Spring is almost here! The winter permafrost will soon be transforming back into loam and the trails will be full of overgrowth in no time. The social media chatter is all about shred this! And cutt’y that! And you figure it’s about time to get out and ride. But before you head out and start shredding the gnar as hard as you were back in November, let’s take a second to go over a few critical maintenance techniques to keep your ride rollin’ smooth. And remember your local bike shop is here to help!
Step 1: Look, wash, and listen
A clean bike is a happy bike, so bust out that bike cleaning kit and get to work.
Dialed in bike wash supplies that are good to keep handy include:
-All purpose soap (that’s not harmful to your gaskets, seals, or brake pads)
Household dish detergent works great, try to avoid harsh degreasers.
-Foam sponge & or soft brush, for your paint and cockpit.
-Stiff brush with long bristles, to get the muck and grime off your drivetrain and wheels.
– Clean drying rag
It is often more convenient to place your bike in a repair stand while washing. Look for cracks or damages the winter mud could be hiding. Listen for rubbing rotors or crunchy bearings.
Step 2: Drivetrain inspection, adjustment, and replacement.
Start by visually inspecting the rear derailleur, cassette, chain, and front chain ring. Look for broken or bent teeth (including the pulley wheels on the rear derailleur), rusty chain links, fraying cables or bent hangers. It is always a good idea to lightly go over each bolt with a wrench or key, insuring something hasn’t been backing itself out over time and is only hanging on by a couple of threads. Front chain ring bolts and rear derailleurs are infamous for that. You don’t wanna have one of those “I was just riding along” incidences leaving you stranded.
Replace any chain rings that look “shark tooth’d”, clogged cable housing, or stretched chains.
Make sure your bottom bracket bearings spin freely, your crank spindle is freshly greased, your shifting is crisp and your chain is lubed.
Step 3: Check yourself before your wreck yourself.
New generation hydraulic brakes are so good nowadays they are easily overlooked. Brake bleeds and fluid flushes are not just for when your brakes stop working, they are preventative and keep the feel nice and responsive.
Make sure the pad life and alignment are in spec and that there are now bulges or creases in the brake line.
Step 4: Suspension Black Magic
The first step in attaining the elusive “factory”, “predictable”, “confident inspiring” suspension setup is regular maintenance. Keeping up on the service intervals is critical for properly functioning suspension components. Refer to your suspension manufacturer’s technical manual for specific instruction and care. Cane Creek USA now offers Factory Direct Service or make a visit to one of our Authorized Cane Creek Service Centers to keep your suspension working buttery-smooth.
If a certified suspension service center has recently tuned up your shock and fork, remember to re-measure your suspension’s sag (front and back with your riding gear on) and record it along with your compression/rebound and volume reduction settings.
Step 5: Headset Adjustment
Get your S.H.I.S straight! And don’t forget about your Headset! The threadless headset design Cane Creek patented all those years ago; makes steering stem assembly and maintenance a breeze. Drop the fork and clean out any contaminants that may have gotten past the seals during those winter mud rides. Make sure you re-grease and preload the bearings within spec (~12nm) for silky smooth steering. If you find your bearings are in dire need of replacing or even the entire headset – you can quickly figure out the S.H.I.S. configuration you need using our Headset Fit Finder.
Step 6: Drop it like it’s hot
Just like your mountain bike’s intricate suspension components, your cable or hydraulic actuated dropper post requires servicing. Extremely fast return and a “Squishy” sound while be operated are often tell tail signs it’s time to freshen up the internals. Difficulty while compressing to “descend” mode can many times be fixed with some adjustment. Be sure to take care of any play in the cable. Installing a new cable along with a barrel adjuster is a quick and easy fix.
Step 7: Points of contact
Your pedals, seat, and grips are how you connect with the bike. Check out how they have been wearing and replace if need be. A fresh pair of grips can make all the difference on a hot sweaty day. And properly functioning clipless pedals with quick and confident engagement will turn you from a zero to a hero! While your “foot out flat out!” Remember to also check the cleats on your shoes for tightness and wear. Your tires are where your bike translates the inputs you made through the grips, pedals, and seat to the trail. Rubber of 40 durometer or more can dry out quickly (especially when stored while in contact with cement) Look out for cracks and missing nobbies, inflate the rear tire slightly more than the front tire to help induce oversteer in turns (~25psi front , ~27psi back is a good setup for most).
Following these steps will help keep your bike feeling great and allow you to keep charging ahead this spring.
Thanks for reading!