DEVELOP A PRE-RIDE CHECKLIST
Every rider should have a routine to go through before
each ride. It will vary for different bikes and trails, but it should
look something like this:
• Check that the drivetrain is running smoothly. If it’s not, apply
the correct amount of lubricant before hitting the trail.
• Check tire pressure, preferably with a digital tire gauge. Even
if it’s just the old squeeze test, it’s much better than experiencing
an unexpected pinch flat.
• Check the suspension bearings, hubs and headset to ensure
they’re tight but not binding.
• Ensure your spares kit is fresh and hasn’t been used on the
last ride. It won’t make your bike last longer, but it will help you
last longer on the trails.;❏
CHANGE THE OIL IN YOUR SUSPENSION
MORE OFTEN THAN YOU THINK
We see this time and time again. Riders call us and say, “I
just bought this fork three years ago and it’s already leaking oil.”
Suspension components see a lot of abuse and need to be serviced regularly. You wouldn’t run your car for 30,000 miles without
changing the oil, right? And if you did, you’d expect to see a hearty
repair bill when something finally did go wrong. The same rule
applies to your fork and shock. Both need to be serviced annually
if you’re an active rider, and more often if you ride several times
per week or frequently ride in wet and nasty conditions. Do the
service, or expect your mechanic to tell you bad news when you
bring your bike in for a tuneup.
FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS WHEN YOU
BUY A NEW PART
Many cocky riders don’t think they need to read the instruction manual when installing a new part, but this often leads to
trouble. Bottom line, if you’re installing a lighter or fancier component incorrectly, it’s not an upgrade. It could cause serious
damage to your bike and could even cause injury to you. Read the
instruction manual, no matter how much your ego tells you not to.
Squeaky clean: Cleaning a bike too often will actually do more
harm than good, robbing the pivot points and other critical moving
parts of grease and lubrication. It’s a mountain bike, so let it enjoy
the mountain elements.
Crash policy: When you do fail
to keep the rubber side down,
it’s important to give your bike a
once-over to prevent yourself from
doing more damage by riding with
a broken part.
USE A TORQUE WRENCH
The fastest way to destroy a bike component is to
over-tighten a lightweight part and strip the threads out. If you
check the torque ratings for most components, you’ll be shocked
to find that most bolts on a bike don’t really need to be all that
tight. A torque wrench is a valuable tool, especially for riders who
use the lightest components out there. If you don’t have one, plan
to invest in one before ever doing work on your own bike.
DON’T CRASH, BUT WHEN YOU DO,
LEARN WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Crashing is an unfortunate inevitability when it comes to
mountain biking. When you do fail to keep the rubber side down,
it’s important to give your bike a once-over to prevent yourself
from doing more damage by riding with a broken part. Once
you’ve done the quick checklist and made sure your body is okay,
Most important tool in the box: The torque wrench is a bit like
the Yoda of any mechanic’s toolbox. It’s the wisest tool and
should be used often, especially when working with the lightweight and delicate components that come on today’s bikes.
check the bike to ensure things won’t go awry once you start
riding again. Be sure to check the derailleur hanger, because if
this is bent, you could send the rear derailleur into the spokes
and destroy your wheel and frame. If you’re riding carbon, check
for major damage that could cause fractures that could result in
yet another crash. If you’re riding with hydraulic brakes, check to
make sure the lines haven’t been compromised in any way that
could cause a leak. Thinking logically after a crash can save hundreds of dollars in extra damage, not to mention that it could save
you from a serious injury.