How to assess your bike for maintenance

In this video, we explain how to assess your bike for the level of general maintenance it is likely to require. Paul uses a number of example bikes to demonstrate different levels of condition and explains the difference between maintenance you can do at home, and servicing that requires professional support.

Video Transcript

How to assess your bike for maintenance

Now before we start working on the bikes, we thought it would be important to show you an assessment video of how to navigate all the different videos that we’re going to do from our five minute “just back from a ride and only need to wipe the bike down and clean the chain” all the way through to “it’s gone a little bit further and now need to deep clean my entire drive train system” all the way through to actually “this has gone beyond cleaning and now needs to take this bike into Criterium Cycles to have the drive train professionally removed from the bike and then cleaned through our enzyme parts washers”. So let’s get on with this tutorial. We’re going to show you a few examples so you can compare with your bike, what state your drive system is, so let’s get going.


So this is our first example. This is Rosie’s Trek checkpoint, SL5, really nice bike and it has done a lot more miles than you would probably imagine, but it does get well looked after.


What we’re here to assess is if you’ve taken your brand new bike out, the chances are that the bike will come back, if it’s been a relatively clean and dry ride, looking pretty much like this. The frame will be pretty much blemish free. If there’s some dust or you’ve gone through a couple of puddles, then by all means just take a microfiber cloth and just give it a quick wipe down.


But if we have a look at the chain and the gear system here, we can see that the rear cassette has got a little bit of pickup, just dirt and debris. You’ll see later with examples of greese and gunk getting built into in between the cogs of the cassette. So we don’t see any of this here – a little bit dirty, but that’s absolutely fine. The jockey wheels in the rear derailleur, there’s no gunk around those so good to go. And the chain is looking pretty clean, and the drive system is rotating freely. So to be perfectly honest, if you come back from a ride and your bike looks pretty much like this, then just our five minute clean down video would be absolutely fine for you to do. So this is your first example. And the bike’s looking pretty good. So let’s move on to the next example for you.


So the next bike that we come on to is actually my Trek checkpoint. This is an ALR5, and this particular bike here has been out for a pretty sort of wet and dirty ride. Now again because the drive system is always well cared for, you’ll see from the chain and from the cassette and from the jockey wheels and also from the chain rings on the bike that that again, there’s no pickup there. It’s all looking pretty, good. Eventually we’re going to want to return the rear cassette back to its nice, sparkly silver looking state but again, there’s nothing in between the cogs of the cassette. So I’m not overly concerned with that. So the chain everything’s absolutely fine.


However, as we start looking closer at the frame, there’s quite a lot of mud grass and what have you that’s picked up from the last gravel ride that I’ve been on. So I’d really want to give this bike a wash. And then once I’ve given it a wash will then need to dry the drive system off properly and probably just re-lubricate the drive train as well just to try and minimise possible corrosion onto the chain. So if your bike looks similar to this – a little bit muddy, a little bit worse for wear, you could get away with the five minute quick clean video, but personally, I just spend the extra few minutes and just give the bike a quick wash, and that’ll just keep it tickety boo.


The other thing that we want to have a look at on this particular bike is the actual brake rotors themselves. Again, I’ll try and get a close up on the camera, but you’ll be able to see that there is quite a lot of dirt. And if we don’t clean those rotors with the disc brake cleaner now, then we’ll start to contaminate those brake pads we’ll start to introduce a squeaking and horrible noises into the into the brakes when you hit them. So to be perfectly honest, I want to give this bike a wash, I want to clean the brake discs. And I also then want to dry it thoroughly and then give the transmission just a quick lubrication. So if you bike looks pretty close to this, then I recommend how to clean your bike, and then how to dry the bike properly and then lubricate the transmission. So go to that video.


Okay, so moving on to this bike now, this is a Trek Remedy, a full suspension mountain bike. And from the close ups, you will see that this bike is okay and from the casual eye you think, oh, there’s absolutely no problem at all. But when you really start looking at the close ups, you can see that this bike does require quite a lot of work to keep it nice and clean. So what we do with this bike is the frames Okay, I’d probably give it a quick wash off just to keep it the frame looking really nice. However, I would at this point on the rear shock and also on the front forks, I’d want to use the suspension spray to be able to clean those seals to clean the fork stanchion – this part here – and the shock shaft and keep those operating nicely.


I’d also want to decrease the front chainring at this moment because this is starting to get some dirt pickup on it now so I’d really want to get that before it starts getting any worse. The other things that we note is on the jockey wheels on the rear derailleur, these are starting to get dirt pick up on and now you’ll hopefully understand what we mean by pick up and they will need to be cleaned. And if you keep the jockey wheels clean, we keep the chain clean, it keeps from dirt pickup going in between the cogs and on the chainring. So we keep the chain clean, we keep jockey wheels clean, it reduces the amount of pickup that goes on to the cassette in the chain ring. So that’s important to understand to start with.


So we’d want to do quite a lot of work on this bike and this will need properly washing and a deep clean of the transmission. This is really, really easy to do at home. If your bike’s got to this state, don’t worry about it, it’s going to take a couple of hours. So get a cup of tea put a podcast on do those bits and pieces and just really enjoy doing it but you are going to need to take some time with this bike and you’re going to need a brake cleaner, you’re going to need suspension spray to clean the shock shaft and the and the forks stanchion. We’re going to need degreaser for the chain, the chain ring and also the jockey wheels. And then we’re going to need the one step to re lubricate the chain. And then whichever dry lube or wet lube we’re going to use for the time of year that we’re going to be going back out onto the trail with the bike. So if you bike looks like this, when you look closely at it, then you need to go into the more in depth deep clean transmission and washing of your bike.


So let’s move on to the fourth and final example. The fourth and final example of this tutorial is a bike that’s already made its appearance in the introduction, and it is that rather muddy and neglected looking mountain bike, which is a Trek Fuel EX8. Now, this bike, believe it or not, will look a tonne better when it’s had just a really good wash. However, when we look then at the jockey wheels in the rear derailleur, and when we really take a good look at the rear cassette, you can start seeing that in between all the cogs of the cassette is dirt and debris pickup. This is now getting borderline, dependent on how many tools (so bike specific tools you’ve got at home) and the confidence you have with those tools and removing parts off your bike, this now is borderline giving it at a wash and booking it in for a proper service. If you’re not confident, if you can’t take things like your chain set off, to give that a thorough clean, if you can’t clean the jockey wheels properly and particularly if you can’t remove the rear cassette off the rear wheel to give it a full deep clean in between the cogs then personally, I’d just book it in with us and, and we will then do all of that work for you with our enzyme parts washers.


As we’ve said in the introduction, we’ll never do any work on your bike without quoting it first and getting the go ahead. But frankly, if you’ve let your bike get to this sort of state, really it needs booking in and getting it done. For those of you who are confident and do have the tools to be able to do this at home, then again, please follow our full, deep clean bike wash, transmission clean, suspension cleaning videos. Effectively, you just need to watch all of our videos  so you can take your bike from this kind of condition back up to a nearly new condition again.


So I hope you found this series really helpful so you can use this to assess what your bikes looking like and where you can navigate through the videos to which is going to work best for cleaning your particular bike. As I say, we’re always at the end of a telephone line, Facebook Messenger, and email. So if you’ve got any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.


But in the meantime, please watch these videos. And please take care of your bike. Thanks so much indeed for watching, and we look forward to speaking to you soon. Thank you