MTB Bike Prep for Summer (or Winter!)
Oh yes, it's the start of a new season, and you're pumped to get out there and go full send on your favourite MTB trails!
But, is your bike as ready as you are?
Whether you're a fair-weather rider and dig out your bike at the first hint of a heatwave or love nothing more than a mud-fest during deepest darkest winter, giving your bike a quick tune-up is always time well spent.
In this guide, the Get Dirt Box pros run through our top tips for seasonal MTB bike prep, whatever the weather might look like outside.
Summer MTB Bike Prep
Let's start with the summer, a time of gently fluttering butterflies, warm breezes, and mayhem on the trails!
Here's your checklist (save it, remember it, and don't miss a step!).
Wash Away the Winter Bike Blues
After a winter in the shed, your wheels deserve to look their best!
If you've skipped a season, it's time for a full deep clean.
You'll want a decent quality bike cleaner, and preferably new brushes, since those older ones start to wear down and accumulate their own layer of grease after a few months of use.
Get Dirt Box recommends an MTB specific bike wash since it'll dissolve dirt much easier, take the effort out of the elbow grease, and mean the finish is much shinier (and more impressive!).
Carry Out a Check on Bearings, Bushing and Bolts
Next up, it's reasonable to assume your bike still bears the marks of last summer, and it's common for bolts to start working themselves loose.
It's just as crucial for your bike to make sure the bolts are all tight - ideally, get yourself a torque wrench, and pay attention to the vital parts such as the bars, stem and shock mounts.
Here's a quick-fire list:
- Turn your handlebars from one side to the other. It should be smooth, but you need to re-grease the bearings and then replace them if it feels rough. Next, squeeze the front brake, and rock the bike to and fro - if the headset has play, you should tighten the top cap bolt.
- Take your shock out of the frame, and check that there isn't any play or sideways movement as you cycle the suspension through. If it feels stiff and glitchy, you can check the linkage bearings and replace any that have seen better days.
- Last up; you want to check the bottom bracket bearings are in good form. The easiest option is to pop off the cranks and turn the bearings one at a time. If they don't rotate smoothly, they need replacing.
Test Out Your MTB Brakes
Bad brakes will slow you down or cause an accident, so they need a check-up before a new summer of riding.
Look for loose brake bolts, and ensure all the bolts adhering the brakes to the frame and forks are secure.
You'll also want to bleed the brakes to get rid of air or contaminants in your brake fluid.
Clean the pads to remove a winter's worth of water and grime, or replace them if they’re beyond redemption!
New Season = New Tyres
You don't automatically need to change your tyres a couple of times a year, BUT rubber designed for the right weather conditions is always more stable than an old pair of tyres that are on their way out.
It's also wise to top up your type sealant since liquid sealants do evaporate over time, which means zero protection from punctures, and driving on rigid dried-up tyres.
Prepping Your MTB Ride for Winter
Much of the same applies to prepping a bike for winter - with the big difference that you need your ride to be ready and able to withstand whatever the weather throws at it.
There are a tonne of handy cheats to make this easier:
- Opt for a specific chain lubricant designed for wet conditions; an excellent formula lube will keep you running smoothly while keeping the weather at bay.
- Fit some mudguards to help protect your bike and give a bit of drivetrain protection from mud flinging up in your wake.
- Protective bike sprays are a liquid guard for your bike, best applied after a thorough clean. You can preserve your bike with a water dispersing bike protectant, ideal for use all over after a wash. These protectors also prevent rust, so they are great at giving a shiny finish.
Another vital task during the winter is to up your cleaning efforts.
Winter weather is stressful for the best bikes, and the likelihood of rain and puddles increases the chance that you'll end up with early rust spots.
Choosing Bike Cleaning Products for Winter Rides
Decent bike cleaners cut through all the grime and dirt, so combining cleaning with a degreaser or cleaner for the chain, sprockets, and chainrings will help preserve these vital components.
Washing your bike becomes so much more essential in winter because with increased spray, not only will dirt start to look pretty grim, but you'll find that damp and salt causes corrosion.
The combination of dirt and lubricant can also create an abrasive paste that's a real pain to clean away, so regularly cleaning during the winter keeps the dirt in check on your chain and gears as well as on the frame.
Chain cleaning tools and degreasers are the best way to keep your drivetrain muck free.
Finally, as you prep your MTB ride for winter, make sure you're stocked up on a lubricant that's designed for winter. If you want your chain to run smooth and sweet in the summer, you'll probably have a lightweight lube that's perfect for dry weather.
In the winter, you'll be best with a wet lubricant. These have better-staying power, won't wash off quickly in the rain, but do mean a bit more cleaning since they're a magnet for dirt!
Keep on top of cleaning, invest in the right products, and you'll be all set for a gloriously muddy winter with a bike that's well up for the weather.