How to Keep Your Bike Clean and Running Smoothly ­- How to Maintain a Mountain Bike

Every bike needs proper care and maintenance to run smoothly throughout its lifespan. You need to set up and stick to a cleaning and maintenance schedule that will help ensure the smooth ride. Many cyclists will not know just how to do it right, which in turn will riddle their bike with a range of problems in future.

You need to clean and maintain thoroughly and consistently to reap the benefits of your bike. This means learning how to follow every step to the letter. We explore a detailed cleanliness and maintenance schedule that will help you ensure your bike works in top shape.

How to Keep Your Bike Clean and Running Smoothly

Top 10 Tips to Clean and Maintain Your Bike

Properly lube your drivetrain

You need to check your bike chain to make sure it has the proper level of lubrication. An ill-lubed drivetrain will succumb to dirt buildup, with dirt and dust eating away at the components. The drivetrain’s lube will also wear away, which affects the bike’s performance over time. Cyclists may consider wax based products because they are relatively easier to apply, with dirt and dust being easier to flake off in dry conditions. Remember to wipe off any excess lube to ensure an optimally functioning bike.

Check your cables

You need to check all your cables before riding your bike to keep it in great shape. We recommend checking your bike as you clean it to get a clearer picture of all your cable driven component. As your bike dries after cleaning it, remember to check the brakes, adjustable seat post cables and derailleur. Should you find any frayed and badly aging cables, replace these immediately. Frayed and damaged cables will cause braking and shifting issues that could become dangerous when you ride your bike.

Check the chain ring and cassette

Shark toothed or bent teeth on your chain ring or the cassette can lead to rapid degradation of your bike’s components which could break your chains. To avoid major damage to your bike, you need to replace all worn out or bent parts of the drivetrain. You may need to replace multiple components at once to enjoy prime bike performance. The drivetrain components will wear into each other over time, which will in turn necessitate full replacement. To avoid shifting or drivetrain issues, you need to replace these parts after a period of use for a high-performance bike.

Adjust your derailleur cables

Did you know that newer derailleur cables will require maintenance more often than slightly aged alternatives? These cables will stretch over with time, which will necessitate slight adjustment for at least a few rides for ideal use. Some cables can be adjusted with barrel adjusters with minimal fuss.

First, tighten your cables a click at a time while testing the level of shifting of the stand. Once you figure this out, ride your bike and shift below load to find the sweet spot. If you are unable to get the sweet spot, reset your cables completely and start over. Shift your derailleur to the loosest cable setting, which is the smallest gear available, and continue adjusting your bike until the shifting is right. If you have your limit screws set properly, you should be able to find the right balance.

Check your tire pressure and inspect the tire

Your bike’s tires are the only contact between you and the ground. As such, they are one of the most crucial components to enjoying a great ride on your bike. You need to make sure your tires are in tip-top shape, which necessitates constant assessment and care. Before using your bike, you should make sure that your tires meet the quality standard.

Assess your tires for cracks, dry rotting or excessive wear. Old tires will cause your bike to handle badly and may even wash out. If they are excessively worn out, old tires may even rip off and tear away from the rim while riding. Aside from that, make sure you have your tires in top shape in terms of pressure as well.

Never ride your bike before checking its tire pressure levels. You should make sure your bike is well inflated to avoid any problems on your ride. Remember, overinflated tires will cause a bumpy ride while under inflation can increase the risk of pinch flatting.

Double check your bike’s grease

You need to double check multiple grease locations to make sure your bike is running optimally. A well-greased machine will operate without any creaks or squeaks when you cycle. On the other hand, an ill-oiled bike will squeak and cause continuous little disturbances that will really ruin your ride. Remember to grease your bottom bracket, seat post and pivot to keep your bike running well. You should wipe off any excess grease once you have applied it to prevent it from building up dirt and debris.

Check your shock pressure

Most of the rigs on the market utilize air suspension parts for tune-ability and weight benefits. A biker should run about 25% on their rear shocks. You can measure this using the black ring on the shaft. When you are sitting on your bike, you should only be using about 25% of the stroke. You need to measure this out and fine tune it if necessary to ensure optimal balance.

Even though all manufacturers provide the ideal rider weight, most people will not contemplate any additional weight from the clothes and loaded hydration systems. You need to set your sag as though you are ready to ride to fine tune your rear shocks. Addressing front shocks will be tougher than those of the rear, but these will only be bottomed out during extremely hard hits. You only need to watch your travel to make sure your front pressure is okay as well. Over time, you will learn to tell your shock pressure by observing dirt tracks on the ground.

Check your bolts

The job sounds cumbersome, but you need to check all your bolts to make sure your bike is snugly connected. Bicycles will only have a few bolts, which will lighten the load of work. Checking your bolts for appropriate snugness and fit will prevent any components from falling off or readjusting during your ride.

You should make use of a torque wrench to adjust any bolts that fail to hit their torque specification. Even if you do not have a torque wrench, you should make sure that your bolts fit snugly. A well-connected bike will run optimally and create no risk of disassembly when in use.

Look over your frame

You should understand your frame to discover its weak points. Every frame will experience cracks and stress in the rockers and tubing. Your bike’s frame might be wearing out if it starts to display these signs. We recommend avoiding riding your bike if the frame is compromised to protect yourself from any risk of accidents mid use.

Clean your bike

The last step to ensuring an efficient bike is keeping it clean. You should learn how to clean different components of your bike to improve your efficiency over time. Avoid using a pressure hose, choosing instead to wipe it down thoroughly. We also recommend avoiding strong cleaning components and recommend specific bike cleaners for use. Once your bike is cleaned up, you should reapply lube and enjoy using it again.


A clean bike will be very easy to maintain, with dirt and debris acting as a sandpaper to bike components. To avoid wearing down your bike excessively, you need to keep assessing its state and keeping it clean. These steps are comprehensive, and offer insight on how to set the bar for a well-maintained bike. You can customize your cleaning and maintenance efforts to help you get the best out of your bike.


Can dirt and debris build up affect your bike’s performance?

Dirt and debris will wear out and eventually destroy components. You need to clear your bike of any buildup to avoid replacing parts quickly.

Patrick Flinch

Patrick Flinch is a professional cyclist, according to him, cycling is a sport that also helps people stay in good shape. Cycling takes many forms, and styles and so does the cycling equipment, however, this information is not available to everyone and that is why Patrick thought it wise to consolidate the most important information about cycling on “For the Bike Magazine.” Beginner, intermediate and professional cyclists will be furnished with useful insights. They will be able to understand the differences and benefits of both online and physical cycling. Apart from Cycling, Patrick is a family man, he is passionate about cycling and when not on duty, he loves to enjoy biking with his crew.