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How to Get Your Mountain Bike Ready for Summer

by Lennard Zinn

Get your bike ready for smooth riding this summer with this helpful bike maintenance checklist from Lennard Zinn, author of Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance:

  • Wash off winter salt, sand and grime with low-pressure water from a hose (high-pressure sprayers can force water where it shouldn’t go).
  • Check your chain for wear with a chain-elongation gauge and replace it if indicated.
  • Check your brake and shift cables for nicks and proper tension. If you find nicks or fraying, replace the cable. If they’re stretched out, tighten ‘em up or replace them. If all is well, consider lubing your shift cables with a few drops of chain lube to keep them sliding smoothly through autumn.
  • Overhaul your jockey wheels for improved shifting. This should take about 10 minutes.
  • Check your wheels for true and tighten any loose spokes.
  • Check hydraulic brake hoses for nicks and leakage. Brake-lever feel will be soft or will pump up if the system has leaks or needs bleeding.
  • Check brake pads for wear and replace them if they’re getting thin.
  • Replace that nasty handlebar tape!
  • Lubricate your bottom bracket bearings.

And don’t forget your higher-mileage maintenance! If you neglected these tasks during the fall, make them a priority now.

Every 1,000 miles:

  • Check that your frame pump or CO2 inflator/cartridges are in working order.
  • Check saddle bag for tools. Check the condition of spare tube.
  • Drip chain lube on front and rear derailleur pivots.
  • Overhaul derailleur jockey wheel bushings and seals. If using cartridge-bearing jockey wheels, check for smooth action and regrease after removing the bearing covers.
  • Clean and lubricate hydraulic brake-caliper pistons.
  • Check brake movement.
  • Check rotor trueness and thickness.
  • Check if wheels are true and if spokes have correct tension.
  • Check rim brake-track wear; replace rim if wear indicator dictates it.
  • Check rim for cracks, particularly at the spoke holes, and replace rim if cracks are present.
  • Service front and rear shocks.
  • Overhaul pedal bearings.
  • Lubricate shift and brake cables.
  • Remove and regrease seat post.
  • Check tightness of bolts all over the bike.
  • Check that tubeless tire sealant has not dried up, if applicable.
  • Check shoe cleats for wear and replace if needed.

Find easy, step-by-step instructions on hundreds of bike maintenance tasks (including all those above) in Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance. Just a few minutes of bike maintenance goes a long way toward keeping your bike running smoothly on every ride

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