Category Archives: maintenance

Cleaning up your act

Guy walks into a bike shop, hands his bike to the mechanic and says, “I need you to tune up my bike, but when you’re done could you give me the all the dirt back? I need to bury my daughter’s hamster.”

It’s not a very funny joke, unless you happen to be the mechanic who gets a bike that actually has enough dirt on it to bury a hamster. I’m sad to say that I’ve received bikes that were filthy enough that I could have used the dirt on them to build a pump track!

I’m always amazed at how many calls I get from people who say their bike isn’t working properly and when they bring the thing in, it looks like they’re pushing a two-wheeled zombie that had just climbed out of a casket filled with soil from their favorite trail. If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your bike, then your bike is probably way overdue. Routine cleaning and maintenance go a long way toward keeping a bike in decent running condition. Not only does a dirty bike function worse on the road or on the trail, but dirt can actually lead to a premature breakdown of parts. Grit and grime sneak into cracks and crevices and slowly scourge components, contaminate crucial lubricants and mask developing problems under a veil of filth.

The best thing a bike rider can do is to take a few moments after every ride to clean up your bike. Take a wire brush and clean the top, bottom and sides of your chain as you slowly move the pedals backwards. Use a soft rag or a toothbrush to clean the pulley wheels on your rear derailleur; clean them well enough that you can read the words stamped into them or written on them in paint script. wipe excess grime off the frame, brake levers and shift levers. Use a soft, clean rag to wipe the excess dirt and dust off of the stanchions of your fork and the one on your shock. Doing so will keep grit from working its way past your wipers and into your suspension components. Never use a power washer or a high-pressure hose to clean your bike. If you do that, you run the risk of washing all the lubrication out of your bike and then you’ll be in for some real trouble.

Five minutes at the end of each ride is all it takes. You can talk about the ride with your friends as you clean. It’s a good way to remember the ride and to keep your bike in good shape.

Even if you do keep your bike in good condition, get a comprehensive tuneup at least once a year. That way you’ll know your bike is in top condition and doesn’t hold any hidden surprises that might lead to misfortune out on the road or the trails.

The pictures below show the drive train of a bike before and after Little Jimmy’s Señor Peppy tuneup. The tuneup process uncovered a couple of extremely serious issues with the customer’s bike. Luckily, everything worked out okay.

Check out Little Jimmy’s Service Page for details about our tuneups and other maintenance procedures, and remember to clean up your act after every ride!

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