5 DIY Mountain Bike Maintenance Tasks

mountain bike maintenance
November 4th, 2018

Mountain biking can be an expensive sport - it's easy to break the bank with the latest gear, accessories,  and top of the line bikes. It seems there's always a new gadget or something to fix.  To ensure you're not handing over your credit card every time your bike needs maintenance,  here are a few  mountain bike maintenance tips  you can try at home.


1. changing your disc brakes. 

Mountain bike brake pads are considered a 'consumable component' of your bike - meaning they will wear out over time and need to be replaced. You should inspect your brake pads a few times a month to ensure the pads have not worn out. Once the pads wear down, there will be metal on metal contact which will destroy your brake rotors. Worn out brake pads will also compromise your safety out on the trail, as they will decrease your braking time. 


 It's a quick and easy fix (5 - 10 minutes) to replace your brake pads. 


You will need to purchase replacement brake pads. They can range in price from $12 - $35, depending on the type of brake pads you purchase. There are two types of mountain bike brake pads: organic/resin or sintered brake pads.  


Organic/Resin pads: 

-  made of high-density ceramic

-  generally, provide better stopping power and heat dissipation  (slower to heat up on long descents)

-  known to wear our more quickly in wet and muddy conditions 


Sintered  pads:

-  also known as 'metallic' brake pads 

-  use a compound with added metal content and copper shavings 

-  tend to be noisier  and they heat up faster

- they will last way longer in wet and muddy conditions 


It's a good idea to keep replacement pads in your hydration pack in case you need to change them while on a long ride.  



2. bleeding your brakes. 

Part of the general maintenance for disc brakes is to replace the brake fluid. Over time, the brake fluid will become old and discoloured as contaminants (water, mud and air) enter the system and your brakes will become less responsive.


If your disc brakes start feeling spongy and loose when you press your brake levers, it's probably time to bleed your brakes.


It's important to know what kind of brakes you have,  as this will determine the type of fluid and bleed kit you'll need to use.  Always check with the brake manufacturer for exact specifications.


We've included a video on how to bleed Shimano brakes, which require Mineral Oil. If you have a different brake system it's best to look up specific instructions. 



3. adjusting your rear derailleur.

If there's one sound that makes a mountain bike cringe, it's the sound of grinding gears.  There's nothing worse than riding up to a technical climb and having your derailleur fail to pop into the right gear causing you to stop and lose your flow.


 Smooth shifting can mean the difference between being extremely frustrated out on the trail to having the ride of your life! 


To make an adjustment to your derailleur, you'll want to focus on your barrel adjuster (on your shifter),  and the three screws on the derailleur which set the lateral and vertical positioning.  This is something that is way easier to grasp with a video... 



4. cleaning your bike. 

Sounds simple, right? Believe it or not, many riders don't take the time to clean their bikes after a ride, and if they do clean their bikes, they're not using a great technique.


 Cleaning your bike properly after each ride will increase the lifespan of the components and prevent future maintenance issues. When mud, water and dirt get in the frame, seals and bolts, they degrade the bike over time. 



- Avoid power washers - the force of a power washer will strip the bike of  lubricants 

-  when spraying down your bike,   start from the top down 

- avoid spraying water straight into bearings

-  avoid using strong cleaners,  use a mild soap specifically for bikes 



5. replacing a broken spoke. 

If you brake a spoke, it's best to replace it right away. If you continue riding with a broken spoke, it can untrue your wheel and damage it further. 



Once you learn the basic skills required to complete the above maintenance to your mountain bike you'll certainly save time and money and have less frequent trips to your local bike shop. 


Not to mention, you'll have a great sense of pride knowing you can confidently fix your own bike when you encounter minor issues.  


We recommend having a basic mountain bike tool kit at home that includes: 

-  hex key/wrench set 

-  tire levers 

- spare tubes 

-  floor pump

- lubricant

- bike soap

-  lots of rags

- needle nose pliers

-  pedal  wrench 

- bearing grease 


what tools are in your at-home starter maintenance kit? 

want to upgrade your at-home kit, check out park tool.