Congratulations! You’ve survived another gruelling winter but after months of abuse or languishing in the shed, chances are your pride and joy will need some love and attention. Our ten step plan will get your whip set up sweet for spring.
For many riders, now is the time to wake your bike after its long winter hibernation and give it a full service in preparation for a season of shredding. For those able to ride through winter, that service is even more overdue and, as the trails dry, grip improves and speeds increase, it makes sense to set your bike up to match the conditions. But preparing your bike for a new season isn’t just about maintaining your bike, it’s about getting stoked on spring and celebrating the transition to a sunnier season.
1. Wash it
Time: 30 minutes | Difficulty: super easy
Okay, it sounds obvious, but when was the last time you gave your bike a deep clean?
Use some quality bike cleaner and decent brushes, so you can get into all those hard to reach places and get your bike gleaminutesg again. Not only will it restore your pride in your machine, but you’ll also spot wear and tear issues as you go and make further maintenance quicker and easier.
Pro tip: With the right cleaner, dirt not only dissolves easier but, after washing your bike will shine like new.
2. Bearing, bushing and bolt check
Time: 60 minutes | Difficulty: easy to moderate
All of the mud, sweat and tears from the previous season has probably taken its toll on your bearings and there’s a good chance that some bolts have worked loose too. So, it’s of vital importance to you and your bike’s health that you make sure your bike is safe before any other tweaks are made.
It will take less than 10 minutes to run a basic safety inspection: check all bolts, ideally with a torque wrench, paying particular attention to your shock mounts, bars and stem.
Headset: Turn the handlebars from side to side. If it feels rough try regreasing bearings before replacing them. Now compress the front brake and rock the bike back and forth, if there is play in the headset, tighten the top cap bolt to get it running without any play. Now use a torque wrench to check the stem bolts on both the steerer and the faceplate.
Suspension linkages: take your shock out of the frame and cycle the suspension through its travel. If there is any play or lateral movement, or it feels notchy and stiff, it’s time to check each linkage bearing until you find the culprits, and then replace those bearings before they cause any damage.
Bottom bracket: the best way to tell if your bottom bracket bearings have perished is to pop the cranks off and rotate each bearing by hand. If they are rough hard to rotate, it’s time to replace them. Most BB bearings can be purchased separately from the outer shell, so you may not have to replace the whole unit if it’s just the bearings that need to be changed. If your bearings run smooth but you can wobble the cranks from side to side, even after checking all the bolts are correctly torqued, you will have to replace the whole unit.
3. Breathe life into your brakes
Time: 90 minutes | Difficulty: moderate
Ironically, sub-optimal brake performance will slow you down. Job one is to check the brake bolts: braking causes vibrations which can work brake hardware loose with potentially serious consequences. Check all the bolts that secure the brakes to the frame and forks.
Next, bleed your brakes: this removes air and contaminants from your brake fluid and will have them feeling as good as new. Tutorials can be found for any brand and brake, which lead you step-by-step through the process.
An autumn and winter of grime and water create a paste that wears pads down quickly, so if you want to ride faster come summer, replace your brake pads. Check your rotors too, if they look worn or bent, the best time to replace them is when you replace your pads. You may even want to upside your rotor size to 200 mm front and rear to maximise braking performance.
Pro tip: install sintered pads at the rear for maximum heat resistance and organic pads at the front for optimal modulation.
Time: 20 minutes | Difficulty: easy to moderate depending on rim and tire
New season, new tires!
Replacing old, worn or mud tires with quality all-condition rubber will give your bike more consistent grip and braking control on the drier trails.
If you don’t need to change tires and you’ve been lucky enough to avoid punctures all winter, you may want to top up your sealant as over time, the liquid sealant will evaporate, leaving you with dried up latex and no puncture protection.
5. New cables
Time: 15 minutes | Difficulty: moderate
Is changing gears now like thumb wrestling a gorilla? If so, winter has penetrated the seals of your cable outers and corrosion has increased cable friction. Lucky, replacing cables and outers is a straightforward job, that will bring your shifting back to factory crispness. If your bike has internal routing, just remember to use the old cable to pull the new cable through, otherwise you’ll end up frustrated as you try and fish cable ends out from the depths of your frame.
6. Fork and Shock service
DIY Time: 1-2 h | Difficulty: moderate
Send off Time: 5–10 days | Difficulty: easy
When was the last time you treated your expensive shocks to a service and tune up? Chances are it was a lot longer than the recommended 60-100 hours of riding! Competent home mechanics can perform a fork lowers service themselves, but if you want to get the most out of your suspension, a full service will have both ends running better than ever. Send them off to a tuning company and you can also have them set up specifically for your bike, riding style and weight. If your suspension is currently tuned for slower and slippery winter riding, now is time to tune it for the rigours of spring.
Pro tip: If you’re stripping down the fork yourself, it may be worth investing in a new air shaft. For RockShox and FOX forks, you can easily and relatively cheaply increase performance by upgrading to a DebonAir or EVOL air spring!
7. Service your dropper
Time: 20 minutes | Difficulty: easy to moderate
When was the last time you took your seat post out? The aluminium and steel used in seatposts and frames are prone to corrosion if not maintained, which can lead to your post welding itself inside your seat tube. To prevent this, remove, clean and re-install with a light coating of copper grease or carbon paste, depending on whether you have a metal or plastic frame. Just like your gears, your dropper cable shifting can get sticky after the winter, so change the cable while you have the post out of the frame.
8. Check your chain
Time: 30 seconds! | Difficulty: easy
Winter destroys chains and old chains destroy drivetrains! Dirt and water combine to be ground into a paste that penetrates links and resists all but the most thorough cleaning. Heavier lubes add to the mess of mashed up mud which wears chains fast and gives them a permanent crunch adding to the friction in your drivetrain. At the very least, treat your chain to a proper clean, de-gunk and degrease before re-lubing with a high-quality product to get things running smoothly again. Use a chain wear tool to see if it’s time for a new chain. Replacing cheap chains more regularly can be more effective than running an expensive chain, helping minimise wear on expensive drivetrain components and helping things like cassettes last longer.
9.Pimp your pedals
Time: 60 minutes | Difficulty: moderate
Your pedals have a tough life: closest to the grime, smacked onto rocks and generally taken for granted, after a winter of neglect they’re overdue some attention. Some pedals come with grease ports making a re-grease a 2-minute job. For other pedals, simply undo the retaining bolts, pop out the axle and clean all the parts before packing the pedal body with fresh grease. Clipless pedal users should check their cleats for wear and replace if they’re looking hammered. Riders using flat pedals may need to replace lost pins to keep pedals as grippy as possible.
10. Repair your frame protection tape
Time: 15 minutes | Difficulty: easy
Is your frame protection tape peeling off after all that cleaning, with dirt stuck under the edges? Tatty frame protection tape looks bad and can cause paint damage as ingrained dirt rubs against the frame. Peel off the old tape and replace it to keep your frame protected and your bike looking mint.
Pro tip: Depending on the frame, a protection tape with printed designs can give the bike a completely new look. Check out the large selection available from AllMountainStyle.
From falling apart to factory-fresh ride, these 10 straightforward steps will ensure you and your bike are ready to hit the trails at full speed this season.
For this story we’ve used Unior tools.
This article is from ENDURO issue #038
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Words: Thomas Corfield Photos: Christoph Bayer