TO CLEAN OR NOT TO CLEAN
Q: I was wondering when I should go for a tune-up (or do it myself). Should I go every week, month, year? How often should I clean my bike to keep it running smoothly?
British Columbia, Canada
You don’t have to break out the detailing kit every time you get a mountain bike a little dusty. After all, it is a mountain bike. It should be allowed to revel in the elements and find itself covered in mud like a preschooler left to his own devices on the playground on a rainy day. We certainly have fun riding in the elements from time to time; however, we’ve found that neglecting proper cleaning leads to premature wear on parts, paint, and finishes. Maxima has been producing cleaning solutions for motorcycles, cars and bikes for many years. They’ve developed and formulated oils, lubricants and cleaners for world-class racers in many disciplines—from Supercross to NASCAR to mountain biking. Maxima’s cleaning kit is our go-to choice when it comes to cleaning our test fleet.
A: The time you should go between tune-ups will vary based on how often you ride. Generally, six months to a year is a good interval. There are a few ways you can check your components to see if they need to be serviced. If you have a suspension bike, look at the seals and see if oil residue has slipped through. If this is the case, then it’s a good indication you need to get your fork or shock serviced. Another preventive maintenance tip would be to check if your chain is stretched by using a chain-checker tool. If it fails the test, then it’s time to replace your chain.
If you’re not mechanically inclined, you may want to stop by your local bike shop and have them give your bike a closer look.
Assuming you have a tape measure or a ruler at home, you can check your chain for wear without even purchasing a tool. Start by holding a measuring device up to your chain and count out 12 links. Start from the center pin of one link and measure to the 12th. Side note: you should be measuring 24 pins. If your chain measures 1 foot or 12 inches, then your chain is good to go. If 12 links measures 12 1/8 inches, then it’s time to slap a new chain on. It’s best to not wait too long to replace your chain, as it can quickly wear out your drivetrain. Think a new chain is pricey, try a whole new drivetrain.
As far as cleaning goes, we have friends who clean their bikes after every ride to ensure the bike is always in top shape. This is what the pros do. Remember, a clean bike is a happy bike. Just be careful not to use high-pressure water near bearings or pivots, as this can cause damage.
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