Like clockwork in Colorado we go from snow to 80 degrees in a matter of days. So, it’s no surprise that after a winter of skiing the first mountain bike ride of the season, I realize my bike is in need of some love. Let’s dive right into a little spring cleaning, MTB style!
I’m no mechanical expert but my pal and mountain bike badass, Syd, from YouTube channel Syd Fixes Bikes is. The channel is full of excellent and detailed how-to videos for your mountain bike. Thanks Syd!
First things first, give that stead a good wash. It will be much easier to tune a clean bike.
Working from the ground up, how are those tires? If your tires are in good shape, with plenty of tread left on them but they are not holding air it’s probably time to replace the sealant. Sealant is a liquid that lives in your tires spreading to an area with a leak or puncture and coats the hole to prevent air from seeping out. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced the sealant (or tires) that’s a sure sign it’s time to do so! Surprisingly, that stuff can dry up and turn into boogers. No longer doing its job. This video from Syd explains how to change a tire and sealant. Note, if you have tubes in your tires, you can skip this step! Not sure? Your tires usually have printed text on them saying “tubeless” with recommended PSI.
Next up is giving the drivetrain a look-see. This is where a lot of your key components live: pedals, cranks, chainrings, chain, cogs (cassette) and derailleur. How is it shifting? If you’re like me and you can’t remember which way to turn the micro barrel adjusters on the shifter or the limiter screws on your derailleur check out this video to learn how to adjust your shifting. Check your cables and housing, make sure they are all intact. How many miles does your chain have on it? You may want to get a new chain, this small investment can help prolong the life of your drivetrain. This video goes into detail about checking the wear on your chain and replacing it. If your chain is in good condition, give it a little love with some lube. We love this plant-based option from Mountain Flow Wax Co.
Brakes can be an intimidating subject, there are two aspects we’re going to consider. First, do your brakes need a bleed?. (I know, yikes!) Second, do you need new brake pads? Give the brakes a squeeze, do they feel mushy or do you have to pump them several times before they feel like they work? That’s a sign you have some air in the line and may need a bleed. There are two types of brake bleed – a lever bleed or a full bleed. In either case if you don’t have the tools you’ll probably want to take your bike into your local bike shop to have this done. Now, brake pads, if they are totally worn down they may make a squealing noise. The Shimano tune up guide recommends changing them before they become 0.5mm or less in thickness.
If your bike has been sitting around all winter, you may want to check the air pressure in your suspension. To change the air pressure in your front fork or rear shock you’ll need a shock pump. If you don’t have one swing by your local bike shop or ask a friend who has one. Many bike manufacturers will recommend suspension settings on their website. This is a great place to start if you’re new to setting up suspension.
Lastly, deciding if you want to upgrade any components. There are loads of opportunities here, with a wide range in price point – performance improvement, color coordination, grips, tires, saddle.
Now that you’re all tuned up the last thing to do is get out for a ride! Be sure to check out our upcoming events for a Pedal Party or a clinic to sharpen those bike handling skills!
Words by Kelsie Earley
Photo by Julia Ordog