Basic tips for maintaining your MTB bike

The components of mountain bikes are not exactly cheap, hence the importance of doing regular maintenance on the MTB, with the aim of extending the useful life of its parts. In addition, many of the most common breakdowns can be avoided if we make certain adjustments in time.

While it is true that bicycle mechanics must be carried out by a professional, it is also true that unforeseen events often occur in the middle of the mountain and it is difficult to find a specialized technical service. For this reason, we have compiled some basic tips on MTB maintenance. The idea is that you can solve minor problems to improve the operation of your bike, which at the same time allows you to increase sports performance.

Necessary tools for the maintenance of your MTB

To be successful in MTB maintenance, you need to use the correct tools. In this case, the most basic ones are a torque screwdriver, one flat and one star, a cable cutter, a T25 torx key, a set of Allen keys and a torque wrench with interchangeable sizes. These items are easy to get and can ensure a good result without spending too much money. However, it is possible that over time you will need more advanced ones, such as a bicycle bearing extractor or a bottom bracket, which allow you to carry out very specific repairs.

Whether you need to change fork seals or adjust bike wheels, it’s best to get quality tools, which can be a little more expensive, but also have a long life. Now, it is not necessary to buy a set that is too large, unless we are professionally dedicated to bicycle repair. So it’s just a matter of having just enough to work comfortably, both at home and in the mountains.

How and when to change the transmission cables?

To keep your bike’s drivetrain running smoothly, one of the most important tasks is to check and, if necessary, replace your derailleur cables and housings. Generally, it is a cheap repair, both at home and in specialized workshops.

If you are a beginner in mountain biking, you will notice more and more friction in the cable, especially when training in areas with a lot of water and mud. In this case, it is recommended to change the cable at least every 6 months and even every 4 months if necessary.

Most high-end MTBs have only one chainring. Therefore, it is only necessary to change the rear derailleur cable with its sleeve. First of all, the limit screws must be correctly adjusted: L for the large sprocket and H for the small one. We just have to cut the covers to the same size, to change the cable and then grease the friction points. Also, it is good to remove any dirt for better performance.

To fine-tune the speeds, you just have to adjust the change or the tension adjustment of the push buttons. In case you have an internal guide frame without a cover, it may take a little longer to insert the new cable, so we recommend you to be patient. In this case, a homemade bicycle workshop stand or stand may be necessary, since this element allows the bicycle frame to be held in different positions.

The importance of cleaning the transmission regularly

Experts recommend cleaning the drivetrain after every workout. This process should include the chainrings, cassette, chain, and rear derailleur, as the buildup of dust and other debris can accelerate wear on these components. To achieve this, you can use a homemade degreaser based on water, vinegar and lemon or a special detergent for bicycles. 

It is good to apply the product and leave it to act for at least 10 minutes, and then rinse with plenty of hot water. In this case, you should use a brush to remove the remains of grease, while for more embedded dirt you can use pressurized air. However, if you perform this maintenance preventively and consistently, a cloth may be more than enough to leave the parts clean. 

When everything is completely dry, apply a drop of oil to each pivot point of the chain links. Then you have to make it go through all the speeds. If you have excess oil, you can wipe with a dry cloth. According to experts, it is preferable to choose a low-density oil and apply it frequently, and not one that is too thick, since the latter accumulates more dirt. 

Although the maintenance of the road bicycle is generally carried out every 250 km, in the case of the MTB we cannot skip this step, mainly because we use it on difficult terrain and it is more exposed to natural elements. In this sense, a golden rule is never to apply a layer of oil on the chain without first removing all the dirt. In addition, it is necessary to use an oil specifically formulated for bicycles.

On the other hand, we cannot forget that the chain must have adequate stretch, so it is good to have a manual or digital tool to verify this data, so that you know when to make the change. It is good to clarify that it is not only a question of the kilometers traveled, since the environmental conditions of the area where you train have a great influence on MTBs. Also, it depends on the type of transmission system your bike has. In general, the chain wears faster on 1X systems than on double or triple chainrings. 

Review and tightening of screws

This is a process that does not take much time, and yet it can be crucial to the proper performance of the bike on the mountain. It is about making a review of all the screws, so we are going to need a wrench that indicates the tightening torque, to check the adjustment of the components and the turning points. If you own a full suspension MTB, it’s also good to check the swingarm thru-axles.

Also, it’s worth checking the stem and handlebar bolts. For this, preset wrenches with a tightening torque of 4-5 NM are commonly used. These are usually small tools and are affordably priced. Finally, it is good to adjust the tires and wheels, the cranks and the derailleur hanger. 

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