Maintaining your mountain bike is one of the most essential aspects if you are an avid mountain biker. When barreling down a mountain at high speeds, you need to be sure your mountain bike will perform as required, or your safety could be at risk.
A well-lubricated mountain bike is a safety issue, so you should regularly clean and maintain your mountain bike, especially the most critical components, like the chain and wheel bearings.
Your mountain bike will not function as it should if you don’t properly maintain it, especially when cleaning and lubricating. You’ll have to put more effort into propelling yourself forward because things aren’t moving as smoothly as they should. Regular cleaning and lubricating are required if you want the best mountain biking experience.
This article discusses why your mountain bike needs to be lubricated and how often it should be lubricated and will give you instructions on how to lubricate it.
Why Do Mountain Bikes Need to Be Lubricated?
There are a few reasons mountain bikes need to be lubricated regularly, and it concerns more than just the chain. Let’s see why lubricating your mountain bike is essential, especially the vital components of your bike.
It all comes down to movement. Lubricants grease up the works so that components that come in contact with each other move freely instead of getting stuck or creating friction, which will result in you having to work harder to move forward.
For example, the chain is the most common bike part requiring regular lubrication. The chain hooks over the gears and produces propulsion. If the chain is not well lubricated, it will create friction on the gears, making pedaling harder.
At the same time, if your chain is not lubricated, it can become stiff and eventually break. Moreover, a corroding and rusting chain is another problem if it is not properly cleaned and lubricated.
The same is true for the wheel hubs, the crank, and more. Any moving parts that provide propulsion must be able to move freely without friction, including your suspension fork. If the suspension fork cannot move freely without creating friction, it will not absorb as many bumps as it should. This concerns your comfort and safety. If you hit a bump and your shocks aren’t working correctly, it can send you flying off the bike and cause serious injury.
Therefore, keeping your mountain bike cleaned and lubricated will make it function better, travel faster, use less energy and force to propel it forward, and help keep you more comfortable and safer.
How Often Should Mountain Bikes Be Cleaned and Lubricated?
Now that you know why your mountain bike needs regular lubrication, you should know how often to do it. The rule of thumb is that your mountain bike should be lubricated every 100 miles.
This is crucial for the chain, although for other components, you might be able to push this to around 200 miles. However, the more you clean and lubricate your mountain bike, the better. Of course, it depends on how often you ride your mountain bike per week.
If you want to ride for an hour or two once a week, lubricating your mountain bike monthly is probably enough. However, if you spend many hours riding every day, cleaning and lubricating it after or before every ride is best. The more punishment you put your bike through, the more you need to maintain it.
How to Lubricate Your Mountain Bike
Here’s a quick step-by-step lesson on how to do so. As you’re about to see, it’s not complicated.
Gather Your Supplies
The first step is to gather all of the materials you will need to clean and lubricate your bicycle. You’ll need a bucket of clean, preferably hot water. Then, a bit of dish soap in the hot water and a degreaser specific to bicycles.
You will also need brushes, including a large, soft brush to clean the frame, a stiff, hard brush to clean the tires and wheels, and a y long, thin brush to get into those hard-to-reach areas. You’ll need a cloth or towel to dry your bike when you are done. Finally, you will need a lubricant specific for bicycles.
Inspect and Clean the Various Components
Now that you have the necessary cleaning materials, it’s time to clean your bicycle. Follow the steps below to properly inspect and clean your bike.
- Use the appropriate tools to remove the wheels from your bicycle. Then, use soapy hot water and a stiff brush to clean the rims and the tires.
- Use the degreaser to remove any old lubricant and grease from the chainrings, sprockets, derailleur, pulley wheels, and the chain. Make sure to remove any built-up debris.
- While doing this, inspect all the spoke holes, spokes, wheel rims, and tires for any damage. If there is damage, repair or replace.
- Next, check the wheel bearings. Hold the wheel and turn the axle. The axle should turn smoothly and not wobble. If there’s any wobbling or friction, it might require service.
- Clean the frame using your brush and hot soapy water. Start at the handles and the saddle, and work your way down.
- Inspect the brake blocks, and clean them. You can use a degreaser to remove any old debris. At the same time, you also want to inspect the brake cables, cable housings, and gears for any wear and tear. Finally, check the cranks to make sure that they turn smoothly.
Lubricate the Important Components
Now that your mountain bike is clean lubricate all the most important components.
- First, lubricate the chain by applying a few drops of lubricant to every few links in the chain; at the same time, use lubricant on all gears. Once the lubricant is applied, turn the pedals a little to work the lubricant into the nooks and crannies. Remember, never use a lubricant that isn’t explicitly designed for bicycles on your bike chain.
- Then, apply a small amount of lubricant to the bike’s axle, where the pedals connect to each other and where they meet the frame. Then, turn the pedals a few times to move them around. This is also referred to as the wheel hub.
- Lubricate the seat post with just a little bit of lubricant. This will help prevent the seat post from getting stuck inside the frame, allowing you to move it around when needed.
- Although not all bicycles require you to lubricate the suspension forks, some do. If this is the case, use a lubricant specifically for suspension forks. Apply a little lubricant where the post meets the frame of the suspension fork, and then pump the handlebars down a few times to get the grease inside the suspension fork.
As you can see, although regularly cleaning and lubricating your mountain bike requires some effort, it is worth the results.