Across most of the country, adventurers are already out riding trails and enjoying the warm spring weather. Up in the mountains, we are teetering between winter, spring, and summer on a weekly basis. Some are happy to still be skiing and some are chomping at the bit to get out and shred some singletrack. I know that as soon as the trails are clear in Summit County, I’ll be out pedaling everyday, because Breckenridge has some of the best singletrack around, and not to mention, the views….
What we often forget, is that our bikes have been sitting for months, collecting dust, drying out, and being generally neglected. I would bet that a majority of people take that last Fall ride, then park their bikes until Spring. I’ve been guilty, several times, of getting excited about riding in the Spring, then going to jump on my bike just to be reminded of the brake pads I said I would change over the winter. Or the shock service I had been meaning to do. But, it was Winter, and I was skiing.
This inevitably leads to frustration, or having to skip that first trip to Moab with your friends, because your bike wasn’t ready. So, Colorado Adventure Guides is here to remind you….go take care of your bike! Here are a few tips on checking over your bike BEFORE riding season comes and some key maintenance to keep your whip riding smoothly through the Summer. Remember, if you aren’t comfortable working on your own bike or don’t have the proper tools, take it to your local bike shop. In the Spring, bike shops tend to be pretty busy helping customers get their bike tuned up for riding season. Just another reason to inspect your bike ahead of time.
It’s important to go through your bike and make sure everything is tight. Start at the stem/handlebars, brake and shifter levers, and work your way through the bike from front to back, top to bottom. Don’t forget to check your suspension pivots and brake calipers, you’ll want those to be on point. Note: many bolts on a mountain bike require a specific torque. Improper torquing can lead to damaging expensive parts. If you don’t have a torque wrench or are unsure, take it to your local bike shop.
Inspect the shifter and brake cables and surrounding rubber housing for cracks, crimps, rust, dirt and looseness. New cables and/or oil make shifting and braking smooth, which increases bike performance.
Check your fork seals to make sure they are seated correctly on the fork lower and that there is no leakage or residue on the stanchion. Next, check that the air pressure and rebound are correct for your weight and riding style.
Again, make sure the caliper bolts are torqued correctly and check the rotor bolts as well. Next, check your brake pads, if they are at less than 1mm, change them. Fresh brake pads are sweet and stopping is essential. Lastly, give your brakes a squeeze. The levers should not have to move too far to engage the brake pads. If they feel squishy or you need to pump the lever to get the brakes to work, you’ll need to bleed them to get air bubbles out of the line.
If you are riding a full suspension bike, you’ll want to inspect your rear shock. Check the seal and look for any leakage. Adjust the sag, air and rebound for your weight and riding style. FOX recommends internal seal maintenance every 125 hours of riding.
Ride around your driveway shifting through the gears to make sure your bike is shifting crisply and in the desired manner. Clean the chain and check for stiff or bent links. Inspect the cassette (gears) for chipped or missing teeth. Be sure to oil your chain regularly. Most people throw some lube on before every ride.
Spin your wheels and watch for wobble. Check that all of the spokes are tight with your fingers. If you are running tubeless tires, throw some Stan’s or other stop-leak fluid in. The fluid does dry up and you will begin to lose air eventually. Check for dry-rot on the tire surface and inspect the sidewalls for damage. Check your rear wheel quick release, and your front wheel through-axle.
There are a lot of moving parts on a mountain bike. Keeping your bike clean after each ride will help ensure a long and happy life for you and your dirt chariot. Being “ready to ride” means taking care of all your bikes maintenance needs before you want to hit the trail. Mountain biking can be a dangerous sport, and neglecting certain elements of maintenance can increase that danger exponentially.
Moral of the story: maintained = safe = fun.