Mountain biking has become a very popular sport over the last few years. It is an ideal way for people and even the whole family to get outdoors, experience a little adventure and keep fit all at the same time. The problem with mountain biking is that not everyone understands the maintenance and repair of these bikes. This article helps explain some of the parts and settings of a mountain bike and is to be read in conjunction with my other articles on mountain biking.

Before you skim over this article and move on, I have included an excellent training resource at the end of this article.You must see this one!


The cost of a mountain bike frame is directly proportional to the material it is made of, as well as the treatment that particular material has received.  There are five main types of material used in mountain bike frames, namely high tensile steel, chromoly steel, aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber. 

Bike frames that have undergone heat treatment, have over-sized diameters, or butting are likely to cost a bit more. The five most widely used frame materials are:

High tensile steel
This is a very durable alloy, that's often found in lower priced mountain bikes.  It offers a high carbon content which makes it less stiff than chromoly steel, so more materials are needed to make it stiff enough for bicycle frames, which will in turn make it that much heavier.

Relatively inexpensive to produce, you'll find this material in trail bikes, city bikes, and even entry level mountain bikes.  There are some bikes that come with a chromoly seat tube, while the rest is high tensile steel.

Chromoly steel
Short for Chromium steel alloy, chromoly is best described by it's major additives, chromium and molybdenum.  This is probably the most refined framing material, giving over 100 years of dependable service. 

Depending on the type of heat treating and butting, you can find this frame material in bikes costing anything from as low as 400 dollars all the way up to 1,500 and beyond.  The chromoly steel material offers very good durability.

Aluminum (known elsewhere as Aluminium)
For the past 20 years, or so, aluminum has been refined in much the same way as chromoly.  There have been various alloys developed, as well as heat treatment, oversizing, and butting.  With dual suspension bikes, aluminum is the preferred material, as it's the stiffest and most cost effective.

Aluminum is not as pliant as chromoly, and therefore will crack before chromoly does.  Of course this depends on how you ride and how much abuse you give the frame. The advantages of aluminum is that the frame is very light and very stiff, through oversizing or butting.

Even thought it's somewhat exotic, the prices of this material have come down over the last few years. Frames made of titanium remain expensive, because it takes longer to weld the frame tubes together.

Titanium is considered an alloy and is normally mixed with small amounts of vanadium and aluminum, to give it better weldability and ride characteristics.  More compliant than chromoly, it offers better fatigue and corrosion properties. 

The material you choose for your bike, all depends on where you ride and what style you use.  Almost all materials will last you for years, as long as you take care of your bike and treat the frame with some respect.


This section of the article discusses the chain and how to repair a broken link.

Once your mountain bike chain becomes damaged, you should immediately replace it with a new one.  It is possible however, to repair a broken chain using a chain tool.  For this very reason, most mountain bikers travel with a chain tool.

Your mountain bike chain has three basic components - the metal side plates, the rollers between the side plates, and the rivets, or pins which go through the rollers and help to hold the plates together.  These pins allow the rollers to freely turn as the chain moves around the cogs.

If your chain happens to break, you'll need to remove the broken link and replace it with a spare link. To do this, simply reattach the two ends of the broken chain and ride on a shorter chain until you can get it replaced. 

To remove a broken link of chain, place it in the chain tool.  Now, turn the tool counter clockwise until the rivet pin of the chain tool touches the chain rivet.  Continue to turn the tool until the pin pushes out of the roller.  Be very careful, as you want to stop turning when the pin is right at the edge of the roller, before it moves through the outer side plate.

Turn the tool in the other direction, and back it out of the roller.  Set the tool to the side,  then work the chain very gently from side to side and extract the inner side plates and roller.

This is the time to re-route the chain through the bike.  You may want to have a chain retaining tool or some to help you hold the chain in the right spot as you route and repair it. 

Now that the broken link has been removed and you've re-routed the chain, you're ready to insert a new link or simply connect the links that were beside the broken one.  The process here is the same - align the two ends so that the link with the inner side plates will fit inside the link with the pin and outer side plates.  Now, use the chain tool to push the pin inward until it's positioned evenly between the side plates.

The easiest way to learn how to do this or feel comfortable doing it is to have someone show you, then actually practice with a chain and a chain tool.  You'll have no trouble at all making a temporary repair in a mountain bike chain once you've seen it done by a professional and practiced it yourself a few times.

No mountain biker can afford to ignore this. Join up with other cyclists. Learn how to maintain and repair your bike. Get Mountain Bike Riding & Maintenance Tutorials. These written and video instruction tutorials will improve your mountain biking skills, so that you can have more fun on the trails and they will save you money and time, by teaching you how to repair your mountain bike. Take them on the trail with you, by adding them to your mobile device. Join the Member's Club and interact with other cyclists. See more by clicking here or copy this link into your browser:

Clinton Robson is a South African fitness fanatic and is a qualified Personal Trainer. He has completed a recent contract to run the gyms on a couple of luxury cruise ships. He has done a special higher level fitness training course and has qualified as an Exercise Specialist, or Conditioning Coach. He manages a local gym, assisting staff and clients with training plans and one on ones. He has been working out regularly, since 1996. He writes articles on many fitness topics, such as training, bodybuilding, working out, losing fat, toning the muscles, nutrition, supplements and more. Visit his blog at Fitness And Fatness, by clicking here, or by copying this link: