Quick Guide To Better Performance
A bike is only as good as the mechanic who keeps it running. By spending a little extra time looking over your machine, you will not only prolong its life but also be much safer when riding. Nothing stinks more than crashing due to a mechanical issue that could have been spotted prior to hitting the trails. For this month’s “Garage Files,” we give you a quick step-by-step guide for preventive bike maintenance and point out the easy things to remedy before they become ride-stopping problems. Follow along as we show you the ins and outs of looking over your bike for worn-out parts, such as cables, chains, suspension components and more. Once you’ve done your preride inspection, you can confidently enjoy riding the trails on your safer, better-performing ride.
Check your chain. A chain is what drives your bike forward, and without it, you’d just be spinning your gears. It’s important to take care of your chain and replace it as needed. Not only will this prolong the life of your drivetrain, it will also increase your bike’s performance. Here are two ways you can check to see if it’s time to say goodbye to that old chain.
The preferred method: The best way to check your chain for wear is to use a chain checker tool. These tools come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all serve the same purpose of telling whether or not your chain has stretched. Start by purchasing a chain checker or head down to your local shop to borrow one. Place the tool on your chain using the small hooks that fit inside the links. If the tool says your chain is stretched, then it’s time to replace it immediately.
The free method: 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.
Check your brake pads. You can only go as fast as you can stop. Well, that’s at least a good rule to go by. If the braking performance on your bike has dwindled away, it could be due to worn-out brake pads. The other culprit could be your hydraulic brakes need to be bled, but that’s a complete topic on its own. Here are two ways to check and see if your brake pads still have some life left in them.
Check your suspension components. Shocks and forks feel buttery smooth when they’re brand new. Over time, however, these components tend to lose their shine. It’s important to take care of your suspension components in order to prolong life. Many manufacturers recommend servicing suspension once a year; however, it won’t hurt to do it even more frequently than that. In fact, the pros often have their mechanics service their bikes’ suspension before every race.
Check your tire sealant. Tubeless tires have revolutionized mountain bikes, allowing riders to get rowdy with lower tire pressures and without fear of pinch-flatting. Tubeless sealant, however, has one drawback—it dries out over time, rendering its benefits useless. Take time to care for your tubeless setup and it will reward you with top-notch performance.
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun.