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Bicycle Cleaner Mountain Bike Tips mtb maintenance chain service repair degreaser guide

chain degreaser
workshop tipsHow a minimalist approach to bicycle maintenance can help you enjoy your sport.

Trail conditions in the British countryside are often very muddy. Mountain bikers share the bridleways with horse riders, and in winter sections of the route can be impassable due to the deep mud. Many cycling enthusiasts favour a quick routine for cleaning their bicycle after each ride. Particularly in cold weather, the mountain biker often returns home cold and tired and wants to shower and get back to normal life as soon as possible. They already have their muddy clothes to rinse outside before they can come back into the warm. Spending a lot of time washing the bicycle in the cold is not much fun, so a minimalist approach that saves time is beneficial.

The bike itself also prefers less jet washing from the garden hose pipe. This is because the high pressure of the jet wash cleaner can drive water past the seals and into the bearings. The cartridge bearings used in modern headsets, bottom brackets, wheel bearings, pedals and full suspension frame pivots prefer to be left alone. This way the grease inside can carry on working for longer. When cleaning the bicycle the jet wash should be set to a wide setting, and not pointed directly at the bearings.

Furthermore, when the cyclist sets off on their next adventure, the muddy trail conditions cause the chain and gears to get dirty again very quickly. A lot of time goes into properly cleaning and degreasing the chain, and this can be wasted if after ten minutes it is covered in a layer of grinding mud again. Because of this phenomenon it is best not to jet wash the bicycle after every ride. You can follow the minimalist tips here, and use the bike for several rides before giving it a really good clean. Every once in a while jet wash it properly with the hose pipe and clean and degrease the chain with a decent chain cleaner.

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mucoff hopeTips for Winter Riding

You should clean the chain and suspension fork stanchions and seals after every ride. The other parts of the bicycle you can leave alone. Spray WD40 onto the muddy chain and wipe it clean with a rag. This gets most of the dirt off and drives out the moisture so that the chain does not rust. Wipe down the chain rings and cassette as well - a special brush can help with this. Apply wet lube to the chain ready for the next ride.

Wipe the mud off the fork stanchions with a rag, then clean and lubricate the stanchions and seals with spray oil. Depress the fork whilst wet with oil to get the dirt out of the seals. It is important that the seals are clean, otherwise they will wear out more quickly. Servicing suspension forks is expensive, and if the seals become worn it can damage the smooth surface of the stanchions.

You can then go for another ride with minimum time spent on bicycle maintenance. Because the bike will be getting covered in mud again quickly, it does not matter that the chain is not completely clean. You have avoided jet washing and this can help to prolong the bearing life.

After a few rides, or when you feel it is necessary, give it a really good clean with the hose pipe. Use a chain cleaning tool to degrease the chain. Lubricate the chain, and spray oil onto the derailleurs and other moving parts. Check that there is no play in the bearings, especially the headset.

You can use a neoprene shock boot /gaiter if you do not want to clean the fork seals after every ride. This keeps the mud out between jet washes. It is best to remove the shock boot and clean the seals underneath each time you jet wash the bike. If you never remove the shock boot then dirt and moisture can get underneath and damage the fork stanchions over time.

Normally it is best to leave the disc brake rotors alone. Any dirt that gets onto them is quickly rubbed off by the action of the brake pads. The brake pad surface is sensitive, and cleaning the rotors with the wrong chemical can contaminate the surface of the pads and reduce stopping power. A wipe with a dry rag is okay, but avoid using degreasers that leave a residue behind. Certainly do not get any WD40 or oil onto the rotors, or you may have to replace the brake pads.

muddy dirtTIps for Summer Riding.

When trail conditions are dry it is possible to go for many rides without jet washing. It is still best to wipe the chain with WD40 and a rag, re-lubricate it and clean the fork seals before each ride. If you use a dry wax chain lube, then you do not need to wipe the chain. There is no stickiness and the dust is repelled, so the chain stays clean. Simply re-apply the dry film lubricant and away you go again.

Many cycling enthusiasts prefer riding in the summer months, as it is more convenient. The days are longer and the dry trails are faster. They can cover more miles, go out after work and ride more often. Less time is spent on maintenance, and there is less wear and tear to the expensive drivetrain, suspension and other parts.

bridleway footpath

horse riding
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