A good bike parent cleans up after their messy fall rides
Autumn typically brings rain that chases many mountain bikers indoors or out of state to extend the summer riding season. For those who embrace the experience of mountain biking the trails during or after a cleansing fall rain, now is the time to think about what happens next. Snow, we hope, is just around the corner. Soon we’ll be on our fat tire bikes while our mountain bikes are stored in the back of the garage. But before you put your summer ride away for the season, give it the attention it deserves.
First, clean your bicycle. Use a garden hose (no pressure washing) to rinse the bike and then use a soft rag to wipe it dry. Dry the chain with a clean rag and apply a light amount of lube to the chain. Now, think about your season. Did everything seem to be working well with the bike? How were the shifting, braking and suspension working? Did you do lots of rides in the mud or rain during the season?
Instead of merely putting the bike away and hoping you remember any issues in the spring and then being confronted with a long wait for servicing, now is the best time to take your bike to your favorite shop.
Jon Kunesh at Paramount Cycles (and, in the interest of full disclosure, also my husband) agrees: “If you have had any issues with your suspension or brakes during the season, winter is the best time to take care of it. That way you’re not waiting for it in the spring.”
If you are the owner of a higher-quality suspension fork (usually air sprung), you should pay attention to the manufacturer’s guidelines for how often the fork should be overhauled. This will be after a specified number of riding hours. An overhaul can seem costly at first, starting at around $100 for new seals and labor. However, take it from someone who has deferred maintenance on a fork, this preventive maintenance is only a fraction of the cost of replacing a fork that has been damaged due to neglect.
Disc brake pads are easy to overlook and you’ll need to know what you’re looking for to recognize pad wear. Your mechanic can do a visual inspection to see how much material remains on your pads. Ask if they will show you what to look for. If you did some muddy rides this season, you are more likely to need new pads than if you are a fair-weather rider.
Consider how many miles you biked. If you are an avid cyclist who rides several times a week or if your bike is a few years old, have the chain checked for wear. Because the chain and the gears of the drivetrain wear together, frequent chain replacement can save money and improve performance.
A little maintenance before you put your bike away for the fall will insure that when the trails open next spring you can just air your tires and go. That should be worth the planning this fall.