Mountain bike maintenance can become an obstacle course, if you don't have some basic skills.
Owning a mountain bike - whether you are a serious rider or simply enjoy it as a sport - is an investment in time and money. Protect that investment by learning a few tricks of the trade as far as mountain bike maintenance is concerned.
The first important thing in mountain bike maintenance is very simple: keep your bike clean! Wipe off excess dirt once a week, using a dry cloth or a damp soapy sponge. During wet weather, or with frequent use, it is a good idea to wash your bike after every ride. If you don't do this, you will find that there are a lot of sticky stuff out there that may become unwelcome, permanent fixtures.
Another regular habit you need to adopt as part of mountain bike maintenance, is degreasing the chain and drivetrain. How often you do this depends on how often you ride. It should be done once a month at least, and up to two or three times per month if you ride on a regular basis.
Lubrication of the chain is essential. There are many excellent lubricants on the market. Choose one that suits your needs. Keep in mind that newer lubricants such as White Lightning are self-cleaning, which minimizes mountain bike maintenance.
It is best to apply lubricant the night before you ride. Doing it ten minutes before, prevents it from getting into the chain properly.
As part of mountain bike maintenance, it is vital to maintain the correct air pressure in the tires. Taking care of this small detail will protect your expensive tires. It also prevents frequent tube problems.
Gear cables tend to stretch over time, which makes gear shifting less effective. Gear and brake cables should be checked regularly, and replaced more often than most people realize. New ones should be put in every six to nine months as part of general mountain bike maintenance, and the cable housing should be replaced at the same time.
Another item on you mountain bike maintenance list, is your brake pads. These wear extremely fast. You need to check the alignment of the brake pads against the rims. They should sit squarely on the rim when the brakes are applied.
When relaxed, they should be clear of the sidewall of your tire as it turns. Replace the brake pads when they get to the wear line. Allowing them to go onto the metal casing, will damage your rims.
Check all the nuts and bolts in your monthly mountain bike maintenance routine. Invest in an Allen key or spanner and tighten the loose bolts, such as crank bolts, seatpost bolts, and headset locknuts.
Lastly, one simple way to look after your bike is to keep it under cover, preferably indoors. Don't expose it to the elements any more than necessary.
Be careful when using a bike cover outside. These tend to trap moisture between the cover and the ground, and will cause the steel parts on your bike to corrode more rapidly, giving cause for more mountain bike maintenance than you ever had in mind!
Take good care of your bike and it will take good care of you!