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7 Bike Cleaning & Maintenance Essentials


Get Ready to Ride

Days are getting longer, temperatures are warming up here at the beach…you're getting that itch to take your bike out and enjoy the trails and roads. When you pull your bike off the hooks for the first time in awhile, you realize your bike might not be as ride ready as you thought.Before pedaling off into the sunset, it's a good idea to give you bike a tip-to-tail once over, and make sure you're safe and not doing any damage to your bike that could cost big bucks in the long run.Our always ready service staff is happy to tackle this chore for you. But if you're feeling gung-ho, here is a step-by-step guide to checking and prepping your bike for the spring.

Step 1: A Clean Bike is a Happy Bike

Seems basic, but if you want to extend the overall lifespan of the frame and components on your beloved bike, then you need to remove sweat, dirt and corrosive road spray regularly. A good wash, also leaves your bike looking shiny new, and makes it easier to identify what other work it may need. Our in-house experts recommend Muc Off Bike Cleaner, but any bike-specific wash is okay.

Our crew also recommends a cleaner degreaser for the chain, chainrings, jockey wheels on the rear derailleur and any gunk that has built up on the cassette. For the try Muc Off Drivetrain Cleaner. Then use a wet rag to wipe off the braking surfaces on your rims and any grime that's accumulated on your frame (Including the nooks and crannies near the brakes, cables, and bottom bracket).

Step 2: Check for a Worn Chain

Regularly checking your chain length with a chain-checker tool can prevent you from wearing out your chainrings and cassette. Save yourself some cash and hassle by getting in the habit of checking chain wear regularly.

Once you've washed your bike, it's critical to re-lubricate the moving parts, especially the chain. Here are some chain lube options to choose from.

Step 3: Brakes are Pretty Important

A simple visual inspection of the brake assembly should allow you to determine how much brake pad material remains. Shine a flashlight or other bright light onto the brake assembly so you can clearly see the brake pad backing, brake pads, and rotor or rims. If the pads are worn close to the indicator line or back plate, it's time to replace your brake pads.

Engage the brake levers to make sure the pads are connecting properly to the braking surface. If it takes undue effort to engage the pads on a cable actuated brake, loosen the cable's pinch bolt with an Allen key and pull the cable through a bit farther to tighten them up. When you're done, give the wheel a spin to make sure the brake pads aren't rubbing. If your brakes are hydraulic and the lever is coming to the bar, it may be time to head to the shop for a brake bleed.

Brakes are a critical safety feature, so we recommend you have your brakes checked regularly by a service professional.

Step 4: Check Tires for Trainer-Wear

Did you use a trainer this winter? Roller wheels can wear away the center of a tire quicker than usual. If your tire looks worn or flattened on the center tread, then it may be time for new tires.

Check that your wheels are true, and tighten any loose spokes. If you spin your wheel and it has any wobbles or hops, then you may need to fix these irregularities at the truing stand with a spoke wrench. While your wheel is on the stand, squeeze all the spokes to make sure they are properly tensioned. Not sure how to do that? Schedule a regular maintenance check.

Check your tire's recommended PSI, listed on the sidewall, and make sure your tires are properly inflated. 

Step 5: Tighten and Lube Up Those Cables

When checking your cables, make sure the brake and shifter cables are NOT fraying at the ends and that they have proper tension. If they are nicked or fraying, they need to be replaced. If they are stretched, they can be tightened by turning the barrel adjustor a few turns. These simple adjustments can really improve your shifting and braking performance.

We also recommend lubing your cables so they continue to slide smoothly. 

As for the headset, drop the front end of your bike to listen for a rattle. If you hear a rattle, it could mean your headset is loose. We're happy to lend a helping hand if you need it.

Step 6: Don't Want Your Pedals Falling Off 

Before riding up Mill Mountain, we recommend you remove the chain from the chainring then rotate the crank to feel how the pedals and bottom bracket are rotating. There should be no resistance or lateral movement. If there is, again...you should call a professional.

Remove the pedals and bottom bracket to clean and lubricate seasonally. You want to keep all the moving parts on your bike clean and lubricated. 

Step 7: Feeling Shifty?

While on the stand, with the chain on, go through all the gears and make sure the chain isn't skipping. Make any final adjustments with the barrel adjuster and of course keep that chain lubed up.