Servicing - what should I be checking and when?

TommyC

Active member
Jul 7, 2022
180
117
Hampshire
My cube stereo 140 has just turned 2 years old. I’ve never had it serviced by the dealer. Just once by a local bike mechanic when it was fairly new.

I keep the bike clean and it’s only done 600 miles but I’d like to give it a strip down to give it a proper clean and check the frame. I’m no expert, in fact quite new to mtb’s in general, but I like to tinker and do things myself whenever I can. I’ve done a couple of ebike conversions and recently built 2 analogue hard tails frame up. But these were all using new/as new components and none were full suspension.

So what exactly should I be looking for?

Frame - Is it worth pulling the whole rear triangle apart to check bearings? Is it likely any would need replacing already? One reason I want to strip it down is to check the carbon frame for stress, Particularly around the motor mounting points. Is there anywhere else I should be checking the frame?

Motor - (bosch gen4 smart) is there anything I can do maintenance wise? Sure I read somewhere that cleaning/replacing outer bearings is possible diy?

Suspension - should the fork and shock (34rhythm/dps evol) need a service @ 600 miles? If not I’m sure it wouldn’t be a bad idea after 2 years. How difficult is this to do yourself?

Wheels - I’ve never really given the wheels much thought. But I guess I should be checking spoke tension? How do I do that?

Pretty confident sorting out the brakes and gears now. Only thing I can think to ask is how on earth are you supposed to clean a cassette properly?!?!
 
Last edited:

RustyIron

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Jun 5, 2021
1,434
2,268
La Habra, California
Completely disassembling the bike isn't a great idea. I don't see the point, and the nature of the question suggests you'd be best off taking little bites.

At 600 miles and two years, I'd be doing the following:

1. Bleed the brakes. Completely replace the old fluid.
2. Disassemble your headset, clean, regrease.
3. Clean and lube your freehub. Clean your cassette at that time. Toothbrush and pan of paraffin will work fine.
4. Do a simple air can service on the shock. Just clean and relube. Do the end bushings while you're at it.
5. Service the lowers on your fork. Don't worry about the damper yet. You can do this and the headset at the same time.

I like to tackle simple maintenance a little at a time, that way it's not an overwhelming multi-day nightmare.
 

Tony4wd

Active member
Subscriber
Aug 3, 2022
199
158
Australia
And while the shock is disconnected you can move the rear triangle through its range of motion to check the bearings are moving freely; also turn the shock mount bearings to check they're not gritty/rusted.

The most important job is to check the motor shaft seals and make sure they are still packed with grease - there's a how to in the motor section.
 

TommyC

Active member
Jul 7, 2022
180
117
Hampshire
Completely disassembling the bike isn't a great idea. I don't see the point, and the nature of the question suggests you'd be best off taking little bites.

I understand that pulling the whole thing apart is probably unnecessary. But I’m a practical learner and doing so helps me better understand how it all works. In fact I quite enjoy needlessly pulling things apart! I just want to be sure I can put it back together again, which I’m confident I can with the frame.

Surely it’s better to check all the bearings individually? Possibly clean and grease them? I’d quite happily change them all as a preventative measure but not sure what life expectancy is?

I’m particularly interested to pull the fork apart as that’s something I’ve never done, but I understand some special tools are needed? And stripping a rear shock is better left to a pro?
 

James_C

Active member
Nov 25, 2019
439
216
Kent, UK
I would personally check all the bearings by sticking a finger in and carefully feeling for any roughness or grittiness. Sometimes I take mine apart and they have completely seized up!

I'd recommend a bearing press set to change them , far easier and less prone to damage stuff. A bike one is about £40 on amazon.
 

steve_sordy

Wedding Crasher
Nov 5, 2018
8,242
8,448
Lincolnshire, UK
There are a couple of conflicting sayings relevant to this topic:

1. "Don't fix what isn't broken." And 2. "A stitch in time saves nine."

Dismantling the bike to see if the bearings are OK falls into the first one, ie don't do it.
As is the motor. Leave it alone unless you hear unusual noises or it starts doing something odd. Then investigate thoroughly. By that I mean get a professional to investigate it thoroughly. Noisy or ill-behaving motors never get better on their own, they always get worse.

But regular chain cleaning, lubing and length measurement is deffo the second one. This also saves wear and tear on the front ring and the cassette. I also use Weldtite's Teflon spray lube with the (long nozzle) to lube the mech hinge points. (Wipe off the surplus before the ride).

Suspension is also the second one. If I waited until something was wrong then it would probably be an expensive fix. I clean the stanchions and lube them before every ride (I include the dropper in that). Apart from that I don't touch the suspension in servicing terms until the bike has done 1200mile or 12 months, whichever comes last! Then I send fork and shock off for a proper service by the professionals. I've been doing this for almost 16 years and it works for me. Standing the bike upside down overnight once a month will help the oil inside to reach parts it doesn't ordinarily reach, like the wiper seals and that helps.

Ditto frame bearings after 6 months or 600 miles I'll give the frame a good flexing to check for bearing problems. If none, I'll leave it for 3 months or 300 miles and repeat until I detect a problem. THEN I'll replace the affected bearings in pairs.

Tyres are the second one as well. I check my pressures with a digital gauge before every ride. Consequently, I can tell when my sealant is getting close to requiring a top up. If I waited until the sealant actually ran out or had hardened into a lump, the first I'd know would be a puncture that didn't seal and then I'd be fixing a flat trailside, probably in the rain!

As soon as I see any paint chips or scratches, I fix them. Deffo No2. Regular washing helps to spot them.

Back to the first one: Wheel bearings and headset bearings; I keep an eye and ear out for problems but otherwise leave until I detect a problem (which may be slight) and then I replace. Wherever possible, I replace bearings with a good quality sealed bearing (Trail Vision are good for that).

There are things I do without detecting any sort of problem (suspension servicing, chain..), but mostly I just leave well alone. That does not mean that I ignore the bike and ride without care. I am always listening to the bike and feeling the vibrations it makes. If it starts behaving oddly, I ALWAYS investigate.
 

TommyC

Active member
Jul 7, 2022
180
117
Hampshire
I get what you’re saying regarding leaving the motor well alone if there are no problems as I could do more harm than good. But surely there’s no jeopardy in pulling the rear triangle apart? I just can’t understand how you can say the bearings are all 100% without pulling it apart?

I also understand that servicing forks and shocks can be difficult but it is a skill I would like to learn. Nothing like just getting stuck into it!

I do need to invest in a chain gauge. Already on my 3rd chain though due to breaking
 

Weeksy

Member
Dec 13, 2019
78
99
Reading
I like taking the back end apart, the pivots, etc... I do a bike about once a fortnight at the moment as we've got a lot of bikes and a lot of riding. In summer it'll be about once every 4 weeks.
Just make sure you note where spacers go and torques. Some different bits like a different sequence in tightening to get everything just right.
 

Dax

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
May 25, 2018
1,421
1,754
FoD
There are a couple of conflicting sayings relevant to this topic:

1. "Don't fix what isn't broken." And 2. "A stitch in time saves nine."

Dismantling the bike to see if the bearings are OK falls into the first one, ie don't do it.

Disagree, it’s much cheaper to replace frames bearings when they are a bit gritty and still turn, than two years later when the seized 18months earlier and have been turning in the frame ever since, wearing away the rear triangle until there’s finally enough play for you to notice.
 

steve_sordy

Wedding Crasher
Nov 5, 2018
8,242
8,448
Lincolnshire, UK
Disagree, it’s much cheaper to replace frames bearings when they are a bit gritty and still turn, than two years later when the seized 18months earlier and have been turning in the frame ever since, wearing away the rear triangle until there’s finally enough play for you to notice.
That's why I check at regular intervals so it doesn't get that bad. Not had a problem yet. I just don't start dismantling stuff.

If the OP wants to up his skillset, then what he is proposing is a great idea.
 

RustyIron

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Jun 5, 2021
1,434
2,268
La Habra, California
But surely there’s no jeopardy in pulling the rear triangle apart?

You seem enthused about the rear triangle. It's not a terrible idea. I would expect to notice symptoms of a bad bearing before it failed catastrophically, but there are no guarantees. If you're going through the trouble of pressing the bearings out, then just go ahead and replace them. If your intention is just to examine everything, you don't have to press them out. Use your finger or a chopstick to rotate each bearing. If it's smooth, it's good. If it's grumbly, it's not so good. For those that you're not replacing, take a pick and remove the dust seal. Don't damage the seal. Use your fingertip to force more grease into the bearing, rotate it and force more grease in. Then replace the seal.

I also understand that servicing forks and shocks can be difficult but it is a skill I would like to learn. Nothing like just getting stuck into it!

You can do it. Manufacturers publish instructions. It's not rocket science. Like everything else, think it through before you start, and be deliberate in everything you do.

The other thing that hasn't been discussed is fastener threads. Billy Bob working on his mom's 1985 Chevy pickup can sometimes get away with sloppy workmanship. We're working on high performance lightweight machines using exotic alloys. We need to work at a higher level. Fasteners should NEVER be assembled dry. The argument can be made for Loctite. Most of the time, I prefer using anti-seize. Some will tell you that grease is ok. Just buy yourself a can of anti-seize and do it right.
 

TommyC

Active member
Jul 7, 2022
180
117
Hampshire
You seem enthused about the rear triangle.
I just want to check the frame over in general. There are a lot of bearings in there and I want to get my hands on them to feel how smooth they are, and repack them if necessary.
Fasteners should NEVER be assembled dry. The argument can be made for Loctite. Most of the time, I prefer using anti-seize. Some will tell you that grease is ok. Just buy yourself a can of anti-seize and do it right.
I used Peaty’s assembly grease when I built the hard tails. Pretty much everywhere there is metal to metal contact. What would you recommend?
 

Swissrider

Well-known member
Nov 1, 2018
362
379
Switzerland
Lots of good advice here, but no one has mentioned the conditions you ride in. If you typically ride in muddy, gritty and wet conditions you are going to have to do a lot more maintenance. For instance, in a the worst conditions a chain ring might only last 1000km whereas they have been known to last 50.000km (on a road bike). The main aim is timing. Replacing things at the slightest sign of wear is time consuming and expensive. On the other hand, leaving something too long can lead to all sorts of problems. Sometimes significant deterioration is subtle as it happens slowly - suspension being a case in point and an upper can service or fork lower service can make a significant difference. There are also standard tests that tell you whether there is s need to do anything. If you have a chain checker which tells you that your chain is well within wear limits, there is no point in doing anything other than lubing it. If a headset turns freely with no play or roughness, there is no need to dismantle it, unless you suspect the manufacturer did not grease it properly in the first place.
 

TommyC

Active member
Jul 7, 2022
180
117
Hampshire
there is no need to dismantle it, unless you suspect the manufacturer did not grease it properly in the first place.
This is the problem. I have trust issues! If I pull it all apart and do it myself I’ll have peace of mind it’s up to my standards.
 

Dax

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
May 25, 2018
1,421
1,754
FoD
That's why I check at regular intervals so it doesn't get that bad. Not had a problem yet. I just don't start dismantling stuff.

If the OP wants to up his skillset, then what he is proposing is a great idea.

The leverage you get from the rear triangle hides bearing issues, without dismantling it’s hard to tell what state they are really in. Try dismantling yours and see how they really feel.
 

Mikerb

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
May 16, 2019
6,066
4,585
Weymouth
The leverage you get from the rear triangle hides bearing issues, without dismantling it’s hard to tell what state they are really in. Try dismantling yours and see how they really feel.
correct....merely feeling if a bearing is smooth only proves it is probably clean and still has some grease in it..............but without the load it usually has to bear it does not prove the bearing is not worn. Better to test the rear triangle bearings with the chainstays and seat stays still attached so you can identify sideways movement and go some way towards putting the bearings under pressure.
 

RustyMTB

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Jul 22, 2020
2,445
5,993
UK
In my experience with frame bearings, I've more often than not found those nearest the ground die the fastest & higher ones like linkage & shock barely get any wear at all.

Anyway, if it were me, I'd check/clean/renew/lube if required, the headset bearings, Chain, cassette& chainring, freehub bearings, motor seals, maxles, caliper pistons, pads, fork & shock + bushings, essentially any moving part that gets a bit of hammer.

Years of bike maintenance have taught me that about 90% of it is cleaning. Keeping dirt out & lube in is a solid way to look after a bike.
 

rpurdie

Member
Jan 12, 2023
39
26
UK
Manufacturers might not put enough grease in the bearings for the area you live and the conditions you ride. Sunny California is quite different to wet/muddy north east England/Scotland. It sounds like you're at a good point to take the suspension pivots apart and grease everything to your satisfaction and whilst doing it you can check all the bearings are free. If they are no need to replace, just grease everything.

At two years old I was surprised the fork bushes needed replacing on my bike as well as a fork service, they were well worn out although no harm done. That is probably unusual but shows you do need to look after them.

I also left the shock service a bit too long and there was concern that it rattled. Turned out ok but wouldn't have been good to leave any longer.

For the wheels, check for loose spokes, any that sound different to the others when 'twanged' need a closer look too. Check the wheels spin freely and the hub bearings are happy (rock the wheels side to side). Basically you're looking for any free play in the suspension, wheels etc. and if you find any, time to work out where/why.

My bike seems to love destroying jockey wheel bearings too, managed to destroy a new one in a single ride. They've easily overlooked and cheap to replace so worth a check.
 

E-MAD MALC

Active member
Subscriber
Nov 16, 2021
261
136
EAST SUSSEX
At 600 mies I replaced all the rear bearing on my Cube with endura max, greased and new seals on the drive shafts.
I slacken the head angle got good quality bearings in that now, forks and shock got the service xd cassette easy to service plus lve been waxing my chain which has cut down on chain replacement
Check the spoke tension, I bought the park tool one for that
Dropper post service
Replace and bleed brake fluid check or change brake pads
 

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