The following tips are to be done ideally after every ride, but realistically that may not be possible and depending on the intensity of your ride, it may not even be required. If you don´t own a MTB, many of these pointers can be applied to other bicycles as a way to keep them in tip-top condition.
At first this may seem intimidating but this is a great way to get acquainted with your bike! This revision from top to bottom should take about 40 minutes. If you have any problems or questions, there will always be someone in our Mountain Biking Community to help you out! None of the materials or products you need are expensive or difficult to come by. You will be able to find the following at any bike shop or hardware store:
- Chain lube
- Lint-free rags
- Stiff bristle brushes
- An old spoke or a thin metal bar
- Washing-up liquid
First in order is washing down the chain. The chain is a vital part of the bicycle´s mechanisms and it must not be abandoned! To start off, fill a bucket with hot water and add a bit of washing-up liquid. The hotter the water, the easier the muck will come off.
Make sure the chain is on the biggest gear and with a stiff brush, scrub the chain until its original colour shines through (which you may or may not remember depending on how long you have let it go).
After scrubbing the chain, use a (preferably biodegradable) degreaser to degrease the chain by applying and letting it does its job and ooze into all of the links. Move the pedals backwards a few times to ensure that the degreaser spreads and then either wash it off or let it drip dry (if you have it outside).
With an old rag, now rub the chain and watch as more dirt comes off. Try to rotate each link as much as possible in order to clean as much as possible.
Now apply a light lube onto the chain, but only when you are sure that the chain is very clean. Ensure to get it into all of the links as this is the most important part to lubricate.
Now clean the cables. You will most likely have to pull back a rubber layer that protects them. Clean with a rag with degreaser, and then with a lint-free rag with a dollop of grease run the rag down the cable using your thumb and index finger to squeeze the cable. You do not want to leave any clumps of grease.
The front and rear mechs:
After the chain and cables have been looked after, move onto the front mech. This is a short form for ¨Derauilleur Mechanism¨ and it consists in the front and rear ¨mech¨. The front mech shifts the chain across the chainrings and the rear mech is what controls the shifts of the back of the bike between the freewheel´s sprockets. The rear mech puts tension on the chain as that it doesn´t slide off when there is pressure.
Now get into the front mech with a small brush (a toothbrush is ideal) and hot water with soap and scrub until clean getting into all of the nooks and crannies. Dry it off with a thin strip of rag, making sure that the inside gets as clean as possible.
Now tackle the jockey wheel of the rear mech. This is one of the most satisfying for many. You will need a thin piece of metal for this and an old spoke is ideal. Overlook this part of the cleaning and all of the previous work will have been a waste! Scrap and pick out the mud and muck that has gotten crusted in and then clean with a toothbrush and degreaser. Apply just a drop of lube. You do not want to overdo it here as the lubed chain also runs through the jockey wheel.
Now apply lube to the front mech, making sure that you work it in well. The best advice is to shift the mech to the smallest chainring and rub the lube well into the parallelogram. This part of the bike takes a beating and it is wise to make sure that it is sufficiently lubricated.
Now as you did with the jersey wheel, clean the back sprockets either with the spoke or with something a little bit wider. There is bound to be lots of drier muck in there! Take a brush and hot soapy water to them and for stubborn grime you can apply degreaser and then try again with the brush. After wipe clean with the rag and thread the rag between sprockets in order to clean it all as best as possible.
Last but not least, apply some lube to the brake lever pivots and the shifters. They will thank you!
Now you can clean and polish the superficial parts of the bike until she´s sparkling and immaculate!