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Calgary Mountain Bikers Pages

Washing & Lubing Your Bike & Tire Pressure Guide

Car Wash (or pressure washer) Option
Just use the RINSE option NOT the soap & wax options.
Thoroughly blast everything to get the mud and gunk off, especially the braking surfaces / brakes + derailleurs + clip in mechanism for clipped pedals + the block (the gears on your rear wheel).
TAKE GREAT CARE NOT to directly spray into the wheel hub bearings, the bottom bracket (where the cranks are attached) and all shock seals. Although these components are properly sealed they do not stand up to high pressure jets.
Total time ~2-5 min depending how dirty your bike is.

FYI most of the pro bike teams have been washing their team bikes using a pressure washer for years. They just take great care doing so.

Garden Hose Option
Garden hose + adjustable spray head
Green plastic dish washing scrub pad + dish washing bristle brush + old tooth brush - If you're worried about scratching your bikes finish, you probably shouldn't be mountain biking :)
No soap solutions.

Hose every thing down let it sit and soak a bit to soften the mud and gunk.
Spray the loosened gunk off.
Use the scrub pad and brush to get at the stubborn gunk.
Use the tooth brush to get at stubborn gunk in the block, derailleurs & pedals.
Hose everything off and let air or rag dry. If you're prissy use a bike wax product or car wax (avoid all braking surfaces) to make your bike pretty.
Total time ~15-20min

Lubing your bike
Lint free rag (old jeans, t shirt, kitchen towel etc will give 4-8X of use)
Old toot brush
WD40 with the little red application tube
Optional - Bike work stand or a mag / stationary trainer

Purists / bike mechanics will tell you never to use WD40 but I and others have used it successfully as cat 2 & vet A road racers. I also have provincially ranked triathletes use it (& they don't want to use anything that will screw up their chances to win). WD40 contains both a solvent carrier and a lubricant so it can be used to both clean and lube your bike. Over the years I have tried every chain lube product but I have not seen a difference in performance. Bottom line WD40 works, is cheap and convenient. What is important is to lube your chain regularly - WD40 makes its quick & easy.

The most important component to regularly clean and lube are your chain and derailleurs.

Hubs, pedals, etc are sealed and you don't need to touch them until they wear or break down and you just replace them.

Chain stretch is a misnomer, the lube on your chain attracts grit which grinds and erodes your chain pins, rollers and rear block (gears on your rear wheel) until they get out of tolerance and shift crappy. So avoid tacky lubricants and excess lube residue that will attract and collect grit on your chain and derailleurs. And regularly clean and lube your chain & derailleurs - once or month & after every time you have a real wet muddy or long dusty ride.

Mount your bike on your trainer or stand or if you don't have these place your bike against the wall such that you can easily back pedal your cranks.
After a wash, squirt a shot of WD40 into the pivot areas wipe off the excess.
You only need to do this once every 1 - 6 months depending on how often you play in the mud.

Chain & Derailleurs Cleaning
Place a rag in your palm under the chain of the lower strand of your chain (below the chain stay - that tube that runs between your bottom bracket & rear hub) between your rear derailleur & crank, carefully apply WD40 on the chain by running the red application tube along the chain - make sure each pin / roller is lubed.
Avoid any over spray on the tire and braking surfaces.
Back pedal and repeat until the entire chain is coated with WD40 (but not dripping wet).

Gently grab the lower strand of the chain with the rag in your palm and back pedal several times - this should clean everything off. Again, wipe all excess WD40 from the derailleurs and pulleys.

Carefully apply a squirt of WD40 to all derailleur pivot areas (front and rear), and the derailleur pulleys. Use the tooth brush to scrub off any residual gunk off the derailleur and pulleys. Wipe off any gunk and excess lube.

Repeat if the chain etc does not look clean & shiny.

Repeat the WD40 application procedure for the chain.
Repeat the lube wipe off procedure for the chain - gently grab the lower strand of the chain and back pedal several times until the chain is oily but semi dry to the eye and touch.
Lube belongs in the chain and derailleur pivots not anywhere else where it will attract grit and prematurely wear your components.

If you absolutely sense the need to apply a ‘proper’ lube to your chain just use a light 3 in 1 oil making sure to thoroughly wipe off all excess oil.

Total time 5min, 10-20min on your first couple of tries until you get the hang of it.

If you don't regularly clean your chain (esp if you have a 9spd or higher block) you will end up with a broken chain & perhaps be talking in a higher octave for a few days. So make it a regular habit.

Tire Pressure Guide
I am basically a roadie but have MTBed for many years and have been lucky to ride with some very capable (& patient) MTBers. This year (2017) I and many others I have had lots of snake bite flats & side wall tears. There are many opinions on tire pressure based on size, width, tubed or tubeless & theories about ideal tire sag / deformation but - it comes down to your riding capability - you have to use a good guide to bracket the tire pressure to trial, then trail test the tire pressures.

A good guide provided by a very experienced & capable MTBer is -
Take your wt + loaded bike wt (in lbs) ...then use
15% of that total wt in psig for rocky / rooty trails
10% of that total wt in psig for soft / loose trails
These guides are based on a 650b (27.5") X2.25" XC racer using tubed tires.
Then you need to make personal adjustments based on trail trials because each of us has different levels of capabilities (some have great body english & can bomb down rock gardens with great finesse, others are real gomers & bash down the trail, yet others like me are timid & cruise down). Your riding style above all determines tire pressure. In general -

When you take a hard fast turn & your tires feel squirmy - your tire pressure is too low for your riding style

When you take a hard fast turn on rooty or rocky trails and your tires bounce around, not gripping your tire pressure is too high for your riding style.

Other adjustments -

Adjustments -
For wheel size
26", 27.5" or 29" there are many opinions but it doesn't make a difference. You can play with 1-5psig decreases for bigger wheels, increases for smaller wheels but it makes no real difference.

Tire width
For each ~0.1" increase in tire width decrease the pressure by 1-3psig. The harder faster or more clunky you charge down a rocky or rooty down hill the more pressure you should keep in your tires to avoid snake bite flats.

Tubeless vs Tubed Tires
Stans & other tubeless product vendors provide a guide.
MTBers I trust suggest dropping pressure by 3-5psig
Many use too low a pressure & end up with sidewall cuts & premature tread wear.

Front vs. Rear Tires
Most keep both tires the same pressure.
Some play with 2-5psig lower pressure in the front for grippier, more nimble handling & faster turns.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Rider Ability Rating for Raymond's Rides May 29, 2017 12:27 PM Raymond
Knee Pain Problems May 28, 2016 7:57 AM Raymond
Trail difficulty and rider ability May 26, 2016 7:52 AM Robert C.
Trail Reports March 14, 2016 3:44 PM Steve
Trail Maps November 3, 2013 3:03 PM Patrick
About Calgary Mountain Bikers September 3, 2017 10:59 AM Raymond

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