For pretty much zero cost.
Here are sixteen ingenious, free, easy or cheap mountain bike hacks that you can do to help you keep your bike running sweet or to help you in an emergency.
Some don’t even involve zipties! We know, amazing.
16 great mountain bike hacks
1. Zipties on rear stays for wheel truing
Sure, a proper wheel jig is great and everything but for most folk just wanting to get the worst wobbles out of their wheels, you can’t go wrong with some zipties.
2. Clean your GoPro housing in the dishwasher
GoPro housings have a hard life and can quickly become hard to operate due to ingrained dirt that’s hard to get out properly. Dishwasher to the rescue! Please don’t forget to remove the actual GoPro camera first though.
3. Trim down your ziptie ends
Ever slashed the inside of your leg on a sharp zip tie end? Well, it flipping hurts and it bleeds a surprising amount. So trim those nasty ends back flush. Use some nice snippers ideally but if you don’t have any then find a good, sharp knife (or a Stanley knife) and trim them back nice and flush.
4. Inner tube slices as RockSox rear shock volume reducers
Save yourself the time and cost of ordering in some ‘official’ volume reducers for your RockShox rear shock. Dig into your old pile of inner tubes and slice some bands off yourself. Sorted. Don’t forget to clean the dirt and dust off the inner tube slices first.
5. Car interior wipes for hard to reach cleaning
You can find handy dispensers like these in pretty much any car spares place or in Halfords. Usually a bit cheaper than bike-branded tear-off wipes but just as good. Ideal for cleaning rear mechs and for ragging-through small gaps in frames and so on.
6. Old spoke or hair pin as split chain holder
Bend an length of old spoke – or a metal hair pin – into an extended C-shape and use it to hold your chain in situ while you’re splitting or rejoining it.
7. Add salt to your hand cleaner for a proper scrub
Working on bikes leaves your hands with spots of grime that just won’t come off with normal soap. You need to stick some abrasive in there. Chances are you’re in or near the kitchen after working on your bike, so put some salt in your hands before adding hand cleaner.
8. Insert long zipties into non-Locking grips for easy installation
Installing non-Locking grips can be a nightmare of sweat and wrestling and cursing. But struggle no more! Insert long-enough zipties inside the grip (as shown in the pic above) and then you’ll be able to pull the grip on to the bar easily due to the reduced friction. Once the grip is fully pulled into place, pull the zipties out of the grip. Voila!
9. Lube your track pump shaft
As it says really. Once you’ve had a track pump for awhile it can get a bit sticky and squeal-prone. Dab a small amount of chain lube at the shaft opening and operate the the plunger a few times. Wipe away the excess.
10. Clean frame scuffs with WD40
Normally WD40 should be avoided with anything bike-related. It’s not a lubricant and it can do more harm than good if used improperly. But used as a cleaner to get stubborn oily-rubbery scuff marks of your frame it’s great.
11. Business cards for disc alignment
Yes, you should align your disc brake caliper by eye in a proper workstand and all that yes blah blah blah. But in the real world not may have the facility or patience for doing so. The trouble is that the usual squeeze-the-brake-lever-and-do-up-the-caliper-mount-bolts method doesn’t work very well. All that’s needed here is to insert a business card into the caliper either side between the rotor and the pads. Then do the squeeze-the-brake-lever-and-do-up-the-caliper-mount-bolts thing and it’ll be a lot better aligned.
12. Tape a Powerlink to your brake hose
Never be caught out without a ride-saving Powerlink. Insulation tape one to your brake hose at the brake lever end so it’s away from frame paintwork. Sooo #enduro but also a very good idea.
13. Alcohol wipes for disc rotor cleaning
Contaminated disc rotors are an absolute pain to sort out. Cleaning sprays and clean cloths always seem to end up quickly contaminated too and the problem keeps on going. The most foolproof way is to use disposable alcohol cleaning wipes. You know, those things that look like KFC freshen up wipes. It takes a few of them to clean things away properly but the job will be done properly by the end of it.
14. Baking soda in your bladder
Has your hydration pack bladder gone a bit wrong? Full of black bits and smelling not quite so sweet? If you catch things early enough all that’s needed is a quick rinse through with some spoonfuls of baking soda and warm water.
15. Hide a fiver in your handlebars
Roll a £5 note up (or £10 if you’re feeling flush), wrap it in a rubber band and stick it in your handlebars. This fiver may save your ride one day when you have an emergency. You can even use the note as tyre boot to repair a ripped sidewall. p.s. the rubber band should be set just-so to keep it from rattling around loose in your bars.
16. Keep a roll of bin liners in your car
They will come in useful so many times you won’t believe. Not only for gathering up sodden, filthy riding clothes but also as impromptu car seat covers if you’ve forgotten a change of clothes. You can also use them as litter bags for doing your bit and tidying up any litter you encounter in trailhead car parking spots.