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Thread: Breaking a Bike

  1. #1
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    Breaking a Bike

    Don't see a lot of discussion of this topic, but what do noobs do or not do that will "break" a bike, that is, cause failure of a major component?

    I have seen a video of a member of another forum going off a drop in a sandstone canyon, maybe a couple or three feet, but he really planted the front wheel (booo) and taco'ed it.

    So that would be one mistake it would seem. And I suspect his wheel wasn't quite right either.

    Is there a catalog of dumb crap noobs do with catastrophic results?

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    not yet, but feel free to start one...
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    Well it's started. I just dont want to be the one populating the list.

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    it will be fine...please share your experiences. Other folks will flood the gates once you get it going...
    2014 Nail Trail 29...

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    I have come closer to breaking me than the bike thus far and have failed in both endeavors, thankfully.

  6. #6
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    Don't concern yourself with breaking a bike. Just ride!

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    I've heard of noobs taking cheap FartMart bikes up to Whistler and destroying them (and in many cases themselves too) but when all is said and done, I think it's kinda hard to destroy a decent quality bike these days.

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    Ive also seen reference to high-centering a bike on a log or similar obstacle and munching the big ring. Guess that's not a big deal.

    I don't suppose having low pedal on the inside of a turn/curve really jeopardizes the crank much?

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    Using the seat. While descending. **** breaks when you crash.

    Trying to carve corners like a pro the first time out. You can't lean and rotate like on asphalt, and most haven't done that, either. **** breaks when you crash.

    Hit the trail at max rated PSI. **** breaks when you crash.

    No water, no food, no map, no idea where they are or how much trouble they are in. **** breaks when you pass out and crash.

    Leaving valuables in sight in the car at the trail head. **** breaks when you toss your bike because someone else broke **** on your car to steal your ****.

    Not knowing etiquette. **** breaks when you crash after bailing off the trail when you thought you had right of way over the mom with a stroller.

    Not being observant. **** breaks when you're plunging down a hillside because the trail disappeared around that corner because you weren't paying attention to the signs telling you the damn trail was closed for repair.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

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    The most common thing I see is people new to riding in general using the wrong gears like small and small.. You can hear the chain slapping a mile away. Big and big, ripped off derailleurs, bent hangers, bent or broken chains from chain suck, etc.. I guess I see that more cause they are on the side of the trail walking their bike so I stop to fix it or limp them out in ss.

    Also, I see people going too fast.. They hit trees and go over the handlebars.

    My friend went over the handlebars because he took a turn too fast over a slight sandy hill. But besides mixing the wrong gears, I can't really think of anything that will actually break the bike besides crashing into something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingtaco View Post
    Trying to carve corners like a pro the first time out. You can't lean and rotate like on asphalt, and most haven't done that, either. **** breaks when you crash.
    Newb here and I just did this. I tried to get my weight inside the turn like I do on my SV650. I guess my 27lb mountain bike on dirt behaves differently than my 440lb motorcycle on asphalt. Who would've guessed...?

    Hit the trail at max rated PSI. **** breaks when you crash.
    Also did this - but didn't crash. The whole ride was really squirrely though.

    Great tips here so far (I just loosened my brake lever clamps a hair) - keep 'em coming!

  12. #12
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    Rock strikes to a pedal. Actually it's pretty hard to break most pedals, but putting the inside foot down in a corner makes it easy to plow it into something at speed and the plastic ones that come on a lot of new bikes aren't very durable.

    Front shifts under load. It's possible to break a chain this way. Front shifts under load on a technical climb. Throw in some ratcheting and it's easy to break a chain this way.

    Screwing around with the rear derailleur when you don't know what you're doing. Removing the dork disc when you don't know what you're doing. Makes it easy to overshift and damage some spokes. In extreme, it's possible to damage the rear derailleur too.

    Rear derailleurs are pretty exposed. Falling to the right and some bad luck can take one out. I don't like expensive ones for this reason - I seem to break them every two years or so, so wtf do I care if I can get a tiny bit longer wear life by spending a whole lot more money?

    Tire pressure too low and plowing straight into a square-edged hit. You can damage a rim this way. (Work down to "your" pressure slowly, so you can recognize when it's getting too low for your equipment.)

    Torquing things down like a gorilla. I don't use a torque wrench myself, but I try to be sensible.

    Cutting a chain too short, especially on a full-suspension bike. You can damage a bottom bracket or freehub.
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  13. #13
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    Shifting under load (usually uphill) either front or rear destroys chains and derailleurs.

    Riding heavy and failing to unweight wheels destroys rims, saddles, posts, etc.

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    A bike isn't broken until the frame cracks - all the rest is meant to be beaten, trashed, and replaced on a regular basis. So keep up the good work!

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    Manuals on a road bike with a load on the rack. (Or not.) Eventually cracked the chainstay.

    Doesn't mean I don't still ride my road bikes like I mean it. I just don't buy 20+-year-old bikes anymore.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    I have broken several derailleur hangers this season, mainly from getting a large stick in the spokes on tight, overgrown trails. I always carry two spares, just in case bad things happen, well, twice!

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    riding down steps at a local campus has not worked well for me...who da thunk it?
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    Building features improperly and testing them and not doing regular maintenance/not checking or being observant of your bike were most of my troubles. Also, car racks.

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    Re: Breaking a Bike

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post

    Rear derailleurs are pretty exposed. Falling to the right and some bad luck can take one out. I don't like expensive ones for this reason - I seem to break them every two years or so, so wtf do I care if I can get a tiny bit longer wear life by spending a whole lot more money?
    Lol.. Maybe they break because they are cheap? I have only had deore or above rear derailleurs and the most I've done is tweaked a hanger. Maybe better quality components would work better for you. My last one lasted since 06 when I got it used. The spring wore out. So I bought the new deore. I expect to upgrade to a 1x10 setup well before it breaks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ou2mame View Post
    Lol.. Maybe they break because they are cheap?
    Nah - expensive ones break all the time too. I've got a big drawer full of carcasses, mainly XT/X-7 and above. I rarely get a couple years out of one, though the early XTRs were pretty damn tough.
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  21. #21
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    I see falling on something as an "all bets are off" situation. I doubt that falling on something more expensive, probably lighter, would be less likely to break it.

    When I got around to breaking it, my Alivio was pretty shockingly worn out. I think the more expensive ones are better at that. I also thought about going to a clutch derailleur after some pretty extreme chainsuck broke the Deore Shadow I replaced it with, but I'd have had to take that bike 10-speed. Not worth it to me.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    I don't jump, drops, or anything remotely crazy, yet somehow I have cracked a frame.
    wore out a few parts, but first time cracking a frame.

    does that make me a real mountain biker now? or am I still in the wannabe ranks?

  23. #23
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    I suspect that generally, frames crack from fatigue, that is age and repeated shocks and flexing rather than any discrete catastrophic event.

  24. #24
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    Probably true. Pretty sure it was true for the frame I cracked.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  25. #25
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    Frame cracking is the thing I worry about the most. In fact the only thing I worry about because I really love my frame! It would be a pain trying to find another one that I like as much. I don't consider a cracked frame bike death though, you just buy another frame and swap the bits over. The frame is just another component.

  26. #26
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    The problem with frames is that replacing it with a different model could mean a new seat post, collar, fork, rear shock, bb, cables, headset.. And that new fork could mean a new stem and front wheel... Its more than a component. Like if mine broke, I couldn't find another one, especially not for what I paid.

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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ou2mame View Post
    The problem with frames is that replacing it with a different model could mean a new seat post, collar, fork, rear shock, bb, cables, headset..
    That's true. It's virtually inevitable that you end up needing to buy some other parts over and above the frame itself. You can minimise that though by checking the frame you are considering for compatibility with the bits you have. Having to buy a new headset or seatpost is not too big a deal but if you need different forks etc then yip, it's getting expensive.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by time229er View Post
    riding down steps at a local campus has not worked well for me...who da thunk it?
    There is a way to make it work for you. My old bike did about 1,000 stairs while I was in school.

    Low-end plastic pedals suck. They break easily. On my first bike I had one deform enough that the bearings came out of the race and wore through from the inside.

    I broke more rear derailleurs by shifting under heavy load. I used to try to hill climb like a motorcycle, going as fast and as hard as I could into the hill, then downshifting as I lost speed. Downshifting early and spinning up works wayyyyy better.

    Actually breaking a frame didn't happen until I started trying out light weight 1990's equipment. It wasn't me, it was the frame.
    Improperly torquing a lock-nut may have resulted in a catastrophic hub failure (the driveside bearing cone on the rear hub screwed itself into the hub and cracked it).
    Rims bend (I have a cheap spare set of wheels just in case).
    So do brake levers (leave them a little loose, so they spin on the bar if they get hit).
    So do chainrings.
    So do derailleur hangers.


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    I will second the posts on shifting under load. It has to be the number one problem that new riders have, other than possibly locking up the front wheel and going airborne, which breaks you and not the bike.

    Every time you shift under high load and force the chain into a larger cog you are over stressing the chain and possibly damaging the cogs. A chain can start to separate where outer plates pull away from the pins. Even if the chain doesn't come apart a shift under high load will eventually cause the chain to lock up and pull the rear derailleur off the bike and embed it into the spokes.

    What is amazing is that someone new to riding will be totally ticked off at the bike or the LBS because he or she was just riding along and all of a sudden it broke for no reason at all.

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    Leaving the ground, up into the air, everything is somehow sideways while flying thru the air, bike & body are now "pointing" towards the cliff side of the trail, brain says "you better go that>> way (opposite of cliff edge)!!"
    Upon landing, said brain activity ^^ causes the front wheel to be OVER steering away from cliff, sideways landing + speed + over steer = TRAIL TACO!!!
    All this happened in about 1.5 seconds at the most..
    Dust off...strange tight warm feeling in the shoulder that SLAPED the ground first...walk out back to car dragging bike with one arm holding up the front while the back rolls...

    Crashing is all part of the gig for me, this last one alowed me to learn how to lace up my own wheelset (2mos of down time)...
    anyway...
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  31. #31
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    I think it makes some sense to ascribe some special importance to the frame because it also sets the geometry of the bike.

    If I change my fork, a lot changes, but I still feel like I'm riding the same bike. And if I go from one fork in a certain class to another fork in the same class, it's actually pretty subtle.

    Even within a class, changing frames can give me a different attitude about head angle, weight distribution, chainstay length, bb height, etc. So even if I could build it with the same collection of parts, I might end up with a very differently-riding bike.

    On a practical level, I also think treating the frame as defining a bike acknowledges just how much stuff can have to be changed around to put an existing build on a new bike. It's something I've considered a couple times, and for one reason or another, backed away from doing. On my road bike, the fork wouldn't move over and the crank would have required a weird adapter. Wheel size killed it when I thought about cannibalizing my Hardrock to build a new bike on a nicer frame. A whole pile of compatibility issues killed it when I broke my '80s Raleigh and thought about an inexpensive new frame.

    Obviously people do it all the time. But I see it more as cannibalizing an old bike to build a new one than swapping out a frame in an existing bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    Is there a catalog of dumb crap noobs do with catastrophic results?
    No, but the first entry should be:

    1) Expect a Failmart bike to hold up


  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Obviously people do it all the time. But I see it more as cannibalizing an old bike to build a new one than swapping out a frame in an existing bike.
    It depends. You can build bikes from scratch for a variety of reasons. I've got three bikes in the sheds just now that were built from bare frames, all for different reasons. In the case of my own main bike I did not like the frame so I bought another one and swapped most of the parts over. I've got a commuter that's basically built from leftovers.

    I agree that the frame defines the bike, I think to a large extent that's true. You can tweak things a lot by changing other components but if the frame sucks you are never building a good bike out of it.

  34. #34
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    Welp I discovered a really annoying way to break a bike: the $hitty rear wheel on a really minor crash.

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    Re: Breaking a Bike

    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    Welp I discovered a really annoying way to break a bike: the $hitty rear wheel on a really minor crash.
    I do not consider a wheel being knocked 2mm out of true to be broken. Far from it. I doubt the rim is even bent.
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    Maybe you're right, going to another shop to see if they can do something with it. But if you listen to some people, probably those in the wheel selling business, it needs replacement. I'm of the upgrade it if it breaks mentality, but I was planning on that being the fork not a damned rear wheel.

    I understand that wheel upgrades can be fantastic, but they are also spendy, particularly when you have a fork at the top of your list.

    And it's my fault, too. I'm pretty sure the spokes loosened during early riding and I didn't continue to monitor them, so when the bumps and thumps happened, the rim went wild.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    Maybe you're right
    Not maybe, he is right.

    There is almost certainly nothing wrong with your wheel beyond the normal knock out of true that most wheels suffer at some point during their life. Just get it fixed by someone who knows how to true a wheel and forget about it. I would happily do it myself if it would stop you whinging about it! ;0)

    And learn to do it yourself as this is almost certainly not the last time it will happen.

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    Youre also probably right. I took it to a new shop, they didn't flinch and I told them I didn't expect it straight just tight and reasonably strong. I had done some Sheldon Brown whacking (just a couple of whacks took a lot of slop out of the spokes).

    I guess I was a little taken aback by the first shop that said it couldn't be fixed. He was right in that the wrong spokes were loose and tight. Pretty sure this would be a pretty big job for a newb.

    And I don't whinge. I'm 'murican dammit, I *****, moan, and occasionally whine. :P

    Part of the reason I've been whingey is that I'm not riding. It's rainy so the trails are closed anyway. Also my knee hurts a little and I'm p.o.ed about my stupid crash.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    I had done some Sheldon Brown whacking
    Oh ok. I take back what I said in the other thread about the rim probably being fine. It is probably gubbed. Now.. ;0)

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