When winter arrives, trails in many parts of the country become unrideable for mountain bikers. If you’re stuck inside this winter, rather than sitting on the couch and succumbing to winter blues, break out the tools and work stand instead. We’ve put together a list of the most crucial parts you should consider replacing this winter, along with some tips on getting the job done right. Grab a drink, toss your rig in the stand, and let’s get wrenching!
How do you know if you need to service your mountain bike suspension?
Slurping or whooshing noises coming from the suspension when you compress it is a strong indicator of it being time to change the fluid and/or seals. Also, listen for grinding, clunking, and squeaking from the bushings and bearings when pushing down on the bike. These sounds can be a sign of needing to, at the very least, take everything apart to clean and regrease the components. When you do this, you’ll then be able to inspect each part and feel if the bearings or bushings are worn and need replacing.
Seal kits and fluid changes for mountain bike suspensions
When you’ve been seeing, hearing, and especially feeling the signs of suspension wear, replacing the seals and fluids is the most common fix. Most of the major suspension manufacturers make seal kits that include everything you’ll need to get your suspension components back to prime operation.
The tools required for a suspension seal kit and fluid replacement are often simple, such as a strap wrench, plastic pick, and funnel, making them a wise investment for any DIY bike mechanic. The key with suspension maintenance is to take your time and do the work in a clean environment to prevent fouling up the valve systems inside the shocks.
What do you need to service your MTB suspension besides seals?
It’s important to note that suspension systems on a mountain bike are more than just the shocks and forks—there are also pivot bushings and bearings that may need replacing. The tools for this are usually as simple as some 5, 6, or 8mm Allen wrenches, a clean rag, degreaser, and the proper grease for your bushings and bearings setup. Some carbon bikes may need a press though, in which case, it might be worth a shop visit. Changing your bearings and bushings will help keep your frame lasting as long as possible while keeping your bike much quieter in the woods.
How can you tell when drivetrain parts need replacing on a mountain bike?
The drivetrain on a mountain bike includes the chain, chainring, cassette, and derailleur pulleys. Essentially, these are all parts that can wear down from pedaling, so there’s a direct link between how often these parts should be replaced and miles-ridden. However, if you ride in extremely dusty, sandy, or wet conditions, you may need to replace these parts more often. Wintertime is the best time to change these parts since you’ve got plenty of downtime to meticulously clean these detailed components.
Three—Cables & Brake Fluid
Do you need to replace the cables and brake fluid on your bicycle?
Depending on how many miles you ride and how much you tend to shift when you’re riding, you may need to replace your shifter cables (derailleur cables) more than once a year. You’ll also want to check any suspension mode cables or dropper seat post cables. If you typically ride once a week or more, it’s good to replace all the cables on the bike in the winter at the very least to ensure a smooth spring riding season.
When it comes to brake hydraulic fluids, it’s good to change them at least once a year in the winter. Thoroughly flushing brake systems annually helps keep them clean and gunk-free, maximizing the life of your hydraulic brakes.
Should you take your MTB to the shop to replace your brake fluid?
All hydraulic brakes are not created equally when it comes to ease of maintenance. Some systems are far easier to flush and bleed with special tools, like the brake bleed kit Hope Manufacturing makes for their brakes.
If you like upgrading your bike or brakes every couple of seasons, investing in special tools for brake maintenance might cost more than just having the local bike shop do the work for you. And let’s be honest, it’s way easier just to drop off your rig at the shop and get it back all fresh and ready to rock.
Four—Tires & Tubeless Sealant
For road bikes, the best tires typically will last you around 2,500 miles. That equates to around 50 miles per week (if you never miss a week all year). Dedicated road riders at a high level will easily crush this mileage a couple if not a few times per year, necessitating tire changes two or three times per year. But for more casual riders, simply changing your road tires in the winter should suffice.
When it comes to mountain bike tires, if you’re riding two to three times per week year-round, you’ll probably want to throw some fresh treads on in the spring and fall seasons for maximum grippage. If you’re a more casual weekend warrior, changing your tires when winter rolls around is just fine.
Brake pads for road riders, daily commuters, and casual mountain bikers should be changed at least once per year, and winter is a perfect time. If you’re riding a mountain bike two or three times per week in more gritty environments like the trails in Grand Junction, CO, or Pisgah National Forest in Brevard, NC, you’ll want to change your brake pads at the beginning of the spring and fall seasons to ensure the best stopping power in damp conditions.
Six—Upgrade Your Bike Cockpit With A Smartphone Mount
Finish off your winter bike maintenance by upgrading your riding experience with Rokform. Our smartphone bike mounts allow you to securely mount your smartphone in easy view so you can always know where the next turn is. Having your iPhone or Android mounted on your handlebar frees up space in your pockets or pack, and it makes it much more convenient to take impromptu photos throughout your ride.We hope this quick winter bike maintenance guide helps you enjoy trouble-free rides all year long. Be sure to tag us on our Instagram page for bikes with photos of your rides!