Biking components can definitely be extremely expensive to replace in some cases but sadly mountain bikes are subject to quite a lot of wear and tear as you expose them to all sorts of elements on your mountain biking adventures.
It doesn’t always have to be this way though as you can do quite a lot of various small maintenance jobs in order to try and make the components on your bike last longer. So, whether you’re a biker who is looking to save some cash or are simply just on a tight budget, here are 10 tips and tricks that you will be able to use to increase the lifespan of your bike overall, which aren’t too labour-intensive.
By following these tips it’ll not only prevent your components from breaking or becoming damaged, but it will also help your bike run a lot smoother and could result in making it a whole lot more fun for you to go out and ride.
1. Cleaning Your Bike
Cleaning your bike is one of the most important things that you can do to protect and take care of your bike as it helps keep your components running smoothly and reduces the wear to then extend their lifespan.
It is important to try and clean your bike at least once a week in the summertime if you’re a regular rider and then after every ride in the winter, but it’s always good to try and clean it any time you ride in conditions that are quite dirty. It’s easiest to clean your bike straight after your bike rider before you head back inside so that you get the job out of the way because who wants to clean their bike just before they go out riding again.
This whole cleaning of your bike process doesn’t need to be challenging or take too long, all you need to do is start by wetting the whole bike using a hose pipe or bucket and sponge and then clean the chain. Then, whilst you’re busy waiting for the degreaser to work its magic, which will usually take about 3 to 5 minutes, you can begin to clean the rest of the bike by using a bike cleaner. Then when you’re finally finished cleaning your bike you’ll need to dry it and just apply some chain lube onto the chain to ensure that it is running as smoothly as possible. This lubing step is important not to forget because even if you leave your bike overnight it could begin to rust.
2. Look After Your Bikes Chain
Your bike chain is one of the most important components on your bike as it is the thing that literally makes your bike move. There are a few different things that you can do to ensure an extended lifespan for your chain, and by maintaining it you’ll also prolong the lifetime of the other components on your bike.
The first way that you can extend its life is by making sure that you clean your chain regularly and one of the ways that you can make sure that you see optimal results is by using a specific chain degreaser and chain lubricant when you are doing so. You should also make sure that you are applying the suitable chain lube for the type of weather you will be riding in, because if you were to use dry lube in the winter it would just wash off instantly in the wetter conditions.
This cleaning process of the chain will also decrease its rate of chain wear. It is definitely helpful to own a chain checker so that you are able to check the chain’s wear regularly to ensure that it is healthy. If you have a bike with a 12 or 13 speed chain then you should start to look at the option of replacing it when the chain checker shows 0.5 per cent, but if you have a 10 speed chain, or less, you’ll want to replace it at 0.75 percent instead.
This is because if you neglect this information and let the chain stretch even further, it’ll then start to wear out the cassette and chainrings, in essence just creating a chain reaction and affecting even more components. So with this in mind, it would actually be a lot cheaper to just replace the chain than to actually let it be and then have to replace all three of these components down the line.
3. Keep an Eye on Your Brake Pads
Just like with the chain as we discussed above, the brake pads on your bike will also wear down as you use them, so it is quite important to try and keep an eye out on the remaining pad material. If you neglect them and let them wear down to bare metal, it’ll then prematurely begin to wear out your actual disc brake rotor or the wheel’s braking surface. As a result, if your running rim brakes, you’ll experience a lot less effective braking at this point, and having to replace a damaged disc brake is going to cost a lot more than what brake pads would.
So, if you are a rider whose bike uses brake wheels then it is a good idea to try and remove the wheel and clean the brake surface very carefully quite often and make sure to pick any dirt or unwanted debris from the brake pads. It’s important to make sure you get as much as possible because if you miss some then it can actually get lodged there and even further decrease the lifespan of your wheels.
Then with the disc brake pads, you’ll want to try your best to prevent any sort of contamination when you’re cleaning your bike because if you happen to get any oily contaminant on them, it’ll result in your brakes squealing and you’ll experience the performance of the brakes decreasing a lot. This is quite an easy mistake to make so try your best to remember it as it can cost you a lot to have to replace them.
So, when you want to spray degreaser on your bike’s chain, you should cover the calliper and rotor so that they are protected. You should also spray said degreaser on the underside of the drive side chainstay, located by the chainring, because this will be the furthest point away from the brake calliper, just as an extra step of precaution.
4. Take Care of Your Cables
In order to be certain that your bike is running at optimal condition you’ll need to make sure that the condition of the gear and brake cables are good.
One way that you can make sure to maintain these cables, unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer, is by applying one drop of dry lube on them now and again, in the spot where the inner is visible, like at the derailleur or brake calliper. To make sure that this lube is really getting in there, you can shift through all of your gears, and once you’ve done this you’ll notice how much smoother your gears will feel.
Sadly, if you’ve already noticed any sort of fraying to the inner or wear like kinks or tears to the outer, then the only option that you will have now is going to be to replace them. If you are in the market for new cables then going with an upgraded higher-quality cable is a great idea that tends to last a lot longer and even feel a lot smoother in use, although this option is going to cost you more.
5. Look After Your Bearings
A lot of the parts on your bike will require bearings to help them move, and these bearings need lubrication in order to do their job effectively but further actually stop them from wearing out over time.
The grease that keeps these bearings lubricated was away over time, leading to the bearings becoming dry and starting to wear out as the balls in the bearings rub directly on the bearing’s race. So, because of this, it’s recommended that you make sure to check up on the condition of the bearings periodically and also re-grease them to ensure that they are always lubricated.
One of the bearings on your bike that is most prone to the elements is the lower headset bearing, since it is on the front lines against any unwanted debris coming from the front. So definitely make sure to keep an eye out on this spot in particular.
6. Show Your Suspension some Love
Suspension services is something that is extremely important when you own a bike because when you do this you stop any sort of debris from making its way into the shock or fork and causing further damage. The suspension service will also refresh all of the fluid and seals to make sure everything is working as it should.
If you neglect your forks and suspension then the condition of them will drop and repairing or replacing them can become very expensive quite fast. It is so important to make sure that the oils and seals of your suspension are kept fresh and clean as all the various components that make up the forks are always moving whilst you’re out riding.
If you can’t service your suspension then the minimum that you can make sure to do is at least wipe the suspension stanchions down regularly.
There you have 6 simple things that you can implement into your biking life to ensure that your riding career is long and enjoyable. When you do these few steps, you’ll not only prolong the lifespan of the various components of your bike but your overall biking experience and riding feel will be a lot nicer.