Bike Maintenance Basics – How to Clean Your Bike

When you think about hitting the trails with a mountain bike or e-bike, maintenance is never top of mind. However, bike maintenance is a very important part of any ride, and in fact, every ride. Skipping the bike maintenance basics not only leads to more wear and tear, but it can even be dangerous to you as the rider. 

That’s why we’re here to discuss bike maintenance basics to make sure you keep your gear in peak condition. It might seem hard, but taking a little time to learn how to clean your bike and how to complete a pre-ride inspection will save you a lot of hassle down the line. So let’s get to it.

Don’t want to worry about bike maintenance? Join our Cog Up/Bike Down Pikes Peak experience or a guided mountain bike tour in Colorado Springs to reap the benefits of our perfectly maintained bikes and expert guides. Or alternatively, utilize our bike rentals in Colorado Springs to use for your own adventure.

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

How to Do a Pre-Ride Bike Inspection 

A quick check before each ride is essential bike maintenance to keep you safe and keep your bike functioning optimally. Many people call this the ABCs of bike maintenance. If you remember that, you’ll be able to keep track of these critical steps of the pre-ride inspection.

Air in the Tires 

Look closely at the sidewall of your bike tires, and you will find a range of recommended tire pressures (PSI). There are a lot of factors that go into deciding what pressure within this range you want. You can begin at a pressure in the middle of the specified range to start, and learn your preferred tire pressure by feel as you get more experience. But in short, a more inflated tire will have less resistance and allow you to go faster (best for road cyclists), while a less inflated tire will absorb more shock (best for trail riders) and achieve better grip (safest for riding in wet conditions).

While you are inflating your bike tires to the desired pressure, be sure to inspect the tires for damage or deformities, and make sure the quick release lever or thru-axle (depending on your bike) are securely tightened. Finally, don’t forget to bring your pump and tire repair kit or patch kit on the ride with you in case of emergencies.

Brake Check

Your bike’s manufacturer can tell you how often you need to replace your brake pads and rotors, but it is also important to use your own judgment and look for excessive wear. In addition to a visual check, be sure to spin the tires and apply the brake mechanisms. 

Here, you want to make sure they move smoothly, don’t get stuck anywhere, and clamp down strong on the tires. If you feel a hitch or resistance, you may need to lubricate the parts. These cables and assemblies need lubrication to function correctly, and that’s ongoing maintenance we’ll discuss in the post-ride section covering how to clean your bike.

Chain Inspection

Bike chains are one of the most important pieces on the entire bike, and unfortunately, they’re also one of the most fragile. Before every ride, you should turn the pedals slowly and examine every chain link. 

Check to make sure the bike chain is not dirty or rusted, that there is no gunk or other impediment, and that the chain moves smoothly. Also, check the gears and the drivetrain, making sure the bike shifts without a hitch. 

The Nuts and Bolts of Bike Maintenance Basics

The last thing to do pre-ride is to ensure that the bike’s many nuts and bolts are tight and secure. Especially with mountain biking, it is normal for these to loosen over time as you maneuver the bike over obstacles and force different stressors on it. 

With hex keys and a Torx wrench, a decent bike tool will allow you to tighten all these pieces and make sure your bike is ready for the next adventure. This multi-tool is a great piece to bring with you on the ride, too, in case something loosens mid-ride. Loosening parts are all potential sources of problems that you do not want to learn about while on the trail, so invest a few minutes pre-ride in this important bike inspection.

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

How to Clean Your Bike Post-Ride

After every ride, it pays to give your bike a quick wash. Especially if you have been hitting trails on a mountain biking tour, you don’t want to leave your bike dirty. Over time, dirt and grime accumulate and impact the smooth functioning of the bike’s fragile mechanisms. It causes rust and leads pieces to break earlier than they would otherwise.

Rinse and Dry

So, one of the most critical bike maintenance basics is also the easiest. Using good old soap and water (or bike wash cleaner), carefully wipe down the bike frame, handlebars, seat post, and brake mechanisms. You want to be gentle with these sensitive pieces, so don’t use a pressure washer. 

It’s also harmful to get soap on the brake pads themselves. Instead, use rubbing alcohol or rotor cleaner to degrease the rotors and brake pads. As noted above, you do not want to leave the bike to air dry as that can cause rusting, so use clean rags to get the bike nice and dry. 

Degreasing

For the chain and drivetrain, you want to really get in there and clean out any debris and grease. Especially for mountain bikes, these parts can get very dirty quickly, and you will find debris stuck in hard-to-reach areas. Cleaning out these parts is essential bike maintenance for preventing your bike from wearing out too rapidly and also ensuring future rides will be smooth and safe. 

You can clean the drivetrain with a rag and degreaser if it is not too dirty, or use a toothbrush to scrub off built-up grime. A bike chain cleaner is a good investment for thoroughly cleaning your chain without making a mess. Be sure to go through a couple of full rotations of the chain and shift gears a couple of times to make sure no dirt or grease remains. You can then use a clean rag to wipe away any leftover muck and clean the degreaser from the bike.

Lubrication

Once your bike is clean and dry, it is time to apply lubrication. You should lubricate your bike after cleanings, anytime it starts to squeak, and after wet rides to prevent rust. Keeping all these parts well lubricated will ensure a smooth and safe ride and keep the bike from unnecessary wear and tear. Depending on how frequently you ride, you might end up doing this weekly or more, but it is an essential step of bike maintenance and well worth the effort. 

Lubricate the drivetrain, chain, brake cables, and assemblies. When you lubricate your bike, you really only need a few drops for each component. Give the lubrication a few minutes to soak in and work it around by turning the pedals and moving the mechanisms. Then, be sure to use a clean rag to wipe away the excess. After it has soaked in, wipe down the parts gently, so it is not dripping with lubricant. Overlubricating your bike can actually hurt it, as dirt and debris are attracted to and accumulate in the excess lubrication.

Storage

Now that we’ve covered how to clean your bike, you’re ready to store your bike until the next ride. You might not have considered it, but there are actually better and worse ways to store a bike. First, don’t store a bike outdoors where it will be exposed to the elements. This will increase rust and corrosion, not to mention the fading of the paint job and increased risk of theft! 

Regarding positioning, storing a bike by hanging it with hooks or a wall mount is the best way to keep your bike in peak condition. If you are storing your bike upright, be sure to put rugs under the wheels and make sure to keep the tires inflated. Otherwise, you could find the tires have bulged or cracked over long periods of disuse.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

Extra Notes for Electric Bike Maintenance Basics

On top of everything we’ve covered, e-bikes have some extra maintenance steps. Once you understand how electric bikes work, these extra maintenance requirements make sense since there are additional parts to consider. Specifically, we’re concerned about the e-bike’s battery and motor. 

E-Bike Battery Maintenance

Just like any battery, good maintenance procedures help extend the battery’s lifespan and optimize its capacity. First, top off your electric bike’s battery after every ride. It’s not good for batteries to sit empty for extended periods. However, it is equally bad for a battery to sit fully charged for too long as it puts excessive stress on the battery’s components. 

Therefore, if you don’t plan to ride for a while, put your electric bike’s battery in storage, so to speak, by unplugging the battery and hooking it up to a charge tender. Battery tenders allow batteries to naturally discharge and then recharge in a cycle. This keeps the battery in optimal condition no matter how long you leave it. 

E-Bike Component Maintenance

The other main consideration with e-bikes is the extra wear and tear on the drivetrains and chains. Because of this, it is important to clean, dry, and relubricate your electric bike more frequently than you would a non-electric model. 

When cleaning, be sure to avoid using high-pressure water to rinse off your e-bike. While the batteries and electrical components are sealed and waterproofed against rain, pressurized water can prove too much and cause damage. 

Final Thoughts

With a little investment in time spent cleaning and lubricating your bike, you can rest assured that it will last longer and give you a smooth, safe ride. If you struggle with any of these bike maintenance basics or feel like your bike is still not riding right, be sure to bring it to a bike repair shop for more expert repair. Also, if you are thinking about switching to an e-bike, check out e-bike guided tours in the Colorado Springs area. Finally, don’t forget that our bike rentals in Colorado Springs and mountain bike tours in CO Springs are both fantastic avenues to ride a clean and perfectly maintained bike. Happy riding!

How Do Electric Bikes Work?

If you are interested in taking a biking trip but not sure you have the strength or endurance for a longer ride, e-bikes might be for you. In the past few years, electric bikes have become very popular among trail riders and commuters alike, and it is easy to see why. They have the power to assist riders on harder sections of a bike route while still leaving room for riders to get in a quality cardio workout. But how do electric bikes work? Let’s get into it. 

Photo by Himiway Bikes on Unsplash

The Mechanics of an Electric Bike

E-bikes differ from standard bicycles in two important ways: the battery and the motor. Powered by the batteries, electric bike motors provide pedal assistance, meaning that they work with you to deliver increased power and speed with your pedaling. They differ in this way from, say, a motorcycle, which is powered solely by the throttle and does not require an input of physical exertion.

The Battery

Strapped to the down tube of a bicycle’s frame, the battery is the main reason e-bikes are much heavier than traditional bicycles. They are generally easy to tell apart from other bikes because of this battery bank. The battery may also include a power button and an LED screen to show the battery’s charge. The battery is responsible for generating power for the bike, and its capacity will limit how fast you can accelerate and how long you can ride. 

Conveniently, electric bike batteries can be recharged with standard electric outlets, and most e-bike batteries last between thirty and seventy miles on a single charge. Unless you are a marathon cyclist, this will be enough capacity to get you through a day’s ride. Keep in mind that most e-bikes do not recharge the battery as you pedal or coast down a hill.

Photo by KBO Bike on Unsplash

The Motor

The e-bike motor is usually attached either to the back wheel’s cassette, encased in a hub, or to the chain ring where the pedal cranks are attached. The motor converts stored energy from the battery to kinetic energy and helps you turn the pedals via the crank rings. 

With an e-bike’s pedal assistance, you do not exert as much energy per cycle as with a standard bicycle. This difference can be felt most in the initial acceleration and on inclined ascents. Therefore, it makes e-bikes great for people with long commutes or tough trails. Beginners who are training their legs and lungs for harder rides also benefit enormously from e-bikes.

The Speed Sensor

One other important feature of an e-bike that you may not see is the speed sensor. Electric bikes are designed with a maximum speed to protect the user. This means that the motor will kick on, assist up to this speed, and then stop. Once you are there, you can coast at this speed and maintain it with pedal assistance, but you will not be able to achieve a higher speed unless you are going down a hill. The specific speed limit depends on the bike’s manufacturer and your state laws. But most e-bikes are limited to somewhere between twenty and thirty miles per hour.

The Benefits of an Electric Bike

Now that you know how e-bikes work by providing pedal assistance, you can better gauge if an electric bike is a good fit for your cycling interests. Even though it is counterintuitive, e-bikes can actually give you a better workout because you can ride more miles, climb steeper hills, and get over harder obstacles.

However, electric bikes are more expensive and heavier than traditional bikes, but you may find the pros outweigh the cons. There are many more factors to consider, which we already dive into in a different article. Be sure to check it out if you are asking yourself, are e-bikes worth it?

The Best Uses of an Electric Bike

Another essential consideration for cycling with an e-bike is whether you might want to ride without assistance. While it is possible to use an electric bike like a traditional bike (with the motor assistance turned off), it is not the most feasible option. Since e-bikes are bulkier and heavier due to the extra features, your ride will suffer if you try to use an e-bike without the pedal assist.

So when should you use an e-bike? There are tons of great reasons that people are turning to electric bicycles for daily use. One is commuting to work, where e-bikes give riders the opportunity to traverse longer distances in less time. A second is mountain biking. What’s more, biking in Colorado Springs is an especially good cause for trying out an electric bike.

Photo by KBO Bike on Unsplash

Biking in Colorado Springs

There are tons of beautiful and scenic trails in and near Colorado Springs. While many are accessible for hikers, longer trails are also available to cater to Colorado’s active mountain biking community. If you have ever wanted to try mountain biking, an electric bike is a great first step. 

Electric bikes provide pedal assistance so first-timers can enjoy longer trails without running out of energy. They also offer more stability since they are heavier and have a lower center of gravity than standard mountain bikes. This combination makes e-bikes ideal for beginner mountain bikers looking to explore Colorado Springs.

If this sounds like something you want to try, there are two ways you can hit the trails and enjoy a great day trip. First, e-bike rentals give you the space to experience an electric bike for yourself. You can explore nearby trails at your own pace and difficulty. Or you can ride through town and see if commuting with an e-bike is a good fit for you.

The second way to get on an electric bike is with guided e-bike tours. Join a professional guide on a tour around the Garden of the Gods Park, a stunning National Natural Landmark everyone should see. This gorgeous park has views of Pikes Peak, and the five-mile ride is perfectly suited for beginner cyclists. If you are looking to try out an electric bike, these are great opportunities to enjoy the beauty that Colorado Springs offers and better understand how e-bikes work.

Are E-Bikes Worth It?

Electric mountain bikes are taking the trail riding world by storm. These popular bikes provide incredible power and speed and allow longer rides, harder workouts, and greener commutes.

However, the high cost compared to analog bikes has many riders wondering if electric mountain bikes are really worth it.

Here are the pros and cons of electric bikes so you can decide for yourself.

Advantages of e-bikes

For Speed Lovers

The most obvious advantage of an electric mountain bike is the power that doesn’t come from your legs. Unlike analog mountain bikes, e-bikes boost your riding to give you more speed. This can reduce the time it takes to get uphill and increase your speed on the trail. If you are an adrenaline junkie or love trying tricks, this extra speed can be a game-changer. 

Explore New Trails

The other benefit of more speed is that you can go further. With less work for more range, you can enjoy a longer ride to places you couldn’t previously visit. The added power will also help you through tough sections that used to require a dismount. If you want to unlock more trails and explore new territory, an e-bike is a great way to get there.

A Sturdy Ride

The power output of the electric mountain bike is also helpful for stability and capability. With added weight from batteries and more, e-bikes are significantly heavier than standard mountain bikes. This weight is located near the bottom of the bike’s frame, creating a low center of gravity that you’ll love. With added stability, you can enjoy easier and more predictable handling from your bike. This can bring a sense of safety for newer riders, which will give you more confidence to explore and enjoy the ride.

In addition to feeling more comfortable on the bike, you can also expect to be more capable on the trail. There are certain obstacles and maneuvers that not even the best mountain bikers can manage. With an electric mountain bike, though, you can have more power to clear some of those tough technical problems. It still might be hard, but at least an e-bike can keep you on the pedals. On the other hand, the heavier the bike, the tougher sharp turns will be. However, this isn’t necessarily a downside because there are lightweight e-bikes you should check out if you want to stay flexible on the trail.

An Endurance Workout

If you are afraid that you’ll get a worse workout from an electric bike, remember that you’ll go further. Yes, if you were to do the same route and use an e-bike, you would be working out less. But that’s not a fair comparison. With an e-bike, you’ll bike further, climb higher, and go faster. The result is that you will need less strength and more endurance. This provides a different workout, one that you can mix into your current routine. Plus, if you still want that leg burn, you can always minimize the power assist from the e-bike. 

A Better Commute

One of the biggest advantages of e-bikes is how versatile they are. The bike’s assistance can make a ten-mile ride feel like five. This means that the bike commute to work you could never manage is suddenly within reach. If you’ve been looking to ditch your car for errands and local trips, an electric bike is a perfect way to do so.

Not only are they easier to park, but e-bikes take less than a dollar a day to charge. That’s substantially cheaper than gas and better for the planet, too. When you consider the cost of an e-bike, you have to factor in this amazing versatility. It is more expensive than an analog bike but so much cheaper than a car. Using an e-bike for your commute will keep you active and help save the planet.

Potential downsides of e-bikes

You may find that you enjoy the difficulty of mountain biking and the effort required to get uphill. E-bikes are a great way to minimize the uphill effort and get you to the fun parts faster. But if you love that struggle, you may not find electric mountain bikes worth it. 

There is an additional cost to going electric, both because e-bikes are more expensive upfront and because their maintenance is more expensive than analog mountain bikes. More parts mean more opportunity for something to break or get damaged on the trail. You also need to charge the bike, but these costs are very low.

If you think you might use your e-bike for commuting or enjoying longer rides, these costs are definitely worth it. The initial expense will be mitigated by what you will save on gas money, and you will get extra hours of entertainment compared to riding your old mountain bike.

The Best Ways to Test Ride

If you’re not sure if an electric mountain bike is right for you, the best thing to do is try one out in real life. Rentals and tours are great ways to accomplish this. With a day rental, you can explore on your own, visit trails you know and love, and have the opportunity to try an e-bike before you buy one.

For those of you who need a little more guidance, a tour is the perfect way to discover if an electric mountain bike is right for you. An e-bike tour allows you to learn from professionals, get advice on your technique, and build confidence in your riding ability. You’ll understand how e-bikes differ from standard mountain bikes and how to best take advantage of their power. Look no further than Colorado Springs e-bike tours for your chance to check out an e-bike while enjoying the beauty of The Springs!

So, Is It Worth It?

Whether an e-bike is worth the cost depends on your values. If you particularly enjoy the challenge of biking uphill, an e-bike might not appeal to you. For the rest of us, electric mountain bikes are exciting additions to the world of trail riding. E-bikes offer riders more speed, more power, and more adventure. Plus, people looking for an eco-friendly daily commute can certainly enjoy the investment of an e-bike. Check one out for yourself on a tour and experience the thrill of electric mountain biking!