Get Back To The Basics – Bike Maintenance Checklist

Road Biking South Lake Tahoe

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

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 a once over on your ride by following this basic bike maintenance checklist.

Spring & Summer In The Mountains Mean Multi-Sport Days

backcountry skiing Lassen National Park May sunny cascade mountains
Ski in the morning… mountain bike in the afternoon. Photo by: Local Freshies

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.

Like with many outdoor activities, there’s gear and equipment involved. All this requires maintenance. If you’re 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 its 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

Person looking into Lake Tahoe Meadow after following basic bike maintenance checklist
Photo by: Local Freshies

Spring 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 at least make sure everything is running smoothly. Below we’ve created a basic bike maintenance checklist that should be done prior to hitting the trail.


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 going through this bike maintenance checklist you should be good 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’re unable to resolve, bring it to an expert and have them take a look. And before you hop in the saddle for your ride make sure you’re prepared if something does go wrong:

Happy trails!

Alex Lake Tahoe Bike 1
If you want to learn more about how to start mountain biking, get tips on gear to buy, or just explore adventures you can have from the shores of Tahoe to the mighty Grand Tetons of Wyoming, click below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *