Mountain biking is a gear-intensive sport. To get the most from the expensive equipment that helps you pilot trails, you must maintain it. And those maintenance bills can add up in a hurry. Taking a bike to the shop for repairs can be like going to the dentist when you know it’s been too long. There will probably not be any good news, and the bill will probably be more than you want to spend.
The Thrifty Way to Maintain Your Bike
Choosing an electric bike is challenging, but when something goes wrong, it can feel like a wasted investment if you cannot fix the problem yourself. Below are a few helpful tips that can keep nasty repair bills at bay and get you back out on the trails as quickly as possible.
Invest In A Basic Home Tool Kit
The best way to save money on repair bills is to do the work yourself; however, this involves a bit of an investment on the front end. First, you must buy a tool kit that can handle the basics beyond a simple multi-kit. Don’t look for something too extravagant because you’ll likely be buying tools you won’t use. Instead, look for a kit with a full Allen wrench set and specialty tools like a cassette, bottom bracket, and spoke tools.
Buy Tubes Or Sealant In Bulk
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed for any rider, it’s the fact that you’ll need new tubes or sealant at some point. Buying in bulk saves money on buying the items individually, and as long as you store them right, a bottle of sealant will last for a year or more. You’ll use these items eventually, so stock up and save.
Buy Bulk Cables And Shifter Housing
Fresh cables and housing can make a big difference to your drivetrain’s performance and can be all it takes to resolve shifting issues. Most shops use bulk cable and housing spools that are less expensive than the pre-measured kits. So if you want to freshen your cables, simply go to the service department and request the bulk stuff. The mechanic will cut your housing to length for you without the added cost of the pre-packaged kits.
Get Suspension Serviced Every Season
Changing the oil and seals in suspension components is an up-front cost but will save you money in the long run. If you run your forks and shocks into the ground before servicing them, you’ll lose performance and grind away the smooth coatings that keep oil in and dirt out. A well-maintained fork will run for many seasons. After just one season, a neglected fork will be spilling oil like a BP well in the Gulf. And, like that spill, it will be very expensive to fix.
Remove The Headset And Bottom Bracket After Washing
A clean bike is happy, but water can be corrosive if you allow it to sit on bearings in the bottom bracket and headset. Wash your bike frequently but do not spray directly at any bearings, which can force water in. When you’re done, remove the headset and bottom bracket to allow trapped water to evaporate.
Apply Grease, Anti-Seize, Or Thread-Locking Compound To Everything
Bolts love to be torqued, and they also love to know they can be un-torqued. Generally, if a bolt doesn’t need to be treated with a thread-locking compound like LocTite, it should be greased. Proper torque will hold the bolt in place, and the grease will ensure the bolt won’t “cold-weld” or rust into place. Most thread-locking compounds also work as lubricants as they add friction to the bolt to prevent it from backing out and from corroding and seizing in place.
Use Dish Soap As Degreaser
There are a ton of great chemicals out there for degreasing parts and cleaning your machine. One that’s frequently overlooked, however, is dish soap. The stuff is formulated to cut through greasy food messes and most bike lubricants. We know professional mechanics who swear by ordinary dish soap, despite being sponsored by other chemical companies.
Buy The Good Stuff, Not The Race Stuff
When we recommend buying a bike, we typically advise that you look at the one you can afford, save your money, and buy the next one up in the line. That’s not to say the less expensive bike wouldn’t work great, but it’s in our nature to upgrade as riders. That said, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into when upgrading components. Unlike family heirlooms, fine wine, or vintage race cars, the most expensive bike parts don’t improve with age. The most expensive parts wear out much more quickly. You might feel like you’re investing in your bike by buying a high-end tire, but that tire was most likely built for someone who can afford to use it once on race day and then discard it. Most riders are better off buying the stuff that’s not only built from high-quality materials but is also built to last.
Use Drip Lubricants Over Aerosols
Lubricants are critical to keeping a bike working properly; however, a spray can of oil in the hands of a novice mechanic can be dangerous. Drip lubricants are ideal because you can apply them more precisely. You can put one drip on every chain link, and the oil will stay on for longer than if you spray it on with an aerosol chain lube. Importantly, you’ll avoid damaging brake pads with overspray on the calipers or rotors.
Get E-Bike Savvy On Repairs
A good quality e-bike allows you to ride further than ever before and explore deeper into the wilderness. So the last thing you want is for lack of tools or repair knowledge to leave you stranded. Following these repair guidelines will ensure you have all the information you need to get your e-bike stitched up and back out on the trail as quickly as possible. If you’re stuck, try checking out Park, which offers specific tutorials for the most common bike repairs.