TEN THINGS EVERYONE SHOULD DO TO A NEW MOUNTAIN BIKE
Make it even better
TEN THINGS EVERYONE SHOULD DO TO A NEW MOUNTAIN BIKE
New bike day! It’s always an exciting one, be it your very first mountain bike or an addition to the quiver. In the excitement, it’s easy to skip over a few things that should be done before throwing a leg over that new ride.
Go for a short solo ride first. All too often, someone shows up for an epic group ride with a new bike only to realize something was forgotten. Even if the new bike is technically ready to roll, it still takes a proper shakedown ride to get that saddle just right, the shock and fork adjustments dialed, and air pressure where it should be. So, do everyone a favor and go for a spin and dial that new bike in before committing to a group ride—or a big ride of any sort. Don’t forget to bring a shock pump!
Check your tools, especially your mini tool. Bicycle “standards” are often laughable, and ever-changing. One common comedy is how often multi-tools aren’t actually compatible with bike parts. The most classic example is the torx or Allen key on smaller portable tools being too short to actually reach the derailleur mounting bolt. So, before heading off into the hills, it’s worth quickly running through tool compatibility manually and making sure all bolts are actually accessible with that little doohickey. And while you’re at it, it’s a good idea to make note of any tools the new bike requires, even if it’s for the home shop.
Check those bolts! Don’t try to break them, just make sure they’re all to proper torque. Don’t have a torque wrench? Some of us don’t, either. Be smart, and snug things up that might’ve been overlooked at the shop or from the assembly line, as it’s all too common to find at least one loose bolt. This would also be a great time to pull some of the common culprits, like that derailleur mounting bolt, and add a dab of thread lock if there isn’t any on it already. Double-check these bolts after the first few rides and then again after the next dozen or so.
Add protection! Whether it’s something like Ride Wrap’s Tailored Protection that covers up to 95 percent of the frame or some strategically placed electrical tape to keep that frame bag from rubbing into the paint, it’s much easier to do before the bike gets dirty. Complete kits can be worth 10 times their premium cost in future savings. They have saved our personal bikes over and over again, but the less expensive and less labor-intensive universal frame protection kits are a great option as well. Basic areas to think about are where housing rubs the frame, frame bag contact points, and heel rub zones on the rear triangle. Sometimes bikes come with small kits of clear protective tape that work well for these applications. Electrical tape is a favorite for the occasional bike-packing trip, as its flexibility allows easy installation on the curves of modern frames. It’s cheap and can easily be removed once the trip is over.
Go tubeless. For how archaic riding with tubed tires is, it’s amazing how many bikes still come with tubes. Pull those silly things out. Throw one in your pack as an emergency spare and set those fresh new rims up tubeless before they get dinged up! This could be as easy as swapping the tubes out for tubeless valve stems and adding sealant, or as complicated as needing tubeless rim strips and different tires. Regardless, just get it over with and move on. Our favorite tubeless valve stems are the Fillmore Valves by Reserve, which seem much less prone to getting clogged up with sealant over time.
For riders who may be getting a new bike for the first time in a decade or longer, now would be a great time to sign up for a skills clinic. It’s not that we think you don’t know how to ride a bicycle; it’s that we’ve seen more than our fair share of otherwise competent, long-time mountain bikers hop on new bikes with completely modern (read: lower, longer, slacker) geometry and flail like beginners all over again. It’s not you; it’s the massive evolution in geometry, and that geometry requires a different body position and style of riding.
Go on a shopping spree. If the shop offers a discount on parts and accessories when purchasing a bike, even better, but get what you need or want as soon as possible. For one, it’s nice to have the bike dialed from the very beginning, especially contact points like the saddle and grips. Throw those take-off parts in a box and hang on to them until it’s time to sell the bike, as having fresh and clean contact points on a used bike makes a big difference to many potential buyers. Other things that are nice to have as spares are brake pads, shifter cables and tires. These will all eventually need to be replaced, and if COVID has taught us anything, it’s that parts aren’t always available when we want them to be.
Put your name and number on a card. Waterproof that card with clear packing tape and stash that card in the frame. An easy place is in the seat tube, below the dropper post, but the bottom bracket shell is a personal favorite, as thieves are less likely to discover it there. It’s a quick and easy added piece of security in case the bike gets stolen. It’d be tempting to put your name in the bars, but if the bike gets parted out, that won’t help.
Think about adding a GPS tracker. These not only come in handy if thieves get ahold of the bike, but GPS trackers are a great way to keep an eye on the bike’s pathway when flying or shipping it. Products like Lezyne’s AirTag line offer simple and affordable options, such as the $20 Air Cage that features an inconspicuous GPS tracking device in a very average-looking bottle cage.
Write down that serial number! If it’s on the sales receipt, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check that the shop owner’s 15-year-old nephew helping out for the summer entered the correct number, either. Either way, stash that number in your filing system from the very beginning, before it’s too late. Be it a future warranty issue, or if the bike gets stolen, having the serial number handy is key. It’s also a great idea to take a few photos of the bike if you haven’t already.