Bike Basics

The transition has begun. For us diehards we are still out playing in the snow, but for most the switch over to summer activities is in full swing.  This is actually one of my favorite things about living in the mountains. During this time of year, there’s a plethora of outdoor fun spanning the gamut! Before you even “hop” onto your next adventure be sure to do some mountain bike basic maintenance.

Spring and Summer in the Mountains mean Multi-Sport Days

Courtesy: Rocky Mountain Bikes For instance a typical spring day for me could be to go splitboarding in the morning, play disc golf, hike, float the river, paddle boarding  the lake or go bike riding in the afternoon/ evening.  These are only naming a few and the options are limitless.

Courtesy: Rocky Mountain Bikes

Like with many outdoor activities, there’s gear and equipment involved. All this requires maintenance.  If you are like me, sometimes I’m so anxious to move onto the next adventure I don’t properly store my gear.  Since this could lead to real trouble and injury it’s essential to make sure everything is tuned up and ready to go prior to its first use for the season.  This is especially true in regards to mountain biking.

Spring Cleaning means Maintenance on your Gear

Shane Bike Shot 2Spring is one of my favorite times for mountain biking. Vegetation is lush and green, trails aren’t too crowded and the ground is still holding a little moisture that allows for better traction.  Whatever your favorite time to hit the single-track it’s best to give your bike a once over to help prepare you for or even help you avoid common problems that occur on the trail.  We don’t work in a bike shop, but we’ve found if you can locate the parts and know how to turn a wrench you can pretty much take care of any maintenance on your bike.  If you aren’t comfortable doing this, then we do highly suggest getting your bike in the shop.  Good luck this time a year.  They are normally backed up by now.  If you are ready to give it ago, below is general maintenance that should be done prior to hitting the trail for the first time this season.


Bike Chain ToolIt’s essential to check for chain wear. There’s a special tool you can buy, that will measure chain lengths.  If your budget says you’ve already spent enough you can also use a ruler.  Just pull the chain tight, count 20 links and measure pin-to-pin.  It should be exactly 10 inches.  If the measurement exceeds that by 1/16 inch or more get a new chain.  If it’s good clean it with an old toothbrush and citrus solvent, then lube with chain lube.


Starting from one end of your bike go through to the other end, check and tighten any loose bolts and nuts. Don’t overly tighten just snug up and secure.  On a thread less headset you can check the stem-clamp, but leave the bolt on top.  If you are concerned with this you should get your bike into a shop to have a tech look at it.

Saddle Rails

Lightly grease.


Check to ensure proper alignment and that there are no bent teeth. If there are they can usually be straightened at a shop.

Fork Sliders (suspension)

Check to make sure you boots are sealed. If there’s dirt around the bottom grab a clean cloth and wipe debris away.  Double check and make sure the boots are still sealed at the bottom when finished.  Lastly, lube the fork sliders.


Courtesy: Peaty Grips

Courtesy: Peaty Grips

Check the wear on the grips. If worn, replace.  Some recommend cleaning them, but it’s up to personal preference.  When replacing, heat with hot water before sliding on the handle bar.  You can even add a spray of hairspray inside before to stop the grip from slipping once installed.


Clean out dirt from the pedal. They should spin freely.  Check to make sure bolts and connections are secure and lube all moving parts.


Inspect cable lines for rust, fraying and cracks. If you see any signs of wear it’s a good idea to replace. It will make shifting and stopping safer and more efficient.


Clean brake pads and inspect wear. Whether disc brakes or pad brakes most have an indicator which shows when they need to be replaced.


Courtesy: Maxxis Bike Tire

Courtesy: Maxxis Bike Tire

Check treads on tire to make sure there’s ample left for traction. Inspect sidewalls for cracks and bubbling.  If any of these don’t pass replace the tires.  Lastly, check tire pressure.  This can fluctuate from season to season.


After performing spring maintenance you should be ready to go. The last step is to take it out for a quick spin to ensure any adjustments and fixes have been performed correctly and everything is operating as it should.  When problems linger go back through the steps.  If you are unable to resolve, bring it to and expert and have them take a look.

Happy trails!

Alex Lake Tahoe Bike 1


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