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Bike Life Span

Old 03-04-15, 08:12 PM
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practical
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Bike Life Span

I was thinking about the "life-span" of a bike and wondering what you think. I figure there are three factors that determine bike life-spans. They are:

1. If you think in terms of miles, I figure a bike lasts about 5,000 miles before too many parts and components need to be replaced. If you bike a 1,000 miles a year, figure five years. If you bike twice that, then maybe three years.
2. Bike technology moves down in price point at a rate of about $100 per year. So that a bike that costs $500 more than the bike you bought this year, will be available for the same price (that you paid this year) in five years. Example: You buy a bike for $600 this year. The bike that costs $1,100 has a lot of features and component levels you'd like. In five years, the bike that sells for $600 (not factoring inflation) will have those feature and component levels.
3. As your fitness and skill levels increase, you will find the bike you have less satisfying - you'll graduate up to a new level. Hard to determine a rate that this happens.

Conclusion: A person who bikes most days during the six months of bike season, will need (want) a new bike in three to five years. (Obviously, if you bike in the winter, that bike will be trash by the end of the season.)
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Old 03-04-15, 09:01 PM
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I think you are way way way too short.
But, perhaps this is with the Hybrids section.

I bought my old Colnago Super in 1982, but looking back, it was probably a 68/69 model which puts it coming up on close to a half century old.
I've upgraded a few bits and pieces here and there. Now we are 30+ years later, and it is still roadworthy.

My mileage varies. Some years it probably hit 5,000. Last year it was about 2,500. Some are shorter. So, perhaps over the last 30 years the bike has gotten 20,000 to 50,000 miles.

I finally decided to build a "rain bike" this year... and really like the "new" bike, so the tired old Colnago may spend less time on the road, especially in the winter. But, it will probably get a bit if a restoration soon too.

Anyway, there are a few aspects on the bike lifetime and wear. A lot depends on the rider. Some that were bought new get traded within the first decade, but that doesn't mean they are dumpster bound, especially if they began life as a decent bike. As mentioned mine was probably 13 or 14 years old when I bought it, and I don't know if I was the second owner.

Yes, many things have changed. But, many things can also be upgraded if one chooses to do so. I really don't see the frame itself as ever truly wearing out, although the paint has taken a beating over the years.
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Old 03-04-15, 09:44 PM
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Bikes will last for 10's of thousands of miles through several winter seasons and multiple owners. The components will have to be replaced more often if proper maintenance isn't followed but there is no reason to dispose of a bike unless the frame is damaged or it is just abused to the point its too expensive to be worth repairing.
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Old 03-04-15, 10:09 PM
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A well built frame should last a lifetime and parts are meant to be replaced so a well made bicycle should last a lifetime.

It may be hard to find quality replacements of older parts, so stockpiling chainrings, bottom brackets, and cassettes is a good idea.

Bicycles evolve slowly, and just because something is newer does not make older stuff suddenly crap.
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Old 03-04-15, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
It may be hard to find quality replacements of older parts, so stockpiling chainrings, bottom brackets, and cassettes is a good idea.
I'm not sure if I would encourage too big of a stockpile.

Chainrings can last a very long time. I've gotten 30 years of hard use out of my chainrings... I did replace the inner chainring because I had managed to wear the teeth asymmetrically (should have rotated it), and I wanted to drop from 42T to 41T. The outer one looks worn, but still has some life in it.

I am finding NOS 144 BCD chainrings for cheaper now than I would have paid 20 or 30 years ago, or perhaps no more than the previous cost.

I'm not sure about bottom brackets. Perhaps it depends on which one has. Again NOS parts are available, but cartridge bearings might not be a bad idea, at least for some of the bikes. However, certain types such as old style octalinks are being discontinued in certain sizes.

Cassettes? Maybe. Shimano has a push-down marketing, so they may no longer sell 9s Dura Ace, but it is available with other models. However, lots of slightly used cassettes are available at pennies on the dollar. And, when they're gone, perhaps it is time for an upgrade.

A lot of freewheels are available, although not a lot of companies are making them. However, since they are still being put on new bikes, those companies that do make freewheels may continue to keep market share.
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Old 03-04-15, 10:44 PM
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The Peter Mooney of my username has roughly 45,000 miles and is far, far from dead. If I were to put new parts on it, I would not be able to tell it isn't brand new. My latest find is a frame from ~1974 and while I had to do some work to get around an aged and mistreated seat lug and derailleur hanger of some ancient standard, the ride makes me feel young again! My commuter, a ~'83 Trek, is ready to do many more years and winters. 17,000 miles so far. Replaces a Miyata with 27,000 miles that ran fine until I shortened the wheelbase 6" in a crash.

I have replaced frames for a cracked seat tube - warranty at about 5,000 miles, broken chainstay - at 19,000 very hard miles, many crashes and 4 winters + on salted roads and a broken fork blade - on a mediocre used frame of completely unknown history.

Good bikes that are cared for go a LONG ways. Drivetrains, seats, rubber, handlebars, stems and brake levers are consumables. So are wheels. (Everything after the rubber is consumable on a much longer timetable, but they do wear out or become suspect.) The only original part on my Mooney is the seatpin which actually isn't original but went on very early, and it came on my first good bike 47 years ago and has been in service almost non-stop!

Ben
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Old 03-04-15, 11:01 PM
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Regular maintenance through the winter can yield a well tuned machine come spring time. No reason to let things go south just because it is cold outside. My winter bike is also my summer kick around bike, and it has made it through the winter in fantastic working order, although I did repack the wheel bearings and bottom bracket a few weeks back, and clean / lube the drivetrain a couple times a month. No reason that bike wont be serviceable for many winters to come.
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Old 03-04-15, 11:06 PM
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My 1990 Cannondale has over 130,000 miles and hasn't had all that many components replaced. Certainly quite a few tires, some chains and cassettes, and some cables plus brake pads. But I regard those as expected maintenance wear items. It has also had the original saddle replaced, the rims have worn out once (but still the original hubs, freehub, and most spokes), the large chain ring has been replaced, and the bottom bracket spindle. The pedals were also replaced but that was to switch to SPD clipless, not because the originals wore out.

Frame, fork, handlebar, stem, headset, seat post, cranks, small chain ring, derailleurs, shifters, brakes/levers are all original.

OTOH, very few original parts are still on my 1965 Gitane tandem (no idea how many miles - but it has lots). The front seat post, rear stem, and front hub are the only original components other than the frame and fork (and the latter two had to be repaired after a steerer tube failure).

Don't see much need for stockpiling parts. They wear out rather slowly and other than wear items the failures aren't that predictable. My current bikes have rear cog sets with 5, 6, 7, and 8 cogs and I have no problem finding new replacement freewheels and cassettes.

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Old 03-04-15, 11:12 PM
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I wish I woulda gotten more 8sp XT cassettes when they went on closeout for $30. Wish I woulda gotten more Sram Attack 8sp shifters while they were still around.

But keeping an eye on the coop bins down in Portland oughtta keep me going.

Don't think I'll ever give up my Mongoose frame. It's just too perfect, and it's coming up on its 20th birthday.
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Old 03-04-15, 11:18 PM
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I like to keep my bikes...Frame is the main bone, so if it's not damaged, there is no need to replace the whole bike. My daily rider is just 5 years old, my winter bike is year older... I replaced everything already but the frame on both bikes. To be more exact, I replaced wheelsets and drivetrain several times already, and I still love these bikes. They literary get better with age

Unless I change the type of riding, there will be no need for a new bike. I'm "too old" to buy a new bike just to keep up with Joneses.
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Old 03-04-15, 11:49 PM
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1. Bicycles last for decades! I ride a solid 2K a year and certainly get more than 5K out of a bicycle. I can't however report how many miles I get out of a bike... as I have not worn-out one yet.

2. Latest greatest (of just about everything)... always carries the highest price tag. Entry level or mid-grade, or lesser name bicycles are probably a better value. As bicycles are a mature technology.

Originally Posted by practical View Post
.............. you will find the bike you have less satisfying - you'll graduate up to a new level.
3. I've had friends that felt "less satisfied" about their wife's. And I guess some feel that way about their homes, cars... and so on. That could just be a personal thing.

I think often times when someone "gets into" cycling.... there is a learning curve. They may find a fit or style of bicycle they like more, or wish to add to their cycling enjoyment. And also with experience a cyclist may decide to try road cycling, or sport cycling. Tastes and desires do mature and change over time.

But I've never really heard a cyclist say anything about having a dis-satisfying cycling experience. Bicycling is a hoot! Some of us find our own special niche in cycling [that] we enjoy most (like racing or touring).... and after all.... there are only so many hours in a day, and days in a week.

I have more than a couple bikes. But I have nether worn-out or become dis-satisfied with any of my bikes. I have just found "other bikes" that I would also like to enjoy. And since bicycles don't take up much space. Why shouldn't I enjoy my hobby.

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Old 03-05-15, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by practical View Post
1. If you think in terms of miles, I figure a bike lasts about 5,000 miles before too many parts and components need to be replaced. If you bike a 1,000 miles a year, figure five years. If you bike twice that, then maybe three years.
As the others have pointed out, your 5K miles figure is likely quite low. I replace my chain, cassette, tires, brake pads, and bar tape (if applicable) regularly, but the other components generally just need cleaning and maintenance well past 5K miles.

3. As your fitness and skill levels increase, you will find the bike you have less satisfying - you'll graduate up to a new level. Hard to determine a rate that this happens.
I think this will depend on each person. If you start off with a decent bike that you can "grow" with, I doubt you'd want to upgrade any time soon. Now, if you start off with a low-end hybrid (for example) and quickly find out that you'd be better off on a road bike due to your riding habits/style, you'll probably want to upgrade.

Conclusion: A person who bikes most days during the six months of bike season, will need (want) a new bike in three to five years. (Obviously, if you bike in the winter, that bike will be trash by the end of the season.)
As a person who doesn't believe there is such a thing as a "bike season" and a person who lives in a place with fairly harsh winters, I don't agree with the 3-5 year figure nor the assertion that a bike used in the winter will only last one winter. I use my hybrid in the snow in the winter and the rain in the summer, and I've been using it that way for three years now. So far, I've replaced the same wear and tear parts listed above (plus one shifter cable and a BB), but the bike is otherwise stock component wise. With proper maintenance, even a bike used in the snow and the rain can last for many, many years. The components on my current road bike are MUCH older than the components on my hybrid (25+ years old), and they're still performing very well.

Some folks might want to upgrade or get a new bike every few years, just like some people get a new car often. Others, like myself, are pretty content with what we have.
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Old 03-05-15, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I'm not sure if I would encourage too big of a stockpile.

Chainrings can last a very long time. I've gotten 30 years of hard use out of my chainrings... I did replace the inner chainring because I had managed to wear the teeth asymmetrically (should have rotated it), and I wanted to drop from 42T to 41T. The outer one looks worn, but still has some life in it.

I am finding NOS 144 BCD chainrings for cheaper now than I would have paid 20 or 30 years ago, or perhaps no more than the previous cost.

I'm not sure about bottom brackets. Perhaps it depends on which one has. Again NOS parts are available, but cartridge bearings might not be a bad idea, at least for some of the bikes. However, certain types such as old style octalinks are being discontinued in certain sizes.

Cassettes? Maybe. Shimano has a push-down marketing, so they may no longer sell 9s Dura Ace, but it is available with other models. However, lots of slightly used cassettes are available at pennies on the dollar. And, when they're gone, perhaps it is time for an upgrade.

A lot of freewheels are available, although not a lot of companies are making them. However, since they are still being put on new bikes, those companies that do make freewheels may continue to keep market share.
My oldest bike is only 20 years old so I dont know about 30 years, but its on its third set of chainrings. Except the stainless steel granny - Ive had that chainring since 1990. This is on a MTB with smaller rings so YMMV. As long as you dont have an orphan BCD, modern replacements are available. However, nothing shifts like m900 XTR rings on a 110BCD - and those are now very rare. The modern CX 46t is a fine replacement, however

Bottom brackets, yeah I meant Shimano. A quality hollow-axle square-taper BB now does not exist. A 107mm wide XTR - impossible to source. There are other brands, but a BBUN72 back in the day cost about $30.

Cassettes - modern 7 and 8sp exist, but not in a spidered light version. Its hard to ditch a nice 7sp spidered XT cassette and put an all stamped steel in its place.

Youre right about buying used, lots of 20+ year old barely used bikes around to cannibalize for parts
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Old 03-05-15, 08:29 AM
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If you are talking about premium product and lifetime ownership, it's not a bike as a single object so much as it's a process of replacement, like George Washington's axe, which has had three new handles and two new heads.

As a financial decision about the bike as a single appliance or toy, it's easy to see that a bike can become worthless when it would take more money to fix it up than it would to buy a better one. This however is cruel math. It's also sort of fake math, as the cost to fix something up includes all the markups for parts that were bought wholesale by the company building the replacement, and your precious free time at whatever rate you think it's worth vs. the 3rd world wages and assembly line efficiency of the factory assembling the replacement.
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Old 03-05-15, 08:50 AM
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Strange premise for a thread. We just completely overhauled my wife's old 1978 Peugeot Touring bike. Could we have purchased an entry level hybrid for the money we spent? Maybe if we found one on clearance.

I have a friend who is agonizing over whether to replace his 1975 Panasonic. He put a little money into it last year and it is more than rideable.
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Old 03-05-15, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by practical View Post
Conclusion: A person who bikes most days during the six months of bike season, will need (want) a new bike in three to five years. (Obviously, if you bike in the winter, that bike will be trash by the end of the season.)
Although my routes have changed now, for the last 4 years I commuted on a bike 40 years old; OEM except for tires, rims and saddle. I have other bikes for sure, but that's my 'hobby'. My primary rec rides are over 20 years old, and my $3300 CF vunder-bike hangs in the garage unused. I don't think your theory works for retro-grouches.
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Old 03-05-15, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Strange premise for a thread. We just completely overhauled my wife's old 1978 Peugeot Touring bike. Could we have purchased an entry level hybrid for the money we spent? Maybe if we found one on clearance.

I have a friend who is agonizing over whether to replace his 1975 Panasonic. He put a little money into it last year and it is more than rideable.
About sums it up!
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Old 03-05-15, 09:58 AM
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In my opinion, a bike has a near infinite life-span given proper care. Yes, consumables will need replacing (tires, brake pads, wheels, cassettes, chains, cables) and components will need periodic rebuilding to maintain the performance and integrity of the components. These rebuilds are also integral to preventing frame damage due to grit and grime that can build up, promote damage and wear in places that can't afford the damage and wear.

Properly welded steel frames ( e.g., not $99 Huffy's with clamps on the rear dropouts ) should last pretty much forever given decent care. Metal fatigue is real, but properly cared for, your average sized rider isn't likely to produce enough stress on a regular basis to fatigue a good frame.

Aluminum frames always got a bad rap as being 'tin cans' ( any one else chuckle at Chevy using this samecrap in advertising against the Ford 150 this year? ). However, properly cared for, and even slightly abused, they can easily go 20+ years. My '91 Cannondale is still going strong, and it is still using it's original cranks and brakes, though the chainrings, cassettes, chains and pads have all been replaced many times.

Carbon frames? often they get some of the same crap that aluminum did. Yeah, they are more fragile in some ways, but if you aren't abusing them, I think they too will hold up as long as you could reasonably ask them too given a little love, and mitigatiing the frame damaging abuse that some people seem incapable of avoiding.

I should point out that I own bikes of all three of these materials, though the steel frame Bianchi isn't listed mostly because it is currently torn down and being rebuilt.
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Old 03-05-15, 10:46 AM
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I bought a Lotus Excelle in the 1980s. It was a mid-level bike for the time and cost over $400 which was an incredible amount for me at the time. I rode the heck out of it but when my kids came along, it stayed in the garage for 12-15 years. I took it out and started riding again but then bought a higher-level version of the bike from the same era at a yard sale. Much better. Got rid of the Lotus. Then I bought a Giant Escape 1 last summer. Got rid of the other bike too. I'm a real frugal (cheap) Vermonter who normally lives by the motto, "Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without." Yes, bikes can and do last decades, but...
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Old 03-05-15, 11:11 AM
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More often than not, it is a question of want rather than need.
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Old 03-05-15, 11:16 AM
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I disagree with your $100 downward trickle theory. The features often show up at lower price points, but the quality of the more expensive stuff is still superior, generally leading to longer service life.

For instance, twenty years ago there was a 7 speed group called RX100, and it was approximately in the Shimano lineup where Tiagra is now. Tiagra is now 10 speed, but the construction of the moving parts is the same as RX100. Ultegra was 8 speed around the same time, but was built with higher quality than RX100 and is still superior in many ways to 10 speed Tiagra.

Or

1994 XTR was an 8 speed set, but is much higher quality than current 9 speed Alivio.

Don't be fooled by features - the better stuff really is 'better'
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Old 03-05-15, 11:55 AM
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1999ish rx100 7-sp stuff is pretty hearty. WAY better than Sora stuff that came after it. Rx100 had more metal and less plastic in the brifters and no thumb button.
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Old 03-05-15, 06:01 PM
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It's as long as bike is in one piece, and you willing to keep it .
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Old 03-06-15, 12:13 AM
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Our newest bike is 1994 Trek T50 tandem, my oldest is a 1976 Nishiki International. Currently, my main commuter is a 1992 Schwinn Paramount Design Group Series 70, my back up is a 1982 Schwinn World Tourist.
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