I recently heard a debate about mountain bike (MTB) maintenance. The guys were discussing lubrication, and one bloke was saying that a multipurpose oil (such as Q20) could be used on a bike chain, but the other was arguing that it couldn’t, and that a specialist dry lube had to be used. What are your thoughts on the subject? And do you have any other general MTB maintenance tips?
It’s a long-standing debate, but like most things, it’s really a matter of personal preference. That’s why we give riders both options: Q20, which is a multipurpose lubricant with water-repelling qualities, and QBike, which is a wax-based dry lube.
The benefits of using QBike include:
- No splatter
- Improves gear shift
- 100% Biodegrable
- Less likely to attract dirt
- Extended service intervals
- Better long-term lubrication and
- Prolonged anticorrosion properties
However, as mentioned before, it’s really a matter of personal preference. Some cyclists prefer different oils for different applications, where certain lubes do better in wet muddy conditions, and others perform well in dry, dusty conditions. Although many general-use cyclists have been using Q20 for over 60 years, it would be best to speak to your local bike shop (specialist) for lube advice as per the terrain.
As far as mountain bike maintenance tips go, your service intervals will largely depend on how often you ride, where you ride (the terrain/conditions), and how aggressively you ride. Generally speaking, it’s not necessary to wash your bike after every ride; the moment you use a detergent (or a high-pressure washer), you run the risk of displacing lubricants. This means that you’ll have to re-lube after each ride / wash. Not a practical or economical solution to mountain bike maintenance…
Most of the time, a gentle rinse and wipe-down will do; however, you should do a more thorough clean every third week or so, using a good degreaser (check out the Flight range), and reapplying the lubricants. After that, a Basic Service should be done every two to three months, and a Major Service once a year. But again, these are just guidelines, as your service durations will greatly depend on your riding habits.
Q20 can be used as a lubricator and rust preventer on several components, such as seat posts, pedal clips, springs and more.
When it comes to chain wear, you’ll need a wear-checker tool that will indicate if your chain is 50% or 75% worn. Once the chain shows signs of 50% wear, it’s best to replace the chain with a new one. The moment the chain falls into the 75% range, the two components (chain and sprocket) have generally married together, and there’s a good chance that you’ll need to replace the sprockets, too.
When applying lube to the chain, don’t apply too much; and be sure to wipe off any excess oil. What’s more, make sure the lube has penetrated each link and roller, and be extra careful that no lube accidentally falls on the braking system.
In terms of what the Basic and Major Service entail, the following steps should guide you:
- General wash and lube.
- Check, replace and set brakes.
- Bleed brakes.
- Reset barrel adjusters, front & rear derailleur, and straighten hanger.
- Replace gear parts if necessary.
- Inspect tyres: pressure, wear, tubes and/or sealant level.
All points covered in Basic Service, plus the following…
- Remove, clean, grease and refit / replace H-set.
- Remove, clean, grease and refit / replace bottom bracket.
- True / Balance wheels and replace spokes.
- Remove, clean and grease pedal threads.
- Check and adjust fork and shock.
- Torque and check rear pivots.