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Taking Care of Business

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Any time of year is a good time of year to brush up on some basic mountain bike maintenance skills. Before you and I pedal to the nearest singletrack, we need to take care of some bike business first.

1. Set Up Your Bike Cockpit

©Beth Puliti

We all know that it's important to ride in control. Why, then, do many of us ignore an important area of our bike that helps us achieve this control? Good question. Whether you've had your mountain bike for years, or recently bought a shiny steed from the shop, take a few minutes to fine-tune the cockpit. Yes, just like that flying machine in the sky, your bike has one too. On a mountain bike, the cockpit is where the handlebars, stem,  brake levers, shifters and grips rest. Taking just a few minutes (literally less than a half hour) to adjust your handlebar controls properly can drastically improve the way you ride. You'll find that making some personalized adjustments to this often overlooked area will enhance comfort and control on your next trail ride. 

2. Fix Your Flat Tire

bennylin0724 via Flickr

Ahh, the dreaded flat tire. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the trail or in the garage. The sight of a deflated tire is enough to turn that smile upside-down. But bringing your bike to the shop for simple maintenance can add up. Once you learn how to keep up with simple maintenance yourself, you’ll be wondering why you haven’t always spent the minimal extra time to keep your prized possession in tip-top shape. I’ve had more flat tires than I can count in all my years of mountain biking. And I’m here to tell you, it’s no big deal. Really, fixing a flat tire is easy! All you need is a patch kit or spare tube, tire levers, bicycle pump--and this step-by-step guide.

3. Clean Your Mountain Bike

roy.susan

Is your bike ready to hit the trail? Unfortunately, the answer to that is a big, fat "no" if you ended your mountain bike season with one last muddy ride before stashing your steed for the winter. (Shame on both of us.) Never fear, with proper cleaning your bike will be ready to ride--which means you'll be hitting the trail in no time. A clean bike will last longer, improve performance and prevent problems down the road. Learn how to do it properly. 

4. How To Change A Bicycle Pedal

beth puliti

There comes a point in time when you need to change your mountain bike pedals--maybe you got a new pair, maybe you're switching from flats to clipless, or maybe you're letting your friend borrow your bike. Whatever the reason, learning how to change your own bike pedals is a good skill to know.

5. Un-Stick Your Seized Seatpost

Beth Puliti

One of the more frustrating things that can go wrong with a mountain bike is a seatpost that has seized to the inside of a frame. Learn how to prevent this from happening and a few tips on breaking the bond should yours become stuck. 

6. What To Bring On Your Next Ride

Muffet via Flickr

Whether you're headed out on your first mountain bike ride, or consider yourself a seasoned cyclist, knowing what items to carry with you on the bike can make or break a ride. An unexpected turn of events on the trail can leave you injured, dehydrated, unable to ride or shivering if you're unprepared. But knowing which key ingredients you need will make your future mountain bike rides a success. Carrying the necessary supplies will make your next journey into the woods both safe and fun. Find out what items you should have with you on your bike at all times.

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