7 Ways You’re Destroying Your Mountain Bike | MTB Maintenance Tips


– Mountain bikes may
well be tough old things. They can take a hell of a
pasting out on the trails, but they’re not invincible. It’s entirely possible that you’re slowly, or actually in some cases, rapidly, aging your pride and joy. So let’s take a look at those things that really do kill your bike, and more importantly,
what you can do about it. (logo swooshing) (upbeat music) Okay, so let’s start with bearings, loose bearings in particular. Every mountain bike, even one that doesn’t
have rear suspension, will still have quite a
lot of bearings on there. You’ve got your rear hub, you’ve got the free hub body itself, you’ve got the bottom bracket,
you’ve got the front hub, and you can have the headset. And then added to that equation, if you have a rear suspension bike, there’s going to be shock mounts on there and any pivots that you have on the back, whether they use regular
bearing races like these or cartridge bearings,
or if they use bushings. Now, they all wear out and
they all have problems. Now, if you ride with loose bearings, firstly, you’re adding
friction to your ride, so that’s firstly not a good thing. Secondly, in the form of,
let’s say rear suspension, if you’re riding with loose bearings, just say two of them loose,
may be the main pivots, that means there’s going to be movement, and that movement will translate to additional wear on the other ones. So really is an essential thing to A, make sure there’s no
hindrance to the movement of your back end of the bike and that nice suspension
action you’re paying for, but also B, to make sure
you don’t prematurely wear all the other bearings on there, because it’s all connected together. Now, bearings, given the nature of how they’re used on a bike,
they will wear out over time, no bearing is going to
be completely invincible. So it’s down to you to
basically maintain them as best as you can, some
bearings we’ve done videos on, you can basically get
a bit more life on them by flipping off the seals and
putting some more grease in. It’s not going to improve
a badly damaged bearing, but it will help a dried up bearing last that bit longer if need be. Now, what you’re looking for
is a bearing that is smooth and a bearing that has no play in it. You will find a well maintained
bearing or a new bearing has a slight resistance to it. That’s purely from the
grease that’s on the inside and from the seals. Now, if I just tweak this
one past a microphone, you’ll hear that it probably
doesn’t have much of a sound. Whereas if I take a knackered old bearing, I think this is off Steve Jones’s bike, you’ll hear the difference. (bearing scratching) So what you’re hearing there is, in fact, pitted surfaces on the inside,
it’s all grinding round, and the actual bearings
are basically been dragging on the inside of the shells of that. So, bit by bit that’s falling to bits, and if you continue riding a
bike with these all over it, A, it’s going to feel horrible, B, its back end’s going
to be all over the place, you’re going to get ghost shifting, generally not good thing,
and the long term effect is it can damage your bike. So make sure you keep an
eye on all the bearings on your bike, and you won’t be ruining it. Now, most mountain bikes these days will have a suspension fork on the frame. Obviously, this is a very
old one, this is a FOX TALAS. Now, the problem with stanchions on a bike is they’re subject to ingesting all the muck and moisture into them. Now, as you know, a suspension fork is essentially made up
of a few key components. Other than that, they’re
all the same, all right? So, the fundamental
basics are the lower legs with the brace connected,
that is known as the slider, the upper legs here are
known as the stanchion tubes, and then you’ve got the
crown steering unit. Quite often, the upper
tubes, the stanchions, will be one part, and it’s known as a CSU. These essentially slide
into the outer leg, there will be bushings
on the inside of that, and then there’ll be a
foam wiper and a seal. Now that’s all there is to it. Of course, there’s dampers and
other systems on the inside. Now, the key to making your
expensive suspension fork last is by firstly keeping them clean. Secondly, keeping them serviced. Even a basic lower leg service will keep your fork going considerably longer
than not doing anything. And the last one is making sure they don’t look anything like this, and if they do, stop
riding them immediately ’cause you’re just causing
yourself more damage. So this will have been
ridden in poor conditions, probably never serviced. And due to the telescopic
nature of a suspension fork as it’s operating, you
are slowly pulling in mud and muck into the fork,
which grinds up and down, wearing out the bushes that help the fork slide in the first place, and then of course wearing
out the more expensive legs, the bushes can be replaced. They’re a consumable part, they’re designed to wear out over time. The legs are not, and as you can see here, this one is in absolutely awful condition. And effectively, this was
a write-off, this fork, we’ve actually got this
from a suspension machinist. This guy sent their forks
there to get them serviced and went home with a new pair of forks because these could not be serviced. And again, if you look at this, these shouldn’t make any
noise going down here, but it feels like
sandpaper, it’s the worst. If you can ever hear that, oh. (fork scratching) 10 quid, 20 quid, 30 quid,
40 quid, 50 quid, 60 quid. Lubricated even can help, if you apply some basic fork
oil to these upper legs here just above the seals, compress
yours forks a few times, it will ingest some of that in there and it will help basically
keep them nice and supple. What you do want to be careful
off when you are doing this is make sure you don’t get
any oil near your brakes, make sure that cannot happen. Preferably do it with
the front wheel removed from your bike, just to
basically safeguard yourself. Keep them nice and clean,
do a lower leg service, it’s a really simple job,
people get freaked out by a lower leg service,
think it’s something crazy. Essentially all it is is removing two bolts from
the bottom of the fork, pulling the lowers off, draining out a very small quantity of oil, sometimes as little as 10 CC on there, and basically putting it back on again, it’s very, very simple, and that will make your
folks go on for a long time. Henry has just made a video
on real time fork servicing, so that is something you’re
going to be able to check out and follow along at home, think of it as a bit of a cooking program. Nice and simple, and again,
no excuses for you lot, it’s a nice, easy thing to do, and it will save you a
fortune in the long run. (gentle music) A worn chain. In fact, a worn transmission. Now, this is something
that is a consumable part of the bike, you’re going to wear it out. However, you can make it last a bit longer if you
follow a very simple rule, and that rule really
is replacing your chain when it’s worn, basically. It’s quite simple, if
you replace your chain just before it’s knackered, you’re going to be able to make
your chain rings last longer, and your rear sprockets on
a cassette will last longer. And the reason for that is there’s a thing called chain stretch. Now, your chain doesn’t actually stretch. However, the chain pitch
will get slightly longer. The components of a chain are
you have these outer plates, you have the inner plates,
you have the rollers, basically, they’re
effectively like bushes, and you have the pins
that go through them. Now, those rollers get worn. And in doing so, they enable the chain to actually kind of, the links
to stretch and move around. As the pitch changes very
slightly as the chain stretches, what’s going to mean is that basically it’s going to wear on a
different part of that tooth. The next thing you’ll see is
the teeth will start hooking. You can see this on really old, knackered cassettes and
chains, and on the sprockets. And the effect of that is your chain will start hooking onto the drive train, it wears them into really fine points, and then suddenly you’ve
got to replace everything. Well, I say suddenly, this is a thing that can happen over time. Get yourself a chain checker, plenty available on the market, they enable you to check your chain. And whilst you’re at it, also take a good look at your chain as well, and the rear sprockets
and the chain rings, you can actually look at the teeth and you can see damage to them. What you’re looking for, or
what you’re not looking for, is hooked teeth, and they’re
quite easy to identify. You can see a really worn out chain ring against a brand new chain
ring, they look very different. When you look at your chain, make sure if any parts of the outer
plate are stepped out a bit, that’s a classic example of
where the chain will snap. And that chain will snap under pressure, which means it’s always going
to be in a bad situation, throws your body weight
forwards over the handlebars, suddenly using your face as a brake, so it’s not a good thing. So make sure you keep
an eye on your chains. Brake pads. Obviously you need brakes
on a mountain bike, and you’ll be ruining the
way your mountain bike rides and performs and potentially
some expensive parts of it if you don’t keep an
eye on your brake pads. Now, they pretty much do their own thing until they’re either contaminated, in which case they’re
usually fit for the bin, or when you wear them out, basically you’ll need to replace them. That is something you’re definitely going to have to keep an eye on because no brake pad lasts
the same as another one, it completely varies on how
much you use your brakes, the size of your braking
rotors, and of course, where you ride and the
conditions you ride in. Now, the construction of a brake pad, so you got metal backing plate, then you have your pad material, essentially they’re bonded to that plate. But when they wear out, you can actually end up braking just
using that metal plate. Now, I shouldn’t need
to tell you that that’s going to be damaging for the rotors, and actually, it can be really
bad for the pistons as well. So, do take care and make sure you check your brake
pads from time to time. Very important. When you do inspect brake pads, the best way to do is to
remove them from the caliper. I do recommend putting
some rubber gloves on, like latex or nitrile gloves, and the reason for that
is you still have oils and stuff in your hands that
can contaminate the pads. This one is already contaminated so it doesn’t matter that
I’m holding it like this, but do take care and you
keep an eye on those things. Now, there’s one more thing that’s actually very important
and often overlooked, is the disc rotors themselves. Quite often people
replace their brake pads when they’re worn out and just
carry on on the same rotors. You usually can, but they’re
not going to last forever, because you’re using metallic
base pads on a metal rotor, you are going to wear that rotor down, at some point it will fail. So it’s important to check them. Be careful using your bare hands on there ’cause of the oils in them, you don’t want that to go near
the actual breaking surfaces. But you want to check for any
sort of scoring on that surface. If there is some, that’s a good indication that it’s worn out. The best way is to get yourself
a set of digital calipers or verniers to accurately
measure the thickness. Definitely check your specifics with your brake manufacturer. For your own safety check it, because the other alternative
is using your face as a brake. Worn out paint finish on a bike. Needless to say you will
have spent some money on your mountain bike at some point, and you’re going to want
it to stay looking good. Now, some people are more
precious about this than others. But what really counts is the fact that you’re riding a mountain bike in an off road environment, you’re around nature’s grinding paste, that means mud, that means sand, that means grit. All of that stuff combined
with the way that you ride and the conditions you ride in ultimately mean you’re
going to prematurely ruin the look of your bike. It’s going to get old
and haggard a lot faster if you don’t look after it
and take some precautions. The obvious one to do if
you have a brand new frame is to take care of it
before you even ride it by getting some sort of
frame protection kit. Something like invisiFRAME,
there’s various different brands offer a
similar service on the market. But essentially it’s a helitape kit, you cover up all the
important parts of the bike that are typically exposed to being rubbed and damaged from various different things. It can just be as simple
as the brake cables or the brake hoses
rubbing your paint away, you can protect against
that using helitape. The chain stays and
seat stays on your bike are often subject to riding
shoes rubbing on them, depending if how you ride, if you have flat pedals for example, you’re quite often a bit
more ankles in on the bike for a bit more support, and in which case you’re
quite likely to rub some of that paint off, so get
them protected nice and soon. The same goes for your
chain stays on the top. You probably want a bit of
rubber across the top of there to protect it from the constant slapping of the chain on it,
’cause it takes paint off as well as basically making
it sound quite awful as well, you really want it to be nice and silent. The other area you want to
pay attention to of course is the top tube of your bike. If you ride with any sort of knee pads or any sort of armor on your legs, it’s quite likely when you’re
moving around on the bike, you might not realize
this, but you will actually be rubbing the paint away
slowly on the tops of your bike. Now, the final one is the
underside of the down tube and underneath the bottom bracket shell, where you’re subject to rock strikes and other stuff from flying up. Now, day to day protection,
again, good old helitape, anything like that is good
to cover it cosmetically. However, if you’re doing
something like a season at somewhere like New Zealand
or Whistler or in the Alps, then you’re likely going to be
doing chairlift accessed riding, which means you’re going to
be riding a lot rockier stuff, and you definitely will
have rocks flying up, they’re going to hit your frame, and they can cause a lot more damage. Now, if this sounds like you, you really do want some
heavier duty protection. I quite often refer to Scotch, 3M Scotch rubber mastic tape. Now, admittedly it’s not
the best stuff in the world, but for this protective purpose, it’s actually really, really helpful. If you want something
a bit more heavy duty and don’t mind something
doesn’t look quite as nice, use a section of old tire. I’m seeing this quite
a lot with seasonaires, cutting it up and just putting it under their BB shell there and the bottom where you get those worse rock strikes. Not cleaning your bike. Cleaning your bike is
the perfect opportunity to get hands on with it and
give it a thorough inspection. Now, you want to be working
around your bike systematically, find a system that works for you. I tend to work front to back. Everyone has their own way, stick to it so you don’t miss any part of the bike. Now, what I mean by hands
on is get a grip of it, get a feel of things. Feel that back wheel,
see if there’s any play, look at the linkages, see
if there’s anything going on that shouldn’t be going on, run an Allen key around the bike, make sure all your proper
bolts, your pivot bolts, all that sort of stuff, make
sure it’s all torqued up and tight and taught as it should be. Pay attention to it and clean it. And hopefully you won’t
be leading yourself to a ruined bike that
costs you loads of money. Okay, and the last one is overusing it. Yeah, you might think me mad
for saying something like this, but some people override their bikes and basically classically wear them out long before their time. Now, whilst it’s amazing to
ride your bike all the time, if you only have one
bike, it can be a problem. Now, plenty of friends
have got a single bike, they commute to work on that bike, they ride them all week in the salt, in the grime on the roads, then they go out on the
trails at the weekend, riding in our typically wet UK conditions, wearing out brake pads,
wearing out drive trains, constantly spending money on their bikes. Sometimes there is a better way. Having a rat bike is a pretty
good way of doing this. Now, build yourself up something cheap, just get a second hand bike,
put some mudguards on it. Keep that as your rat bike for commuting, all the daily chores and stuff like that. Popping to the shops, riding to work, riding to college, wherever
you need a daily for. It doesn’t matter if
it’s cheap and cheerful, it’s not going to get nicked,
you don’t have to worry about it. And it’s going to keep your
pride and joy nice and clean and in better condition for the weekends. Now, I’m not suggesting you don’t enjoy your bike on a daily basis, but just be aware that
you could be prematurely wearing your bike out by using
it constantly all the time, and it is a good idea to
spend a couple hundred quid and have that second bike if your main bike is an
expensive suspension bike. Well, there we go, there’s seven ways you could be ruining your mountain bike, and hopefully a few tips you can take away and make sure you’re not
doing that to your own bikes. If you’ve got any of
your own tips like this, let us know in the comments underneath, we’d love to hear from you. For a couple more helpful videos, click up here for deep
cleaning your drive train. That’s something I recommend
really should do that annually. Make sure it stays in good condition. If your riding condition’s like ours, you probably want to do
quite a lot more frequently. And click down here if
you want to turn your bike into a commuter, that is
turning your existing bike, not buying a rat bike for that purpose, but a pretty good video nonetheless. As always, give us a huge
thumbs up here at GMBN Tech. Click that subscribe button
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