Mountain Gear

Tech FAQ: Spring Bike Prep's master mechanic Lennard Zinn shows how to get your rig ready to roll for some spring riding.

The time is nigh here in the Colorado Front Range for the trails to dry out, and I’d like to be prepared by having my bike ready to go when the trails are ready to go.

But no matter where you ride, the most basic things for trouble-free riding are the chain, cogs and freehub. Check the chain and cogs for wear and make sure the freehub is clean and lubricated so that it will freewheel well as well as lock up quickly when you pedal forward.

Check the chain for wear with a chain gauge to see if it has increased in length, indicating wear at the rollers and rivets. I recommend either the Rohloff Caliber 2 or the ProGold chain gauges. Replace the chain if it is worn. But if you put a new chain onto a worn cogset, it will skip and rapidly wear out your new chain, so check the cogs whenever you replace the chain.

Check the cogs for wear visually or with a Rohloff HG-IG-Check tool with which you check for cog wear by putting tension on a length of chain wrapped around the cog. If the last chain roller on the tool hooks on the tooth and resists you flipping it in and out of the tooth pocket while the tool handle is under pressure, or, worse, if the entire measurement chain except the first roller slides easily away from the cog teeth while the handle is under pressure, the cog is worn out. The tool only works on cogs smaller than 21 teeth. The video shows how to look at the HG-IG-Check’s chain engagement over its length.

This video clip shows how to overhaul a Mavic freehub. If you overhaul your freehub a couple of times a year, it will keep performing optimally.

Technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder (, a former U.S. national team rider and author of numerous books on bikes and bike maintenance including the pair of successful maintenance guides “Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” – now available also on DVD, and “Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance,” as well as “Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes” and “Zinn’s Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists.”

Zinn’s regular column is devoted to addressing readers’ technical questions about bikes, their care and feeding and how we as riders can use them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Zinn.

Follow Lennard on Twitter.