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Common Issues with MTBs

  • Bicycle Maintenance
Common Issues with MTBs

Purchasing a new bicycle involves a ton of research before finally settling on ‘the Bicycle’ for you. Having spent a fair amount of money on the bicycle, it can be anxiety-inducing when you face issues with your bicycle. Most issues that pop up tend to be fairly common with usage and are usually resolved fairly easily. We have compiled a list of common issues with MTBs, and how to rectify them.


Sometimes, you might find your wheel wobbling and a noise coming from it, this is most likely due to loose or broken spokes. Spoke breaks happen at either end of the spoke, where the tension is the highest. To fix this, you will have to change the broken spoke and re-tension the wheel. A rumbling sound from the wheels could indicate a contaminated bearing, or that the wheel is improperly fitted (this is common with QR wheel set-ups).

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Common Issues with MTBs-2


Dried out seals can cause squeaking noises from the fork. Checking and replacing fluid in the suspension fork is necessary to prevent seals from squeaking. If you hear a clunking noise, which comes from the fork occasionally, compress and extend the fork, and listen for noises. The clunk could just be the coil spring touching inside the stanchion tube. Reapplying shrink tubing on the mid section of the coil can remove some of the noise.


Vibration or howling noises could be generated from contaminated brake pads when applying the brakes. Remove the pads and inspect their condition. Noisy brakes are often caused by misalignment/ faulty set up of the brake pads, with Rim Brakes. Re-aligning the brake pads so that the brake shoe is correctly placed on the rim of the tire can rectify this. Another cause could be old/worn out brake pads, and these will have to be replaced.

When it comes to disc brakes, noisy braking is more common and has no real cause, however it could also be caused by accumulation of dirt. Cleaning the rotors and replacing the pads could help overcome noisy disc brakes.

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The chain skipping between gearshifts is perhaps the most common issue that pops up, and can be stressful when trying to concentrate on your ride. This can happen by your chain slipping between gears when you pedal, phantom shifts, shifting twice instead of once, or refuse to shift when you need it to. Stretched cables usually cause a skipping chain. The cable tends to stretch with usage, and will cause skips if the tension on the cable isn’t sufficient. For crisp, efficient shifting - the tension of the cables has to be adjusted. To fix a skip in the rear derailleur, shift your chain to the smallest ring on your rear cassette and the middle/larger ring on your front derailleur. Press your shifter once. If the chain doesn’t move up a gear, you need to add tension. Twist your right barrel adjuster, which is placed on the brake laterally opposite from your brake lever—the brake cable passes through it as it enters your shifter. Unscrew the adjuster by turning it away from you. When the first cog shifts correctly, continue to move through the gears in your cassette, fine tuning with the barrel adjuster as you go. The same technique works for the front derailleur, which also has a barrel adjuster. However, the front derailleur barrel adjuster tensions in the opposite direction. Screw the adjuster towards you to add tension.


Sometimes, a clicking or scratchy noise from the derailleur or chains could be attributed to the lack of lubrication. If the noise occurs despite having a well-lubricated chain, the cause could be due to improper tuning of the gears. Adjusting the tension on the cables by adjusting the barrel adjuster can solve this.

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Since MTBs are typically used on rougher and more rugged surfaces, they are prone to a lot more wear and tear, in a shorter period of time. Most issues can be fixed with regular maintenance and cleaning of the bicycle. However, if you experience issues with your bicycle after a crash, it is best to have it looked at by an expert.


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