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How To Series: Maintenance Tips for Your Mountain Bike Wheels

Wheels are a really important part of any bicycle, because let’s face it; if your bike had no wheels, you wouldn’t be able to cycle anywhere! They are also the end result of a bunch of weak components, which by themselves can easily break with little effort. Together, they work in unison to provide an amazing amount of strength and rigidity on any bike.

But despite that, if you take your bike somewhere and end up landing it somewhere from a great height or hit a rather large obstacle in your path, you are likely to damage them.

The importance of maintaining your mountain bike’s wheels

Mountain bikes are designed to be taken in off-road conditions and are capable of handling most situations thrown at them. But like with most things in life, regular maintenance will ensure its longevity and help you to avoid costly repair bills, especially if you have a high-end mountain bike.

One of the most important parts of a mountain bike that need to be regularly maintained are the wheels. A lack of maintenance can also cause wheels to fail spectacularly, so even though you can’t really do much about avoiding obstacles or making mistakes on your cycling adventures, there is a whole heap of stuff you can do to make sure your bike’s wheels are maintained properly.

For example: if one of your mountain bike’s wheels has sideways damage to the rim, it can lead to a bent spoke. In this case, the spoke will lose tension, with the stress on the wheel being incorrectly balanced on other spokes nearby. This imbalance will cause adverse handling problems, and in severe cases can lead to the wheel failing completely – and usually when you least expect it!

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Other damage to un-maintained wheels can occur, such as rough bearing, other types of rim damage, and even general wear and tear. So if you would rather not spend your time at the hospital from a fall due to your mountain bike collapsing underneath you at high speed, you should employ a regular wheel maintenance regime.

Here’s what you need to keep your eye on:

  • Hubs – just like with cars, mountain bike wheels run on roller bearings. Although roller bearings are packed well with grease, that grease can disintegrate over time. It is important to check that your roller bearings are well greased up. Most mountain bikes these days have cartridge bearing hubs that can either be pulled off or removed with an Allen key, but some mountain bikes use the older cup-and-cone style roller bearings, which require a spanner to loosen;

  • Flanges – if you have spokes that are not tensioned properly, cracks can start to develop from the edges of the holes, at which point you will need to buy a new hub;

  • Nipple rounds – check that these are secure and haven’t rounded off (this would make tightening up impossible);

  • Spokes – you will need to check these are fully tensioned and aren’t damaged. If they cannot be tensioned properly, you will have to replace them;

  • Rims – check that they have not been damaged by the brakes or obstacles you have encountered whilst out riding.

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