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How Can I Fix a Mountain Bike?

Updated on February 16, 2015

Common Mountain Bicycle Repairs

Those who have become passionate about mountain biking know that few things in life compare to the excitement and adrenaline rush of riding one of these bikes. Though generally designed to withstand a tremendous amount of wear and tear, unfortunately, even the sturdiest of mountain bikes may, eventually, require some sort of fixing and repair. This tender loving care becomes a necessity, especially when you ride your mountain bike very frequently, like I do.

So, you want to know how to fix your mountain bike? Mountain bicycles are hardy bikes that are usually intended to take a lot of punishment. The frames are frequently chunkier and stronger, the wheels have more width, strength and spokes, and these bikes sometimes even have a built in suspension system.

To fix a mountain bike, you'll need basic knowledge of their mechanics. Whether you're trying to repair and straighten a bicycle wheel, fix a flat tire on a bicycle, or just keep the derailleur from clicking incessantly, it's worthwhile to learn the tips and techniques to keep yourself from getting stranded!

Wheels and Tires: Repair Mountain Bicycle Wheels

Wheels and tires are some of the most important components on any bicycle. Learning how to fix a mountain bike with a flat tire is an essential trick for anyone planning on doing any sort of long distance riding, or doing any back-country trails. You don't want to be forced to walk back to town, trust me!

To avoid a flat tire on a bicycle, you should always carry a couple of spare tubes and tire levers with you in an emergency repair pack. When you're learning how to fix a bicycle, the first thing you should learn is how to change a flat! Why carry several spare tubes? Even having been a bicycle mechanic for 3 years, every now and then I pinch a tube in installation and ruin it.

Repairing a flat tire on a bicycle is easy. First remove the wheel. This is an easy fix on a mountain bike because they usually have quick release axles on modern mountain bikes. Once off, deflate the tube. Now use your tire levers to pry off side of the tire only! There's no need to remove the whole tire from the rim. Pull the old tube out, and inspect the inside of the wheel for sharp bits. Replace the tube, reattach the tire into the grooves using your levers, and pump it up!

You may also need to do occasional spoke repairs on your mountain bike. Spoke replacement is a common repair on bicycle wheels. The spoke hooks into the hub of the wheel, and then screws into the spoke nipple. Replacing a single spoke is an easy fix on a mountain bike. Just unscrew the nipple, pull out the old spoke, replace it, and screw it back in. Warning, in this bicycle wheel repair, you may need to remove your cassette to get access.

Gears and Brakes: Common Mountain Bike Repairs

Your gears and brakes will eventually come out of adjustment in heavy riding conditions. It can be tricky learning how to fix a mountain bike and it's gear shifters, they are fiddly things. The most basic thing to know about cable derailleurs (most mountain bikes have these) is that they operate based on having the perfect cable tension. The more taut the cable, the more your shifter will move. If your cable is super slack, you probably need to adjust (spin) the micro-adjustment barrel and get it taut again.

Brakes can be tricky too. To fix most mountain bikes, you'll find adjustment screws on the side of each brake arm. When you tighten these screws, the brake arm will pull more towards that side. This is a quick way to stop a brake from rubbing. If all else fails and you can't fix your mountain bike brakes, detach the ones that aren't working and limp home on one brake. Better to ride cautiously than not ride at all.

How To Fix a Mountain Bike: Everything Else: Typical Mountain Bike Repairs

To fix a mountain bike doesn't take much. When learning how to fix a mountain bike, just take a look at the various components. Most modern mountain bikes have micro adjustors on every part. Even the suspension, front and rear, will have adjustors to mess around with. Just don't remove anything or over-tighten anything, and work very slowly and incrementally, making note of the changes each adjustment makes. You'll want to be able to reverse what you've been tinkering with!

Good Luck!

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