How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself: 13 Efficacious Steps

If you’ve ever seen a pro rider tear up the trails, you know that they have insane mastery over their bike. You might not realize it, but these pros put in a lot of work to get their bikes functioning at such an advanced level. Follow the simple steps on How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself before or after a ride.

They perform regular maintenance on their bikes to optimize performance and reduce the risk of failure. Even if you don’t plan on competing anytime soon, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the general concepts of how to service your mountain bike. After all, your ride is worth keeping around for longer than a few months.

Keeping your mountain bike in top shape will help extend its useful life. But don’t worry; this isn’t an exhaustive list of every little thing you need to check or do regularly with your bike, given its riding conditions and personal preferences. Instead, we split things into four main categories:

Check The Basics

It’s always a good idea to ensure your bike is in good, safe riding condition before you hop on it.

Use your senses:

  1.  Listen for any rattling, clanking, or grinding noises. If you hear any of those sounds, find out what it is and fix it as soon as possible, preferably before you even ride the bike.
  2. Next, use your eyes: Look for cracks, wear, and other signs of damage. Worn parts can fail at the worst times and often don’t offer any warning before they break. Check the frame, fork, and handlebars for cracks. If you come across any, have the bike inspected by a professional before riding it again.
  3. You can also use a magnifying glass to look for hairline fractures in the metal. You can also check the headset, bottom bracket, and disc brakes if you have the tools.
  4. When you’re doing these inspections, use the proper tools for optimum accuracy. For example, use a torque wrench for a bottom bracket, a headset wrench for a headset, and a proper disc brake tool for disc brakes.

How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself Before the Ride

1.       Tighten Up Anything You Can Get At

Before you even ride, you can tighten up a few things. For example, ensure the stem is tight and the handlebars are straight. Next, make sure your wheels are tightened properly.

The hubs, spokes, and rim should all be properly torqued. Different wheels require different torque settings. Make sure you know what yours are before you ride.

How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself
How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself

2.       Check Your brakes

Check your brakes. Make sure the pads aren’t worn and that the calipers are closed. You can also check the hydraulic fluid level in your hydraulic brakes. When you’re servicing your bike, you should use the opportunity to tighten everything you can.

Take a quick test drive within your compound and pump slightly. If they are loose, you’ll notice a small bubble. Pump them a few times, or turn the bike upside down. If not, have them bled. If they are soft, your pads might be worn.

Check your lines to rule out any leaks

TIP: It isn’t necessary to check your pads every time you ride if your brakes feel solid, but get in the habit of inspecting them for wear every now and then.

3.       Check Your Shifting

When doing your quick test ride, run through your bike gears. Confirm if the wheels are seated properly in skewers or the thru-axles if they feel off. If that is the case, adjust the barrel on the shifters forward and back. Do this only if you know how.

If you don’t know, look for a technician. It’s easy to make shifting worse when randomly twisting things

Check the chain to ensure all links run across the chain ring in front, cassette 9rear) without skipping. If the chain skips, the probability of having a frozen link is high

Solution: Lube it.

4.       Check the Bike Pedals

Many have chosen to overlook pedals, despite being the contact points of a bike. In most cases, they hit rocks, with some dirt and stones griming in them, thus freezing. Ensure they are clean. It allows you to get in and out of your pedals before starting a ride.

5.       Check and lube the chain

You can tell that it’s time to clean and lube your chain when you start hearing a gritty sound when you pedal. This gritty sound is a good sign that it’s time for a chain cleaning. You can clean your chain with a degreaser, an old toothbrush (or an old chain tool), and a rag.

 You can find more detailed instructions online or in a general mountain biking guide. You can also clean your chain with a specialized cleaner like Park’s CM-5.

After you clean it, add a chain lube like the Shimano Cycling Chain Lubricant. After you lube your chain, pedal backward for a few rotations to work the lube into the chain. You should clean and lube your chain before each season and every 1,000 miles.

6.       Check the Fit

Before riding your test ride. Test ride and ensure nothing feels off, especially if it has been a while since you rode the bike. Adjust the saddle, and post height, and confirm the dropper post is working.

7.       Check Bolts and Screws

If you installed anything recently on the bike, especially one having torque, check the screws and bolts. For instance, if you have new chaining, they can loosen often.

TIP: Don’t feel the need to tighten bolts every time you check. This is to avoid tightening and damaging the part

Carbon frames experience less tolerance to over-tightening. Therefore, it’s advisable to have a torque wrench or T handle torque wrench. It prevents you from over-tightening and destroying carbon bars and seat posts.

8.       Inspect the Skewers and Thru-axles

Avoid your wheels coming off when riding downhill. This happens when you forget to tighten them after pulling your bike off a roof rack. The axles come out loose. Therefore, check and confirm before riding.

How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself After the Ride

How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself
How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself

1.       Overall Inspection of the Bike

Always inspect your bike after a long ride. Ensure there are no cracks in the frame and handlebars, especially when you have carbon.

This is essential if you crash on your ride.

Why? Small cracks on your bikes have catastrophic consequences

Always check the drive train, brakes, and other components.

Note: It is better to find out which parts require servicing early enough than when you are ready for the ride.

2.     Check and lube the brakes

When they start squealing, you can tell it’s time to service your brakes. You can also use your senses here: If something smells burned or you see burned-looking parts, you should get it checked out.

First, remove the wheel and inspect the pads. If they’re worn down about 1/4, replace them. If they’re down to nothing, replace the whole brake, especially if it’s the front brake, because you’ll also need a new caliper.

If you have an older bike, you might need to replace the whole system, not just the pads. Ensure the fluid level is correct for both the front and rear brakes.

3.     Check and lruing the wheels

You can tell when it’s time to re-true your wheels by listening for abnormal noises when you ride. These noises can include popping, clicking, or clattering.

You can also check the wobble of your wheel by putting the bike up on the stand and spinning the wheel by hand. Re-true your wheels with a truing stand or with a spoke wrench.

You can take the wheel to a bike shop if you don’t have the right tools. Make sure to re-true both wheels, even if only one seems to be out of the truth.

4.     Change The Oil

The easiest way to change the oil on your bike is to use a quick-change oil filter. It’s an easy, no-brainer way to do this. Next, you’ll need to decide what type of oil to use. You can use synthetic or mineral oil.

You can also use a synthetic blend. You can use synthetic oil for the whole bike or just for the engine. And you can use a synthetic blend for both. You can also use a synthetic blend in an old bike, but synthetic is always better.

After you’ve decided which type of oil to use, find out how often you should change it. Most manufacturers recommend changing the oil every 2,000 miles.

5.     Inspect And Adjust Your Disc Brakes

Brakes are key to any rider. prioritise them and know How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself. You can tell it’s time to service your disc brakes by listening for squealing, seeing burnt-looking parts, or smelling burned rubber. You can also push on the brakes.

A soft push should cause the brakes to activate. First, remove the wheel and inspect the pads. If they’re worn down about 1/4, replace them. You can also inspect the caliper for any damage. If everything looks good, close the caliper.

Make sure the hydraulic fluid level is correct. Next, reset the pad position. To do this, twist the barrel adjuster counterclockwise until the brake is completely released. Squeeze the brake, then turn the barrel adjuster clockwise until you feel resistance. Repeat this process for both wheels.

6.       Perform Overall Cleanliness’

“In general, you don’t need to wash your bike after every ride. In fact, it could be detrimental because you will continually expose your bottom bracket and hubs to water and soap, wearing them down faster.”

Where you live or ride means, you have to wash your bike and do it more often. For instance, do a gentle wash weekly if you ride in wet and muddy conditions. It is essential to keep it clean for inspection, lubrication, and other tests.

Avoid using a pressure washer on the highly powered hose. Especially on greased moving parts such as hubs, and the bottom bracket

Just use normal liquid soap. But avoid soaps with strong chemicals that interfere with the paint and lubed bike parts.

If not sure, try bike-specific liquid soaps, such as Pedro’s green Fizz.

Degreasers could be effective, but avoid spraying on the headset and bottom bracket.

general cleaning sums up best method on How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself.

Summing It Up

This is How to Service a Mountain Bike yourself. f you’re just getting into mountain biking, know that you’re making a commitment to a long-lasting hobby. You’ll need to take care of your bike to get the most out of it. Luckily, servicing your bike isn’t complicated. All it takes is a little time and effort. These tasks will ensure your bike lasts longer, from cleaning your chain to changing oil.

How to Service a Mountain Bike Yourself
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