If you don’t ride in the winter, you’ve probably
spent the winter months on the couch eating chips
and watching television. Before you know it, spring
will be here and a new season of mountain biking
will begin. Even though your body may not be in
shape, these tips will ensure that your bike is.
Before you take your bike out, check the wear and
tear on your components and adjust them if its
necessary. Start off with your chain. If you
haven’t replaced it in a year or more, it’s time
to do so. Over time, the individual parts in the
chain will get worn out, increasing its effective
As this happens, the chain is no longer able to
conform to the cog and the teeth of the chain ring,
so it wears those teeth out to fit the profile of
the chain. If you can replace the chain before it
stretches too much you’ll save yourself from having
to replace high priced cogs and chain rings.
Now, check the bearing surfaces. These include your
bottom bracket, hubs, and the headset. Each of these
should turn without a problem with no play in the
system. Before checking the bottom bracket, make
sure each cranking arm is snugged tight. Next, hold
on to the crank arm (not the pedal) and wobble it
back and forth. If you hear any clicking or if the
crank arm binds, the bottom bracket needs to be
Do the exact same thing with your hubs. Take the
wheels off the bike, spin the hub axles, then feel
for any free play or binding. If you feel play or
binding, you need to make an adjustment. To check
the headset, start off by putting the newly adjusted
wheels back on the bike.
Now, grab the front brake and pull and push the
handle bars back and forth. There shouldn’t be any
play. If you lift the front end off the ground,
the fork should turn very smoothly. If it feels rough,
it needs to be either adjusted or replaced.
While your looking, check the condition of your cables
and housing. The cables should be rust free and the
housing shouldn’t be cracked or kinked. If you see any
of this you should replace the offending device, as if
you don’t your shifting and braking will be sluggish.
Last, you should inspect your brake pads. Most pads
will have ridges or indicator marks that will let you
know when they need to be replaced. Brake pads that
are worn out will comprimise both safety and braking
Once you’ve got the tune ups out of the way, it’s time
to go for a ride. With your mountain bike running
better than ever, all you have to do now is have fun!