The excitement of jumping aboard a fresh new bike is so pleasant when everything works as it should — smooth, quiet, and trouble-free. The good news is with some essential maintenance, that new bike day vibe can last. With a basic routine to keep the gremlins away, every ride can be like #newbikeday.
You could rely on the bike shop to perform this maintenance. Or you could save the cash and time without your bike and do it yourself! Learning about your bike might even keep you from a long walk out of the woods or a super frustrating ride.
The Post and Pre Ride Maintenance
Mountain bikes, in general, are used in harsh environments, and they will only last with some regular attention. The terrain, abrasive dirt, sweat, water, and the occasional crash are hell on wheels. Can you imagine any other piece of equipment you own being subjected to the environment we ride our bikes in?
Lack of essential maintenance, not replacing worn items in a timely fashion, or damage due to accidents will have your bike riding like poo in a flash. A few minutes before and after each ride is all it usually takes. These few minutes not only optimize your ride experience, minimizing bike issues but will minimize future costly repairs and maximize resale value.
Part of maintaining that new bike day vibe is preserving the new bike day look. Take the time to add protection to your bike when it’s brand new. Protective frame tape, a fender, and crank boots are easy and inexpensive additions.
1) After-Ride Maintenance/Next-Ride Prep
This takes little time or experience. All you need is a few rags (or old t-shirts), brushes like the Park Cleaning Brush Set, an Allen wrench set or multi-tool, and maybe a repair stand. I like the Park PCS 10.3 enough that I bought two.
Bike cleaning: Do this before bringing the bike into the house. If nothing else, cleaning unveils any damage to your bike and keeps it looking good, not to mention the dirty droppings. Do this as much as possible without water by using soft brushes to remove most dirt. Use more abrasive brushes on the drivetrain and tires. Finish with a damp cloth or even a spray wax. Wipe off the chain.
Wipe shock, fork, dropper stanchions, and seals with a soft cloth. This minimizes seal (dust wiper) wear and the chance of buildup potentially getting past seals. With a damp cloth, gently wipe away from the seals. You want to pull the dirt away from the seals as much as possible to keep it from getting inside.
Note noises or things that didn’t feel right on the ride. I use a whiteboard like this since I take care of a few bikes in our family. Here you might also note shock and fork pressures when the chain or suspension was last serviced and seat heights. I also leave room to report issues that need attention. This helps ensure our bikes are ready to rip and we’ve addressed any problems required.
- Air and lube – You don’t want to flat/damage your tire or rim and definittly don’t want a squeeky chain!
- Quick Bolt check – Work from the front or back of the bike through the entire bike to ensure adequate tightness. Ideally, this would ompleted using a torque wrench. A multitool will do in a pinch since it’s hard to overtighten using such a small tool.
Two things to minimize that have a significant impact
- Riding in wet/muddy conditions will significantly accelerate wear on your bike. Plus, the damage you may be doing to the trails is another reason to minimize riding in those conditions. If you have muddy spots on your trails, it’s likely due to a lack of maintenance. Take the initiative and contact local trail advocacy groups about the need for work and get involved. Find out more about why it’s important to be engaged here: https://crankjoy.com/engage-with-local-trail-advocacy/
- Over time, washing your bike with a hose can break down grease in bearings and add to your maintenance. Conserve water with the 2-Minute Dry Bike Wash (above) and reduce the time and waste of using cleaners. I have noticed water behind sealed bearings in headsets, suspension pivots, and hubs with minimal spray close to these areas. This water eats away at the grease in these areas and can lead to premature wear and very noisy bikes.
The quickest way to accelerate wear on your bike and have your bike riding like crap is to neglect basic maintenance. It’s a bummer to have issues or irritating noises from your bike during your ride.
These essential habits can help sustain your riding experience by letting you enjoy riding more and help preserve that #newbikeday feel longer. The maintenance should only take a few minutes before and after your ride with practice. Set your bike up for success by starting the habit of looking after it, and it will surely reward you with bigger smiles.
This is part one of a three-part series discussing quick post-ride cleaning, check-over, and noting possible issues. Part II will cover additional maintenance items, including chasing sounds, proper bolt torque, shifting, and braking adjustments. Lastly, in Part III, more in-depth maintenance will be discussed, such as fork and shock service, wheel and hub service, and a more thorough tune-up to ensure the bike is ready for that next big trip.