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When was your last failure?

Old 04-15-16, 07:47 PM
  #1  
gauvins
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When was your last failure?

I was struck by a statistics in Rob Lilwall's Cycling Home from Siberia : 157 flat tires. Over 35 000 miles. Works out to roughly one flat tire per 220 miles (!).

I hadn't paid much attention to mechanical failures in his narrative, but other than rebuilding a wheel and being witness to repairing the internal gear hub of his friend, Alastair Humphreys... I have no recollection of other problems.

I've Googled to try to get data about components failure rate. I did come across one methodical analysis where the data was applied to commuters, and here again, if I remember correctly, flat tires were essentially the only failures worth mentioning, spokes and chains being distant second while everything else fell into the "rare" category.

The author, however, lamented the fact that there is essentially no data on bicycle components wear or failure rate. Maybe we can do something about that?

Could you please post below what was your most recent experience with mechanical failure? Ideally adding the following details :

1. a summary description of the component (ex. type / brand / model)
2. was it sudden (ex. flat tire) or progressive (ex. worn brake pads)
3. did it happen while touring (meaning a trip with at least one night away from home) , commuting, or riding leisurely on a beautiful Sunday afternoon?
4. can you provide an estimate of the effective life of the component, expressed in distance and time if possible (ex. my chain failed suddenly ; it was X years old and used over Y kilometers (or miles)) .

OR

Thinking about your last tour, can you tell us about the mechanical problems that confronted you? For example

1. summarily describe your tour ( 150 miles on smooth surface over 3 days or 5000 miles of wet gravel trails over 6 months?)
2. list the failures that you can remember:
2.1 which component including, if possible, brand and model
2.2 was it sudden or progressive
2.3 an estimate of the effective life of the component

I'll tabulate the results and post a summary if the number of reported incidents justifies it.

(BTW - back into cycling after a long hiatus. 1500kms since last November and not a single failure so far)
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Old 04-15-16, 09:17 PM
  #2  
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Four flats in four days in the Florida Keys last winter. Small pieces of wire that would make a pinhole in the tube each time from truck tire belts. Perhaps some sealant would have helped, but fixing flats is not that difficult. Didn't even need to remove the wheel after the first time since I knew exactly what to look for.
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Old 04-15-16, 09:23 PM
  #3  
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You're going about in an impractical way. Not counting flats, bike parts have staggering life expectancies, and failures are more by way of random events rather than parts of a normal wear/age failure pattern.

As a rule road chains never broke before the advent of Hyperglide, and after that rarely that most road eiders could ride a lifetime without breaking one. Spoke breakage might be the most likely non tire failure, but even then a decently built wheel will last until crashed.

Te other item prone to failure is gear wires, but we're still talking about many thousands of miles.
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Old 04-16-16, 06:17 AM
  #4  
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My touring/commuting bike has many tens of thousands of miles on it, but still has the original shifters, derailleurs, and crank arms. Everything else has worn out at least once, but the only failures I've had on the road were a pedal, a rear derailleur cable and a broken front spoke. (Not counting airline damage.) Total repair cost was less than $30 and I always kept moving to a bike shop. I'm keeping that bike until the RSX brifters fail. I'm shopping now for a new wheelset, for the second time in twenty years.
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Old 04-16-16, 06:36 AM
  #5  
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The first two links below are a maintenance log for two bikes from a couple touring the Americas. The third link is a maintenance log for a 15k mile tour of Europe, Asia, and the U.S.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=390764&v=7y
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=402598&v=GX
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=390775&v=Hq
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Old 04-16-16, 07:49 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by mm718 View Post
The first two links below are a maintenance log for two bikes from a couple touring the Americas. The third link is a maintenance log for a 15k mile tour of Europe, Asia, and the U.S.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=390764&v=7y
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=402598&v=GX
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=390775&v=Hq
Fantastic source. How did you find those logs?
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Old 04-16-16, 09:31 AM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Fantastic source. How did you find those logs?
I just remembered them from my Crazyguy journal reading. If I remember any others I'll post them.
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Old 04-16-16, 10:31 AM
  #8  
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maybe it will get combined .. https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/10...l#post18695179

a few years ago, Riding Home, I was sick - couldn't make it to my own bathroom,
& had to take a dump by the roadside .

It was heavily raining that night, so It washed away before Morning..

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Old 04-16-16, 01:52 PM
  #9  
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Just one failure in 4 tours covering over 10K miles and was totally avoidable. Riding down a bike path that suddenly ended and came off the curb. Broke the back axle and blew the tire (my only flat in those 10K miles as well). Weight of the panniers slamming down was the main cause I believe. Was given a ride to an LBS who replaced the axle. Turned out to be the wrong one and the next day the new one snapped. Another ride to a different LBS. Found out the rim was destroyed based on what the previous LBS had done. The second LBS replaced my rim for free and only charged for the axle. Will never go back to the first LBS again needless to say!
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Old 04-16-16, 02:24 PM
  #10  
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I did 4178 miles going most of the way up Vietnam and 900 miles thru Guangxi. Half in the big cities. 40 miles was total quagmire in China. 400 miles of off and on road construction.
NO flats on my 35mm Marathon Plus tires, only 2 in four years. I broke my pen gauge at about 1000 miles. Had no idea of pressure the rest of the way.
My SA dyno DRUM brake now has 18,000 miles on partly worn pads, the cam is wearing a groove. The elec side bearing went at 17,000 miles after I got home. Rim brakes are laughable for muddy expedition use, even if the mud is just on top of pavement.

My wimpy, but supposedly strong fork, broke 3 times. It was very wobbly from the start. Brazed twice and welded once, all 3 were near the workshops. 120 lb bike and drum brake were the main factors. I was thinking of wrapping it in CF from the start.
Only other failure was chain wear, NEED A chaincase !!! Cube bikes actually now come with one on their derailler tourers.

My tranny is a FLAWLESS Rohloff14. A disc brake with it is the way to go. Deraillers to me are 100% STUPID.

I now have a R+E tandem fork, with a 3" CF wrap where the clamp is. Haven't loaded it yet.

My perfectly shaped swept handle bars are from my 1974 Raleigh. The vinyl grips are like new. Need Bar tape ??? LOL
Not one callus the whole trip. I fell/ tipped over 5 times. Got bumped 3 times. My glasses frame got bent.

PS: Never broken spokes or wobbles from my Dyad rims using nylock nipples. Nothing better IMO.

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 04-18-16 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 04-16-16, 06:36 PM
  #11  
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Let's see a brand new bike when I started my trip last year.

2 new rear wheels during the 8400 mile trip, okay the second one was basically a day after I got back from the trip but it was solidly on its way out hence why I riding into the bike shop when it finished off. Broke 3 spokes on the original rim before a spoke finally pulled through the rim.

Countless flat tires last year, quite often 2 a day. Generally glass or truck tire wire. Only had one front flat tire and that was after dropping into a water filled pothole, all other flats were on the rear. Some even a day after replacing the tire. Just so much crap on the road last summer it was incredible. In the past years I've had only a couple of flats even on the 5700 mile trip in 2015. I know Kurt Searvogel had countless flats last summer on his 76000 mile ride and the guys I ride up here in NH with were also talking about never remembering have such bad luck with getting flat tires as last year.

Given the length of my trips I count chain wear to be expected. One chain replaced during the trip and the other one replaced immediately after getting back.

I have ridden the bike 2-3000 miles since I got back and the bottom bracket needs replaced before this summers trip. Actually it sounds like both of my bikes have BB that need replaced. I have to check on the former touring bike and make sure the noise isn't coming from the chainring bolts that I can't seem to get to fully tighten down so they down want to spin on me when I try to tighten them down...just can't seem to get them to tighten up all the way.

Did change out the brake pads after I got back as they had worn down to nothing.

Had the rack mounting insert on the bike, where the bolt from the rack goes in to hold the rack to the bike, fail on me 2000 miles into the trip. I had to puppy it along the rest of the trip. The whole design is stupider than crap. Specialized needs to learn how to mount a rack to bicycle.

Can't think of anything else right now. Hopefully this year will go much better than last year went. This year may be an even longer trip than last year.
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Old 04-16-16, 07:02 PM
  #12  
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Lots of sheer wear-and-tear replacements.

Rims, bottom brackets, chains, middle chain rings, cranks. As my lbs says, "You go though parts faster than any other person who shops here." I eat through normal BB's about every three years except for my boutique skf.

As for catastopic, no indication of imminent failure given... Hmmm... Two 7+ y/o derailleur cables. 8 y/o heavily used campy mirage hub started to act semi fixie. I had to undo the chain for large decents until I replaced the wheel. My c-dale cracked at the classic frame to dropout interface after 10 years. Took me 500 miles to find the squeek.
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Old 04-17-16, 02:32 PM
  #13  
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Over a tour of ~12000 miles that included ~1000 miles of Texas (paved), ~8000 miles of Eurasia (~1000 miles gravel the rest paved), ~2500 miles of China and ~500 miles of Thailand:
- replaced both front end rear rims once
- replaced both front end rear hubs once
- three tires replace due to wear
- four brake pads replaced due to wear
- two chains and two rear cassettes replaced due to wear
- front rack broken a few times (brackets) and rear rack replaced after tour
- started with fenders and ditched them part way along
Didn't count the number of flat tires other than the Eurasia portion was surprised to only have one flat.

Since then, some more memorable failures and updates for that bike:
- broke a rear hub last December (started freewheeling both ways)
- recently updated the bike above including (a) new wheels (b) new drive train: bottom bracket, derailleur, cassette, chain, front chain ring (c) updated rear brake (d) replaced cables and rim tape.
- pedals are giving signs it will be useful to replace before they seize up
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Old 04-17-16, 08:57 PM
  #14  
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My last failure was giving a lengthy discussion on the other thread under the same title which the moderators apparently deleted instead of combining threads.
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Old 04-17-16, 09:28 PM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
My last failure was giving a lengthy discussion on the other thread under the same title which the moderators apparently deleted instead of combining threads.
can you maybe repost the essence?
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Old 04-17-16, 09:47 PM
  #16  
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For me most unpredictable part is the bottom bracket. Phil Wood didn't fail & a Campy only wore out after a long time. Often, it seems, BB's can go bad rather quickly even if they're pricier models.
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Old 04-17-16, 11:02 PM
  #17  
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My last failure which cut short a tour was a damn crank arm bolt that unexpectedly backed out and I didn't realize it until I heard my chain rubbing my front derailleur in an unfamiliar fashion. Now normally I swear those bolts are "self tightening" in that when you go to remove your cranks, you better down a can of spinach beforehand because they're always tough to remove.

Well I was fortunate enough to have recently passed a home out in the country which had several old junk bikes in the front yard all strewn about and so I was able to catch a ride back to this place and the nice fellow let me pull any parts that I needed. Unbelievably I found a crank arm bolt that the threads matched my Sugino crank, and though it was slightly too long so I could never really get it to seat completely, it allowed me to get back with frequent stops and retightening. The guy didn't want any money for the bolt but when I got home, I bought a couple new Sugino crank arm bolts and sent his old bolt back to him with $20 and told him thanks for saving my butt.
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Old 04-18-16, 12:37 AM
  #18  
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I put my chain on backwards. No really!
You know how it is. I watched the expanded cassettes on the internet all winter. 10 speed, 11 speed, etc. Then one day they were in stock. I called, they mailed, my box arrived. Xt 11 speed 11-42, xtr chain, longer b screw, quick link, Couple of things I needed.
Somebody on this forum said my power thumb shifters would not work with 11 speed. Guy at the bike shop said my 9 speed long cage xt derailleur would not work with 11 speeds. I did not listen to him, or you. I put the chain and cassette on. Not wanting to be litterbug, I put the empty package in my backpack and cruised down the road. Testing the larger cogs, I heard strange noises. Unaable to find the problem, I took a bus, a BUS. I figured it out as I was throwing the trash away. On the chain package is a picture of the correct and wrong way to put the chain on. The logo goes out, not in. Chains are directional now. Smooth rolling now with the logo out!

Suntour power thumb shifters are the best. They work with 6, 7, 8, 9, and 11 speed cogs, and Shimano derailluers. They last last much longer than the other shifters. I never tried a 10 speed cog with them.

9 speed xt derailluer can accept 7, 8, 9, and 11 speed chains. Never tried the 10 speed chain. Quick link will not work with the 7 speed chain. It makes a click noise every time it passes through the cage. With pin, it can pass through there.

My crankset, you will never guess. 10 speed. The xtr 985 28 40 was, are on sale for half off. I pushed up some hills with that 34 tooth 9 speed cassette. Not now, not with with the 42. I will try a 7 speed chain on it one day, just to find out.

I have been working on a touring bike for 3 world countries, one that can take whatever parts are for sale. Think I am getting closer. Should I have canti studs welded on the frame?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZVcRGB1KdQ
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Old 04-18-16, 01:28 AM
  #19  
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It seems like the most common complaints since I started here '04ish are rims, rack bolts, and frames. Frames seem to break rather commonly, either catastrophic breaks from dropping into holes in the road, or parts like hangers, or BOs for racks.

Seems as though rider/load weight, conditions, and component types would be so variable the info would be meaningless.

I think it is pretty easy to build a bike that is bombish proof without going too crazy in price or weight penalty, but it isn't something people seem to care about as much as they once did. General high quality of gear these days has lessened the concern.
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Old 04-19-16, 12:50 PM
  #20  
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Yikes, so much info. Yes, bike parts wear out. Some sooner then later but are usually very long lasting. I replace when needed. I'm not an engineer or that OCD. Some of my bikes don't even have a bike computer on them. ( My home to work distance hasn't changed) So, I guess really not that helpful here. Do people really log miles of parts used? I like to do regular maintenance, lube regularly and use good quality parts.
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Old 04-19-16, 01:06 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Yikes, so much info. [...] I'm not an engineer or that OCD.
I am not an engineer. Was never treated for OCD either (which may not mean that much...

But, yes, I feel that saying "chains are changed every 5 000 miles on average" is simple to understand and probably more useful than "you should change your chain when it has stretched 1/16 of an inch per foot." The first statement shapes expectations while the second, maybe more important, gives little guidance -- if chains were expected to last 1 million miles, elongation wouldn't matter at all.

Stated differently, I read many posts saying that disc brakes save your rims. Looking at logs, rims appear to last a very long time, and to fail for reasons that have little to do with brake-induced wear. Or even more provocative? I read much praise about Rohloff IGH. The usual argument being that they are "bombproof". Yet in the (extremely small) sample of logs that I've looked at, there is not a single mention of derailleur failure. Only adjustments.

In the end, you have a perfectly proper attitude -- components outlast the vast majority of tourers, or so it seems.

hmm... I'd still be tempted to ask you how often do you have a flat? Once a week? Once a month? Once a year?

Last edited by gauvins; 04-19-16 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 04-19-16, 01:26 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
My last failure was giving a lengthy discussion on the other thread under the same title which the moderators apparently deleted instead of combining threads.
Ha, I thought the same thing, tis a shame they didn't copy and paste the answers
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Old 04-19-16, 03:46 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Stated differently, I read many posts saying that disc brakes save your rims. Looking at logs, rims appear to last a very long time, and to fail for reasons that have little to do with brake-induced wear.
....
hmm... I'd still be tempted to ask you how often do you have a flat? Once a week? Once a month? Once a year?
I once pretzeled a wheel on a tour when it fell into a gap on a bridge in Australia where the wooden road surface had rotted away. I had to hitchhike to a bike shop to buy a new wheel.

I few years ago, I wore out my 20" rear rim on my Bike Friday due to brake-induced wear. I figure I had ridden at least 30,000 miles on the rim by that time. It didn't wear out on a tour. I'm guessing that since 20" wheels obviously have a smaller circumference that most touring rims, they would wear out somewhat faster due to more frequent brake contact. On the plus side, 20" wheels tend to stay remarkably true compared to larger wheels.

I honestly can't remember that last time I had a flat. It has been years. It probably helps that I don't weigh that much. I use Schwalbe Marathons tires.

Last edited by axolotl; 04-19-16 at 04:13 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 04-19-16, 07:38 PM
  #24  
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Occasionally my ham-fisted mechanical work rounds out the small allen or phillips bolt heads that some cheaper parts have. I bought some fancy German hex keys & screwdrivers to help prevent that in the future but still it would be nice if makers wouldn't cheap out by specifying marginal tiny bolt sizes. Haven't broken any rack bolts but they do seem to be a weak link as MassiveD notes. Are there a nice brand of rack bolts that are extra-strong (& perhaps don't rust)?

Anyway in re Gauvin's reliability database: I still think it's a great idea BUT the small sample from this or even from other forums might have limited value. Tourers are such a small part of the bike market; some components that are fairly well-known to tourers have very few online reviews including major sites like Amazon. But it could be a situation of "build it & they will come", eh?
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Old 04-19-16, 08:42 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Are there a nice brand of rack bolts that are extra-strong (& perhaps don't rust)?
I believe that the standard fastener on a bicycle boss is M5. I've ordered M5 stainless steel Hex socket in a variety of lengths. You can find them on eBay or from online retailers in the US as well as in some hardware stores. Stainless steel fasteners will not rust. You may want to check the size of the socket. M5 are usually driven by a 4mm Allen key but sometimes by 3mm. Very annoying to try to guess.

Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
I still think it's a great idea BUT the small sample from this or even from other forums might have limited value.
Too early to tell - - let me add some more data. For now I'll just say that despite the small size and probable bias of the sample, results show strong face validity. I'll post an updated table within the end of the week.
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