There's snow in the forecast, the temperatures are taking a nose dive, and it won't be long until that morning frost is more of a morning dusting. In the off chance you, say, put your fat bike away right after Beard of Zeus last spring and haven't touched it yet, here are a few things worth looking over before you go barrelling off into the wild. It'll make your bike faster, safer, and a lot more pleasant to be on this winter.
1. Brakes. Even the best brakes need to be bled, and there's a fair chance that the slow accumulation of moisture and lack of activity increase the risk of hydraulic issues. Moisture in the lines, tiny air bubbles, and maybe even small drips on the caliper or lever can cause your brakes to lose pressure. It's something we see especially in bikes that don't get ridden for long periods of time, especially over spring and summer. You can tell you may need a bleed if the lever pull is extremely short or, conversely, if when you pull the lever it goes all the way to the bar or feels squishy and soft. Checking your pads for wear and even wiping down your rotors with alcohol as other really easy ways to make sure your brakes are in peak shape.
2. Sealant refresh. Even if you've ridden your fat bike on and off all summer, it's still a good idea to check or add sealant. Most sealant will dry up at some point, and without a good amount of liquid to fill punctures, there's no way to fill a hole before the tire is completely flat. If you've topped off your sealant in the past month or so, it is probably good for the winter, although some riders do opt for a special sealant for cold weather. We use Orange Seal Sub Zero, which is formulated to stay liquid no matter how far the mercury drops. (Dan's Note: Do not mix sealants; if you have Stan's, clean out the tire completely before adding Orange Seal. The different formulas don't play well together.)
3. Bearings. Moisture from last spring that has had time to get into bearings can slow up or even seize your bearings, from the bottom bracket, headset or hubs. Before you head out the door, take a second to move or spin those parts to make sure they aren't grinding, tight, or hung up. Headsets can be an especially hard worn part, with spray from the slush or pavement freezing and then thawing on the lower bearing.
4. TORQUE! While sitting around won't have any impact, one of the golden rules at Ec is that every bike gets a torque check before it leaves the shop, and running through your bike is an easy way to make sure everything attached to the bike stays right where it is. Most bolts on your fat bike will have the torque spec specified in Newton meters. Use an adjustable torque to make sure your stem bolts, seat collar, stem cap and other bolts are correctly fastened, and to see if they have rusted or worn. Putting just a bit of grease on the threads helps to make sure they won't bind with moisture.
Now is the time and the time is now! We'll see you out in the woods and on the snow soon.