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Your Mountain Bike Needs A Little Lovin' Too...How To Care For Your Bike!


by James Sanford [January 29, 2007]

When you're out on the trail, miles and miles from home, you don't want any serious mechanical situations occurring with your bike. Pushing your bike up and down steep, slippery slopes is not what mountain biking is all about. You want a fun, exhilarating ride, and the best way to ensure this is by keeping your bike in good mechanical order. Here we look at a few things you should do to keep your bike in shape.

Clean your bike after each ride

When you're out all day on the trail, you're bound to get dirty, and so is your bike. While you might not mind staying dirty for a while, your bike does. When you get back to camp or when you load your bike into your car, give it a quick clean with some spare water. If your bike is caked in mud, clean the excess gunk with a stick. When you get your bike home, give it a thorough clean. Take particular care in getting all the mechanical parts as clean as a whistle.

Keeping your chain lubricated

Once you have cleaned all the crap off your mountain bike, then you need to lubricate the chain. A dry chain will eventually lead to big problems, including kinks and broken links. And Murphy's Law clearly states that this will happen at the worst possible time, when you're miles from anywhere. Before you lubricate the chain, make sure that it is clean. Also, clean the gear sprockets with a small brush. There are special chain lubricants available specifically designed for the rigors of mountain bike riding, so use these instead of a general purpose lubricant.

Lubricating your brake cables

While we're on the subject of lubrication, every now and then you should lubricate your brake cables. You don't need to do this as often as your chain, but you should do it periodically. It's really quite simple to do. Remove the cable from both the brake housing and the levers and then remove the cable from the plastic covering and lubricate the whole length of the cable before putting it all back again. If your brakes feel sticky, then this may be all you need to do to fix it.

Adjusting your brakes

Your brakes can really come in handy when you're on a big downhill ride, so the last thing you want is for them not to be working properly. Before going on a ride, always check your brakes are properly adjusted. Firstly, if you have cantilever or V-type brakes, check that your brake pads are not too worn and that they are adjusted properly. If they need replacing, then do so. It may be a good idea to have some spares just in case. Alternatively, they may just need a little adjusting which is a simple procedure. It may just be a little fiddly and may require some trial and error. Next, adjust the cable from the brake and then do the fine tuning from the handlebar brake levers. If you have disc brakes, these will require a more complex service so you should closely follow the directions in your owner's manual.

You should do a full service on your mountain bike periodically. The length of time between services will depend on how often, and how hard you ride, and the conditions in which you're riding. If you enjoy spending time on your bike in the great outdoors, then you'll need to be prepared to spend a little time with your bike in the garage as well.

About the Author
For more information, reviews and tips on mountain bikes visit James Sanford's website at BikingHeadz.com, the complete online buyers guide on bikes and bicycles.