Get Out There

Bike maintenance tips to survive park riding

Industry experts explain how to keep bikes running smoothly at Sun Peaks’ unique park
 | June 20, 2022
Photo: by Kelly Funk.

Riders who have a dedicated downhill rig in the garage for big shuttle days or park laps are no stranger to the toll chairlift-assisted riding can take on a bike. 

But with more riders bringing shorter travel bikes up the lift to check out the resort’s growing inventory of more approachable terrain, daily maintenance becomes all the more important to compensate for the extra mileage and elevation gain the chairlift provides.

Kamloops-based professional mountain bike athlete and photographer Dylan Sherrard has been gracing the covers of Sun Peaks’ bike maps and brochures for years, by making the park’s biggest features look like child’s play. 

Sherrard worked at the Bicycle Café in Kamloops for many years, and each summer he returns to Sun Peaks to teach the next batch of young rippers in his freeride summer camp programs.

“Those years of bike shopping and bike camping definitely left a single glowing slice of advice that I can still hear echo in my ear today: Check your bolts,” he told SPIN. 

Sherrard said it’s easy to take for granted the vertical distance being covered when lapping the trails, but doing a quick bolt check every few laps can prevent a lot of wear and tear, failures and even crashes.

“If we have a rad weekend in the bike park and cruise a big handful of laps each day, that might add up to a few months worth of typical riding, in terms of ground covered,” he said. “All that extra mileage, plus the side loads of big berms and slanted landings, does a magic trick of rattling our bikes loose.”

It’s precisely the long vertical of the descents off Sunburst Express riders need to prepare their bikes for, according to bike mechanics at McSporties in Sun Peaks. 

In a statement to SPIN, McSporties mechanics said having properly serviced brakes, good tires and a flat repair kit at all times while riding is crucial. 

“It’s a long walk if your brakes fail or you get a flat, so plan accordingly to bring a spare tube, a pump, and some tire levers.”

In addition to the extra mileage, cross-country racer and Sun Peaks Resort LLP (SPR) sales manager Aaron Weiss points out the park is also at a higher elevation — unloading at 1,850 metres above sea level — where conditions can be unpredictable and demanding. 

Weiss recommends a thorough clean before and after each day of riding, to allow for a close inspection of the frame.

“Best to go low pressure and use brushes to get the bike spotless,” Weiss said. “Get into the nooks and crannies and look at the areas of the frame you don’t often look at. Once the bike is clean, lube the chain, put some lube under the fork seals and cycle the fork a few times.”

He also said it can be helpful to wipe the frame down with Maxima SC1 and watch for wear in a few other spots as well.

“I would check my chain for wear to make sure that I am not going to be blasting through drivetrain parts that are harder to come by right now,” Weiss said. “It’s best to have your drivetrain running right and your shifting be as predictable as possible in an environment that’s tough on bike parts.”

Weiss said he likes as much grip as possible when bringing his short travel trail bike to tackle a large descent. He double checks the air pressure in his shock and fork, as well as resets the stanchion rings before riding, and pays special attention to get his rubber hooking up just right.

“Lastly, I would set a baseline for tire pressure,” he said. “There is a really simple formula through Stan’s NoTubes of your weight in pounds divided by seven, and then add two PSI for the rear wheel and subtract one PSI for the front. This is a good starting point for tubeless tires.”

Weiss said if the rear is moving too much, then either increase the pressure or consider an insert for added support.

Although it can be easy to let maintenance slide when the chairlift is doing most of the hard work, keeping parts running smoothly will improve a day on the trails and prevent expensive repairs.

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