It's a hot topic. Some approve of tuning, some don't. There are many different opinions and plenty of misconceptions.
Many cyclists desire a fast bike with high-performance equipment, but misleading opinions deter them. Today's equipment is expensive, lightweight, and highly consumable with a short lifespan. However, it's possible to maximize its potential and maintain optimal longevity. Those who participated in the MSMechanic bike weekend could learn some tricks for self-maintenance, which takes minimal time but yields significant results.
Regarding tuning bike equipment, it can involve adjusted suspension, telemetry work, and if needed, specific modifications in the suspension itself (calculating and blending optimal oil viscosity used in the suspension). It's possible to work on valves, change shimstack (configuring damping, bottom-out, etc.). In rare cases, adjusting air volume and tokens might suffice.
Another aspect is tuning and optimizing bearings. Here, we offer a different approach. Using high-precision tools, we alter characteristics, reduce friction, heat... employing various types of lubricants. Each application requires specific lubrication with low viscosity and favorable characteristics for optimal performance. The lubrication application inside and outside the bearing has been discussed several times, so I won't dwell on that now.
Now that we've covered some tuning examples, most wonder about maintenance and component durability.
Durability solely depends on riding conditions—factors like rain, mud, dust, frequency of cleaning, method of cleaning, detergent use, degreasers, etc.
Mud and muddy races with lots of water significantly affect bearing durability, necessitating proper bike preparation for the next ride or race. We discussed how, for instance, a hub from one manufacturer lasts visibly longer than others (without frequent servicing), thanks to precision and quality of construction. If you want a fast bike, maintenance is more frequent (but not necessarily harder), yet the energy savings (watts) are noticeable! (Considering the entire bike is tuned, not just a few bearings!).
Cleaning—we emphasize using a high pressure wash. Why? It consumes significantly less water, doesn't soak the bike and gear, and if the spray is used correctly, it won't damage bearing seals or wash them out. Detergents and degreasers are the biggest foes! We recommend using detergents sparingly and only if necessary to remove stubborn dirt; otherwise, we advise against it. Here, we'll self-promote our MSMlube designed not to accumulate dirt and easily clean with just water and cloth, no detergents needed.
When discussing rebuilds, we offer lubricants for your parts, but using higher index lubricants doesn't mean daily muddy rides won't harm your bearings. It's nearly impossible to avoid.
A tuned bike will last almost as long as a bike serviced "by the book" with minimal effort from you. Our recommendation is a yearly rebuild and occasional minor services (depending on the amount of racing/riding). Tuned suspension can work better and longer, with extended service intervals, reduced expenses on subsequent services, etc. Performance judgment will be yours after the ride or race! 🙂