Chasing Trails MTB service checklist

MTB service checklist

As a safe guide, a mountain bike retailing at a minimum of £500 & in good working order is generally considered suitable for mountain biking, but may be heavy, so it’s always worth spending more! Better forks make a noticeable difference as does suitable frame geometry for the trails & riding you most commonly do. The best way is to use a bike shop that has a good reputation & specialises in mountain bikes.

Part: Check:
Tyres Good tread. No splits, cracks or holes. Correct pressure for your weight. Valve straight to avoid damage
Wheels The rim should be true with no cracks or splits. No broken, missing or loose spokes. Wheels should be firmly fixed & aligned in frame/forks
Hubs There should be no play in the bearings. The wheel should turn smoothly, bearings should not feel rough. The wheel should be securely fixed (quick release tight). There should be no cracks on flanges (clean & check for hairline cracks)
Brakes Need to be firmly fixed & correctly adjusted. No leaks if it’s a hydraulic system, no kinks or damage to cables or hoses
Brake Pads Correctly fitted & aligned; not worn past wear markings, within makers spec for thickness
Brake Levers Good positioning (easy to reach quickly); firmly fixed; no excessive travel
Headset/Steering There should be no play & should not stick or tighten at all when handlebars are turned. Should feel smooth & not ‘notchy’
Handlebars No distortion or cracks. Bar ends need to be protected. Bars should be firmly held by stem clamp to manufacturer’s torque values
Forks Should be undamaged & straight with suspension functioning. No oil or air leaks. No creaking. Suspension forks should be set up for rider’s weight
Frame Should be straight with no cracks or large dents. If you’re unsure, your bike shop will advise you on small dents. Aluminium frames are more affected by dents. Carbon should have no damage beyond cosmetic. Again, get someone with the appropriate expertise to check it
Gears Should index properly. Stop screws need to be correctly set so that derailleur travel is correct. Should be sufficiently lubricated & cables need to be in good condition, not kinked or frayed
Saddle Firmly fixed; correct height & angle for comfort & efficient pedalling. A well padded saddle may or may not be comfortable! The shape of the saddle also affects comfort. Some shops have a fitting service, or test saddles to demo.
Bottom Bracket Should turn smoothly but with no play; fitted and/or adjusted to manufacturer’s specification.
Chainset Must be straight & properly fixed/adjusted with the teeth not bent or worn. Crank threads should be in good condition
Pedals Complete & turning freely with no play in bearings/bushings. Axles straight & firmly fixed
Cassette & freehub Firmly fixed, teeth not excessively worn. Freehub free-wheeling properly & not slipping under power
Chain Should not be worn past the manufacturer’s limits. Should not be rusty or have seized links. Should be lubricated properly. Should be fitted as per manufacturer’s instructions.
Other All bolts present & tightened correctly; any accessories attached firmly