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  1. #1
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    tracking maintenance and repair

    Since there is not really an appropriate sub forum I'm going with tools because a maintenance log is a tool.

    I just had to retire a bike before it's time due to negligence on my part. I rode it so infrequently it so far below its grade that I never really thought about it. I just got a new FS trail bike and it's got about an hour and a half on it. It's actually going to be my daughter's bike in a few months when I can affoard to get myself and my other daughter a bike as well.

    The bottom line is I'm going to have to maintain and repair 3 FS trail bikes, 2 of which will be raced. My background is aviation maintenance. Specifically navy seahawk helicopters. So I know how to use tools and manuals and I undestand complex mechanics. But I'm very much used to a maintenance tracking system that basically keeps you on track about what needs to be cleaned, inspected, adjusted, repaired or replaced based on usage and calendar time cycles.

    Now I know there's not anything around like what I'm used to. But is there a way that works to keep track of hours ridden and maintenance/repairs done? I've tried every variation on searching and can't seem to find it.
    Last edited by SoCalEpicRyder; 05-05-2017 at 07:40 PM.

  2. #2
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    As soon as I began to read this and saw 'maintenance log', I recognized the association. Are you still in aviation?

    Maintenance tracking…keep it simple, but as complete and thorough as you wish. A spreadsheet (Excel) can provide as little, or as much detail tracking capability as you desire. Dates, miles, hours, parts or whatever you want. You know the routine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared2land View Post
    As soon as I began to read this and saw 'maintenance log', I recognized the association. Are you still in aviation?

    Maintenance tracking…keep it simple, but as complete and thorough as you wish. A spreadsheet (Excel) can provide as little, or as much detail tracking capability as you desire. Dates, miles, hours, parts or whatever you want. You know the routine.
    The last time I owned an actual computer was 2012. It died 2 weeks after I finished college. I can't justify spending money on another on just to log maintenance on bikes. I could use Google docs I guess, but I hate docs after over a decade on office products. I was thinking of a paper system and hoping someone had a format.

    No longer in aviation. Service connected disability. I do not recomend falling off of a helicopter. Let's just say it can change your life.

  4. #4
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    Replicate the same objective on paper. It doesn't matter what you record it on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared2land View Post
    Replicate the same objective on paper. It doesn't matter what you record it on.
    The concept is clear to me. The format I have no real idea on maintaining a bike. I'm so used to having maintenance tasked handed down to me. I know the Phase maintenance and calendar maintenance on a seahawk well enough to write a book on it. Bikes? I might look in some courses. I did pick up zinn's book today but only browsed it lightly before purchasing. Probably a good place to start.

    Last time I bought a new truck (Tacoma) it came with a pretty good maintenance schedule in the glove box.

  6. #6
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    My assumption is that your question centers around frequency and intervals? You want scheduled maintenance based on date, miles or hours?
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

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  7. #7
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    Miles is the most reliable standard. At leat for a no motorized system. I keep track with a Garmin bike computer. I just read another dozen hits with minor help. Breaking out the zinn now. But the latest edition in 2010 😔

  8. #8
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    I can understand your delema, used to work closely with a helicopter company and knew them well, fuly understand that it's "X" hours and this part has to be replaced etc, and while bikes are kind of like that, you also have to take into consideration the conditions you ride them in. So for example if you ride in a drier climate, on dry trails, but not dusty, then you're maintenance needs will be much less than someone who rides in wet/grimy conditions regularly.

    My best advice to you, look at the manufacturers recommendations for service intervals, put computers or some form of mileage tracking on each bike and use that to decide when to do maintenance. Also though, keep track of hours (a computer will do this too) as on an MTB you do not get as many miles as you do hours and you'll notice most service intervals are based on hours, but miles will help you gauge possible wear on parts. You could also just use rough estimates and say that if you ride 3 times a week, roughly 2 hours each time, consistently, then that's roughly 6 hours a week/24 hours a month, then you'll need to service "X" after "X" hours.

    For me, when I was riding 3-5 times a week, I serviced my fork lowers (oil change) about 3 times a year, did the open bath oil once, maybe twice a year depending on how it looked and felt. For chains, I got between 500-800 miles per, depending on brand and what conditions I rode in, if it was wet, where the chain was getting loaded with grit, then of course less miles. Your biggest things to watch are chain wear/stretch and suspension service, if you let a chain stretch too far, it will kill the rest of the drive train, where as if you change it out before it stretches too far, you can probably replace 5 or more chains before you need to start looking at replacing rings, cogs etc. With most modern closed dampers these days, service is less frequent than it was with open bath systems and a LOT more complicated, so once a year if you're really riding alot, but honestly, I haven't touched my closed damper forks in years because of the complicated process of changing the oil and bleeding them.

    Hope some of this helps and remember, the more grit you ride in, the more frequent you will need to service your stuff, always keep the fork/shock stanchions clean.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    I can understand your delema, used to work closely with a helicopter company and knew them well, fuly understand that it's "X" hours and this part has to be replaced etc, and while bikes are kind of like that, you also have to take into consideration the conditions you ride them in. So for example if you ride in a drier climate, on dry trails, but not dusty, then you're maintenance needs will be much less than someone who rides in wet/grimy conditions regularly.

    My best advice to you, look at the manufacturers recommendations for service intervals, put computers or some form of mileage tracking on each bike and use that to decide when to do maintenance. Also though, keep track of hours (a computer will do this too) as on an MTB you do not get as many miles as you do hours and you'll notice most service intervals are based on hours, but miles will help you gauge possible wear on parts. You could also just use rough estimates and say that if you ride 3 times a week, roughly 2 hours each time, consistently, then that's roughly 6 hours a week/24 hours a month, then you'll need to service "X" after "X" hours.

    For me, when I was riding 3-5 times a week, I serviced my fork lowers (oil change) about 3 times a year, did the open bath oil once, maybe twice a year depending on how it looked and felt. For chains, I got between 500-800 miles per, depending on brand and what conditions I rode in, if it was wet, where the chain was getting loaded with grit, then of course less miles. Your biggest things to watch are chain wear/stretch and suspension service, if you let a chain stretch too far, it will kill the rest of the drive train, where as if you change it out before it stretches too far, you can probably replace 5 or more chains before you need to start looking at replacing rings, cogs etc. With most modern closed dampers these days, service is less frequent than it was with open bath systems and a LOT more complicated, so once a year if you're really riding alot, but honestly, I haven't touched my closed damper forks in years because of the complicated process of changing the oil and bleeding them.

    Hope some of this helps and remember, the more grit you ride in, the more frequent you will need to service your stuff, always keep the fork/shock stanchions clean.
    The lame part is all the manufacture literature says is either bikes are deadly or take it to the shop. It's all generic non model specific info. I guess I have to scour the websites and download any info they may have on specific units.

    since I'm rained in all weekend and and half of next week it looks like reading zinn's maintenance book os on my short list.

  10. #10
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    No, biggest things to make sure and keep ontop of are suspension and all shocks and forks list service intervals in the manuals. Reading that book cover to cover will definitely give you a much better understanding of bikes, how they work and what sort of maintenance they need - hope it's the latest one.

    Quote Originally Posted by SoCalEpicRyder View Post
    The lame part is all the manufacture literature says is either bikes are deadly or take it to the shop. It's all generic non model specific info. I guess I have to scour the websites and download any info they may have on specific units.

    since I'm rained in all weekend and and half of next week it looks like reading zinn's maintenance book os on my short list.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  11. #11
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    Use some common sense in determining you maintenance intervals. Some of the stuff that needs to be maintained, serviced or inspected doesn't really have a published schedule for maintenance.

    Fork service intervals as published can be fudged a bit, but changing the fork fluids is a somewhat elementary task. I do not replace seals unless they show signs of leakage.

    I service pivots, bearings and such about every 500 - 700 miles depending on environment, terrain and riding style. Hubs, headsets and BB's get full service about every 1,200 miles or three times a year. I service freehubs about every 500 miles. Pedal service twice a year. Chain gets wiped down and lightly lubed after almost every ride (about every 20 -30 miles). I purge brake fluids annually, usually during winter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    No, biggest things to make sure and keep ontop of are suspension and all shocks and forks list service intervals in the manuals. Reading that book cover to cover will definitely give you a much better understanding of bikes, how they work and what sort of maintenance they need - hope it's the latest one.
    It's the 5th edition dated in 2010. I looked everywhere for a newer version online and in stores. I see you're still 6th edition as a search result but it's always the 5th edition I get taken to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared2land View Post
    Use some common sense in determining you maintenance intervals. Some of the stuff that needs to be maintained, serviced or inspected doesn't really have a published schedule for maintenance.

    Fork service intervals as published can be fudged a bit, but changing the fork fluids is a somewhat elementary task. I do not replace seals unless they show signs of leakage.

    I service pivots, bearings and such about every 500 - 700 miles depending on environment, terrain and riding style. Hubs, headsets and BB's get full service about every 1,200 miles or three times a year. I service freehubs about every 500 miles. Pedal service twice a year. Chain gets wiped down and lightly lubed after almost every ride (about every 20 -30 miles). I purge brake fluids annually, usually during winter.
    That sounds pretty legit. so you ride a ton hahahaha. Purging the brake fluid is something you don't see enough of even in auto industry. I refresh mine with Lucas whenever it starts to darken on all the vehicles. I run Lucas in all wet lubricated systems on auto applications.

    I already have the avid bleed kit. The nicer one that has captured plungers and some other bells and whistles. Same cost of having half the bike bled at the shop. I am going to have to clear out a drawer or two in my rollaway for bike maintenance.

    Thanks for the help guys. Getting balls deep in reading this weekend.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoCalEpicRyder View Post
    Miles is the most reliable standard.
    It's a decent benchmark but not reliable as far as component wear or service intervals. Racing in wet & sloppy conditions vs. easy riding on dry smooth terrain would be and extreme example, you'll wear a chain out in 1/5 the miles in the first scenario compared to the second. Other components would have similar results.

    Strava can work pretty good for tracking maintenance on multiple bikes.
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  14. #14
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    Good luck on purging/bleeding your Elixers. I gave up them a long time ago, but my wife's SB-75 Yeti still has them and remarkably, they have performed outstanding. No service in three years. I'm afraid to purge them for fear they'll never be right again.

    I have the premium Avid, dual syringe bleed kit for them and it's really a nice bleed kit for doing Elixers. It makes the task easier, but they're still Avids.
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    Miles, hours, day's. Whichever benchmark you go by would probably be equally affected by the variables.

    Putting it in perspective. We will be riding in the dry dirt trails of the Southern California desert and mountain region. Think Mojave Desert.

    I am riding for there ride. I compete with no one but myself to go farther and climb harder. I mostly just enjoy the outdoors and the exertion. And. Jumpstart and I drops. I think I singletrack and fired roads area myself favorite.

    My kids however are wanting to join the Jr high cross country mountain biking team next year. But the environment will be the same. Up side, I probably get too learn a lot from other people involved. The down side, I'll be maintaining 2 race bikes on top of my own.

  16. #16
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    Dry and dusty conditions provide an easier maintenance environment than wet and muddy for bike (in my opinion). Focus on keeping all residual grease and lubricants cleaned off of all surfaces to prevent attracting dust and dirt as much as practical. Use of a wax based chain lube will go far in dusty conditions.

    Wipe down chain, fork stanchion tubes and rear shock after all rides to keep free of dust.
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  17. #17
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    The easiest answer is to track your rides with Strava. You can set your account private if you don't want to race the internet. If you use the browser interface, you can add individual components. I can tell you the number of hours on my suspension since the last service, and the number of miles on my tires and hubs.

  18. #18
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    Personally, I think it's better to think of most of the bike in terms of checking rather than maintenance.

    On a full-sus bike I would pop the seals off the rear suspension pivot bearings and make sure they are packed full of grease. Some bike manufacturers do this, some just fit the bearings with the little grease they come with. I would also drop the lowers off the suspension fork and check the lubrication. It's not uncommon to find not a lot of oil in there. But other than that, it's mostly just keeping an eye on things.

    Most of the regular wear items on a bike are not expensive. Frame, hub, head-set, bottom-bracket bearings, none of these bits are expensive. As long as you catch them before they get worn enough to damage the parts they're fitted into, which is pretty worn, you're safe to just wait until they start to wear and then replace them.

    The exception are the fork and shock. It's best to think of the fork like the engine on a car. It could be really manky inside and rapidly wearing itself to death and you wouldn't know about it so regular oil changes are your friend. It's surprising how much dirt can get inside a suspension fork.

    Even the fork can be split into two categories, working and wearing. In most suspension forks you have the damper and air-spring at the top, in the upper legs. These areas are very well protected from dirt ingress and if they are fully lubed to begin with will work fine for ages. Importantly, if they're not right you're going to know about it. The fork won't hold air properly or the damper will play up. You can leave these things far longer between servicing and it's reasonably safe to leave them until they indicate a problem.

    The lower fork legs are different. These are the bits that take all that sliding up and down friction and it's where any dirt that finds its way inside the fork ends up. Keeping on top of lower-leg servicing is super important as it will make the difference between the fork lasting many years or about as long as a Twinky!

    The rear shock is similar, air-can and damper. Do the air can regularly. Again, neither the air-can or fork lower-legs are expensive to service so overall, keeping on top of things is not a huge chore. Basic servicing of the fork and shock and keep an eye on everything else, fixing when required, and you should be golden :0)

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