Journal

5 tips to keep your gravel bike in good working order

Would you like to maintain your gravel bike yourself, but not sure where to start?

Colin, our mechanical guru here at GravelUp, has shared his 5 top tips with us. So you can get stuck in on your steed as a clean bike is much smoother and more fun to ride!

A well maintained bike will also last much longer and be a more reliable adventure companion. What’s not to like.

1. Clean your bike regularly

After every ride just give your bike a quick check for any cracks or signs of wear and tear. To do this you’ll probably need to wash it first!

There’s loads of cleaning products available online and in your local bike shop, to help get rid of the mud, dust, grease and energy drink/sweat etc. We use Muc-Off.

Make sure your brake discs are squeaky clean, and that nothing greasy gets near them especially chain lube as this will contaminate the discs and pads and consign them to the bin.

2. Lube your chain

It’s absolutely essential to keep your chain clean and lubricated as a dirty or dry chain is less efficient, will wear out much faster and is more likely to snap at just the wrong moment.

First of all use a degreaser (like Muc-Off Transmission) to get all that dirt away, there’s no point lubing a dirty chain as you will just attract more dirt. Next you’ll need to replace the lube that you have removed to keep the chain links moving smoothly as you pedal. There’s specific lubes for different conditions - dry, wet, wax, universal…

The lube needs to get right inside each chain link and not on the outside where it will just attract more dirt. So apply it on the inside/upside of your chain by the rear derailleur and turn the pedals to help the lube penetrate. Lastly wipe any excess lube off with a clean dry rag et voila!

Make sure no lube gets anywhere near your discs by placing a rag between your chain and the back wheel.

3. Check your tyre pressures

The right tyre pressure is crucial for you to have grip and enjoy your ride, and varies depending on the terrain and type of tyre you have.

In a nutshell for rough ground lower pressures will give you more grip and comfort, and for smooth compacted surfaces a higher pressure will allow you to carry your speed.

You’ll find the recommended tyre pressure range on the sidewall of your tyres, and this is a good chance to check for any damage or general wear and tear too.

All tyres have wear indicators as once the rubber gets too thin you’ll lose grip and have reduced puncture protection. Its much easier to change a tyre at home than mid ride! Investing in good quality tyres is some of the best money you can spend on your bike as they are the direct connection between you and the ground. You won’t regret the investment.

If you are on the hunt for your perfect tyre then check out our handy guide here.

4. Check your brakes

A very important part to maintain and sometimes a bit complicated with the multitude of types available - hydraulic disc, cable disc, hydraulic rim, cable rim…

Most commonly found on gravel bikes now are hydraulic disc brakes and what we’ll look at here. Check the pads have sufficient braking surfaces, and for any cracks or leaks in the hoses and connections that connect your brake levers to the actual pads and discs.

If your brakes feel a bit spongy or inconsistent then you’ll need a brake bleed, which is renewing the brake fluid and getting rid of any air bubbles in the system (source of that pesky sponginess!) This should be done at least once a year.

To sum up:

  • Check your pads, hoses and connections visually. Replace your pads before you end up with metal on metal.

  • Test your brakes on a smooth surface for their response.

  • Make sure they are smooth and responsive, with no juddering or gritty feeling.

  • Try them in different conditions so you are tuned into their feel.

5. Check your bike’s “vital signs”

Take a few moments to check the crucial parts of your bike, or anything that you will use to control your trajectory and keep yourself safe. These are the handlebars and headset, pedals, gears, wheel bearings.

If you find an issue that you’re not sure about or is beyond your mechanical ability, don’t hesitate to call in the help of your local bike shop. Everyone has their area of expertise and sometimes it’s best to get the professionals involved to make sure your bike is running perfectly before heading off on your next ride or adventure.

Remember, safety (and fun) is key!

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