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MKBF - or how long will it last

Old 04-19-16, 12:14 PM
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MKBF - or how long will it last

[Updated 2016-04-20 -- If you want to contribute data, please post below or PM me]

Having some free time on my hands these days, I pore through a couple of touring maintenance/travel logs and books, compiling the list of broken components and consumed consumables. The sample is very limited and largely made out of adventurers, which may have a meaningful impact on the Mean Kilometres Between Failures (MKBF). However imperfect, I have found the exercise to be very useful in planning our summer on the flats.

Sources

Philtrons pedal south (a gem) Thanks @mm718 for this link and the next.
Tyson Schimschal (interesting comparison between tires)
Ben Rowlands (data on major components)
Jeff Kruys (invaluable data on tires and rims)
Adam Dodge
Rob Lilwall : Cycling Home from Siberia (His book is the reason why I dug for data on failures)
Tom Bruce : Every Inch of the Way (not much quantitatively, but precious data on flats)

(I still have other sources to look at, but would post now rather than never, hoping that some of you guys can add quantified stuff. I'll update the table as needed)

MKBF

Listed in increasing order of the number of kilometres a part lasts, on average, with the number of instances in parentheses. For example, on average, tourers report 1 flat per 604 kms, a figure based on 245 flats total.
Part........................MKBF (obs)
flat.........................604 (245)
cleat screw................5,096 (2)
handlebar tape.............5,871 (3)
chain......................5,979 (34)
tire.......................7,628 (24)
brake pads.................8,349 (8)
chainring.................10,163 (29)
cleat.....................10,779 (1)
shifter cable.............13,613 (7)
cassette..................14,501 (8)
pannier screw.............15,491 (2)
brake cables..............15,607 (2)
tube......................18,200 (1)
Shifter lever.............19,872 (3)
rim.......................20,037 (11)
spoke.....................20,060 (1)
bottle cage...............24,620 (1)
bottom bracket............26,281 (1)
crankset..................27,143 (3)
shifter cable housing.....34,280 (2)

Tires matter

Averages can be misleading. For instance, while tires were replaced every 5 000 miles on average, one ("generic") has been discarded after 500 miles, whereas another (Marathon Plus) lasted more than 15 000 miles. There are four Marathon Plus in the sample, and they average more than 13 000 miles (21 000 kms).

The distribution of flats is even more extreme, with a minimum of 5 miles and a maximum close to 7 000 miles (not a typo).

For me, this is probably the most important finding. When I equipped my rig, there were so many things to consider at once that I was overwhelmed and purchased Marathon Supreme, probably based on the stupid assumption that Supreme had to be somewhat better than Plus, and that on Schwalbe's site, the Supreme is rated as a better roller.

Now I want to learn about tires.

Last edited by gauvins; 04-20-16 at 08:40 PM.
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Old 04-19-16, 01:41 PM
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prathmann
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Flat tires happen often enough to get decent statistics - but even there the results vary considerably by region (I get far more flats when living in areas with thorny plants and goatheads). But I suspect many of the other figures are over emphasizing the chance of failures since only those who had a failure are reporting. I've only had one chainring wear out and that was with over 150,000 km. And rims have usually lasted about 100,000 km.
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Old 04-19-16, 01:45 PM
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I have averaged a Flat every 384 miles.
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Old 04-19-16, 01:48 PM
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You might want to have a look at Jeff K's last trip data. Lots of good stuff there:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=81957&v=2Ou
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Old 04-19-16, 01:54 PM
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Twice I have observed a missing rack bolt that had fallen out. Once on my friends bike on the GAP/C&O, he is an ultra light fanatic and I had to loan him a bolt. The other time was on a bike in a campsite I was in last summer, a biker we met had lost a rack bolt and had not even noticed it was missing.

On my errand bike which I store outside year around, I have gone through two pairs of cheapo pedals, not good quality ones but cheap ones. I would expect some pedal bearing problems on occasion on a touring bike.

When you say cranks, is that bottom bracket? One group tour I was on had two mechanical failures other than flats. Total of 16 riders, I think about 400 miles in distance. One failure was a broken spring or spring stop on front derailleur, but I managed to do a temporary fix with some bunge cord to keep it sort of functional. The other failure was an external bottom bracket, on that I could not do anything, the owner had one express shipped to a bike shop that was later on our route.

I have read of rack breakage, but I have not had any personal experience with that. If you are getting your data from sources where they had high quality bikes, maybe that is why you did not see any rack breakages.

I have never seen a seatpost binder bolt failure, but I have heard that it is a very good way to really have a bad day until you can replace it. On my bikes, the stem cap bolt will work as a substitute, but that is not true on all bikes. On another forum within the past month someone had the bolt on top of the seatpost fail. That was the bolt that held the saddle clamps to the rails. And, a gal I used to work with had a saddle rail break last year on her commute to work one day.

I would not try to quantify rates on these additional mechanicals, I am just citing a couple other items that can go wrong.

Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 04-19-16 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 04-19-16, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
Flat tires happen often enough to get decent statistics - but even there the results vary considerably by region (I get far more flats when living in areas with thorny plants and goatheads). But I suspect many of the other figures are over emphasizing the chance of failures since only those who had a failure are reporting. I've only had one chainring wear out and that was with over 150,000 km. And rims have usually lasted about 100,000 km.
Consistent with what I've found elsewhere -- most parts last a long long time.

I haven't digested the info yet. I would think that the 1 paragraph summary might look like : Bring lots of patches. If you start with new of close to new parts, don't worry too much about components wear. As you approach the 5 000 kms mark, brake pads, tires and chain are increasingly likely to have to be replaced.

I insist on the "might" because there is evidence of significant differences in components' durability.
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Old 04-19-16, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
I have averaged a Flat every 384 miles.
Will add to the data. This average is based on how many flats? (sorry if this sounds like nitpicking)
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Old 04-19-16, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by LlamaBikes View Post
You might want to have a look at Jeff K's last trip data. Lots of good stuff there:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=81957&v=2Ou
Fantastic! Will add.

This is another excellent example of the differences in quality that can be found in tires. (and rims...).

Thanks again for the link
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Old 04-19-16, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Twice I have observed a missing rack bolt that had fallen out.
Seems pretty frequent. I've changed all non standard fasteners on my bike (didn't like the idea of carrying TorX bits for the Tubus racks) and keep Hex screws in all of the otherwise unused bosses. A lost screw on the road is a very good way to appreciate the origins of the expression "you are screwed" .

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
When you say cranks, is that bottom bracket?
More of a catch all. From what I understand, people on tour replace the ring when they can, and the whole assembly otherwise. No detail on whether it is motivated by the fact that a crank is no more expensive than 2 new rings, or that rings are unavailable in Lhasa, or that the BB is dead and replacement was not compatible...
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Old 04-19-16, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
When you say cranks, is that bottom bracket?
Back in the days before Shimano developed beefy mountain/touring cranks, a broken crank was indeed a regular experience for me. I've broken 3 Campagnolo Nuovo Record road cranks and one TA Cylotouriste crank. Each snapped at the weak point adjacent to pedal hole. Every occurrence was at an inconvenient locale on tour. One break was on a trip in Michigan when I was 18. Had to hitch hike from Saginaw to find a replacement. Gave new meaning to the Simon and Garfunkel lyrics!
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Old 04-19-16, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
...I've changed all non standard fasteners on my bike (didn't like the idea of carrying TorX bits for the Tubus racks) and keep Hex screws in all of the otherwise unused bosses. A lost screw on the road is a very good way to appreciate the origins of the expression "you are screwed" .
...
I agree on the preference for non-Torx. But on my Rohloff bike, I have not replaced those Torx bolts. Unfortunately those are T20 and most multi-tools that have a Torx bit have a T25. So, I carry a T20 wrench that I bought at the hardware store.

Is one of your spare bolts a cleat bolt? One of mine is.

Originally Posted by BobG View Post
...I've broken 3 Campagnolo Nuovo Record road cranks and ...
Great. And I use Campy road cranks on several of my bikes including my derailleur touring bike. Now I have one more thing to worry about.
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Old 04-19-16, 02:26 PM
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Part...............MKBF

flat tire............604 (245)
cleat screw........5,096 (2)
handlebar tape.....5,871 (3)
chain..............7,259 (14)
tire...............8,282 (4)
brake pads.........8,349 (8)
cleat.............10,779 (1)
cassette........ .13,238 (2)
chainrings....... 13,238 (2)
pannier screw.....15,491 (2)
brake cables..... 15,607 (2)
shifter cable.....17,680 (2)
tube..............18,200 (1)
spoke.............20,060 (1)
bottle cage.......24,620 (1)
cranks............27,143 (3)
rim...............30,761 (3)


this is really great anecdotal anecdotes, but where's the useful information?
notes derived from a collection of travelogs? 2 pannier screws were mentioned
in the blogs.........great! useless "info" as i suspect most blogwriters wouldn't
bother to mention it. everybody includes their flats, cause everybody else does.
it's expected, and getting flats makes you look like normal people, i suppose.

c'mon. flat tires? they happens. is random unless the road hazard fairies keep
a close watch on all bike tourists, sorta like santa claus making a list and
checking it twice. take a couple spares and some patches. you're covered.

brake pads? can last a million miles if you never slow down. or could wear
out in a couple weeks in the alps. carry a set that'll fit all your bikes if
you're worried.

bottle cages? handlebar tape fails? pretty low on the list of worries. a couple
line items below "bike frame damaged by meteorite impact."

i'm assuming you're using this to prepare for your family trip across europe?
get your bikes a complete maintenance overhaul before the trip and 97.5622%
of these problems won't occur.

you're planning a fairly short tour. you won't wear out a cassette or a rim or
a bottle cage or a chain or a crank or a bottom bracket or a cable, probably
not a set of tires neither.

just carry the basic spares, hopefully most of your bikes have common parts.
spokes, tubes and patches, one derailler cable, one brake cable, chain quickie
links, a folding spare tire, miscellaneous bolts.
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Old 04-19-16, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post

Is one of your spare bolts a cleat bolt? One of mine is.
Good thinking.

I don't know what to think wrt trekking shoes. Will first ride SFO-LAX and then make my mind on whether it is worth spending more money for shoes that are not likely to be comfortable in town or in camp. Maybe if I get the impression that they'll make up for the 6W+ lost to the dynamo, I'll splurge and carry a spare

(I'll also take a close look at the extrawheel and followme that use all sorts of hardware...)
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Old 04-19-16, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
i'm assuming you're using this to prepare for your family trip across europe?
If our summer project were to sail across an ocean, I wouldn't have looked at the failure rate of bike components. So you are right, in a way.

But more importantly, I am the kind of person who digs up data and looks at numbers the way archeologists search for artefacts of ancient societies. (During a conversation, a couple of years ago, someone mentioned mapping music. I've spent countless hours, and still am, gathering data. And can tell you that the most viewed video clip of a live performance is from Adele. The second is from PSY, and the third from Led Zeppelin (!).

Or looking at it differently, this trip has provided us with the motivation to learn or to say "Ice cream, please" in several languages. Not that we were worried about not finding how.
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Old 04-19-16, 03:03 PM
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Here are a couple more. The first is better than the second but thought I'd include both. Also, you mentioned The Philtrons South did you look at their "North" blog as well?

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=254148&v=1Z
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=343045&v=2A
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Old 04-19-16, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718 View Post
you mentioned The Philtrons South did you look at their "North" blog as well?
nope, was unaware. (some people have all the luck in the world, don't they?) Will take a look. Thanks for your other links. Will get back to you in case I can't find "North"
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