Top 4 Maintenance Tips for Mountain Bikers
This is a guest blog post by professional freeride mountain biker Thomas Vanderham.
Winter in British Columbia, like many parts of the world, can be a tough time for a mountain biker. Our favourite trails disappear, sleeping peacefully below a cold bed of snow and ice. Bikes are relegated to the corner of the basement collecting dust, waiting patiently to feel the tacky dirt in their tire treads once again. Deprived of our preferred outdoor outlet, mountain bikers try in vain to fill the void. We visit our local bike park with skis and snowboards attached to our feet, only to scour the trees for our favourite trail features. We even daydream about riding the lift in a t-shirt on a hot summer day. Yes, Winter is an unwelcome interruption in the life of many a mountain biker.
Spring arrives with a special energy. When the time comes to dust off the bike and put the skis away, the anticipation for that first ride is at an all-time high for a mountain biker. However, just like how I maintain my Tacoma every spring, there are a few key things you need to check on your bike before dropping into your favorite trail. Here are a few tips to make sure your bike is ready for a new season.
Check your Brakes- From a safety standpoint, your brakes are the first thing you should check because you’re going to want to make sure they are working properly before your first ride. Whether you have hydraulic or cable brakes, make sure the pressure has not changed over the winter. From time to time, brake pads can form a hard layer on the surface when they are not used for long periods of time. In some cases, they might need to be replaced but before you run and buy new pads try taking a fine grit sandpaper to the glazed surface. Sometimes this is enough to make them feel like new again.
You’ve Lost Air- When a bike sits inactive, all the components that hold air will lose pressure slowly over time. Your tires will be quite obvious, so inflate them back to your preferred pressure. If you have a suspension that has an air cartage, the loss might not be as obvious. Take some time to check the pressure of your suspension and re-measure your sag.
Grease and Oil- More than likely the moving parts on your bike are going to need a little attention. The chain is the most obvious and should be oiled up but it’s also a good idea to take some extra time to check some of the harder to reach areas. Your headset and bottom bracket are both areas that can be prone to moisture and could use some grease after sitting all winter. If you want to go really deep, you can check your freehub body and pedal axles as well.
Bolt Check- It’s unlikely that some of the bolts on your bike loosened up over the winter but it’s quite possible, even likely, that you didn’t do a bolt check after your last ride a few months ago. Regardless it’s good to get in the habit of doing a bolt check often.
Now that you’ve done your check-ups on your bikes, it’s time to get reacquainted with the trail that we spent so much time daydreaming about during those dreadful dark winter months.