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Tips to keep your bike in shape the whole season

By Christopher Ashley

Here are your orders to keep your bike in shape through the whole season. Because regular maintenance is what matters the most. And a badly maintained bicycle is a shame, right?

Don your armour

Wear the right clothing, and you’ll be happy spending time on your bike. You’ll need somewhere to keep your main tools easily accessible, so buy yourself a mechanic’s apron – a decent one will cost you from £15 upwards.

Mechanic’s apron

You’re going to get mud and grease spattered all over you, so don’t throw away your old work shirts where the collar and cuffs have worn through. Keep them, along with your faded old jeans that have worn through and ripped. You want to wear clothes that you don’t mind wiping your hands on.

Degrease and deter

There’s a very wide choice of detergents to choose from. The instructions on a big brand chain cleaner actually recommends using a mix of washing up liquid and water once you run out of their “bike specific” formula. This is one of the few occasions I don’t use a bike specific tool on my bike.

Degrease bicycle

What’s best for your bike?

I make sure most products I use on my ride are bike specific. I’ve seen people advocate the use of WD40 as a lube for their bike chains. Even WD40 don’t recommend their best selling product for this purpose, which is why they have a bike specific range. Bike specific lubricants from all good brands will last you a long time, and save you money on replacing expensive components.

Attack is the best form of defence

Once the mud is off your bike, some off roaders advocate spraying the entire frame with lube, which helps stop mud from clinging to the frame. Make sure you don’t get any on the wheels or braking surfaces – you don’t want to fly down a hill only to realise your brakes aren’t working.

Muc Off, Juice Lubes, Zefal, and Finish Line all do great bike sprays for various riding conditions. Wipe off your rims or brake disk with a dry cloth to get rid of minerals from the mud that will wear down the braking surface.

Know your enemy

Local conditions can vary from trail to trail. The mineral content and acidity of mud on different trails changes the type of lube best suited to your bike. Someone riding in Arizona has a different set of needs to someone riding The Highlands of Scotland.

In Arizona you might consider waxing your chain, whereas in Scotland, you’ll probably want to keep your lube wet. The people who work at your local bike shop probably ride the same trails as you, so it’s a great place to go for a chat or ask for advice. What tips do you have for your local ride?

Use a brush that’s been To Hell and Back

Tampico bristled brushes offer a great advantage over their nylon counterparts. They don’t retain dirt, grease, or oil, meaning you can wash off the bristles and use the same brush on every part of your bike.

Clean your grimy drivetrain before moving onto your muddy frame. You see a round Tampico brush being used at the start of the classic 1976 cycling movie To Hell And Back. I use a Lola Eco Clean 761.

Did you forget to attach your mudguard? Try our Simply Clever Hack to solve your problem when you are out!