Stay on top of your gravel bike maintenance and follow these pointers to avoid costly mistakes.

August 18, 2023

Stay on top of your gravel bike maintenance and follow these pointers to avoid costly mistakes.

With their increase in popularity over the last few years, we're seeing more and more gravel bikes being serviced at Urban Pedaler.  While most of the services are fairly routine, we are seeing many riders getting caught out by underestimating the service requirements and overestimating their durability in the off-road environment.  Sand, mud, water, grit, hose-downs...  It's a pretty hard life for these and if we want them to perform well, they need a little extra attention.

Through our observations, we've identified a few areas that gravel bikes need regular eyes on and we're here to help you keep them running well so you can get the most from yours - and avoid unnecessary, costly items on your next service.

Gravel bikes are built with tougher frames and more rugged components which can help to withstand the demands of off-road riding, but many of us underestimate the work that it takes to keep these running well.

  • Brake pads don't last as long as on a road bike
  • Bearings in headset, hubs and bottom bracket need regular checks
  • Chain, Cassette, Chainring(s) - Drivetrain components can wear faster
  • Cables and hydraulic fluid need more regular changing
  • Thru Axles need regular lubrication to continue working well

Bottom Bracket & Headset These areas aren't visible and aren't thought about until it's too late. We're recommending these areas be looked at more frequently than a typical six month road bike inspection. Inspecting, cleaning and re-applying grease at three to four months will help extend bearing life beyond what we're currently seeing by actively repelling water and keeping the sand away from the bearings.Photo: Constant battering of headset bearings, water and silt ingress into bottom bracket shell 


Buildup on the drivetrain components wears them more quickly, creates drag and interferes with their function. If cleaned properly, and often, a new chain every six months is typical, but we often see a cassette, chainrings, and pulley wheels added to the ticket for bikes going too long in between services. Even after washing and degreasing, derailleur jockey wheels, and chainrings still retain some buildup that's often out of sight. In some cases the jockey wheels won't spin freely adding to the wear on your chain. Drivetrains need to be cleaned often (with proper tools and products), dried, then lubricated with the proper lube. Getting your bike in for more regular, thorough cleaning & lubing makes it easier for you to do quicker washes & lubing at home in between rides.  If you want to do more from home, talk to us about the best combination of cleaners, brushes, and lubes for the style of riding you're doing.

Brake Pads & Brake Wear

Brake pads will wear but add in abrasive sand and mud and it happens quicker than you might expect, especially if you're running organic pads. Sintered brake pads won't be as quiet riding on road but they're more powerful and durable in wet and muddy conditions. Regardless of the pads you're running, if they look like these above, you'll need $150 or more in new rotors as well. Better to check them more frequently, and change them out once they get down to 25%. Rotors wear as well, the more often you change the pads, the less often you replace rotors.

Photo: brake pads at, and worn past their minimum thickness


Thru Axles
Thru axles need to be greased, especially the space in between the end cap and washer surfaces. On a gravel bike this needs to happen more often to prevent the axles seizing. At best you'll start to deform the soft thru axle metal with the allen key every time you remove the wheels and at worst the thru axles will strip and will need to be drilled out and replaced with new ones. We found this out recently on a bike used as a Beach Road commuter into the city from a Bayside suburb. It was a costly mistake that we might have prevented had we caught it earlier. Salt, grit, and a few home washes dried everything out and both the front and rear were impossible to remove without destroying them.

Photo: a pair of frozen thru axle heads drilled out, removed and replaced 

In closing...

  1. Gravel bikes are more rugged than road bikes, but not bullet proof
  2. Get your gravel bike serviced professionally every 4 to 6 months
  3. Save money on unnecessary replacement parts with more regular maintenance
  4. Develop an inspection, wash, and lube process at home that covers main areas to watch out for

Call Cam or Gabe at the shop to book in a service - 03 9557 6461

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