1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    When do you replace... ?

    While it can be pretty obvious when to replace things like a cassette, chain, grips or pedals, for other components I have no idea when/if they'd ever need to be changed.

    Do things like seat posts, stems or handlebars ever actually wear out, or do people just replace them for reasons like cutting weight or changing the geometry of the bike?

  2. #2
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    On quality built modern and VRC bikes, standard seatposts, bars, stems generally never wear out- they just break or bend.
    parts with bearings- hubs, BB, pedals can last for more than 25 years if taken care of properly. things with springs- brakes, derailleurs, tend to wear out quicker than things with bearings but can last nearly as long.
    Some of the modern bike components like pivots and eccentric BB's will wear out much faster because they are built with planned obsolescence in mind.

  3. #3
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    Interesting question with a lot of different answers.

    Chains: These do wear out. 1-2 chains per season isn't uncommon. I prefer the drop-in chain checker from Rohloff, not the cheapest solution but it is very robust . Lots of people use a ruler to measure chain "stretch" but that doesn't take into account roller wear and I prefer to be safer than have to deal with the next problem...

    Cassette, chainrings, jockey pulleys: These actually last a few seasons of rough use so long as you replace your chain proactively. If you let your chain get to a point of wear then it starts to eat away at the metal (and, eventually, the plastic) of these components. Once the metal is worn then obviously it's not coming back. But as long as you change your chain frequently then you're more likely to break these by wrapping a stick into your drivetrain than you are to completely wear these out.

    Grips: I change mine whenever I feel like it. Sometimes rubber is coming off in chunks and sometimes I just find a grip I like better.

    Pedals: keep things clean and lubed and you'll only have to replace your pedals if you break them. Clipless pedals have a mechanism which may break or wear out over time. Once they stop functioning they either need service or they need to be replaced. Flat pedals have pins which could break off or the platform could become damaged. Broken pins could be replaced but perhaps other damage could not be. Both mechanisms have axles and bearings/bushings which need attention. You're more likely to get sick of a pedal then you are to break one. I've been very mean to many different pedals and can't think of one which I've actually broken.

    Everything else: It doesn't matter what you're talking about, eventually it's going to break. Metal suffers from fatigue which will break it eventually. Carbon is the same. There was a time where manufacturers claimed that you should be replacing your carbon parts every 5 years, personally I think that should apply to critical aluminum parts like handlebars and seatposts too. Failure of a handlebar or seatpost could do incredible damage to your person. Things like stems, cranks, BBs, are pretty robustly designed and catastrophic failures are not common.

    I've broken or seen broken nearly everything on a bike from shearing a BB on a stupid 4' drop to flat on pavement to seeing an old carbon frame slowly break in half. Almost all of the time you'll know why you've broken something and no matter what version of "just riding along" you pass to the bike shop things break for reasons. If you're really rough on stuff, replace things more often and replace things proactively. If you're pretty gentle replace things when you wear them out. Usually your money is best spent on chains, derailleur cable and housing, and tires.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  4. #4
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    Suspension components wear too. It takes some time, but sooner or later, everything does.

    Saddles. Cleats. Shoes. Any of the bearings. Freehubs are a relatively common spare, for example.

    On rim brake bikes, the rims wear out. On disc bikes too, but it takes much, much longer, barring a bad wheel build.

    Park Tool publishes a new bike build checklist. You can use that as a tuneup checklist too. Things don't last forever, especially off-road, but you can get really good reliability staying on top of maintenance.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    Thank you to all three of you for the detailed and educational replies.

    A more specific follow up question:

    Should you replace your rear cassette when replacing your chain, which I have read is best for the bike/chain/drive train, or is the cassette fine as long as you proactively replace the chain as needed.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    Should you replace your rear cassette when replacing your chain, which I have read is best for the bike/chain/drive train, or is the cassette fine as long as you proactively replace the chain as needed.
    Only if when you replace the chain, it still doesn't shift as crisply as it used too or jumps the occasional tooth. Even then, its more likely to be a worn front chainring.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    Thank you to all three of you for the detailed and educational replies.

    A more specific follow up question:

    Should you replace your rear cassette when replacing your chain, which I have read is best for the bike/chain/drive train, or is the cassette fine as long as you proactively replace the chain as needed.
    Nordie has a pretty good general response; in particular I'll experience problems if I replace my chain after the 0.1 mm side of my Rohloff Caliber 2 drops in all the way then it's almost a guarantee I'll need a new cassette and chainrings; don't forget, if your cassette is worn then that soft aluminum chainring you use all the time is worn too. The exception is the big ring, it disperses the chain over so many teeth that I've never seen one that doesn't work because of a stretched chain. If I replace my chain before the 0.075 mm side of my checker drops fully in then the cassette is usually fine for multiple chain replacements.

    Of course it depends on the quality of your parts, how you maintain your drivetrain, how clean and lubed your chain is, what your riding conditions are like between cleanings (doesn't matter how well you clean your bike if your rides are hours of sand hell), and how you treat your chain in shifting and power transmission. You could be using the strongest cogs out there but if you never lube your chain and ride in sand then you'll be replacing your cassette with every chain.

    Best advice I can give is to get a chain checker (I vastly prefer the Rohloff one) and understand how to use it and what it's telling you.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  8. #8
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    FWIW, I just replace 8 and 9 speed chains on a once a year basis but I ride lots of miles in all conditions. As far as cassette wear goes, they usually last nearly forever if cleaned and serviced properly. Older XT and XTR stuff has 20 plus years on them and they're still being bought and resold and reused.
    It'll take many years before you'll wear out a good quality set of chainrings. If you smash them on rocks, you'll replace them more frequently.
    The older bikes were built to last 20 years but newer bikes seem to be lasting considerably less.
    Take care of your bike and keep it properly lubed and tuned and it'll last forever.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    Should you replace your rear cassette when replacing your chain, which I have read is best for the bike/chain/drive train, or is the cassette fine as long as you proactively replace the chain as needed.
    I just replaced one, but I think I usually wear out about three chains before I need a new cassette. I use a tape measure to check chain wear. Swapping the chain in time does seem to make a difference.

    It makes sense to me that a worn cassette should accelerate chain wear some. But I can't say I've noticed, let alone been motivated to track it in any real way.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    I tend to check the chain wear first using one of a few chain gauges. if the chain is obviously "stretched," I replace that first, then visually inspect how the chain fits on the chainrings. sometimes the rings are obviously worn if you can see daylight between the teeth "gaps" and the chain. then I test-ride the bike, HARD, to make sure nothing skips. usually, the chain wears first and if it's really far gone, the cassette will go next. smaller chainrings wear out faster than big ones.

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