Essential Pre-Ride Mountain Bike Checks

Essential Pre-Ride Mountain Bike Checks


– It’s always best to clean and inspect your bike after you’ve been out for a ride because during that ride, of course you can work out if things aren’t going according to plan, maybe
your gears have gone out of index so you’ve got
a puncture or so forth. So it’s best to clean
it and get on top of it. However, we’re fully
aware that that doesn’t always happen and I haven’t actually done anything to my bike since
the last time I rode it. So I’m gonna take you through a quick safety check and the sort
of pre-ride maintenance that you should be
doing before every ride. (upbeat music) So first things first,
we want to make sure your wheels are in your bike
and are secured correctly. Now, a lot of people do drive to where they go riding so they may remove wheels from the bike, so, of course, in this case I have so I’ve got a
QR15 on the front here. I need to make sure it
is tight and secure. Now something’s really important to know with the QR15 system
is when you’re closing them, there should be resistance but it shouldn’t be difficult to close it. So, it’s got a cam and
see there, it firms right up and then it’s locked and
it’s in a safe position. If you’re having to really push it in against your hand, it’s too tight and it’s not in the right position. Likewise, if it’s too lose and closes way too easily, that’s not safe. To adjust it on these particular axles you literally change the orientation of the nut here, it’s got numbers on here so you can correlate that to where it is loosening and tightening it accordingly and then knit this back
up tight again just to retain that, and it keeps
it in a safe position. With the Rockshox Maxle system you can actually make the adjustment
on the axle itself with the orientation of the
lever in the closed position. Now once you’ve had it, just make sure there is no play in that wheel itself. If your bearings are on the way out, you don’t really want to
ride them when they’re lose because you do disintegrate them faster. Something does need addressing. Now, most modern bikes do have cartridge bearings which are easily replaceable. However, you might have hubs that have traditional cup and cone. And if you’ve got cup and cone,
they do tend to last longer, but they have to be adjusted correctly. If you ride them loose,
you will destroy them. Now mountain bikes do take a lot of stick when you’re out on the trails, especially if you’re not too easy on the bike. You like your jumping
and your rough trails. So, it is a good idea
just to have a quick feel of the spokes, make sure none of them are abnormally loose, you
can do this in pairs, work your way around the wheel. Just make sure they feel fairly even. Occasionally, and more
likely on the back wheel, you might find one that is really loose. And if that’s the case,
then you do need to nip them up tight and also pay attention to the actual condition
of the wheel itself. Because If it’s badly buckled,
then it will need repairing. Now of course you need
to make sure the front and rear axles are sufficiently tight and the axle orientation
is in the correct place. So, usually, you can
get away with your lever facing forward just nearly into the frame. It’s also protected from when you crash if it’s hanging out the back. It’s not quite in the best position. However, in my particular
case, the chainstays on my Scott are quite short. My cranks are quite long, they’re 175 and I’ve got quite big feet. Now, because of that, when my crank is in the rearward position, my ankle quite often
clips that and the back of the shoe can actually loosen that. So it’s not actually the
best position for me. So it’s important to just factor things in for your particular bike. Now I like to run mine
all the way to the rear. It’s tight, it’s doing
its job, but also it does mean I’m only gonna hit
this, if anything at all. Now it’s quite rare that
that does happen on a bike. But, like I said, it’s worth factoring in. (hip hop music) Now, the next thing you just wanna check is your tire pressure. Now some people, just inflate their tires, fit and forget sort of thing. But actually, it makes a big difference to the way that you ride your bike. I can’t recommend enough trying to find a pressure that works
well for you and take note of that, and get to know it by feel. Now, I tend to ride about 26 in the front but 30 in the rear. I’m quite a tall guy and fairly heavy so it works quite well
for me in most conditions. In the winter, I will lower it, but it’s a rule of thumb, that pretty
much is always gonna be 26 to 30 and I tend to
know that by feel now. If my tire is a bit on the soft side I can literally give it
a squeeze and know that. Get my pump out and of course I can use the ballpark measures on
there to get them back to the right sort of area
really quickly and efficiently. So, something that can
happen quite often on tubeless valves is that the
retaining nut of the valve stem in place can unwind itself. Now whilst the tire might
still be sealed on the ride, just the jiggling around
will move it slightly and you’ll find it’s really
easy to get a slow puncture and of course that can damage the tires because you can be out
on a ride and suddenly you’re wallowing around
all over the place. So always check those,
it’s well worth doing it before riding and after, just to be safe. Now when adding pressure
into the tires or even just deflating them perhaps for some softer wet conditions, take a bit of care because the valve stem
itself is quite delicate. And if, for example, your valve core has come loose or let’s
just say that the actual adjuster on the end has become stuck down with tire sealant, it’s
very easy to unwind the valve core and for
it to come out entirely. Which means you can lose all that pressure really, really fast. I can’t recommend
keeping a valve core tool on you enough, so it is
well worth, just before you go riding, just making sure that they haven’t rattled lose,
’cause that can be one of the most infuriating
things, bent valve stem, it snaps, or worse, it just comes out completely and you lose all that air. (hip hop music) Now, next up is, of
course, is the controls. This is where everything
happens on the bike. Your contact points,
your grips, you need to make sure the collars on them are tight. If you’ve got lock-on grips, you do not want your grips to be able to slide off. Likewise, if you’re running push-on grips, be they foam style grips or rubber ones, and you’ve got any sort of throttle style movement in them,
address it straight away. Whether you wire them
on, or you glue them on. You don’t want to be
riding with grips that are moving because
sooner or later they will slide off and that’s not good. Next up, is to make sure that your stem is in line with your front wheel. And of course your bars and everything and is sufficiently tightened. Now, of course, you
really want to be doing this with a torque wrench but fully aware that on the side of a trail, it’s very unlikely for a lot of people. Now, Topeak do make a really cool mini ratchet system that
has little torque bits. That’s an excellent little
tool that I do actually keep in the back of my car
for instances like these. But, for checking you
bike is safe on the side of the trail, the trusty
multi-tool is ideal for this. And you just want to be
checking that the bolts are sufficiently tight, you don’t wanna be hanging off the Allen key at any point. Always go opposites of
the bolts, don’t just tighten up the two, or
the two, do the opposites and get them roughly
as tight as each other and you’ll know that they
are sufficiently tight. Of course, while you’re at this stage, you can also see if your headset is lose or tight, again,
this isn’t supposed to be a full bike check, it’s more
of a safety point of view. But now my stem is
tight, by bars are tight, all of that sort of stuff. And next up, of course,
is your break levers. There’s a general rule of
thumb, your break levers tend to follow your arms. Although I actually like
mine quite high because I find it give me a bit more
of a mechanical advantage, it’s a comfortable position
if I’m hanging off the back of the bike, and it’s
actually just a nice position to rest my hands in. Now of course, you wanna
make sure your break levers are in the correct position and they’re not loose on the bars. Now, I’ve never liked over tightening mine especially on carbon bars
because A, that’s really bad for the bar and it can
also cause problems further down the line. But also if you’re unlucky enough to have a crash, break levers
are very easily damaged. I’ve actually snapped both break levers off in a crash before when they haven’t been tightened up
sufficiently on the bars, so these days I actually tend to run them very slightly looser than their recommended torque setting and the reason for that
is that they can move, not easily, but they’ll
move if you have to. They’re not going to move under use, it’s a safe position, but it does mean in a hard crash, they’re going to move out of the way and be less likely to snap a lever or snap the clamp. In my books, that’s a good move. (hip hop music) Now of course, next up is just making sure those breaks are working
and they feel the same. As you can see here, my front break is fairly woody, there’s
not much lever travel on that but the back break actually travels all the way to the bars. Now these particular breaks have got a lever travel adjustment dial so I can compensate for that and get those in a pretty much similar position. If one of your break levers is pulling closer to the bars than the other lever then it’s a good indication
of one of two things. So either your breaks
need bleeding, so there’s air in the system, or
more than likely, if you ride like this one of
your sets of break pads is more worn than the other. Now, in U.K. conditions on generic trails, it’s more than likely
gonna be a front break that does that because
that’s where a lot of your stopping power comes through. However, if you’re into
manuals or you ride bike parks and stuff, you tend to run on the back break quite heavily. In which case, your back
break is going to suffer. So, a good indication of that is just to whip the wheels out and have
a look at the actual pads. What you’re looking for, is a break pad that you can still see the backing independently of the actual pad itself. If your break pad is
disintegrated and you’ve just got the backing, you’re gonna end up breaking on metal,
that’s not good basically and all that’s gonna happen
is your pistons are pushed out even further and that’s gonna start getting harder to compensate
with that dial on the lever. So you’ll need break pads and you may end up needing to bleed the system. Just keep on top of
things, just make sure you know where your breaks
are and if you’ve been riding in any conditions that the breaks are left feeling scratchy,
or gritty, make sure you clean them up and inspect them. (hip hop music) Now another thing to do is just make sure you’ve got a decent amount of lubricant on your chain to last the
duration of your ride. Now, if you’ve got wet
lube on there you don’t really want to just
keep adding more lube to it because more stuff
is going to stick to it and in turn wear out and
it would certainly mean you can need to do an in
depth drivetrain clean. Now the best thing you
want to do is just give it a quick wipe down, now
de-greaser is surprisingly good just to do a dry clean with. But, I prefer to save this
for a more in depth clean. Now, I actually quite
like using just a bit of WD-40 just to wipe off the excess of muck that’s on the chain
before lubricating it. Now when it comes to actual lubrication of the chain itself, I can’t recommend enough just having a
regular bottle of oil. It goes a lot further than the sprays do and you’ve got less risk of contaminating things on your disk rotor. Easy to apply, lasts a long time, keep one at home, one in the back
of the car, job done. Now, which type do you use, wet or dry? Now, I can’t recommend dry enough. So whilst the wet stuff does really work as far as lubrication goes, it also does draw a lot of other stuff onto your drivetrain, which in time will affect shifting and performance. Whereas dry lubricant, if you’re just going out for one to three
hour ride, it’s perfect. It will last the duration of your ride. Your chain is still gonna be pretty clean afterwards, you’ll only need to wipe it down and then apply some more. In general conditions
like today, where it has rained but it’s pretty dry out, the best things to use is a dry lube. And the good thing about
dry lube, like I say, is it’s easier to apply than the wet. It requires less cleaning
of the drivetrain to get a good coat in there and it does the job perfectly well. (hip hop music) Now although this one
isn’t really a safety related thing, most
people have got suspension forks on their bikes, some
people have suspension on the back, and some
people have dropper posts. They’ll rely on telescopic
items, which of course means that they ingest muck and mud. And the key to them working
well is to be clean. So just before you ride, give your seals a bit of a quick inspection, just wipe away any muck that’s
around them and if you’ve got any suspension oil, which is just a lubricating oil, put a little bit around your stanchions, cycle
the fork up and down a few time and you might find it pulls out some muck onto the fork legs. Wipe that off, and your forks will work a little bit better. (hip hop music) Of course the last pre-ride check you need to be doing is making sure you’ve got adequate supplies with you. You’re gonna need some water, depending on the length of ride, you might be able to get away with just a
water bottle on the bike, or perhaps you’re going
to need a hydration pack carrying quite a lot more. Of course before you hit the trails, you wanna make sure you’ve taken plenty of fluids so you don’t
start the ride dehydrated. Now of course, as far as
tools go, at the very least you’re gonna need some kind of pump, compact pump to carry with you. You’re gonna want a tie lever or two, a spare tube, and a multi-tool. Now on that multi-tool, I recommend that everyone has a chain
tool on their multi-tool and preferably one with two sets of jaws on there because if you do have to use the chain tool to rejoin your chain or if you haven’t got a spare master link, you’re gonna need both sets of those jaws, one to split the chain
and to rejoin the chain, and the other set to
remove the stiff link. So it’s a really good thing to look for in a multitool, of course
that’s old faithful that stays in my riding bag wherever I go. But, if I’m going for a shorter ride, I might not want to
carry all of that stuff. I’ve got a bottle cage on my bike so it allows me to carry a full
water bottle and enables me to carry a multi-tool
inside the bottle cage itself inside a little compartment there. Same thing, it’s got
a chain tool on there. It’s got all the little things that I need to get me out of trouble and
then sometimes I just stuff an inner tube in the back
pocket with a tire lever. And that can be just enough
for those shorter rides. Of course, if you’re
venturing further afield, you’re gonna want to take a decent sized riding pack with you, you’ll probably want some first aid supplies
in there, some food, bananas, in my case,
you’ll see I’ve got loads of cable ties in here, I’ve got some spare tire sealant, I’ve got CO2
cartridges, a shock pump, a whole number of things
that I’m likely to fix other people’s bikes with
when I’m out on the trails. But of course, just
make sure you take into account those bare minimum things. Inner tube, tire levers,
multi-tool, and a pump. So there the bare minimum
and if you do like carrying less than more, of course you can strap some of that stuff unto your bike or you can get yourself
some sort of little hip-pack, little fanny pack or that let’s you carry the minimum stuff, doesn’t get in the way and ruin the ride. For a couple of more
useful videos, click up here if you wanna see
plus sized tire versus flat bike tire, see what
the differences are, see what they affect out in the trail, how you ride them and
all that sort of stuff. That’s a proper geek edition with Neil, on the top there and click down here if you wanna see trail-side hacks. When I say trail-side hacks, I mean the worst case, get you
home scenario stuff. Some of it is tongue-in-cheek but I’ve actually used most
of those at some point to get myself out of situations so click on that one down there. As always, click on that round globe to subscribe to the channel, share it around, tell everyone about us and if you found any of this video helpful,
give us a thumbs up.