The Mountain Bike Life

We love our bikes. We spend a lot of money on them and then wonder why after riding them all summer they have some squeaks, are hard to shift and are slipping and sliding around out on the wet trails. Like anything, our bikes need a little love and attention once in a while. Here are 7 things you can do to refresh your ride.

1. Service your suspension

At least once a year get your forks and rear shock serviced. These are the bits that keep you and your bike rolling smoothly, so take them to your favourite shop and get them to do a yearly service.

If you want to take your suspension to the next level send it into a service shop like SuspensionWerx or Push. I have had my suspension bits custom tuned a few times. Each time it has breathed new life into my bike, it felt faster and more responsive. It’s a little more expensive than a regular service…but it’s worth it.

1024px-Santa_Cruz_2013_Tallboy_Al_09

2. New Cables

This is one of those things that is super cheap, easy to do and makes a huge difference in how your bike feels. I try to replace mine twice a year.

Don’t worry about getting those fancy expensive Teflon coated cables. I find that they get gummy and gross. The el cheapo cables I buy at MEC do a great job and cost less than a cup of coffee! As for cable housing, I find the basic Shimano housing that you can buy at a bike shop does the job. I just go in and buy a schwack (15 feet) when I need it so I can replace it when my shifting starts feeling off.

One of the most useful tips I can give you with this one is to get a good set of cable cutters. It makes a huge difference and will save you a bunch of headaches….trust me.

Bike Cables

3. Service Your Brakes

Are your levers hitting the bars, uneven from side to side or do they not have the oomph that they used to? When was the last time you bled your brakes or replaced your pads or adjusted the pistons?

Every brake manufacturer does it a little different. If you do a google search for your model of brake (I.E. Bleeding Shimano XT brakes) you will most likely find a some great tutorials that will walk you though how do it right. A little research and planning can save you frustration down the road.

If you are confident in your mechanical skills then you should have no issues doing this on your own. If you are like me then you would rather take them to the shop and not worry about the frustration and potential mess.

If you are sure that your brakes don’t need bleeding or new pads check out this video that goes over a few tips you can do to give your old brakes new life:

4. Clean Your Bike

One of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to make your bike feel like new again is give it some lovin with soap and water. Get in there and get all that built up dirt and grease…shine it up and show off the beauty of your bike.

This not only makes it look awesome, but while you are cleaning you can look over the bike and make sure there are no cracks and check that all your bolts are tight. The piece of mind that knowing your bike is in great shape will give you confidence out on the trails. Nothing is better than that when out on the trails.

5. Clean and Lube Your Chain

This is one of those things that we should all do more regularly. I have friends who take off their chain every ride or two and soak it in diesel and let it soak overnight. I am not a believer in doing that, wayyyy too much work. I am in the apply, let it soak and wipe it off camp, but don’t listen to me, looks like Shawn has come to the rescue again and has a post that will help out.

I have been using a new lube on the market called Momentum by Rand and it cleans while keeping your chain slippery. It has changed the way I lube my chain…and how often it needs to be done!

Chain Lube

6. Replace Your Drivetrain

If cleaning and lubing isn’t doing the job and your shifting is still putting a damper on your rides, it may just be time to start looking at a new drivetrain. The fun thing about this upgrade is you can’t just go out buy a new chain and be done with it. If it’s been a while your chain is going to be stretched and that will wear the cogs on your chainring and cassette. When you try to put on a new chain it will not fit properly and things will just feel worse.

If your rear derailleur is still tight and new then all you will need to place is the chain, cassette, and chainrings. You can check to see if your rear derailleur is worn out if the pivots and pulley’s are loose. If they are it’s best to replace that while you are at it. No matter what else you do if your derailleur is worn out your shifting will not be crisp.

While this is one of the more expensive tips in this post, it is one thing that can really get that “new” feeling back in your bike.

Photo courtesy of Phil Roeder

Photo courtesy of Phil Roeder

7. Get Some New Tires

Ditch those old worn our kicks and pick up some fresh ones. If you have run the same tires for years then it may be time to switch it up and try something new. Some of the new tires on the market are amazing. They are lighter, better rolling and have a better casing design.

With things getting wetter out in the next few months, this is going to be an important one. The tires that may have felt great in the summer may be a train wreck in the wet. I noticed this on my last ride and almost ended up on my head a few times. A quick change of tires to something a bit more aggressive with a better rubber will make a huge difference.

I am not going to recommend tires here as it depends on your local dirt and riding style to what will work best for you. Some people think Ardents are the best thing since sliced bread, but they are just bad in the Pacific Northwet. So go down to your local shop or ask around on some local forums and ask what they use. Local knowledge is always best for tires. If you can’t afford two tires just get a good sticky tire for the front and put your next best tire in the rear.

Photo courtesy of Richard Masoner at cyclelicio.us

Photo courtesy of Richard Masoner at cyclelicio.us

Thanks to Shawn over at www.texasmountainbiketrails.com for the video’s and links, a great site with tons of great tips written by a great guy…go check it out!

There you go, 7 easy and quick things you can do to make your bike feel like new again. Do you have any tips for our readers? If so post them up in the comments and share your awesomeness with everyone!

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