Top Tips for a Reliable Mountain Bike

It’s no fun hanging around waiting for someone who’s faffing around trying to fix this or that. If you inevitably wind up being ‘that person’, here’s a bunch of tips that may just keep you pedalling. 

<p>Check that your rear derailleur can’t travel too far inboard and take out the spokes. Start by changing into the biggest cog and attempting to ‘overshift’ by pushing the gear lever as far as you can. Double check by manually pushing on the derailleur—it should meet a solid stop without getting too close to the spokes or derailing the chain. When viewed from the rear, the cage should sit at 90-degress to the ground. If it’s bent, get a bike shop to check the alignment.</p>
Check that your rear derailleur can’t travel too far inboard and take out the spokes. Start by changing into the biggest cog and attempting to ‘overshift’ by pushing the gear lever as far as you can. Double check by manually pushing on the derailleur—it should meet a solid stop without getting too close to the spokes or derailing the chain. When viewed from the rear, the cage should sit at 90-degress to the ground. If it’s bent, get a bike shop to check the alignment.

 

<p>Periodic cable lubing will keep your gears shifting smoothly. Shift into the biggest rear cog, then release all the tension from the gear cable by clicking back the other way without turning the pedals. With the inner wire all loose, slide back the outer casing and end cap so you can drip some oil inside. Do this from the top down so gravity feeds the oil in. The process is the same with split outer gear casing but you’ll get better access by sliding the cable all the way back.</p>
Periodic cable lubing will keep your gears shifting smoothly. Shift into the biggest rear cog, then release all the tension from the gear cable by clicking back the other way without turning the pedals. With the inner wire all loose, slide back the outer casing and end cap so you can drip some oil inside. Do this from the top down so gravity feeds the oil in. The process is the same with split outer gear casing but you’ll get better access by sliding the cable all the way back.

 

<p>Clean and oil your chain after every off-road ride. Start by wiping the chain and jockey wheels with a rag. Apply a light spray of degreaser to the rag if it’s really dirty but don’t go overboard and saturate the chain— that will just make it harder to re-lube the chain. Once you’ve given it a light clean, apply an even amount of lube to the rollers. Again, don’t get carried away; more isn’t better—especially with ‘wet’ style lubes. Wipe of any excess lube with a clean rag.</p>
Clean and oil your chain after every off-road ride. Start by wiping the chain and jockey wheels with a rag. Apply a light spray of degreaser to the rag if it’s really dirty but don’t go overboard and saturate the chain— that will just make it harder to re-lube the chain. Once you’ve given it a light clean, apply an even amount of lube to the rollers. Again, don’t get carried away; more isn’t better—especially with ‘wet’ style lubes. Wipe of any excess lube with a clean rag.

 

<p>Get yourself a reliable pressure gauge and monitor your tyre pressures— check them before every ride. Doing this and experimenting a little will help you find a setting that suits your trails and style. It’ll also ensure that you spot any slow leaks before you are on the trail with your mates waiting for you.</p>
Get yourself a reliable pressure gauge and monitor your tyre pressures— check them before every ride. Doing this and experimenting a little will help you find a setting that suits your trails and style. It’ll also ensure that you spot any slow leaks before you are on the trail with your mates waiting for you.

 

<p>Keep a selection of bike specific tools in your car; lube, shock pump, floor pump, pressure gauge and other tools. It’ll be handy for trailhead tinkering and ensure that your time on the trail is spent riding, not faffing!</p>
Keep a selection of bike specific tools in your car; lube, shock pump, floor pump, pressure gauge and other tools. It’ll be handy for trailhead tinkering and ensure that your time on the trail is spent riding, not faffing!

 

<p>Chain wear checkers aren’t the definitive measure of drivechain wear but they are easy to use and can help you keep tabs on your chain’s health.<br />Riding with a worn chain will quickly ruin the entire drivechain and result in an expensive repair bill. Replace the chain before it’s worn out and the whole thing will last longer. Also consider having two chains that you alternate, cleaning one chain whilst the fresh one is in use. A ‘quicklink’<br />style joiner makes this process quick and easy.</p>
Chain wear checkers aren’t the definitive measure of drivechain wear but they are easy to use and can help you keep tabs on your chain’s health.
Riding with a worn chain will quickly ruin the entire drivechain and result in an expensive repair bill. Replace the chain before it’s worn out and the whole thing will last longer. Also consider having two chains that you alternate, cleaning one chain whilst the fresh one is in use. A ‘quicklink’
style joiner makes this process quick and easy.

 

<p>Tubeless tyres are great and will prevent so many pinch-flats that they are well and truly worthwhile, but they do require more effort. Periodically top up the sealant as it does dry up over time. Check there’s still liquid inside by listening for it sloshing around inside. If you have removable valve cores, you can top-up the ‘goop’ with a syringe. If your rims rely on adhesive tape to cover the spoke holes, renew it once a year as it doesn’t last forever.</p>
Tubeless tyres are great and will prevent so many pinch-flats that they are well and truly worthwhile, but they do require more effort. Periodically top up the sealant as it does dry up over time. Check there’s still liquid inside by listening for it sloshing around inside. If you have removable valve cores, you can top-up the ‘goop’ with a syringe. If your rims rely on adhesive tape to cover the spoke holes, renew it once a year as it doesn’t last forever.

 

<p>If you need to remove the wheels to fit your bike into the car or onto a roof rack, keep a stash of pad spacers handy in your console/glove box. If the brake lever is pulled when there’s no wheel in place, the pistons can overextend and push the pads too far in. This will make mounting the wheel a right pain and can lead to dragging brakes on the ride. Pop a spacer into the calliper and you won’t have a problem.</p>
If you need to remove the wheels to fit your bike into the car or onto a roof rack, keep a stash of pad spacers handy in your console/glove box. If the brake lever is pulled when there’s no wheel in place, the pistons can overextend and push the pads too far in. This will make mounting the wheel a right pain and can lead to dragging brakes on the ride. Pop a spacer into the calliper and you won’t have a problem.

 

<p>The vast majority of threads on your bike will benefit from a light smear of grease. It will ensure that you can apply the correct torque when tightening and prevent bolts seizing. Use grease on just about anything as long as the item doesn’t require a thread locking compound (the<br />suspension pivots on some bikes also have specific needs). Also, it’s always a good idea to use a torque wrench, especially when dealing with lightweight components.</p>
The vast majority of threads on your bike will benefit from a light smear of grease. It will ensure that you can apply the correct torque when tightening and prevent bolts seizing. Use grease on just about anything as long as the item doesn’t require a thread locking compound (the
suspension pivots on some bikes also have specific needs). Also, it’s always a good idea to use a torque wrench, especially when dealing with lightweight components.

 

<p>While regular grease can work fine for seatposts (and in most cases it’s better than no grease at all), using ‘grip paste’ can do a better job. Like grease it’ll ensure that your seatpost doesn’t seize but it’s also got tiny granules that stop the post slipping. You won’t need to make the seatpost collar as tight so it’s ‘kinder’ to your frame, post and collar.</p>
While regular grease can work fine for seatposts (and in most cases it’s better than no grease at all), using ‘grip paste’ can do a better job. Like grease it’ll ensure that your seatpost doesn’t seize but it’s also got tiny granules that stop the post slipping. You won’t need to make the seatpost collar as tight so it’s ‘kinder’ to your frame, post and collar.

 

<p>Ensure that you know how to tighten your quick release wheels correctly—be it thru-axle, oldschool QR or bolt-up. Ask at your local bike shop for a demo if you are unsure. With any external cam-style quick release (as pictured), it’s important to keep the mechanism clean for it to function properly. Sometimes it also helps to apply a small drop of oil on the cam—just make sure it doesn’t get on your brake rotor.</p>
Ensure that you know how to tighten your quick release wheels correctly—be it thru-axle, oldschool QR or bolt-up. Ask at your local bike shop for a demo if you are unsure. With any external cam-style quick release (as pictured), it’s important to keep the mechanism clean for it to function properly. Sometimes it also helps to apply a small drop of oil on the cam—just make sure it doesn’t get on your brake rotor.

 

<p>After a dirty ride, clean and wipe around your fork seals. Once they’re clean, pop a little bit of wet lube (or a specialist product like Finishline<br />Stanchion lube) under the lip of the wiper seals. Use the end of a cable tie, a plastic card or something similar to gently lift the seal. Don’t use anything sharp or metallic that may damage the seals or inner legs. Also check the manufacturer’s service recommendations to keep everything<br />performing as intended.</p>
After a dirty ride, clean and wipe around your fork seals. Once they’re clean, pop a little bit of wet lube (or a specialist product like Finishline
Stanchion lube) under the lip of the wiper seals. Use the end of a cable tie, a plastic card or something similar to gently lift the seal. Don’t use anything sharp or metallic that may damage the seals or inner legs. Also check the manufacturer’s service recommendations to keep everything
performing as intended.

 

<p>Oil is a disc brake’s worst enemy. Always keep some disc brake cleaner in with your bike tools. Clean the rotors immediately if you accidently touch them with oily hands or drip lube on them. It’s also worth giving them an occasional clean to remove contaminants that can come from the trail.</p>
Oil is a disc brake’s worst enemy. Always keep some disc brake cleaner in with your bike tools. Clean the rotors immediately if you accidently touch them with oily hands or drip lube on them. It’s also worth giving them an occasional clean to remove contaminants that can come from the trail.

 

<p>Few crashes are as embarrassing (and sometimes painful) as the low-speed, stuck-in-thepedals type. Don’t forget to replace your cleats every<br />now and then to keep the pedals releasing as they should. It’s also worth placing a drop of oil on the pedal retention mechanism occasionally.</p>
Few crashes are as embarrassing (and sometimes painful) as the low-speed, stuck-in-thepedals type. Don’t forget to replace your cleats every
now and then to keep the pedals releasing as they should. It’s also worth placing a drop of oil on the pedal retention mechanism occasionally.

 

<p>Don’t just worry about maintaining your bike, your body needs upkeep too. Help to prevent saddle sores and other ‘down-there’ problems by applying chamois cream before longer rides. They usually have antiseptic qualities, so in addition to making a ride more comfortable, they’ll prevent future problems too.</p>
Don’t just worry about maintaining your bike, your body needs upkeep too. Help to prevent saddle sores and other ‘down-there’ problems by applying chamois cream before longer rides. They usually have antiseptic qualities, so in addition to making a ride more comfortable, they’ll prevent future problems too.

 

<p>Got a spare older helmet or shoes? Keep them in your car (but out of direct sunlight), as you never know when someone will arrive at the trailhead without, and that person could well be you!</p>
Got a spare older helmet or shoes? Keep them in your car (but out of direct sunlight), as you never know when someone will arrive at the trailhead without, and that person could well be you!

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