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  1. #1
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    Bicycle Maintenance: how much is really needed

    I just cleaned and lubed by bike chain. It had been about 350 miles between the last lube and this one. I got to thinking, when I was a kit and rode a Schwinn Wasp, I hardly every maintained it. We would lube our chains with auto transmission oil. Put 3 in 1 oil in the rear axel. Hose it off when it was too dirty and that was about it. I broke a axel once so that got lubed. We did not count the miles between chain lubes, we just did it every few months. We fixed flats and never got a new tube. Tires lasted forever. I remember buying grips once. I rode that bicycle everyday, on a paper route, after school and on weekends for about four years.

    I know the old Schwinn had fewer moving parts. I'm not sure I ride more miles now. Were we just not aware or was everything in that time just simpler?

    Do people who own one speed bikes have little or no maintenance problems? I would like to know.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that you're asking on a bicycle nut message board so you're only going to get answers from bike nuts.

    A lot of people get a tune up by a bike shop once a year. When I worked at bike shops I did a LOT of such tune ups in which very little, if any, tuneing was necessary. On my personal bikes I don't do anything on a regular basis. However, on every ride I make a mental note of any service or tuneing I want to do before I ride that particular bike again. 350 miles on a chain service? I'd definitely not wait that long if I had ridden significantly in the rain but I wouldn't feel bad about exceeding that in fair weather.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Giant Doofus's Avatar
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    Does this change much if you are riding a bike with a full chain case? I'm getting a new bike with one and was just curious how much difference they make. I do ride in the rain, but the bike has indoor parking at home and work.

  4. #4
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    Kinda depends. In the last week I have spent about 10 hours fixing my bike and 2 riding it.

    However, if you keep things simple the maintenance requirement is much lower. My problems have been mostly with hydraulic brakes and an air fork combined with extreme cold so solving those problems have taken some time.
    (hint, hydro brakes or air forks don't appreciate extreme cold. Rigid steel fork and mechanical discs are the way to go in the winter)

  5. #5
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Re Schwinn Wasp or similar: Single speed bikes need less hands-on attention than multipspeed bikes, and much, much less attention than derailleur-equipped multispeed bikes. Same with coaster brakes versus more sophisticated/complicated brakes.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

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    It also depends on what kind of performance you're expecting out of the bike. If you want to just grab it and go somewhere and don't care if the chain squeeks and makes lots of extra resistance as you pedal through the rust, you can get away with a whole lot of ignoring. If you care about the efficiency of a well-oiled machine, or you want a smoother ride, or you care about going faster, you have to clean and lube a lot more often. Also, if you spend money on more expensive components, it's worth keeping them cleaner so they last longer.
    Personally, my commuting bike is a fixed gear and I do the bare minimum of maintenance on it. I ride it in all weather and it's currently covered with accumulated sand and salt, and hasn't had the chain lubed in probably months. All the parts on it are relatively inexpensive and meant to be sturdy as opposed to light. Obviously, if stuff breaks, I replace it, but I let the chain stretch waaayayyy out and I let the chainring and cog get worn waaaaay down before I replaces those.
    My weekend ride/long distance bike is also a fixed gear, but it has much more expensive parts and I care much more about how it feels to ride. I keep it much cleaner and better maintained. I certainly don't let the chain rust, and when the chain wears to where it's noticeable I replace it. On the "nice" bike I am willing to put in the effort it takes to have a well-oiled machine; on the commuter bike, I just want to grab it and go where I need to go and I mostly ignore it except when I am riding it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant Doofus View Post
    Does this change much if you are riding a bike with a full chain case? I'm getting a new bike with one and was just curious how much difference they make. I do ride in the rain, but the bike has indoor parking at home and work.
    My bikes with the full chain cases or decent chain guards and fenders go much longer between cleanings and maintenance versus the bikes with exposed drive trains and no fenders. FWIW all but two of my 30+ bikes have fenders and probably 75% of them have chain guards or chain cases. Most are also IGH. I don't mind maintaining my bikes but prefer to have them as low maintenance as possible.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Duane Behrens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coluber42 View Post
    It also depends on what kind of performance you're expecting out of the bike. If you want to just grab it and go somewhere and don't care if the chain squeeks and makes lots of extra resistance as you pedal through the rust, you can get away with a whole lot of ignoring. [snip]
    Thanks for that. The key to whether or not your bike needs attention is most often found in the noise it makes - or doesn't make. A perfectly adjusted bike will operate silently. WhenEVER any of my bikes make a noise, I'm on it. It's a great maintenance schedule.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Astrozombie's Avatar
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    Yep, and these are the folks who squeak when they pass by you on the street, when i was a teenager i don't ever remember lubing the chain on my BMX bike

    I've gotten comments these days like "I didn't know you were supposed to wash your bike" lol
    Assume nothing; Question everything

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