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After completing a long mountain biking trail (complete with lots mud and water etc) - what post ride checks / tasks should I be doing?

I ask this because I don't want to be taking my bike into a shop to be fixed just because I've not been maintaining it properly after a ride.

Thanks.

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Clean everything up and lubricate your chain. Wash the suspension and make sure the seals are fine. If you have a rear suspension pay attention to the pivots. For the rest it will pretty much be covered in a pre-ride check.

Check out the questions tagged cleaning here on Bicycles SE to read some interesting information on how to clean different parts of the bike.

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Rinse your bike off. There is usually a hose close to the trail head/end that you can use. Be careful how you aim the spray around your suspensions. You don't want to aim down in them.

Make sure you clean the cassette and chain. That was an expensive mistake i made by not doing so. I usually do this at home because i remove all the oil and dirt with a spray foam degreaser and toothbrush type implement. But, remember to oil the chain after it dries. Clean your brakes with rubbing alcohol too (if you have disc brakes). I get my spray foam degreaser at the local auto parts store.

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If someone does "aim down in their suspensions", what can be done to rectify that? (cycling newb here ;) ) ... would WD-40 help? Inverted drying? –  jcolebrand Nov 25 '10 at 4:04
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@drachenstern I am unsure as to what could be done to rectify that. However, I'm sure I have made that mistake a few times and so far so good. But, definitely do not use WD-40 because its a corrosive. I use gun oil which can be bought at numerous different locations. I get mine at the local Wal-Mart. Drying- sometimes I leave it on a bike rack, sometimes I hand it up by the front tire and sometimes I leave it leaned against the wall. Just leave it somewhere you don't mind the extra gun oil dripping down. –  Idntnw Nov 25 '10 at 4:24
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I've been mountain biking for 20 years in the UK where we know all about mud, so this is what I do.

If the bike isn't too dirty I don't give it a full wash. I figure that washing it all the time you're exposing it to more water and detergent which is likely to accelerate wear. I just brush off the mud and dirt, spray some GT85 on the front and rear mech and SPDs (using a rag to make sure the overspray doesn't get on the disc rotors) and lube the chain.

If it does need a good clean this is my routine

  • Put it in the bike stand (gripping the seatpost)
  • Hose it down to get the worst of the mud off, paying particular attention to under the saddle and around the bottom bracket, but being careful to not spray wheel and bottom bracket bearings from the side (I spray those areas from the front and back)
  • Remove the wheels and give them a a good scrub with hot soapy water (I use Ecover washing liquid). A scrubbing brush is great for the tyres, and for running around the rims and cleaning quickly betweent the spokes. A cloth is good for the spokes themselves and the hub body, and the scrubbing brush is also good for doing the block. As I use a pretty clean lube (Lifeline Race Oil) this doesn't mess things up too much.
  • With the bike itself, I start cleaning under the saddle (toothbrush is good here) and work down towards the back of the bike. I then start at the handlebars and work down the forks, then move across the top tube and down the down tube. Easy bits to miss are the back of the fork brace and around the disc calipers.
  • I finish with the drive train, again with hot soapy water because I use a clean lube, I run the scrubbing brush over the chainset (both sides), run the chain through the scrubbing brush, and give the front and rear mechs a good clean with a toothbrush.
  • Then I hose down the whole bike and wheels, spin the cranks to drive water out of the chain, and wipe down the bike with a rag so it dries evenly.
  • I then lube the chain, rear mech, front mech, front and rear gear cables, jockey wheels and the SPDs with GT85, which also helps drive out water. Once the GT 85 has evaporated, I then lube the chain, turning the cranks and applying race oil to the inside of the chain. I then run the outside of the chain through a rag to remove the excess.

That routine seems to work well for me and means I can do the whole bike in 30 minutes. My biggest advice would be to make sure you use a relatively clean lube. If you use a wax based dry lube, or an extreme conditions winter lube, it makes the whole process a lot more time consuming and messing, as you have to degrease everything or just not touch the drivetrain.

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