The time eventually comes when I look at my mountain bike and say to myself: „I have to take it all apart to get the dirt out of the system.”. Over the next days, I find myself looking at new bikes on the internet, which I definitely cannot effort – but they look so shiny and clean! I once heard a friend saying that mud conserves a bike. Well, I never learned that during my engineering studies. But rethinking his argument somehow takes me over another day.  The final stage is reached when I think it is no longer necessary to lube the chain, because it will be replaced anyhow. Time for a proper mountain bike cleaning!

Bring it to a bike shop?

Sure, you can bring your bike to a bike shop and get it serviced. But there are multiple reasons to do the simple things by yourself. First, it can be much cheaper to do the basic service by yourself, unless you damage expensive parts during work 😉 Secondly, it is really good to know how your bike works, if something has to be repaired during a trip on your mountain bike holidays. Thirdly, you get a good feeling of your bike´s condition, which parts are fine, and which will need replacement soon. No offence meant, but I think I will even clean my bike more thoroughly during repair than a bike mechanic would. (I am sure there are also mechanics, who are very thorough in mountain bike cleaning doing a bike service.)

For larger services, e.g. servicing the shockers or the refill of brake liquid, I guess it totally makes sense to bring the bike to a shop. In the end, it is up to you, what you do by yourself. I am happy to read about that in the comments.


Our next mountain bike holidays are getting closer and I have to get my bike in shape. This time my bike should get a full cleaning, proper lubrication and some replacement parts I bought in advance:

  • cassette
  • chain
  • crank set (due to faulty Race Face product)
  • pins for the flat pedals
  • wire for front derailleur

Over the years I built up a remarkable collection of tools, but I guess the following basic tools (buy good quality!) will bring you pretty far already:

  • Allen keys
  • Screwdrivers
  • Ratchet set
  • Cassette tool
  • Chain whip
  • Chain tool
  • Rags (most important tool)

In case you want do services on your hydraulic brakes and you know how to do it, you need a bit more. Online you can find multiple helpful tutorials on special services for your bike.

Day of the disassembly for mountain bike cleaning

I prefer to start with a basic mountain bike cleaning using a bike cleaner (like Muc-off) and a pressure sprayer for gardening. With the sprayer, the water pressure is strong enough to remove the dirt without damaging the bearings of your bike. Some people even use the high-pressure cleaners at the gas stations, but the risk of washing the grease out of your bearings is high.

After cleaning and drying the bike with a towel I start to take the bike apart. If you do this the first time: take pictures of details to ensure the correct assembly in the end.

picture of center pivot

picture of adjustment for rear suspension

Check every part for cracks and visible defects and try to turn the pivot bearings with your fingers. They should run smoothly without significant lateral play.

The last times for me everything went well, but this time the cassette dug deep into the aluminium hub and it was very hard to remove it. I am rolling on Hope Tech Pro 4 where you can easily (like on many other wheels, too) pull off the freehub. After 15 minutes the solution was the vice and a hammer. Hence I cleaned an lubricated all parts of the freehub, but I am afraid this is the last service before replacement. I consider changing it against a sell freehub next time.

picture of disassembled mountain bike

Final assembly

Doing this the first time it might take a bit longer. Look at the photos you took during disassembly in case you are not sure how to put certain things together. Follow two simple rules for the assembly of your mountain bike:

  1. Use the correct torque on every part (sometimes printed on the parts or find it online)
  2. Use Grease on moving parts (maybe not on plastic parts) – bearings, axles, shafts, pivots

If everything is properly put together you are ready for a test ride and ready for your next mountain bike holidays.

I hope this motivated you to prepare your mountain bike for the next bike holidays. Let us know in the comments what services you do by yourself or when you bring it to a shop. You have technical questions or other questions regarding mountain bike cleaning, feel free to ask.

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