How to Improve Performance on My Mountain Bicycle

How to Improve Performance on My Mountain Bicycle
Poor performance on a bicycle often can be attributed to simple neglect. Mountain bikes in particular receive more than their share of abuse and should be maintained vigilantly. An easy, relatively cheap way to reverse this condition, and dramatically improve bike performance, is to give your bike a traditional tune-up. Depending on its age and condition, the tune-up might include replacing the brake and shifter cables.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bike chain lube
  • Rag
  • Degreaser
  • Tire pump
  • New brake and shifter cables (as needed)
Step 1
Inflate your tires. Inflated correctly, a tire rolls quickly and smoothly, increasing speed and maneuverability. Check the side of your tire for its recommended PSI. If your pump does not have a tire pressure gauge, purchase a separate gauge and check your tire pressure before every ride. Re-fill the tire when necessary.
Step 2
Clean and lubricate your chain. Soak a rag with degreaser, and wipe down the chain thoroughly, removing as much dirt and grime as possible. Afterward, allow the chain to dry for several hours. Once dry, apply a chain lubricant to each of the links and wipe free any excess. A properly oiled chain will run more smoothly and offer improved shifting performance.
Step 3
Tighten brake and shifter cables. If your cables are frayed or more than a year old, replace them. Tighten existing shifter cables by turning their adjuster barrels, located where the cable enters the shifter body. Tighten brake cables by also turning their adjuster barrels, located where the brake cables enters the brake. Properly tightened, shifter and brake cables will make for crisper shifting and more effective braking.
Step 4
Clean your wheels and brake pads. Wheels pick up dirt from the road, and this dirt in turns clings to both the wheels and the brake pads. The result? Sluggish, ineffective braking. A rag dipped in rubbing alcohol is an excellent way to clean both your wheels (rims and spokes) and brake pads. The alcohol will not leave any discernible residue.
Step 5
Lubricate each derailleur. Your mountain bike will have two derailleurs, one over the front chain rings and another beside the rear sprockets. The derailleur is partly responsible for helping shift your bike's gears. A well-oiled derailleur will respond to shifts more quickly and efficiently, leading to improved shifting performance. Use a Teflon-based oil to lubricate the pivot points on both derailleurs.

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.