How To: Mountain Bike Maintenance 101

mountain bike maintenance, pre-trip mountain bike maintenance, post-trip mountain bike maintenance, mountain bike tips, mountain biking maintenance basics, basic mountain bike tips
September 27th, 2016

Today's guest post is from Mark Mithu at

Mountain biking can be an expensive hobby. It's easy to purchase all the latest mountain bike gear, the newest bike and visit the bike shop every week (or day?!) to check out what's new on the mountain biking scene. It's also easy to visit the bike shop for quick ... and expensive fixes. With a little bit of practice and education, you can complete basic maintenance on your bike from home, and save a few bucks while you're at it! As a rider, maintaining your bike should be your top priority. With the proper maintenance, your bike will last longer, provide you with  peace-of-mind on the trails and reduce your risk of injury. Completing pre and post-ride maintenance checks can make all the difference between a bad ride... and a great ride! 


here are a few basic mountain bike maintenance tips:

1. set up a working area.

Find a location suitable to work on your bike. It could be in your house, garage, yard or shed - just make sure you don't set up right in your kitchen. After all, you don't want to get chain grease in your spaghetti! The area should be well ventilated, well lit and be quite spacious so you are able to move around freely. There should also bace adequate storage space for your tools, and having a sink close by is always a bonus! To work effectively, you may want to invest in a bike stand, which will hold the bike off the floor and allow you to easily access all components of the bike.

Check out this article to view Bikes Stands for All Budgets.

Finding a simple tripod style bike stand that easily folds up for easy storage can be extremely helpful. The one below is from Feedback Sports, and offers a durable, compact option.

2. love your chain.

You won't get very far on your bike without a properly maintained, and well-lubed chain. After every ride you should take a moment to clean your chain, this will prevent wear on your drive train and ensure proper shifting on your next ride. Just like you're going to hose off after a ride (hopefully!), you should hose off your bike as well. Leaving your bike sitting with dirt, dust, sand and grit in the components will cause unnecessary wear and degradation of the parts. 

When washing your bike,   it's important to use a normal hose (not a high-pressure hose), and some strong brushes of various sizes to get the dirt out of small areas. Focus on the important parts of the bike like the drivetrain and suspension - spending an hour scrubbing your tires will make your bike look shiny and new, but other components are your bike are more important to be squeaky clean. It may not be realistic to do a 30-minute bike wash after every ride, but definitely consider taking the time if you've just finished a muddy ride!



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3. love your fork.

When it comes to your fork, it's important to diagnose minor issues before they become big problems... and eventually big bucks! After each ride, inspect your fork for any damage. Stand beside your bike and press down on the fork, if you feel  the fork sticking or it doesn't rebound smoothly you may have built up dirt or grit. After every few rides check the air and/or oil pressure, change the oil after every 20-30+ hours  of riding and keep  the seals clean. Forks require a special oil-based lubrication which allows it to move smoothly and prevent friction. The key is to ensure you are keeping the oil in... and the dirt out! Wipe down the stanchions after every ride and check the air pressure after every ride. The video below shows how to do basic maintenance on a Fox Float fork, be sure to check for manufacturers specifications based on the bike you own.

4. love your wheels.

What would a bike be without wheels? Wheels (rims) hold your tires in place and provide stability and smoothness while riding. Properly tuned and trued wheels (that don’t wobble or rub against the brakes) mean consistent contact between tires and dirt, which ensures less wear and tear over time. Elevate your bike and spin the wheels; both should move smoothly, without wobbling. A wobbly rim can be adjusted with a spoke wrench. Replace your wheels if denting or damage is excessive. After every few rides, remove your wheels and check the hubs for a build up of dirt, clean the hubs and check the bearings to ensure they are running smoothly. Check for cracks on the wheel and check for bent or broken spokes.


Before every ride check your tire pressure. Riding with improper tire pressure can  cause damage to your bike. Every tire will have a recommended PSI on the side, be sure to inflate your tires based on this recommendation and for the type of terrain you are riding.


The proper maintenance of your mountain bike is essential for your safety, and to get the most out of your rides!  Keeping your mountain bike clean and well maintained will ensure that you don’t face any unfortunate events while riding, and will limit the amount of money you spend on major fixes to your bike. Use your local bike shop as a resource, ask questions and if you're interested in learning more about bike maintenance, see if there are any bike maintenance courses offered in your local community or at your local bike shop.  Make sure that you are using the right tools and  high-quality materials for replacement parts.  Most importantly, don't be shy to seek a second opinion on any issues you're having with your bike, and learn as you go! Part of the fun of owning  and riding a mountain bike is learning about the intricate components.