Author Topic: Bike maintenance  (Read 1638 times)

The Guru

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Bike maintenance
« on: September 17, 2016, 07:49:48 PM »
A few weeks ago, my wife and I travelled to Portland, OR to visit her daughter/ my stepdaughter. Since SD was working we decided to help her out by taking her 6 month old bike in for its first tune-up. For the record, the bike is a Specialized gravel bike- entry-level bike, perhaps, but certainly not a WalMart BSO. So I was stunned when the mechanic said it needed a new chain and cassette. Already? Granted, she has been commuting on it regularly (16 mi. round trip?) but still. My (usually suspicious) wife accepted this news but I balked. The mechanic finally offered to charge us for the parts only since he was working on it anyway, but I still can't escape the feeling we got hosed.

By comparison, my wife and I have 6 bikes; 5 of which get ridden regularly, 4 of which are 20+ years old and 3 of which retain their original drivetrains. Even the newer ones don't get serviced anywhere near this often, and while I'm sure we tend to stretch the maintenance intervals, all of them perform well- no gear-jumping or other problems you'd expect from excessive wear or misuse.

So- what are proper intervals for various bike components, based on real- world usage? Should one go by mileage intervals, or by performance declines? And what are the potential pitfalls of being more, shall we say, casual with upkeep?

Thanks!

csprof

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Re: Bike maintenance
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2016, 10:37:45 PM »
A few weeks ago, my wife and I travelled to Portland, OR to visit her daughter/ my stepdaughter. Since SD was working we decided to help her out by taking her 6 month old bike in for its first tune-up. For the record, the bike is a Specialized gravel bike- entry-level bike, perhaps, but certainly not a WalMart BSO. So I was stunned when the mechanic said it needed a new chain and cassette. Already? Granted, she has been commuting on it regularly (16 mi. round trip?) but still. My (usually suspicious) wife accepted this news but I balked. The mechanic finally offered to charge us for the parts only since he was working on it anyway, but I still can't escape the feeling we got hosed.

By comparison, my wife and I have 6 bikes; 5 of which get ridden regularly, 4 of which are 20+ years old and 3 of which retain their original drivetrains. Even the newer ones don't get serviced anywhere near this often, and while I'm sure we tend to stretch the maintenance intervals, all of them perform well- no gear-jumping or other problems you'd expect from excessive wear or misuse.

So- what are proper intervals for various bike components, based on real- world usage? Should one go by mileage intervals, or by performance declines? And what are the potential pitfalls of being more, shall we say, casual with upkeep?

Thanks!

The bad news:  The answer for the chain's going to depend heavily upon the rider and the environment.  Shifting under heavy load, getting wet/muddy more often, not cleaning and re-oiling the chain --> shorter life.  You're saying a replacement just under 2000 miles if the bike's being ridden for a 16mi commute 5 days per week, 4 weeks/month, 6 months.

This is sooner than I replace my chains and cassette, but it's not out of the question if the bike doesn't get kept up, the rider cross-chains or has a really heavy foot while shifting, the weather is wet and the roads dirty.

If "first tune up" also includes "first time anyone's cleaned & oiled the chain", I might be less surprised.  I tend to wipe down my chain and drip on some triflow every two weeks or so;  more when it's wet and rainy, less when it's dry and not dirty.

As to what one should go by - there are chain wear measuring tools that you can use (they look at the stretch due to wear).  For cassette, the wear is often somewhat visible, and can also manifest as continued problems shifting despite having the derailleur happy.  For example:

http://www.artscyclery.com/learningcenter/determiningcassettewear.html
« Last Edit: September 17, 2016, 10:40:08 PM by csprof »

SpreadsheetMan

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Re: Bike maintenance
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2016, 12:30:59 AM »
If you replace a chain when it has stretched 1/16inch or thereabouts (measured over the pin-pin distance that is exactly 12in when new) you generally won't need to change the cassette as well. I typically go through 3 chains before the cassette gets too worn.

If you leave the chain until it reaches 1/8inch stretch then the cassette will need replacing as well as a new chain will usually skip on the worn cassette.

The Guru

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Re: Bike maintenance
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2016, 07:41:41 PM »
Thanks csprof and Spreadsheet Man

Posted by: csprof
on: September 17, 2016, 10:37:45 PM

 This is sooner than I replace my chains and cassette, but it's not out of the question if the bike doesn't get kept up, the rider cross-chains or has a really heavy foot while shifting, the weather is wet and the roads dirty.

If "first tune up" also includes "first time anyone's cleaned & oiled the chain", I might be less surprised.  I tend to wipe down my chain and drip on some triflow every two weeks or so;  more when it's wet and rainy, less when it's dry and not dirty.

I suspect this is the case. As I said, it's not my bike- not much I can do from a continent away <shrug>

I agree w/ the logic of "clean/lube the chain= greater chain life; replace the chain more frequently= longer cassette life". Still...I'm having a hard time balancing the concepts of Preventive Maintenance with If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It, given that my own comparatively lackadaisical approach to maintenance has so far shown no issues performance-wise.

csprof

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Re: Bike maintenance
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2016, 07:56:48 PM »

If "first tune up" also includes "first time anyone's cleaned & oiled the chain", I might be less surprised.  I tend to wipe down my chain and drip on some triflow every two weeks or so;  more when it's wet and rainy, less when it's dry and not dirty.

I suspect this is the case. As I said, it's not my bike- not much I can do from a continent away <shrug>

I agree w/ the logic of "clean/lube the chain= greater chain life; replace the chain more frequently= longer cassette life". Still...I'm having a hard time balancing the concepts of Preventive Maintenance with If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It, given that my own comparatively lackadaisical approach to maintenance has so far shown no issues performance-wise.

I tend to be pretty lazy about it too.  I'm going on over, uh, at least 7 and maybe 10k miles right now without having replaced either, including a few races.  I'll do a full chain & cassette replacement next year.  I clean & lube the chain every few weeks, but that's about it.

That said, I've snapped a chain mid-ride before, so there's a cost to the lazy approach. :)

mskyle

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Re: Bike maintenance
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2016, 08:25:57 PM »
I get through about two chains and a cassette a year on a year-round (including snow and salt) 8 mile RT commute. I am admittedly terrible about cleaning and oiling the chain. Weather makes a big difference in wear, too - we've been in drought conditions here all summer and I've been using the same brake pads since April and they're not even squeaking yet!

vhalros

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Re: Bike maintenance
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2016, 07:57:00 AM »
I just check my chain regularly with a chain wear tool. Winter riding pretty much always eats one chain, no matter how much I try to keep it clean.  I am usually replace the cassette every third chain. This amounts to one or two chains per year.

Lifetime with vary a lot based on usage, but its hard for me to imagine a bike regularly ridden for twenty years not needing a new chain.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 08:00:49 AM by vhalros »