Maintain your mountain bike

To keep your mountain bike in tip-top condition and ready for the trails you'll need to do some regular maintenance.

Maintaining your mountain bike involves taking regular care of it and the crucial components that keep you cycling safely and smoothly off-road. Here are five essential things you should regularly do to maintain your mountain bike.

1. Wash your bike

Washing your mountain bike is one of the best things you can do to maintain its condition. We're not talking about splashing on some warm water with a sponge, you're going to need to get down and dirty.

We recommend that you use a specialist bike cleaning products to get the best results and to provide long-lasting protection for your bike. Work from top to bottom, using specialist scrubbing brushes to get into those hard-to-reach places on the forks, frame and wheels. Use a degreaser and chain cleaner to remove grease and grime.

Some riders wash their bike after every ride, but it's not necessary. Just don't leave it too long as the mud, much, grease and grime can damage components.

2. Essential lubrication

Using a high-quality lubricant for your bike is essential. The chain, crank and rear cassette should work smoothly and silently. After cleaning your bike, apply a suitable lubricant to the chain. The lube that's right for you and your bike depends on the conditions you ride in, your bike and your own preferences.

Whether you prefer a wet lube or dry lube, use it sparingly and only on the chain before cycling through the gears. This will lubricate the crank, chainset, front and rear mechs.

While fluid replacements for your forks, rear suspension and hydraulic brakes are fairly advanced jobs, check that there is no fluid leaking from the seals or system.

3. Check tyre pressure and condition

Before every ride you should check the condition of your tyres, looking for any splits, tears or damage that could lead to unexpected and unwanted punctures when you're riding. Even with tubeless tyres, you need to regularly check that the bead of the tyre is sealed to the rim and the tyre maintains enough pressure.

Be sure to check tyre pressures on both wheels and inflate them if they need it. Part of bike maintenance is about spotting issues before they get worse, so if you notice you're regularly having to top up tyre pressures try and identify the cause – and fix it.

While you're on your knees, give each wheel a gentle tug and check that it's held firmly in place. Lift the bike off the floor and spin each wheel, making sure it runs smoothly and is perfectly true.

4. Perform essential pre-ride checks

Your bike is clean, lubricated and the tyres inflated to the correct pressure. Now it's time to run through a few pre-ride checks:

  • Check front and rear brakes work, and if not, adjust them
  • Ensure the handlebars are straight and turn fully in both directions
  • Check there's no play in the headset and that it lines up with the front wheel
  • The saddle should be straight and at the correct height
  • The seat post is secure
  • Check gears index properly, and if not, adjust them)
  • Check the bottom bracket for any play
  • Make sure pedals are attached and turning smoothly

These tests are just some of those we perform during our free bike check, but you should be able to complete them at home too. It should take a few minutes to perform these checks, so get into a good routine and do them every time you ride.

5. Regularly service your mountain bike

Your mountain bike should be regularly serviced by a professional. During a mountain bike service, a trained and qualified mechanic will inspect your bike from top to bottom, ensuring it runs smoothly. They will check the gears, brakes, suspension, frame, wheels and everything else.

As well as setting your bike up, mechanics will be able to identify any worn or damaged components before they fail entirely.

Depending on your mileage, we recommend that serious riders should get a basic service every six months and a more comprehensive service every year.