.
Lube and clean chain
A bicycle drivetrain (chain, cassette, and chainrings) is a metal-on-metal system. This puts a lot of wear and friction on all your parts. Regular lubrication will reduce the friction, resulting in longer life of your drivetrain parts and a smoother, quieter ride. Bicycle-specific lube is different from automotive or general lube.
- Dry lube is extremely thin to prevent dirt from collecting on the chain, but Teflon coated to remain lubricated. This is good for dusty conditions.
- Wet lube is thicker to last longer and repel rain. This is ideal for street riding where dust is less of an issue.
- Wax lubes are great because they create a coating on your chain, thus eliminating friction on your drivetrain. However, it’s only ideal on newer drivetrains and must be cleaned regularly (to prevent over-coating).
- A good middle ground is something like Rock & Roll or Pro Link. It lubricates the chain while also cleaning it. These kind of lubes are also thin enough to prevent serious buildup. They’re also great for your brake and shift cables. You’ll need to re-apply after rain, especially if you’re using Pro Link.
Here are the general steps to lubing and cleaning your chain – make sure to keep your hand away from the cog teeth, especially if you own a fixed gear bicycle. It is also recommended to read the bottle of the lube you have as they may have specific instructions on how to use their product.
- Spin the crank backwards and clean out the dirty lube and gunk with a rag.
- While spinning the crank backwards, apply lube to the chain near the cassette.
- Wait five minutes, and with a clean rag wipe off the excess.
Every so often you’ll have to clean out your drivetrain to remove the grime and dirt that gets picked up from regular lubing. It’s good to check this frequently, as it will extend the life of your drivetrian. Make sure to use bicycle-specific degreaser – it won’t crack your rubber seals and is safe for the environment. Here are the steps to degreasing your drivetrain:
- Apply degreaser to your chain, chainrings, cassette, and rear derailleur pulleys. Wait five to ten minutes for it to penetrate. Try to keep degreaser off of your rims and brake pads if you have rim brakes, or your rotors if you have disc brakes.
- Use a brush to clean out gunk inside your chain and cassette. Use a flat-tip screwdriver and clean out the buildup that collects on your pulleys.
- Dry out your drivetrain with a rag and wait overnight (because water will be stuck inside your chain).
- Re-lube your chain.
Your cables are the veins of your bicycle and need to be lubed to function optimally. Drop a bit of lube into each cable where it meets the housing. A little goes a long way. How do you do that? For brakes, release the cables as if you’re removing your wheels. For derailleurs, shift into the large cogs; then without pedaling shift into the smaller cogs, releasing the tension on the cable. You’ll be able to apply a little bit of lube before pedaling again to reset the chain.
Clean and wash bicycle
Regular cleaning will retain your clear coat and prevent your bearings from getting contaminated. Use regular soap and water and brushes – be sure not to use a high-pressure hose though as it will get inside your bearings. For a glossier look use Pedro’s Bike Lust for your frame’s clear coat.
Grease nuts and bolts
Whenever bolts get rusty, or if a bike is getting consistently wet, it is a good idea to replace bolts with newer, rust free ones. Apply grease to any metal on metal threaded part of a bicycle. Just a dab on the threads will do. If you have questions, feel free to contact us – some bike parts, such as carbon fiber or titanium bits, as well as square taper crank spindles, should not be greased.
Replace cables and housing
Over time your cables and housing will get so gritty they should be replaced. It’s a good way to improve your shifting and braking performance. Be sure to request stainless cables to prevent rust. Teflon-coated cables add smoothness, but need to be replaced more often because the coating will wear off.
A drivetrain is a mini gear system, just like your car’s transmission; the teeth in the gears are precisely measured to fit together. When your chain stretches, it throws off your gears and will result in subpar performance. Over time it can cause ghost-shifting and gear skipping. Be sure to replace your chain when it’s worn (past 0.7 mm) and you’ll make your cassette and chainrings last longer.
Replace cassette / chainrings
Your cassette and chainrings will wear out over time, resulting in poor performance. To prevent premature wear, be sure to regularly lube and clean your chain. Replace your chain also when it’s stretched out. You’ll know they’re worn if the teeth are sharp and pointy to the touch.
A worn out tire is something that should be replaced for a number of reasons. Worn out tires have less grip, less flat resistance, and a higher likelihood of blowing out.
Replace bottom bracket
A worn bottom bracket will cause friction and slow you down every time you pedal. Luckily, a good bottom bracket will last for years. If there is any play in a properly tightened bottom bracket, the bearings are worn and should be replaced.
Replace grips / bar tape
Besides being sticky and grimy, worn grips will decrease your overall control of your bicycle – not only will your hands slip on the grip itself, but the grips will spin on your bars. Change them every so often.