Results 1 to 18 of 18
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: drbelleville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    204

    A Mountain Bikes "Service Life"

    Am not sure if this has been discussed in another forum yet or not.

    I recall reading an article in a magazine a few years ago, in which they reviewed the expected service life of the MTB, and each of its components.

    IIRC, basically it boiled down to that you are to expect to receive about 5-6 years of service life out of your bike. Granted I know there are many variables to service life expectancy.

    Just seemed like a bit a Hot Air to me.

    This "Magazine Theory" has always been in the back of my mind, and upon returning from a Trip to Colorado brought the issue up again. I have seen many people there riding trails, on older bikes such as old Rockhoppers, Univegas, Cannondales of various configuration, a couple old Yetis and the occasional unrecognizable "daily ride".

    I know that most magazine editors enjoy the luxury of being able to pick and choose from a catalog of test mules and as such may not have a bike of their own. Yet, I have had many old bikes that have never let me down - granted I work on my own stuff, but never a catastrophic failure of any sort, aside from an open skewer causing a wheel to fall out, and destroy a fork. My Hutch Pro Raider from '86 was trusty up until I sold it in '09, my '87 Cannondale SR600 is still hanging on the wall and gets ridden, an '02 Gary Fisher Marlin that is always a joy to pedal. Then there is my RM6 that is about to be resto'd into an RM7 - It too has had a hardlife - just could not part with it - its too cool.

    Knowing that magazines get paid through advertizing, I am sure there is a sort of push to plant the seed of a "New" bike or part, but I think some of the best ooking bikes are the ones that have stood the test of time, have earned their character by being ridden and although old still bring a huge grin to the owners face.

    Just a sort of Rant I guess

  2. #2
    Sneaker man
    Reputation: mik_git's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    1,149
    I think it depends on what you have, and what you are riding. I seem to remember the ritchey P bikes had a 1 year or 1 season life (maybe complete BS but I remember reading that) as they were light weight race bikes and if you were using for what they were designed for (top level racing) then you just retired them at the end of the season before they broke. Of course if you were not a team racer, they would last a lot longer.
    Light weight race bike, short life, cheaper more robust bike, long life.

    But to add, a bike can last a long time, but if you are using it and using it hard then the life will be shortened, all these lifetime warranties that companies have, people seem to think that they should last forever, and some do. But the manufacturer would think, if you use it for what it was intended then yeah it should last a while, but not forever, so 5- 7 years seems good.
    2003 Yeti ARC
    2008 GT Zaskar Reissue
    1996 GT Xizang
    2012 Cervelo R3

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: YakimaDeathYaks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    172
    I wonder how long a Ritchey Timberwolf will last, ive been riding mine hard since i got a couple two or three months ago, pretty much replaced my full suspension. I think it will last forever its built like a tank. I think the VRC forum is enough proof that article is bs, all of my bikes but 2 are VRC and 3 of them are as old or older than me, almost 30 dammit.... And they seem to be way better built than the newer bikes.

    I wonder how long a Magna or a walmart bike would last, hard trail riding. Maybe put some better components on it and just test it out. But that seems dangerous and dumb, but if you didn't have anything else to do and you didn't work and were independently wealthy if might be fun.
    1985 Ritchey Timber Comp
    1985 Ritchey Ascent
    1987 Ritchey Timberwolf

  4. #4
    the new Gilbert Grape
    Reputation: laffeaux's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    5,265
    How long a bike will last should be based on how many miles/hours it's ridden not it's age. A 50 year old bike that has never been ridden is certainly in better shape than a 5 year old bike that is ridden 50 miles/day.

    The biggest issue with time is that rubber parts break down. Primarily tires suffer with age.

    Full suspension bikes will age faster (with use) due to wear on pivots and bushings. Hardtails will have forks eventually fail. A rigid bike's components will wear and need replacing, but the frameset will last for a very very long time unless it's crashed. The fatigue life for a well designed frame should be a very long long.

    Six years sounds about right for how long will a modern bike remain "modern." Manufacturers continually change headtubes and BBs to new standards (mostly in my opinion to increase sales) and suspension travel is continually increasing making buying forks for older bikes harder and harder. So bikes don't wear out, they just become harder to keep trail-worthy (for instance, how many 1" head tube bikes have been retired because suspension forks aren't readily available from a LBS).
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: DoubleCentury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    1,271
    I find this topic very interesting, and am glad someone brought it up in the context of VRC.

    In general, I would say that bikes are very well engineered and have an incredibly long service life, especially
    for the top-end stuff. There are safety factors built in that must be very generous. I recall that article in
    MBA that suggested we replace our handlebars and seatposts every 1 to 2 years, and I found it to be misguided.
    Just think if that criteria was applied to airplanes. I suppose that might be the case if you ride everyday of
    the year for 3 to 4 hours each. But for most of us weekend warriors with multiple bikes to ride, it will take
    decades to really wear something out or fatigue it to the point of failure. And I would say a lot of failures
    occur from abuse, whether it is crashes, or salt corrosion from sweat, neglected maintenance, or improper
    installation and application. Take care of your bike and it will take care of you.

    On my daily commuter bike, I typically run older used parts that are cosmetically challenged, and I just
    want to "use them up." I obviously don't put them through the rigors of off-road use doing this, but they
    get a lot of daily miles. It amazes me how long it takes to wear out a chain or cogset or rings if you keep
    stuff reasonably clean and lubed and have tools to check for wear. My conclusion after 15 years of doing
    this is that it isn't an effective way to get rid of old parts.
    Last edited by DoubleCentury; 07-11-2013 at 09:32 AM.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: drbelleville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    204
    In keeping what DoubleCentury brought up,

    Most of our components are what one can consider "Aircraft Grade" and similar to what the airframes use, which is part of the reason I had an issue with the magazine statement. Being a Welder by trade, I have access to some pretty cool NDT equipment. Having said access to the equipment did enable me to go over my RM6 and not find any flaws or misalignment that would lead me to think I could not squeeze some more good runs out of it.

    Not to mention for the price you pay these days for your components and the implied increase in component reliability, you would expect your dollar to go a long ways. Plus Maintenance does help keep the old ride alive, and although it becomes harder with the age of the component - to me there is joy in being able to do so.


    Now if the Motorcycle magazines were as confident in specifying product life - you better get rid of your classic BMW, Bimota, Harley or sweet Vintage Yamaha Dirt bike.

  7. #7
    gobsmacked Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    7,188
    Riders today seem to ride their bikes a lot differently than a few decades ago. I'm sure some did but a lot more people today do the massive drops to flat that would have been difficult to pull off way back then. Also, there are just way more riders today that can't take care of their machines like the vast majority of tinkerers here.

    Anyway, very interesting comments everybody and a great thread.

  8. #8
    Team Brooklyn
    Reputation: CCMDoc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    1,165
    +1 to DoubleCentury's post.

    In fact there are some posters here who have and still ride/race frames originally raced by the pros in the 80s and 90s.

    Pretty good longevity.
    Wanted: more of the same ... but different

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: tductape's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,093
    Good thread. Not a lot to really add. I am the poster child for parts reliability. A lardass that is a fairly aggressive rider. Send me your bike stuff and I will let you know how well built they are. All joking aside, I do tend to break more than others.

    Along with miles ridden there are other variables. I will use DC as a comparison:

    DC- Finess rider, average weight, rides mostly dry Rocky Mtn. weather. Perfectly cleans bikes after every ride.

    Me- forceful rider , 230 lbs, PacNW wet. Have bikes in garage with mud on them since last fall.

    All things considered, will the same frame components last equally?

    Well there go my chances of ever trading off a bike here.
    Seek: Koski Trailmaster. Breezer Series 2, or 3. Fillet brazed Ibis Custom. Cunningham Racer. Otis Guy (but not that softride model). That's all I need I don't need anything else... except... except for an old Mountain Goat bar stem combo. And that's all I need. I don't need anything else. Except.....

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: DoubleCentury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    1,271
    That's a good point about the rider, so that needs to be factored in. The lowest common denominator wins. I don't know how many times I have been at swap meets looking at used parts and the owner says, "it was my backup wheelset", or "I only weigh 125 pounds so I'm light on my equipment," or "it was on my girlfriend's bike so you know it didn't get used hard," or "I only put maybe 200 miles on it." I'm looking at said part and it is really trashed. How is that possible? I think it has a lot to do with riding style. That's often a good time to keep my swap dollars in my pocket.

  11. #11
    It's about showing up.
    Reputation: Berkeley Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    11,126
    My grand daddy's ax is my favorite tool. I've replaced the handle three times and the head once and still love it.
    I don't rattle.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    397
    My 1997 Stumpjumper Comp lasted me 15 years. I retired it for no reason other than to buy a 2013 SJ so I could see what the big fuss was over 29 inch wheels and disk brakes. The 1997 bike was ridden hard from day one to the end. Except for the tires and fork, it was all original parts. I'm talking original chain and cluster! Hell, the brake pads stopped me just fine for over 14 years. The bike never needed a repair except a broken spoke, once. I'm 240, and I rode it a lot, so it was getting used. I did keep it spotless, and I think that has a lot to do with it staying trouble free all those years. It's also the quality you get from Specialized.

  13. #13
    the new Gilbert Grape
    Reputation: laffeaux's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    5,265
    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    My grand daddy's ax is my favorite tool. I've replaced the handle three times and the head once and still love it.
    Once you've replaced both the handle and the head, is it still your grand daddy's ax?
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  14. #14
    slow
    Reputation: sgltrak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    4,252
    I remember hearing that the MB-zip was a 1 season race bike and I had a few come into my shop with cracks after a couple of years, so I believe there is some validity to the disposable race bike question. Most other bikes and parts last well under pretty harsh conditions, so I think there may be some marketing behind the information being spread about the short life of a bike.

    My parts often get totally used up and I am happy with the time / mileage I get out of them. I maintain my bikes reasonably well, but don't sanitize them after every ride. Here is some semi-accurate data as to how long some items will last under rigorous riding by an average sized guy (5'10, 160lbs) with some finesse.

    Examples:

    '93 Paramount Team Frame. Cracked chain stay. +- 15k miles from April '94 - October '08
    A Mountain Bikes "Service Life"-p1010044.jpg

    '97 CODA / Magic Motorcycle cranks. Drive side cracked and bent. Extensive shoe rub may have contributed. +- 15k miles between Mid '97 - June '12
    A Mountain Bikes "Service Life"-cracked97codacrank.jpg

    Raceface stem. Faceplate cracked. +- 5k miles between Mid '05 - May '12
    A Mountain Bikes "Service Life"-cracked05racefacestemfaceplate.jpg

    Araya RM-395 Team XC Rim. Blown side. Probably close to 6k miles between Oct '08 - and March '12
    A Mountain Bikes "Service Life"-crackedarayarm-395teamrim.jpg

    Araya RM-395 Team XC Rim. Sidewalls worn too far to safely ride. +- 14k miles between April '94 and Oct '08
    A Mountain Bikes "Service Life"-rims-3-.jpg

    '96 Mavic 517 SUP rim. Cracked around 6-8 spoke eyelets. Backup wheel. +- 6k miles between Mid '96 and July '13
    A Mountain Bikes "Service Life"-cracked96mavic517sup.jpg
    Last edited by sgltrak; 07-13-2013 at 06:32 PM.

  15. #15
    Team Brooklyn
    Reputation: CCMDoc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    1,165
    Nice overview of a selection of components and their service life in your hands.
    I'm with you - can't complain with those kinds of miles on those parts (assuming the crank failure mileage is in thousands).
    Wanted: more of the same ... but different

  16. #16
    slow
    Reputation: sgltrak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    4,252
    Quote Originally Posted by CCMDoc View Post
    Nice overview of a selection of components and their service life in your hands.
    I'm with you - can't complain with those kinds of miles on those parts (assuming the crank failure mileage is in thousands).
    Oops. Yes, in thousands. Editing now.

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    402

    A Mountain Bikes "Service Life"

    Well it's a good question. A seven speed chain has alot more material then a 10 speed chain. Less material means it wears quicker.
    Older cantilever brake pads have alot more pad material then a v brake replacement pad. Just look at it.

    On older frames many were overbuilt, the quest for lightweight was important, but not as important as producing a well built bike.

    Of course riding style and conditions play a huge part. Look at cars that have lived in snow environments and those that havnt. Salt kills metal. So a rider who lives in a wet environment, rides crazy hard, will need a new bike before a fair weather rider who is easy on his equipment.

    Some frames are notorious for failures. Older c-dales are one.

    Bill

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    91
    Tend to agree with 3-5 year lifespan for a bike frame for a well ridden and moderately cared for bike. I don't own a bike less than 15 years old so not advocating people just toss their old bikes.

    Just saying if you are into the retro thing you should be aware that frames fail and your frame is probably past it's intended lifespan. It still may ride for another decade or two - but I wouldn't be riding an old frame with reckless abandon ignoring the possibility of metal fatigue.

    Retro riders should inspect their bikes a little closer and maintain them a little more diligently. Safety comes first, always.

Similar Threads

  1. "Next" and "Mongoose" mountain bikes
    By SpAgetttt in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 167
    Last Post: 3 Weeks Ago, 06:42 PM
  2. Show off your "Orange coloured" mountain bikes here
    By Dayrider in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 04-22-2013, 10:24 AM
  3. Semenuk and Howard's bikes in "life behind bars"?
    By 300hp in forum Downhill - Freeride
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 05-30-2012, 07:07 PM
  4. 26 "High-end" Mountain and Road bikes recovered!
    By subliminalshiver in forum Colorado - Front Range
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 04-29-2011, 08:24 AM
  5. Replies: 12
    Last Post: 02-22-2011, 10:43 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •