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October 24, 2017

Maintenance costs

Counting the costs of bad bike maintenance

By Simon Bone, Founder, BikeUp

19 October 2017

We all know that old familiar post-ride feeling: thirsty, hungry, and if you live in Scotland, most likely soaking and covered in dirt! For most of us, the last thing you want to do is endure the pain of cleaning your bike. And given most of us have probably had to find enough time to squeeze in the bike ride itself, the thought of spending another hour cleaning it is not overly appealing.

Sadly however, so many of those clicks, creaks and problems that seem to develop can be avoided for the most part by keeping the bike clean (or they can certainly be minimised). Any dirt that stays on a bike is going to create untold problems, especially in wetter/cooler climates. Rusty, dirty cables result in poor shifting and braking performance, and the build-up of an oily, gritty paste will wear even the most robust components down very quickly. And unless your Peter Sagan or Cav, there is unlikely to be many people volunteering to keep it clean for you.

Well tell me something I don’t already know! I hear you say. I’ll give it a go. With so many of us cycling a sizeable number of miles these days – we don’t know the exact average, but it’s not uncommon for many cyclists to ride upwards of 100 – the financial costs of poor maintenance can start to mount up. And consider that for many of us, we may be riding for 20, 30 even 40+ years of the course of lives. Wow, that is a lot of miles covered.

We thought it would be interesting to undertake some analysis on the costs of poor bike maintenance. It is important to note that given the wide range of factors at play, and the limited data available on this subject, the best we could hope for was an informed ballpark figure. But we think its still possible to get an idea of how much you might save over the course of your cycling career if you look after your bike.

So what’s the cost to me?

We considered a couple of scenarios and compared the rough costs over the course of a 40 year cycling career (if you start in your 30s there is no reason you can’t achieve this – we know plenty septuagenarian cyclists). Depending on weight, power, climate and some other factors, you will get about 3000 miles out of well maintained chain and cassette. Assuming you ride on average of 100 miles a week for 48 weeks of the year – on an mid range chain/cassette, including fitting costs – your lifetime spend amounts to roughly £5000 over the course of your life.

You might get as little as 1500 miles out of a poorly maintained chain and cassette. So, a bit of basic maths tells us that theoretically, you could spend £10,000 over the course of your cycling career! Whilst we accept that this is a worst case scenario, we would also point out that the figure doesn’t include wear of other components such as derailleurs, cables and chainrings. Oh yeah, and there is also inflation to throw in to the mix. You can see how the costs can really mount up.

Want a new bike? Look after your current bike

If you can save yourself £5,000 over the course of your cycling career (or even if it was a proportion of that), think what you could do with the money. In our experience, cyclists look for any excuse to justify buying a new steed. Well, we just made a pretty compelling case. You can thank us later.

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