We are full steam ahead in to fall riding here at Worldwide Cyclery. If you are gearing up for more fall and winter riding, it's important that you keep your bike maintained as best as possible, that way you end up with more time out on the trail. That could be said about riding during any time of the year, but in the winter months, chances are you will have more wet and muddy days. We've lined up 5 tips and tricks for maintaining your bike to keep your drivetrain, suspension, and wheels running as smoothly as possible.
Riding through the winter months, chances are your bike is going to get dirty, and all of us have washed our bikes one time or another. If you are going to use hose, one tip for washing your bike is to use low pressure water. A pressure washer that uses high pressure can drive water in behind bearing seals. This can push grease out of those bearings causing them to corrode. Having grease in all the right places is what keeps your bike running nice and smooth. In the end, you will be better off using low pressure water and bike wash cleaner to clean your bike even though a pressure washer seems like it would makes things easier. If you do end up using a pressure washer to clean your bike, try to keep from spraying directly into any places where bearings exist; headset, suspension linkage, hub bearings, etc.
For those of you who are religious about lubing your chain before every single ride and that has become part of your pre-ride routine, we salute you! A lot of us certainly have a bad habit of forgetting to lubricate our chain, and during the winter months this is all the more important. When you use chain lube regularly, it reduces friction, reduces wear and tear on drivetrain components, and improves shifting performance. What you have to look out for is when dirt, dust, and grime wants to stick on your chain. Cleaning and lubing your chain will help keep your drivetrain running like new for longer.
Before you go out for a ride, grab a paper towel or a shop rag you don't mind getting dirty and run the chain through the rag to help clean off any dirt. If your chain is extremely dirty with a lot of built up gunk, next time you wash your bike you might want to use something like Muc Off's Dry Chain Degreaser to help remove all of that gunk and old lube from the chain. Once you have your chain clean, apply a layer of chain lube across the entire chain. Some of our favorites are the Maxima Chain Pro and Finish Line Dry Chain Lube. Back pedal your bike to allow that lube to set in to all of the nooks and crannies along the chain. To finish, take a clean paper towel and wipe off any excess chain lube on the chain. This will keep your chain from collecting so much dust on your next ride. The more often you clean and lube your chain, the easier it will be to maintain your drivetrain components.
This is a simple one but can certainly go a long way. When you don't really need to do a full bike wash but you still want to wipe your bike down so it's nice and shiny, make sure to wipe clean the stanchions on your fork and shock with a microfiber towel. This will help prevent dirt and dust from getting behind the dust seals and contaminating suspension oil. This is quick and easy and can extend the time between suspension services. If you are riding a Fox fork and it is time for a service, check out our How To: Servicing Fox Suspension Forks.
After countless miles of riding, it's possible that some parts might be trying to work their way loose. Whether it's your derailleur, suspension linkage hardware, or your headset, going over your bike with a quick bolt check will help prevent those parts from getting damaged. We would highly recommend using a torque wrench when tightening torque sensitive areas like stem bolts on your brand new carbon handlebar for example. If you are doing a bolt check, let's say once every three or four rides, using a torque wrench will also help prevent you from continuously tightening those same bolts over and over again. The Park Tool ATD 1.2 Adjustable Torque Driver is great for those quick checks because it's compact, stores multiple driver bits in its handle, and allows you to adjust from 4-6 Nm in 0.5 Nm increments. Make sure everything on your bike is torqued to spec and keep your bike running in good shape. If you don't know a certain torque requirement, feel free to give us a call or look up the manufacturers specifications.
If you are someone that checks your tire pressure every time before you hit the trails, then good on you! Checking your tire pressure often is a good habit to have, that way you get the most out of each ride. The worst thing is when you throw your bike on the bike rack and when you get to the trailhead you realize you only have 15 psi in your tires. Because the pressure gauge on just about every pump doesn't work all that well, we recommend having a dedicated tire pressure gauge. Our favorite is the Topeak SmartGauge D2 Pressure Gauge. You can throw the Topeak digital gauge in your car and have it handy before every ride. Keep your tires inflated to the optimal pressure and get the most performance from your tires out on the trail.