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Top 8 Ways To Prepare Your MTB For Winter Riding

Top 8 Ways To Prepare Your MTB For Winter Riding

(dramatic music) – Riding in winter conditions means different things depending where you’re based geographically. If you’re based in
Europe, that’s gonna mean riding in wet and muddy conditions. So there’s gonna be a bunch of things you need to do to your bike,
in order to look after it, and make sure it stays
running smoothly, all winter. This is what I like to do to mine, to get the best out of it. (smooth jazz music) As with any process when
you’re working on your bike, you have to be quite systematic about the approach that you take to it. So, I’m going to start by
doing my seat post first. Then I can hang it in the work stand, and work around the rest of the bike. Now, the biggest thing that you
really need to do for winter is apply fresh lubricant and
fresh grease to the bike. And it’s not for the
purpose of lubrication on the actual bearings, it’s
more to act as a barrier. The thing with heavy, juicy
grease it’s a water repellent, and it’s ideal for
keeping moisture and stuff away from delicate parts, moving parts. I’m gonna start here with the seat post because this is one of the first entries to the frame, could damage other things like bearings for example,
when water finds its way in. Now this is a carbon frame,
and as a result of that, of course, assembly
compound in here already, which means I don’t have
to over torque the bolt, but I’m gonna put some
fresh carbon safe grease around the top, just to act as a barrier. And once we’re here
working on the seat post, I’m also going to pay
attention to the seal of the dropper post, now it’s effectively the same as a fork seal, so this is like a stanchion tube, compresses
in to the outer tube here, as a result of that ways it’s
covered in dirt and grime, and water, you can get some of that finding it’s way into the post. So, by applying some fresh grease and lube to the inside of this
seal, is gonna basically act as a water repellent, it’s exactly what you want for those wet months. Okay so I’m just gonna be
cleaning this over here, fresh grease, and then
putting it back in place. (soft jazz music) So I’m just putting
some of this part grease around the frame here,
just around the top. Now of course because
this is a carbon frame, it has to be a carbon safe grease, but I already know that this one is fine to use, so it’s no problem. And again, I’m emphasizing, this is just to act as a barrier here,
just to help stop water getting into the frame itself. I put the collar back in
place there, there we go. Then I can tighten my seat collar back up. And just wipe off the excess there. Now, depending on the model
of dropper post you have, it’s gonna vary, but on
these Crankbrothers ones, it’s quite simple just
to actually undo by hand, counter clockwise, or anti clockwise, and just remove the seal completely, and that exposes the bush,
which is underneath here. Here we go. Now, I’m just gonna
lower the post slightly, and let it come back up again, here we go. And you can see the top bushing here. Now, I’m going to use some
fork safe lubricant here, so this is specifically designed
to be use on fork seals. This is effectively a fork seal, so I’m just going to give this a wipe, and put some fresh lube down
the top of the post here. And of course when applying
oil, to any area of the bike, make sure it can’t get anywhere
near your braking surfaces. This is obviously, I’m
just applying this by hand, so it’s not a spray so I don’t have to worry about that too much. Still, using a rag just to
catch any of the excess there. I’m just gonna slide that
bush back into place there, and then, a little bit more
on the top side of that, which will be underneath the main seal. And then, slide that back into place, and secure it, and then you’ll find, it actually works a lot smoother as well. And we’re going to be repeating a similar process with the fork. And if I can just compress this now, it’s going to be nice and smooth, you’ll get a bit of initial oil come out of the seal there, it’s
just doing its job. As you can see there’s a little ring of it around the top of the tube here, wipe that excess off, and
that’s good to go for winter. (dramatic music) Now if you’ve got a full suspension bike, it’s gonna have one of two
types of back ends on it. You’ve got one that has bearings, as part of each pivot or it’s going to have bushings in there. This particular bike has bushings on that, they’re very light weight, and they don’t need greasing really, they kind of take care of themselves, as long, of course, as
they’re nice and clean and they’re not worn in the first place. But if your bike has full
bearings on the back, then you can do the same principle, applying additional grease
to the outside surfaces, it wards off that water
that can wear them out, and of course you’re going to be washing your bike more over winter, so the more water that
gets near that stuff, the more likelihood there is for it to wear the bearings out. So any barrier grease you can apply to these areas is fantastic,
but just bear in mind that when you do apply the grease, make sure you wipe off the excess because it does also attract grit, which can wear stuff out, so it’s just, take a bit of time and
make it a nice, neat job. Everywhere you apply the stuff, bottom bracket bearings, headset bearings, That’s the place where it
harbors moisture around there, it’s such a big tube,
and of course there’s also entrance to the frame as well, so another reason to try and stop that moisture getting in there. So whenever I’m doing this process, I try not to remove the
whole fork from the bike. You obviously can, and you
can get more grease in there, but let’s not forget, this
is just a quick process before getting out riding really. So I’m going to remove the stem, and I’m just going to let that dangle down, carefully on the cables. Remove those top spaces, I’m just gonna let the headset drop down. Give it a quick wipe with the rag, and I’m going to apply a whole load of fresh grease on the top here. Don’t be shy with the stuff. Again it’s a barrier, to
protect and stop getting moisture and stuff on the inside. That actually looked pretty good in here, at the moment, but flush in a load of fresh grease, all the way around, and the same for that crown race as well. And you’ll find it’s going to purge back out again, when you
slip it back in to the frame. But you can wipe off the
excess, so that’s no problem. Here we go, slide this down. Spacers back on, stem back on the top. GMBN top cap, of course,
on my particular bike. And just before I line
it up and make sure it’s all set, I’m just going to
wipe up all that messy excess. So just like we looked at the
dropper post seals earlier, it’s a really good idea to
take a look at your fork seals. Now, suspension fork itself,
takes a lot of abuse. It moves so much, constantly,
and they do sort of ingest, muck, mud, and
moisture in their time. Now the fork seals
themselves are fairly simple. So this is an example seal,
and that little spring, that’s called a garter spring that goes around the top there,
so you can do a really nice, fast version for getting some suspension dedicated lubricant
into the fork seal area. And that is just to pop
that garter spring up, use a very fine screwdriver,
and be very careful you do not scratch that extension tube. You don’t want to be doing that. And then get the blunt end of a cable tie, and you can slide it past
this just to break that seal, and just drop some oil all
the way around the seal. Start with the fork, and you’ll find it pulls out a lot of the
bad stuff that’s in there. And of course, it adds moisture by lubrication to it, as well. (slowly pulsing music) If we’re gonna go a step further, you want to do a fork, lower leg service. Now this is a whole process within itself. You get these foam seals,
and the idea of these is they are soaked in
suspension lubricant, and they sit underneath those seals to keep the seal lubricated, which makes the fork work nicely, and of
course, creates that barrier. So the whole job of
basically the suspension lube is to make sure the fork works nicely, it’s nice and slick, it’s nice and clean. Ideally, what you want to be
doing with your suspension fork is keeping it clean, and lubricated. That’s the fundamentals to make sure it’s going to stay working well. The next step is to look at
doing the lower legs themselves. And it’s a fairly simple process, and it’s pretty much
the same on all forks. Now this is just the quick version, so I’ve just removed the two
nuts from the base of the fork, using those nuts and a soft mallet, I just shook them, to make sure the inner tubes separated
from the outer tubes. And as you can see here, some
oil is already draining out, so make sure you’ve got a drip
tray or something to catch it on the bottom there, and I’m just gonna slide those lowers down. And there we go, and that oil, which is just lubrication
oil, will drain out. (oil dripping into pan) And simply put, I’m just going
to replace it with a syringe. Very carefully, so you don’t
purge anymore of that oil out, slide the lowers all the way back on, now it’s just a case of simply putting these foot nuts and seals back in place. As you removed them from the fork, and tightening to
manufacturers torque settings. And just replace that rear bar knob, adjust the little crib
screw that hold it in place, and put the protective
cover back in place. And you’ll find those
forks feel amazing now. And of course, all the extra oil keeps all the moisture at bay. If you want to do the cheats version like I’m doing here, I’m just
draining out the old oil, and I’m gonna replace it with fresh oil. Depending on which forks you have, it’s a specified amount of
oil you need for each leg. And this particular leg,
a Fox 36, is 10 cc’s in the air leg and 40
cc’s in the damper leg. And, any decent fork lubricant
will suffice for this, Fox recommended a 20
weight, this particular one I’ve got here is Whistler
Performance Lubes, lower leg lube 20 weight, job done. So when you do a fork
full lower leg service, you take, obviously, the lowers off. You get access to the seals,
which you can obviously clean, and put some fresh seal
grease underneath there. The seals, this part here at the top, the foam ring, this part
here, and then underneath, the part that you definitely
don’t want to scratch, that is the bushing, that’s what enables the fork to slide up and down. Those foam rings that
I showed you earlier, those nice clean ones,
let’s have a look at one that’s been doing its
job for a few months. Look at the difference, so it’s possible to renovate these basically
to like clean them out, and put fresh oil in, but
the best thing to do really, is to soak them in oil, rather
than just applying the oil. It’s a little messier, but it makes them that little bit slicker on
the fork extension tubes. So if you do take your
fork lowers off completely, give those seals a full clean, make sure those foam rings
have got loads of oil on them, so it’s going to make them feel amazing, and just get some fork seal grease, and just smear some of that
just under the seal there. Again every little you do will help make them feel a lot
better for a lot longer and keep horrible mucky water, grimy paste away from
the delicate internals. Now, although the rear shock of your bike is actually better sealed than a fork is, you might still want to do the same process to the shock as well. Now for removing the air sleeve itself, is really handy, get
yourself one of these. It’s called a strap wrench,
now this one is actually giant, you can get them a lot smaller, but effectively you can tighten them around the sleeve, and
even if the sleeve is wet, where you can’t grip on
it, you can undo them. They just simply screw in. So you let the air
pressure out of your shock, undo the sleeve, and off
it pops, nice and simple. So, at this stage you could
just put some fresh float fluid, or shock fluid on the inside shaft here, and that’s going to make
it feel nice and smooth. If you want to take it off,
take the shock off your bike, take the whole outer sleeve off, and then you get the seal exposed, and the same things
apply to your fork seals. Make sure they’re nice and clean, get some fresh lubricant in there, and put them back together and
it’s going to feel amazing. But, like I said, shocks are
generally much better sealed, and unless they’re playing up, then you pretty much don’t
need to do this process. (upbeat music) Another thing that tends to
suffer in wet conditions, is your cable routing, especially all the way to the derailleur. Now, on some bikes you’re gonna have a consistent length all the way, like I have on this particular bike, it’s a single length of outer, all the way to the rear derailleur. So there’s actually less chance of moisture being able to
get inside that system. As soon as moisture does get inside that, there’s friction, it can cause
corrosion to the steel cable, and your gears are going
to be all over the place. It’s a really good opportunity to replace, or at least remove your inner cable, and flush out that outer
housing with some spray lube, and replace that inner cable. Something I really like to do myself, is use a very light spray grease on the inside of the shifter, now it’s so light that it doesn’t have an effect as a thick, heavy,
congealing tub grease would. But what it does, is it makes
sure that no water can stay on any of those inner moving parts, and it works really, really well. So on this particular
bike, I’ve got a full run of internal cabling, so it’s
actually very well sealed, and doesn’t need replacing at the time, but on other bikes, you’re
gonna find you’ve got stops on the outside of the frame,
and separate lengths of outer cabling with exposed inner cable. Now they’re the types that are going to need constant attention,
constant lubrication, and do a degree, constant
replacement of that inner cable. It’s a good opportunity to do it now, cause otherwise over the winter it’s going to get progressively worse. (pulsing music) Now it’s a good opportunity as well to address your tire situation. Now depending on your
preference with your tires, you may want to swap to
something with more tread, maybe a more open design or
even a specific mud tire, like this sort of thing
for your winter riding. Depends how aggressive you are and depends how bad those conditions can be. Now typically I like
quite an aggressive tire up front for steering,
braking, and control. And I like something a bit faster, with a little less tread on the back, so it remains a little bit faster. And that’s my typical set
up for most of the year, but when it comes to this time of year, I’ll always switch out
that faster rear tire, for something with a
little more traction on it. Now the I run up front is a Trail King, so I’m going to mirror that on the rear. It works pretty well, in most conditions, and that’s what I prefer
over a dedicated mud tire. I’d rather a tire is predictable and I know what it’s going
to do the whole time, than something that’s exceptional
in one specific condition. So it’s got to suit your riding, so just take that into account. It’s also a great opportunity
to top off the tire sealant you have if you’re
running a tubular set up. And also, to take a look at
those valve cores themselves, because they can get pretty congealed and you’ll notice this
when you’re finding it hard to either deflate your tires
and let some pressure out, of if you’re just trying to inflate them. If air’s struggling to go
in, or the pressure gauge is struggling to read what’s in there, it’s probably those valve cores themselves got some clogged up old sealant on them. So what you want to do to those is just remove them
completely, and clean them out. Sometimes it can be very fiddly,
but it’s well worth doing. Worst case, keep some
spares, and just pop them in, and you can spend your other free time just working on those valve cores with some nice fresh ones in place on the bike. Something also worth taking to account, which will save you a few quid, is if you use inner tubes,
or you carry inner tubes as spare parts, when you do eventually, when the time comes to get rid
of one of those inner tubes, remove the valve core, keep it as a spare, because it’s a universal fitment, it will fit on any new valve stems that you have between your bikes,
so well worth keeping those. Something I prefer to do
instead of breaking the seal of a set of tires, if I just
want to top off the sealant, and make sure I’ve got enough
to see me through winter, is to remove the valve
core, and apply it directly using a syringe straight into a tire. It’s also good because you can monitor a specific amount you’re
putting straight in. (pulsing music) So we’ve got loads of
grease applied to the bike, the suspension’s running
nice and smoothly, I’ve changed my rear tire out for a nice predictable all weather option, I’ve put some fresh tire sealant in, now it’s time to lube the chain. Now, all year round, I
tend to use a dry lube, and this is actually the
lube I prefer the best, now despite the name,
dry lube comes out wet, the wet part of it itself
though is just the carrier. Now, the part of the
chain that really needs to be lubricated are the
rollers and the pins. They’re the parts that
contact with the sprockets. That’s where all the
wearing and all the rotation of movement actually happens
on the part of the chain. Once you apply a dry lube,
the actual wet part of it, will actually sort of dry up, hence the dry part of the lube. Now this stuff’s very good,
and it does a really good job, but you have to apply
it quite frequently and of course in wet conditions
this stuff does get washed away which is why, in winter,
you need to use a wet lube. Now this is very thick, viscous lube, if you use this in the
summer, it’s going to attract dust and all sorts of dry stuff, trail debris, to your chain,
and it make it a right mess. This is what you need in winter because it really keeps moisture away and creates a barrier on the chain. But, it’s pretty messy stuff,
so you need to make sure that when you apply it, you
apply it to a nice clean chain, and you keep applying it
after every few rides. Now when you actually
apply the lubricant itself, avoid applying it to the
top part of the chain, it’s a bit of a waste, to be honest, you want to apply it to the inner part, the rollers, straight
away, gets into the place where it needs to be applied, you’ll use less lubricant by doing this. The best way to do this is to
to circle the chain backwards, and literally, try to get a
drop per link as you roll past. (chain clicks) Now this is the thicker, wet lube I’ve just applied to the chain. Now if I was using this
in slightly drier times, I would actually wait for
it to sort of penetrate into the areas of the chain it needs to be, and then I’d wipe off the excess, but as I’m about to go out
on a really, really wet ride, I’m actually just going to leave it as is. (pulsing music) Something else definitely
worth bearing in mind, is the state of your brake pads. Now, over the course of winter you probably will go through a set, depending on the types
of mud you’re riding in. Around here, I have to deal
with quite sandy stuff, so it actually does
destroy your brake pads. Now, although it’s not
worth replacing them straight away, you definitely
want to know where you are, so you can guess how long you have left. So I’m just gonna remove the brake pads from the bike here, and just
have a little look at them. And I’ll show you what they look like compared to a new set of pads, just so you can sort of
bear this stuff in mind. Of course, you need your brakes, on all riding I’d say, so it’s a good idea to make sure you keep on
top of this sort of thing. Now, there’s actually plenty of material on this set of pads here. You can see the backing plate, and you can see there’s loads of material on them. If I could just compare
them to a fresh pad, look how much more
material is on a fresh pad by comparison, it’s definitely
worth inspecting your pads, and just making sure they’re not all the way down to the metal. If they are, you’re going
to need to replace them. (pulsing music) Now, another winter
essential, in wet climates, is having some kind of
mud fender up front. Now of course, this is not
going to keep you clean, by any circumstances,
you’re going mountain biking in winter so you’re going to get dirty. But what it’s for is to keep
that stuff out of your face. And the reason that’s
so important of course, it hampers your vision if you’ve
got mud going in your eyes, or in your eyewear or your goggles, and the reason it actually happens now, is because as bikes have advanced, this hole here, has
actually gotten much bigger, as fork travel has gotten longer. Back in the day, we had
no suspension on a bike, your tire was right up
here, and the only thing you really needed to do was have some sort of down shoot protector just to keep some of that low speed mud
from flicking up in your face. These days, it’s all about the spray that finds its way coming
up here, through this gap, and you ride back into it basically. And that spray can be really off putting, when you’re trying to ride or tackle technical terrain at speed. Now this particular mud
guard is a Syncros one, it’s part of the fork
actually, it came on my Scott. It does a really good job,
most of the year round, but actually at this time of year I do need a bit more protection, so I’m going to remove this,
and put a bigger mud guard on. Of course this is down to preference, down to the clearance
you have on your bike, and do you even want a mud guard? I highly recommend using one, the obvious one is to have
some kind of flap like this. That’s the same sort of job,
it’s a very similar size, in fact to the Syncros
one that’s on there. They’re very cheap, they’re easy to buy, in fact that’s a GMBN one, that
you can get from our store. But there’s also much bigger fenders, they look much more like the sort of thing you’d see on a motocross bike. Now these would sit, I’d
just slide this in place, they would sit underneath here, they would catch that spray,
at the point that it starts flicking back, and it can’t go anywhere, and it’s also got a
deflector at the front, so any spray that does manage to make it out the front it pushes it back onto the tire and forces it around again. These things are absolutely amazing. There’s several different
models available on the market. Some work better with
some forks than others do, so it’s well worth checking
the clearance on your particular ones, and seeing
what’s available, to you. But honestly, if you’re
riding in wet conditions, they make such a difference,
and they’re well worth investing in if you can put
up with the looks, of course. An additional thing that’s
really good for wet weather with these type of guards, is the fact that they tend to deflect that water and moisture away from your fork seals, so essentially you’re keeping your forks working for better at the same time as keeping mud out of your face. Can’t be a bad thing, ay? (pulsing music) Now the final thing
you really want to take into account with winter riding, is that the daylight hours are shorter, so chances are if you’re riding
in the beginning of the day, you might need some lights
before you get started, and vice versa at the end of the day. At the very least, get yourself some little compact lights, just
for your front and your rear, just to make sure you can be seen on the way to or from the trails. Now these little ones,
they just plug in via USB, very easy to charge, ideal
if you’re commuting to work, so you can charge these on
your computer all day long. However, if you want
to include night riding as part of your mountain biking, you’re going to need a more specific kit. Now what we tend to recommend
is a helmet based light, and a handlebar based light. Your helmet light does most
of the actual hard work, but you’ll find that you’ll
never get as much power on the helmet light, as
you will with something you’re able to mount on the bars. There’s various different
options available on the market, ranging from the ludicrously expensive, all the way down to the
completely affordable. So you have to make a decision
on what suits you best. If you want to find out a
bit more about night riding, the set up, the sort of kit
you’re going to need to do, keep an eye out in the
coming weeks for GMBN, and GMBN tech, this is the sort of stuff that me and Neil are going to be making. For a couple more useful
tech related videos, for everything about
installing tubular set ups, click right down here. And if you want to learn
a little more about that fork lower leg
service, which I promise you is well worth learning, click down here. As always, click on the globe
to subscribe to GMBN tech, we love having you around, and of course, if you like riding in
winter, give us a thumbs up.

46 comments on “Top 8 Ways To Prepare Your MTB For Winter Riding

  1. CrankBrothers highline droppers come with some spare internal grease in a small plastic packet, is this for what you used the fork lube for?

  2. Very surprised you didn't mention the use of ACF50, very commonly used by motorcycle riders in damp weather. It's an anti-corrosion spray used in military aviation.

  3. I usually just put the bikes away for the real Canadian winter. But I am curious how mineral oil brake fluid works below -10 degrees Celsius.

  4. top tip: instead of a helmet light, get yourself a headlamp, petzl actik for example. that is if it will fit with you helmet on. very, very powerful light, for around £30. you can use it for everything else too, not just riding. much recommended, reliable and comfortable to wear.

  5. The grease around the seat collar where it clamps doesn't affect how well it clamps? I would think that would essentially lubricate the seatpost making the collar have to be even tighter.

  6. 7:20 – Doddy it's not necessary to pop the spring/open the lip of the seal with WPL Fork Boot… just rub it on the stanchion, compress once and it will pull crap out of the dust wipers.

  7. Hey Doddy, I want to do a lower leg service but I need some suspension oil and grease where can I get this and what stuff do you recommend?

  8. QUESTION! I remember you guys testing/endorsing a tire sealant several episodes back that has kevlar fibers in it I think, but I can't find the video now. Can anyone tell me what brand sealant that is?

  9. Some good content there, thanks Doddy. Regarding brake pads you could mention different compounds… sintered Vs organic etc and what's better for winter?

  10. I don't even have an MTB (just dreaming of one) and here I am spending 22mins of my life watching on how to prepare for winter rides.

  11. Alternatively there's what 99% of weekend riders do, rinse the crap off it with a hose and empty half a can of wd40 everywhere but the brakes 😂

  12. Hey Doddy, where can I buy these foam rings? Fox wants me to buy the complete kit but my sealings are perfect. I would only like to change the foam rings.

  13. So…. you spend half a day to ride in winter preparing the bike, essentially taking it all apart, lubing it up & get it back together? I'll be ready for a bath by time I've done all of this!
    least i can be ready next time, or come March ^^

  14. 20:17 Where would I be able to buy one of those big mudguards? My RockShox XC30 has no way to install a bolt on mudguard and I don't want to use one of those small things.

  15. On the video I saw that you were using suspension lube on fox forks. Will it be ok to use that lube on rockshox and if so what lube is it? Love the vids

  16. GMBN, you rule!
    Would it be fine to use silicone spray instead of fork lube for greasing dropper post, front and rear suspension? It's effect is lasting for short period and when applied the bubbles appear shortly. I guess it eats the gease. The specific product I used was Motorex silicone spray for car doors. I think I'll go with recomended procedure shown in this video and use silicone spray to lube the deraileurs moving parts.

  17. Im am running a canyon strive with a rock shox 170mm lyrik up font. Can anyone recomend a good full figured front mud guard? Its the wettest year on record here winyer is just starting. Thanks.

  18. Cheap alternative to wet lube, chainsaw chain oil. I’ve used it for years. Swap to dry in summer but never noticed any major issues

  19. For night riding, I would suggest looking into Nite Ryder products. I have the Nite Ryder Sentinel 250 (250 Lumens) for the rear lights and it has laser lane as part of the rear light and the Sentinel is very bright for the rear. For my front light, I have the 900 Lumina Boost (900 Lumens), it is very bright at its maximum settings. Both of these lights are USB rechargeable.

  20. In Canada: put your suspension MTB away and pull out the fat bike, maybe with studded tires. There is already snow here on the ground in Toronto.

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