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When it comes to keeping your BMX bike dialed in, there are two kinds of people; those who love it and those who hate it. You can usually spot the guys who put a lot of time into keeping their bike dialed in, and then there are those guys who will let it roll until everything falls apart. Some people like having their bike tight and clean, and others don’t mind a little wobble, squeeking and rust. Either way, maintenance is key and if you want to get the most out of all the money that goes into a bike, it’s a good idea to keep a few tools handy and keep up with the maintenance on the bike. With all of the wear, tear and abuse we put the bikes through, it’s inevitable that it will need some TLC. Here are 5 key tips to keeping your bike dialed in.
Keep Your Bolts Tight
If you have rode BMX long enough, you know that bolts can come loose from all the bouncing around and vibrations that are constantly flowing throughout the bike during a session. If you want to keep your bars from slipping forward or back, or having your front wheel alignment go out of whack, your best bet is to take an allen key to your stem bolts on a regular basis. It’s also a good idea to make sure the nuts and bolts on your wheels and cranks are tight as well.
Why is this important? Keeping your bolts tight will ensure you won’t catch any unwanted surprises when you come down from an air, help prevent your wheel from slipping after a grind or even help prevent stripping and wear. If you ride your crank arms loose, that wobble can cause damage to the splines that hold your crank arms in place, making it so they will continue to wobble even if you do tighten the bolts down. Unfortunately that wear leads to needing to buy a new spindle, crank arm or even a whole new set of cranks.
How often should you do this? It’s not something you have to do every single time you ride, but every once in a while take a few minutes to run through your bike and check to make sure you’re all good to go.
Tips? One big tip we have when it comes to tightening bolts down on your bike… Use the correct size allen key or socket. Even if it’s maybe one size too small or too big, you can risk stripping out the bolts and then you’re going to have a hell of a time trying to get the bolts loose or tight in the future. Using the right size allen or socket will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
Tools: The right size allen keys and sockets. BMX bikes are simple and require minimal tools, so that’s always a perk!
Clean and Grease
Cleaning your bike might not seem like a top priority, especially if you know it’s just going to get dirty again. Despite it not seeming like it’s a big deal, you could find yourself being glad you did. Cleaning your bike will help it run smoother and it will also make sure you don’t have any hidden surprises like cracks that were caked under some mud or old grease you didn’t notice.
One thing you should also do is make sure you are putting a little grease on your bolts to help them tighten and loose easier, along with protect against rust. Rusty bolts can be a huge pain to remove, so don’t be a dry guy and hit your bolts with a little grease.
Also, keeping your chain properly lubricated will help prevent rust, eliminate squeaking and it will help keep the chain running longer because there will be less wear from the friction that you create when pedaling.
Why is this important? Just like your car or really any piece of machinery, it’s important to keep moving metal pieces lubricated and keep bolts greased to make it so they thread on and off smoothly and resist rusting. Removing excess dirt and grease is also important to help your bike running smooth and to see any possible issues from wear.
How often should you do this? This is another thing you don’t have to do all too often. It’s really important to put a dab of grease on all new bolts, so when you’re putting a new part on just take a second and get it done. If your bike gets dirty, for example if you ride trails a lot, then you will want to bump up the frequency of how often you take things apart to clean and re-grease or lubricate things.
Tips? When it comes to greasing the internals on your hubs, try to avoid getting grease on your driver and use something like white lightning instead on the pawls. Sometimes grease can keep your pawls from properly functioning and it will cause uneven wear on the hub shell or you will get some slipping. Also be careful when you’re cleaning your chain not to accidentally get your finger stuck in the sprocket. We’ve seen that happen a few times and it hurts like hell.
Tools: Grease, lubricant like White Lightning and some rags or towels.
Tighten Your Spokes / True Your Wheels
This is one of those things that can be a real pain in comparison to doing something like tightening your bolts. It’s always a good idea to take a minute and check if you have any loose spokes. Your wheels take a hell of a lot of abuse and it’s not uncommon for spokes to come loose or even break and you might not even notice until your rim goes out of true and your tire starts to rub on the frame. One thing to consider is that keeping your wheel true and your spokes tight does require a little bit of patience at the start since learning to properly true a wheel can be tricky.
Why is this important? Keeping your spokes tight and your wheel true is important because your wheels rolling smooth is very important. Loose spokes can cause your wheel to rub or even have a hop that is a huge pain. It also prolongs the life of your rim. If you’re constantly letting your rim get bad before you fix it, there’s a good chance more damage that can be fixed will be done and you will end up buying a new rim. Also, you can blow out spokes easier when they’re loose.
How often should you do this? Keeping your spokes tight isn’t something you will do every time you ride, and you won’t have to true your wheel as often if you keep up with the spokes. However, it’s a good idea to give the spokes a pinch and see how much play they have every once in a while just to make sure they’re still snug. Even if your spokes are tight, you can still knock your wheel out of true from heavy impacts, so keep an eye on that side to side and up and down, too.
Tips? Take your time and learn how to properly true a wheel. There are a TON of examples on Youtube to teach you the basics. It’s one of those things you will learn and dial in the more you do it. Here’s two examples… The 2nd isn’t focused on BMX, but it gives you a more in-depth look at how to do it.
Tools: Spoke Wrench and Truing Stand.
Check Your Air Pressure
Air pressure is one of the things you will end up checking more frequently than most on this list. The right amount of air pressure is more opinion based on what you like, but still make sure you’re checking the tire’s Max PSI rating before you go and put 90 PSI in a tire only rated for 65. Air pressure can fluctuate quite a bit and it can effect the overall feel of your whole bike if it is too low or too high for your personal preference or style of riding.
Why is this important? Keeping the proper amount of air in the tires will make riding your bike easier and it will roll smoother. Also, if you notice your tire is low before a session, there is a chance you have a slow leak that may lead to a blow out later, so you can prepare and have a spare tube ready just incase. Also, if you ride on a tire low on air, you can easily get a pinch flat. Sam goes if you run a tire higher than it’s intended, you can blow a tube or even the entire tire out because of an impact. Another thing to consider is if you run your tires too low, you can cause the tire to wear and become weaker, which will lead to it prematurely wearing or completely blowing out.
How often should you do this? Most of the time you will notice when you ride your bike if your tire pressure is too low or too high, so you can check it every time you ride that way. However, sometimes you can get too used to the way a tire feels from riding and it might not be the correct PSI for the tire. It’s a good idea to check the pressure with a gauge and add accordingly once a week or more depending on how often you ride.
Tips? Avoid leaving your bike in places where it can get too hot or too cold. Too much heat and your tire could expand, causing your tube to blow out. Too cold and you could seep air out as the rubber restricts. Also, having a quality pump can make your life a lot easier. Some of those cheap pumps are a real pain in the ass!
Tools: Tire PSI gauge and a pump. Luckily, most floor pumps come with a gauge these days. You cannot go wrong with a proper floor pump.
Check For Cracks
This is one of those no brainer things you should do on a fairly regular basis, especially if you are harder on your bike than most. Take a little bit of time to inspect the welds of your frame and parts to see if you can notice any cracks or damage that could decrease the overall strength of the metal. Something as harmless as a dent on the down tube of your frame can lead to a crack or snapped tube later. Staying ahead of things like cracks or dents can save you from getting seriously hurt when you are hauling ass off a jump or sending it down a stair set.
Why is this important? Do we really have to to tell you? Dents and cracks can lead to breaks and usually it’s not going to just break when you’re casually rolling down the street.
How often should you do this? The more often the better. You don’t have to be the paranoid guy checking after every single time you drop in, but just be proactive and take a look every now and then. A crack or a complete break can happen at any time, so at least being aware of the current condition of your bike can go a long way.
Tips? Keep your bike clean, use a light since sometimes you can miss stuff. Also, understand what a warranty covers, since most of the time damage caused by riding is NOT covered.
Tools: Rags for cleaning, maybe a light to help examine it a little better.
That is a few keys to keeping your bike dialed. A lot of these are no brainers, but sometimes you need a reminder or if you are just getting into BMX, you might not have considered. Keeping your bike dialed in can save you a lot of time, money and pain if you stay on top of things. It’s not always easy learning things like truing a wheel, but if you plan on riding a lot, it’s a skill that can make your life a lot easier.
Is there anything we missed you think should be added? Let us know in the comments below!
Make sure you check out the BMX Tool Guide we put together a while back!