Riding wet and muddy trails isn’t the best idea for both trail conditions as well as our gear. Trails can develop ruts and problem areas on the trail can become even worse. It is hard on our gear as well- mud seems to have a way of getting into every nook and cranny of our bikes. Keeping our high performance rides at a level of high performance after riding in crappy riding conditions can be a lot of work. Some of the obvious maintenance would be cleaning and lubing derailleur cables, as well as the chain, derailleurs and cassette. Eventually though, our bikes will need a lot more.
That would be it if we were still riding basic hardtail frames. Today’s bikes have quite a few more moving parts. In addition to cleaning and lubing the drivetrain, we have front and rear suspension, as well as moving parts in our adjustable height seatposts. After a long and wet spring last year in the northwest, my Trek Remedy weren’t working so hot. At one point my headset had actually frozen up. Wrenching it side to side, I was able to work it to the point where it only had a notched feeling. Not only that, my suspension pivots creaked with every pedal stroke. Later I start having issues with my fork when oil started seeping from the seals. Ugh.
I don’t really have a dedicated shop space to work on my bikes these days, (so I have been servicing my bike a bit less than normal) but it is clear it was time to give the Remedy a bit of love.
Although my bike uses cartridge bearings with seals designed to resist the elements, after a hard season of wet riding, enough mud had made its way in to freeze everything. One option for a fix would be to replace all the bearings in our bike. However, after a single season of riding, the bearings aren’t always used up. If you don’t work in a bike shop or have a budget for new parts, these supposedly “unserviceable” bearings can often be serviced with just a bit of elbow grease.
Servicing the main suspension pivots
When it came time to tackle was the creak in the bottom bracket area/ main pivot I started by pulling the BB and cranks, greased everything and reassembled it. After the next ride, the creak remained, so it was time to go deeper. However, in order to get to the main pivot, the cranks, chain guide and bottom bracket needed to be removed. At this time, it’s always good to clean everything as you go.
After removing the main pivot, the sealed bearing were exposed. To remove the cover, I carefully used a dental pick to pry it off and expose the ball bearings inside.
Once the ball bearings are exposed, it is just a matter of cleaning off all the gunk and contaminants.
This is exactly what WD-40 is good for. After spraying everything down and cleaning out all traces of mud and dirt, it’s time to repack it all with copious amounts of grease.
After filling the bearing with fresh grease, press the bearing cap back on, and put everything back together. I applied Blue 243 loc-tite on the pivot bolt threads and tighten the bolts to the correct torque. I also made sure to apply grease to the pivots- this is a key step to making that annoying creak-usually caused by movement of metal on metal- go away..
I redid the procedure with the other bearings, including the headset. Then clean (if you haven’t already) and reassemble everything and you are good to go. I checked the bearing play by unbolting one side of the rear shock and testing the suspension movements by rotating the rear swing arm up and down. Everything felt smooth, and once I reassembled the bike and did a test ride, it was clear the creaking was gone. Step one of winter service complete.