Our bicycles are an important tool. Whether we use them for commuting, exercise, or fun, they must withstand the test of time and all the stresses of use.
Certainly, wear and tear is a natural obstacle for all bicycles, but it can be easily slowed down. A little bike care can help your mountain bike maintain its functionality and last longer over time.
We asked several mechanics for advice and tips on maintaining your mountain bike. In this article, we’ll go over the top tips to help increase the lifespan of your bike:
- Have you checked the tire pressure?
It’s important to always check the tire pressure for proper maintenance of your mountain bike. “There’s a delicate balance to find – high-pressure tires may have less grip on surfaces and cause a loss of traction. On the other hand, low pressure can lead to pinch flats, where the tire gets cut by the rims. Your rims might deform when using low-pressure tires.”
Tire pressure is measured in bars. Determining the ideal tire pressure depends on three significant factors: “Your weight, the volume of your tire, and the type of terrain you’ll be facing.”
The tires on mountain bikes typically should be around 1.6-1.8 bar at the front and 1.8-2 bar at the rear. However, for a lighter rider, these values may be slightly reduced. Conversely, a heavier rider may feel that this pressure is too low, increasing the risk of pinch flats.
The volume of your tire is a factor that will influence the tire pressure, and it can vary. A tire with an inner tube will require a different pressure compared to a tubeless tire. There are various factors that affect the optimal pressure.
Finally, understanding the terrain you’ll be riding with your mountain bike will help you determine the appropriate pressure. Lower pressures are ideal for fast and flowing landscapes that can absorb the roughness of the terrain. Conversely, rough landscapes with rocks may require higher pressure to avoid pinch flats.
Consult the manufacturer’s manual when choosing the tire pressure, as an optimal pressure will help preserve the integrity of your bike in the long run and prevent damage to both the tires and rims.
2. Always check the condition of the chain.
Bicycle chains are susceptible to corrosion and wear due to weather conditions, mud, leaves, and branches. Ensuring proper maintenance of the chain goes a long way in keeping your bike’s performance at its best. By regularly cleaning and lubricating the chain, you also keep the cassette and derailleur clean.
Use an oil-based lubricant with a soft cloth and run it along the chain. Wipe off any excess dirt and continue until the cloth is completely dirty. Once dirty, replace the cloth and repeat. In the phase where the cloth no longer gets dirty, you can reapply the lubricant in the correct amount.
It may not be necessary to do this after every ride; it depends on the terrain you encounter. For those who enjoy off-road biking in muddy conditions, it is highly encouraged to clean the chain at the end of each ride to prevent rust and other damage caused by dry mud on the components.
A chainstay protector can also prevent damage to the bike caused by the chain. When shifting gears, the chain can scratch the bike’s frame. The protector wraps around the bike’s frame and prevents this from happening. This, in turn, reduces the risk of rust and damage to both the bike and the chain, while also maintaining its appearance.
3. Periodically check the brake fluid.
Ensuring proper braking is the best way to have a safe and enjoyable ride. This may seem like a strange paradox in cycling, but brake maintenance is one of the most important things to consider on your mountain bike.
Take great care of your brakes: “Mud, water, and particles cause significant wear on brake pads. But checking their functionality is easy. Remove the wheels and inspect how much material is left on each brake pad.
If one pad is more worn than the other, it could mean that your brakes are not properly aligned. If the pads are completely worn, you need to check the brake discs to prevent further damage. If the disc shows excessive wear, it needs to be replaced.
Also, pay attention to how your brakes feel. Squeeze both brake levers. It shouldn’t be soft; instead, there should be a defined point of resistance. If it doesn’t feel that way, your brakes may be less effective than they should be. Take your bike to a workshop to have the brakes bled. This process involves changing the hydraulic fluid, removing any air bubbles or dirty fluid that has accumulated over time.
Maintenance of your mountain bike is essential to ensure its longevity. Whether you’re tackling a grassy hill, commuting to work, or simply enjoying the trails on your local cycling route, taking care of your bike should be a priority. Just a few minutes before and after each ride to check that everything is in working order is all it takes. Good maintenance is crucial: “Not only does this increase your safety on the bike, but it also means you can make your bike last longer. This can help reduce the cost of replacement parts or prevent you from having to buy a new bike altogether.”