We're back again for another round of mountain bike pro tips! These 5 tips might give you that little bit of an edge in performance, comfort, and consistency out on the trail. There is a little bit of everything here so check it out and let us know what you think! If you haven't already seen some of our other Mountain Bike Pro Tips, check those out too!
Most of the mountain bikes out there now a days are running tubeless tires. With tubeless, you have to add tubeless tire sealant inside the tire so that the tire is air tight when beaded up on the rim. Most of that sealant lines the inside of the tire as a coating and if you ever slice or cut your tire, the sealants job is to plug the whole. Our first pro tip is to mix some glitter in with your tire sealant in the hopes that the glitter will help clog any cut or whole you put in the tire. It's not too common that you would get a pinch flat and cut the sidewall of the tire, but if it does happen, hopefully you will have your favorite color glitter inside the tire to help you finish your ride. This is something sealant manufacturers have started to pick up on. For example, the Stans Race Sealant and the Joes No Flats Sealant both have a bit of texture to them. It's almost like a type of grit mixed in to accomplish the same thing.
If you do get a cut in the tire, place the cut at the lowest part of the tire relative to the ground so that the tire sealant will make its way to where the air is escaping.
Cutting the tread on your tires can sometimes be a great way to get the most performance out of your tires for the particular trail conditions. You will see this most commonly in downhill racing, where mechanics are thoroughly trimming tires for any custom tread design they want. A lot of mud tires use long knobs on the tread so the tire can dig in and grip the ground. As soon as those longer knobs get on to roots and rocks, the tire might begin to squirm as those knobs fold over. The reason that riders want to cut those knobs shorter is to get the best of both worlds. With the example of mud tires, you want a tire with ample spacing between tread lugs to allow those knobs to grip but also short enough nobs that don't squirm and slide on roots and rocks.
If you want to nerd out cutting and siping your own tires, some tire manufacturers actually have marks on where they recommend you do trim the tire lugs. If you look closely at the Specialized Storm tires, there is a distinct cut line that way you get an even cut all the way around the tire. For a super pro cut, check out the Schwalbe Tread Cutting Tool made by Unior Tools in the photo below.
If you are constantly packing your bike and traveling to go ride, getting your brake lever position in the same place every time can be a little bit tricky. If you are bleeding your brakes and need to adjust the angle of your brake levers, it's important to get the brake levers back in the same spot. This is a simple tip and trick that will make it nice and easy to get your brake levers positioned in the same spot every time. First get your brake levers exactly where they feel comfortable, and then take a sharpie and lightly mark around the inside of the brake lever as a reference. Check out the photo below and give it a try on your own bike.
You might not always want to give your bike a hose down but you still want to give it a quick clean. Clorox disinfecting wipes are perfect for wiping down your bike to shine things up a bit. The wipes are wet enough to help remove any dry dirt and you can use them to get in to all of those hard to reach nooks and crannies. They are also great for cleaning up your helmet and even riding shoes.
Tuning your tire pressure can play a huge role in how your bike handles. If tire pressure is too high, everything on the trail will feel harsh and the tire won't contour the terrain. If you aren't running enough tire pressure, you run the risk of getting a flat tire or rolling the tire off the rim completely. The best way to check your tire pressure on a consistent basis is with a digital tire pressure gauge. Our favorite gauge is the Topeak SmartGauge D2. It's small, works with both presta and schrader valves, and easy to throw in with your gear bag or tool box. If you are someone who rarely checks their tire pressure, try to get in the habit of dialing in tire pressure that way you can get the most out of your ride. Having a digital tire pressure gauge makes things super easy. If you are someone that relies on the gauge on your floor pump, it's harder to get an accurate reading on those types of gauges and most likely you aren't going to be using the same exact pump every time you ride your bike. Check out the Topeak gauge and get dialed in!