Wear & Tear

I bike pretty much everyday. And biking is great. Until it’s not. Then I have to come to terms with reality.

Wear & Tear

Yes, I biked so much I basically wore out my bike.

While I’m flattered to be stronger than metal (apparently,) repairs are always easy to put off. Biking is free, right? Nope. Because if it’s free, you’re doing it wrong.

Wear & Tear

And risking your safety! So plan to put some money into your bike if you rely on it. For under $100 you could get the basics covered: lube, chain,wheels, lights, brakes. Still cheaper than a car or subway.

But if that’s too much cash you could always fix things this way:

Wear & Tear

No, seriously, go to your local bike shop and get things squared away! It’s worth it.


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  • Carrie September 14, 2012   Reply →

    I recently was part of a charity ride and was talking a friend who was there representing his bike shop to offer repairs and maintenance to the riders. He said you would never believe the number of serious riders who don’t know the most basic things about their bikes including how much air to put in their tires. Sad when so many bike shops offer free clinics on caring for you bike and basic maintenance. But then again, car owners are much the same way.

    • Moopheus September 14, 2012  

      It’s funny you say that, but I do all the basic maintenance of my bike–I have a stand and a tool box, and generally only go to the shop for repairs I don’t have the tools/skillz for. But with my car, it doesn’t matter–anything more complicated than putting air in the tires, I go to the mechanic.

      And for those times I need a hand, my usual go-to shop is the below-mentioned Hub.

    • Ethan Fleming September 14, 2012  

      I consider myself a serious rider who is not the smartest in bike repair and maintenance. I would love to attend these free shops but I have schedual difficulties. Trust when you commute to and from work 18 miles everyday it is tough to do anything in the evening since all your body wants to do is pass out. If there is one on the weekend, I am there.
      When I very rarely use the car however I am a complete idiot, but a confessed idiot. My mechanic has told stories about my stupidity in taking care of my car and gotten lots of laughs from his friends.

  • cycler September 14, 2012   Reply →

    On that note, If you’re female and bike in the Boston area, please join the Women Who Bike Brunch group at Hub Bikes next Saturday (9/22/12) for a preventative maintenance class! Check out http://bikinginheels-cycler.blogspot.com/ for more info.

  • scott September 14, 2012   Reply →

    long, long ago i worked in a bike shop and there were a few, let’s say, ‘characters’ in town who didn’t own cars and pedaled year round on the most interesting array of old, odd, bikes. everything that could be attached to them was and periodically they’d bring them in for needed repair. bearings, completely gone, missing spokes, chainrings worn to the nub, tires to the thread….bless their hearts, these folks loved their bikes and needed them. in those days everything was repairable and reasonably cheap, plus these were amongst the nicest, most humble, of people and we gladly got them going again. as far as i know, they’re still pedaling around that town and i wouldn’t be surprised if they were on the same bikes! bikes last a long time.

  • Quincyclist September 14, 2012   Reply →

    Be good to your bike and it will be good to you! A little oil, top up tires weekly, check for loose fittings, monitor brake pad wear – that’s about it. You don’t have to be a gearhead to do most maintenance. I have been repeatedly amazed when, at a bike shop, I see someone come in to have a flat fixed. I have to bite my tongue and not tell the fellow customer that it’s ridiculously easy and he should do it himself; it is not my place to interfere with the proprietor’s trade.

    There’s a tendency to think all things will be reliable forever and when they fail, it’s prohibitively expensive to fix them. True for many new (electronic) technologies; not so for many old (mechanical) ones.

    • Françoise September 14, 2012  

      I am one of those people. And I am smart and capable and nice. But I decided a long time ago to let myself off the hook w/r/t bike maintenance. Another bike blogger said something to the effect of ‘my emergency kit is a bus pass.’ That’s the way I roll.

    • Andy M-S September 15, 2012  

      It’s amazing, all right, but you see the same thing at music stores–people coming in to have the strings on their guitar replaced or even (in one case) to have their instrument tuned!

      IOW, bike shops have to put up with a lot, so don’t forget to appreciate yours if it’s good, or to find a good one if it isn’t. And if you have a tricky job or a significant amount of work done? Don’t forget to tip your repairpern.

    • cycler September 19, 2012  

      For something that people always say is ridiculously easy, I find flat fixing very challenging. I don’t know if it’s just my hands aren’t very strong, or what, but I have snapped a ridiculous number of tire irons, and it’s always a total PITA.
      Even though I CAN fix most things on my own (I’ve built up my own bike from parts), if I don’t have time to mess around, it’s often much better to just take it somewhere to get it fixed.

    • Ed June 10, 2015  

      Its probably that your wheels are a little big. Some are made differently and are an absolute pain to fit tires to. If you get a set that are an annoyance send them to the local bike shop.

    • Ivan April 1, 2013  

      I know how to fix flats, but I don’t want to have to carry the tools and do it on the street. I have the tools both at the office and at home, so I fix it in either of those places when I get there with a flat tire. But if I get the flat in-between or at an odd place, I’d rather go to the nearest bike shop and have them fix. They do it faster than I could and the price seems reasonable to me. If there are no open bike shops nearby, I walk the bike or take transit.

      (Note that I use my bike almost exclusively for commuting to the office. If I go on a long field trip, then I _do_ take the tools with me.)

  • Coreen September 14, 2012   Reply →

    I’m a bike mechanic at the local community bike shops. Whenever someone comes in with a bike that’s been ridden into the ground it’s often difficult to not show my frustration and pass it on to the rider (because fixing bikes should be fun!) – hours and hours of repairs that wouldn’t have to happen with a little preventative maintenance. I just try to remind myself that no matter the condition, a good bike is a ridden bike.

  • Brian September 14, 2012   Reply →

    ” A little oil, top up tires weekly, check for loose fittings, monitor brake pad wear – that’s about it.”

    Mostly true — but if you ride every single day, you’ll definitely need to replace your chain at least every other year — ideally before it has worn out your rear cog(s) and definitely before it has worn out your chainring(s). Hubs, too — if you ride every day, you do need to pay attention to the play in the bearings. If the wheel’s getting wobbly, and you don’t want to buy a new one, it’s time to clean out the bearing races, maybe replace the bearings themselves, and definitely adjust the cones. Fortunately, all this stuff’s pretty easy to do.

  • Marge Evans September 15, 2012   Reply →

    I don’t do my own bike repairs. What would take me all weekend, my excellent local bike shop can do in an hour. I do have both of my rides maintained. I feel this is my way to support the local economy

  • Jean September 15, 2012   Reply →

    I’ve been been shown how to change a flat…um at least 4 times over last 20 yrs. And then watching my dearie, change tires. I’m not going to pretend: I guess I could learn to do it especially stick it back into the forks, which even my more mechanically inclined partner has to wiggle it in…

    Make no mistake: I’m so grateful I live within a 20 min. walk of 3 different bike stores that can do repairs.

    Oy….over the last 2 months at different times for different reasons I’ve had to drop at least $170.00 for bike part replacements, repairst for: a complete replacement of my V-brake (the spring broke, plus other wear), cable replacements, 1 Schwable flatless (;)) Marathon tire, 2 bike tubes.

    Still it is all cheaper than running a car for same time period..for 1,020 km. of cycling that I’ve done.

    I figured I’ve saved over $300,00.00 in today’s currency over the last 30 yrs. of living a car-free life:
    My story: http://thirdwavecyclingblog.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/30-car-free-years-cycling-pumps-money-into-my-wallet/ So bike repairs and owning/using 4 bikes over the last 21 yrs. is all good. Above all, for my health.

  • Thomas Arbs September 16, 2012   Reply →

    Running cost for maintenance. Yes, why shouldn’t there be any? No serious cyclist would ever countersign “biking is free”, rather some even spend a lot more than on cars. You say it yourself, a bike should run smoothly, you put enough effort in it already, and that requires a straight drive train, and it should stop promptly, which requires brakes. Lights come in handy, too. The rest is luxury, and still, why not have luxury?

    “Biking is free” is brother to “no car, no status”. Thanks, I rather have a bike my way, and am prepared to pay for it. (It’s still a lot cheaper!)

  • James September 16, 2012   Reply →

    As a manager of a non profit community bike shop in Providence, RI I can wholly relate with this. People always bring in cheap wal mart bikes that they have had for a very short time with problems like the crank or BB has become loose, the wheels hubs need tightening or the brakes are broken and people don’t get that crappy/cheap bikes are exactly that crappy.

  • slawek September 17, 2012   Reply →

    I know it! I just spent weekend on doing some urgent maintenance of my very, very old bike. Had been acquainted with modern bike technology I realised that my bike may be irreperable. I didn’t even buy tyre in local shop: there was no such size :-O
    It appears I should replace all accesory or ride it until it break to pieces. :-(

  • Greg September 17, 2012   Reply →

    As someone who has spent thousands of hours rebuilding and maintaining cars and motorcycles, and who now rides bicycles 90% of the time, I would like to respectfully ask the “It’s easy to do, you should repair your own bike” crowd to please drop it.
    Yes, I know it is easy for *you* to do. You like to repair bikes, and you think it’s fun.

    However, a person does need the space, time, tools, knowledge and desire to do even the simplest repairs.

    People have other things to do with their lives. They may not have your mechanical aptitude.
    Please don’t judge them for having different priorities/abilities than you.

    • cycler September 19, 2012  

      Yes, we would never judge someone for taking their car to get the oil changed professionally instead of doing it themselves, even though that’s about the simplest thing you can do (other than top off the coolant) on many vehicles.

      I’m all in favor of people being self-sufficient and learning HOW things work, mostly so that they know when something is wrong/ unsafe, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to take your bike to an expert if you don’t have the time/ inclination to do the maintenance yourself.

  • Tom September 19, 2012   Reply →

    After my ride on the state park trails, my bike suffered a rear flat. I thought about fixing it in the field, but the ride was over anyway. so I walked it about a mile to the parking lot and dropped it off at REI for a repair.

    The wheel was rubbing on the brake pad and we discovered it was out of true as well. I left it overnight and asked that they also look at my shifting problem while they had it. They called back later and said there was a broken spoke we hadn’t noticed.

    Next morning they called that it was ready. New tube, new spoke, true the wheel, adjust the brakes, fix the shifter, and they replaced a missing bolt from the rear rack.

    Total: $23.88.

    They are my go-to guys for service!

  • D. September 21, 2012   Reply →

    I remember going into my local bike shop because the gears were really *bad* on my bike. Imagine my surprise when they said that the chain was seriously worn and had taken the cassette with it… “But I’ve only had the bike, like, eight months”, I said. “How many miles have you done?”, they asked. And when you start adding it up, I realised I’d done xxxx (=”a lot”) miles in that time, up hill and down dale, as they say. I didn’t begrudge the cost of the new chain and cassette (I never change chainring anyway), because otherwise I’d have to go back in the car.

  • Di September 27, 2012   Reply →

    I used to do all my own maintenance and then bikes got so advanced, all the “fun stuff” came in non-repairable sets. All it took was great peace of mind at the start; like the “Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance.” If you’re in a hurry or frustrated, you’ll just screw it up. Plus, the only time my bike needed work was when the nearest shop was either closed or the next town away. I either fixed it, or put up my tent and fixed it later.

  • Blind Hodd October 2, 2012   Reply →

    The only bikeshop in my town is seriously incompetent. after 60 bucks to get all my problems “solved” they forgot to tighten the nut to keep my wheel on. Now I’m basically limited to whatever my knowledgeable friends know how to fix.

  • Pingback: Wear & Tear | Biking Toronto October 4, 2012   Reply →
  • Jean October 29, 2012   Reply →

    Funny, after cycling for 14 years nearly daily for 8 months per year, and having only less than 5 flats, I’ve had 5 flats in last 3 years. :( Must the road conditions.

    Bike costs at least are less than car costs in the long run.

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