Mountain bikes take some serious punishment. Rocks, roots, jumps, dirt and crashes take their toll on the components of our bikes. It is pretty impressive how much stress they can go through before breaking in to a thousand pieces. However, It is a fact of life that mountain bikes break, but with a little knowledge of mountain bike maintenance, you can enjoy lots of benefits.
There are lots of different jobs that you can do on your bike with different levels of difficulty and involvement. Therefore, how much work you want to do is up to you. But, if you take your bike to a shop for minor repairs that are easily done at home, you are spending money that could be used elsewhere.
Examples of mountain bike maintenance jobs that are worth learning how to do are:
- Indexing gears
- Changing tyres
- Changing inner tubes
- Bleeding brakes (in most cases)
- Changing brake pads and discs
- Set up suspension
- Lubricate and grease
- Fix a chain
This is not an exhaustive list, but these tasks will get you out on the trails and allow you to get home safely. They are all perfectly doable for most people, without having to rely on someone else or paying a bike shop.
However, you need to factor in a few other things to decide whether it is worth doing yourself. Firstly, do you have time and space at home? You may have plenty of time to work on your bike, but if you are struggling for time a bike shop will be able to fix your bike while you are at work. This means, you will be riding your bike in your spare time, rather than fixing it. The other thing you need to consider is the price of the tools. You may have a job to do that requires an expensive tool that you may only use once. A bike shop will have the necessary tools and parts to do the job without having to shop around for it.
Don’t be THAT person
Bikes break from time to time. But, you don’t want to be the person that can’t change gear or change an inner tube after a puncture. Your riding buddies won’t want to keep fixing your problems for you all the time. Learning some basics will benefit you and your friends when out on the trails.
Get closer to your bike
Tinkering with your bike will lead you to learn about it. Stripping down the various parts and putting them back together again will teach you a lot and bring you closer to your bike. You will be able to spot problems when they arise, as you will have a better understanding of all those moving parts.
Learning is fun
Learning new stuff is good for the mind and the soul, especially when we are learning about our bikes. There are a few ways to learn about mountain bike maintenance. The first way (and most fun), is when you buy a new bike and you need to build it after delivery. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, as the main parts are all there. So, all you need to do is follow the instructions. The second way is to use online resources. This is great, as you can watch a video tutorial and pause it when you get to each step. The third way is to buy a book. The best one I have found is Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance. It has lots of different mountain bike maintenance tasks to keep you pedalling. It is very easy to use, as it takes you through each task step by step.
Spot problems before they kill your ride
As you learn more about your bike and mountain bike maintenance, you will be able to pre-empt potential problems. This will mean you will be able to catch them before they turn expensive or dangerous. You will notice clicks, creaks, vibrations and clunks. You will also notice that the bike feels a little different to how it was last time you rode it. But, you will have the knowledge to know what to look for.
Cleaning your bike is the most important mountain bike maintenance task. This is because a build up of dirt will slowly wear down the moving parts. Therefore, a clean bike is one that will last longer. Additionally, when cleaning your bike, you will be able to notice things that are not quite right.
Once your bike is clean, you will need to use the correct chain lubrication. This will keep you bike running smoothly and will slow down wear and tear on your bike’s moving parts.
Be a good Samaritan
Helping someone out on the trail will give you a warm fuzzy feeling and karma points. Additionally, you will be able to impart your knowledge to others.
Who doesn’t like new stuff, especially when it is shiny and bike related? Buying a nice new tool kit is very satisfying, knowing how to use each tool is leaves you feeling smug. But, having the opportunity to use a tool for the first time is also pretty cool. You probably won’t need to buy a full workshop style tool kit, but their are tool kits to suit what level of work you want to do.
Do you do your own mountain bike maintenance?
Have I missed anything out? Please let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments section below. Also don’t forget to sign up to the MTB-Threads newsletter for more information and free eBooks.