Basic Bike Maintenance
By: Vineet Sharma
Also featured in Issue #2 | March 2011
Bike repair and maintenance is a very important and an ongoing process that involves action before, during and after your ride. This helps to keep your mountain bike in optimal condition. Here are some tips to help you keep your mountain bike in peak condition.
Pre-ride inspection and maintenance check is a very good practice. Just like a fighter pilot who inspects his fighter plane before flying. It’s a very simple process and ensures your safety during ride.
Check the quick releases on the wheels and on the brakes to make sure they are in closed position. If the quick release is loose or not installed properly the results can be very fatal.
Check the tire pressure and make sure they are inflated properly. The tire pressure should be equal to the recommended pressure level on the tire side-wall. An air pump with a pressure gauge is good to ensure proper air pressure.
Check the brakes carefully before riding. Apply the brakes and move your bike; the wheels should not move at all. Test the front and rear brake individually. The brakes will need adjusting if the wheels move while applying the brakes. Ensure that brake levers are not touching the handlebars.
If you are using disc brakes, make sure that disc pads move across equally to clamp the rotor.
Rotate each wheel to see if they turn smoothly
Using the front brake before ride can help you to check the headset. Stand beside your bike holding the headset, apply the front brake and rock the bike back and forth. Make sure you cannot feel any slack or hear any knocking in the headset. If you can, your headset is loose and will need adjusting.
You can also rub your hand all over the frame joint areas and check if there are any cracks or dent due to previous hard riding session.
Now you are all set to go out for ride. Make sure your bike drive system is lubricated.
IMPORTANT: Make sure all the bolts are tightened before you ride
Whether you ride a top end latest mountain bike or any old school mountain bike, things can go wrong when you ride. To handle that situation you can carry a small basic toolkit along with a puncture repair kit and a mini pump.
While riding check for unusual sounds coming from your bike: usually from cranks, wheels and other parts.
While pedaling, shift to different gears and ensure your drive is adjusted properly.
Ride your bike over curbs and other objects and see if it’s performing fine.
Make sure you have fun while riding and not just getting worried about your bike all the time.
When you come back from a ride you may see your bike with lots of dirt. Dirt acts as a major abrasive against your bike. Dirt starts wearing out bearings and other components on your bike. We advise you to wash your bike (If very dirty). Make sure you don’t spray the water directly on fork and hub seals or bottom bracket. Use a soft brush and soap to scrub down your bike.
Don’t forget to lubricate chain, derailleur, and cables after the bike is dried. Wipe off excess grease and lubricant so that it does not attract dirt.
Check if the spokes are intact and not loose or broken.