We are Mech Monkey, a rider owned cycle repair shop on the Lisburn Road. We’ve worked on bikes professionally for 10+ years, catering for Sunday warriors up to world cup pros.
Top tips for your winter mountain biking
Mountain biking is hard enough on bike parts and your wallet at the best of times. If riding year round, in our usually damp winter, then there are a few parts that usually get it a bit tougher and some preventative maintenance can definitely help get you out the other side.
Most mountain bikes now have disc brakes. These allow much better braking in all conditions but there are a few changes you can make to tailor them to winter. Most brakes come with an organic brake pad, which tend to be a bit softer and offer more instantaneous bite which can help ward off pad glazing in dry conditions. They do however wear quicker and this is especially noticeable in muddy conditions. The answer is a sintered pad, which contain small particles of metal that offer a much longer pad life as well as offering more consistent braking in wet and muddy conditions.
Chains being worn past the point where they should be changed account for more expensive repair bills than anything else here at Mech Monkey. A chain will wear and stretch, and this is measured over a percentage of the chains length and with a chain checker that many bicycle tool companies offer for sale. The problem with continuing to run a worn chain is that the cassette, chainrings and even the jockey wheels on the rear derailleur all wear to the profile of the excessively stretched chain. This means when you eventually fit a new chain the old worn cogs don't want to mesh causing the chain to skip under power.
Keeping a chain free from dirt and excess oil will help prolong your chains life.
Checking your chain wear regularly and replacing at the recommended point (0.75%) will definitely save you money in the long run, getting perhaps 4 or 5 chains on one cassette rather than getting slightly longer out of a chain only to have to replace most of the drivetrain.
Bikes have a lot of bearings in them and even though these days they are mostly sealed cartridge bearings you can still go some way to help them last a bit longer. A good waterproof grease used on the surfaces that are facing the elements will act as a sacrificial layer when riding in harsh conditions or when being washed.
Although pressure washing is handy and quick and now available at most of the trail centres it is the main cause of bearing failure on bikes. The rubber seals can only keep out so much and the high pressure water will usually pass the seal, washing out any grease inside and allowing corrosion to start. If using a pressure washer try not to get up close to anywhere that has a bearing.
Your suspension fork and rear shock are probably two of the most costly components of the bike and also work non stop during a ride. They are sealed but like the bearings they can’t possibly keep everything out. Regular suspension servicing will definitely prolong the life of the part and also being careful if washing with high pressure water around the seals so as to not wash out any grease.
Dirt left in the seals can wear at your fork stanchions over time making a costly replacement the only solution.
Some fork lubes are available such as Brunox Deo and Juice Lubes Fork Juice that can be applied to the stanchion of the fork to help keep the seals lubricated and stop them drying out and cracking between services.
Top Winter Product Picks
Brunox Deo fork lube - keep your forks working at their best between services - £5
Exposure Diablo Light - Don't let darkness keep you on the sofa! Ride the trails like its daytime with this top quality light £199.95
Park Tool CC-2 Chain Checker
Mech Monkey Bicycle Maintenance Course
Suspension Servicing from as little as £45
All and more available at Mech Monkey, Lisburn Road Belfast.