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How Much Work Do You Put Into Your Bike?

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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

How Much Work Do You Put Into Your Bike?

Old 10-19-13, 02:00 PM
  #1  
Blue_Bulldog
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How Much Work Do You Put Into Your Bike?

I work on my bike a lot.

One, because she's my only mode of transportation and having her in tip top at all times, well that's just common sense. It's like keeping oil changed in a car. Difference being, a car has more automated systems, and a bike, you have to do a little more manual maintenance. For two, I happen to like my bike a lot. I put a lot of work into her to get her just the way I like, and I take pride in that. When I go somewhere, I don't want to be squeaking or creaking, or grinding chains. I don't want her looking like a piece of junk.

I had this roommate at the last place I was staying, who would break my onions all the time about how much I'd work on my bike. He'd make cracks like I was working on it "like it was a chopper or something" and that he saw my bike upside down more than right side up (which is a lie). I've had other people make comments like "If you're working on it so much, why don't you get a newer, nicer one?" and I have to explain I'm not fixing, I'm maintaining. And anything I'm fixing, is when my bike is in anything less than perfect working order. But I know there's lots of people who don't do that much.

How are you fellow Car Free/Light folks on this? How often to you work on your bike? How often do you leave the house with chain grease under your nails? Is it a chore or a pleasure? Chime in.
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Old 10-19-13, 02:05 PM
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If it's wrong, it bugs me, it's fixed. I probably leave the house with grease on my hands even more often than I do with bike in hand.
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Old 10-19-13, 02:41 PM
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I don't need to work on my bikes very often because nothing ever goes wrong with them. All of my bikes are singlespeed or fixed gear, there is no maintenance except lubing a chain or replacing it when it's stretched. Things such as tires and brakepads last for a long time. I don't waste time or money giving my bike cosmetic beauty treatments.
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Old 10-19-13, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I don't need to work on my bikes very often because nothing ever goes wrong with them. All of my bikes are singlespeed or fixed gear, there is no maintenance except lubing a chain or replacing it when it's stretched. Things such as tires and brakepads last for a long time. I don't waste time or money giving my bike cosmetic beauty treatments.
All of the above applies to my two principal bikes. The primary use bike is equipped with a Sachs 7speed IGH with coaster brake. The bike has been used for 12 years in all weather conditions and has over 50,000 miles. The secondary bike with a Sachs Torpedo 3 speed IGH with coaster brake is 13 years old has about 20,000 miles. Both are get on and go bikes, and my maintenance schedule for both bikes match Wolfchilds. Bikes are made for going, not fussing around with IMO.
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Old 10-19-13, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by RaleighSport View Post
If it's wrong, it bugs me, it's fixed.
^This is me normally too.

Sometimes I get bored and I'll mess with the bikes while watching TV or something, though and start fiddling around. I want to be able to fix whatever breaks myself and a bike seems simple enough to poke around on. Like the one time I took the axle out of this bike hub and all these little ball bearings fell out... that was a learning experience. For regular maintenance, though, I mean how long does it take to change brake pads, chains, or tires?
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Old 10-19-13, 04:11 PM
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My main ride is a Mercian custom with Rohloff OEM setup and cartridge-bearing BB & front hub (Phil) and headset (King), with all manner of heavy duty parts for loaded touring. Maintenance is as minimal as I've ever known, which was part of the purpose of the design.
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Old 10-19-13, 04:13 PM
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I have quite a few bikes, so i'm often doing some kind of maintenance or some sort of experimental parts swap or something else along those lines.

Part of me wishes I'd never accumulated so many bikes, b/c it'd be so much easier to just have something to commute/ride roads on and something fun for the trails. And, yeah, I could prolly sell off some bikes and simplify, but the fact is: I'm a hopeless addict. I buy random frames and embark on new projects with alarming frequency.

BlueBullDog, I think the fact that you keep your bike in-tune and well-lubed is laudable. I'm not surprised that ppl try to heckle you about it, b/c many ppl do not appreciate that putting time/effort into things will help make them last much longer. Keep up the good work. Your bike will only become cooler as it gets older--- ppl who neglect their bikes end up with a POC that they've run into the ground.

I just did some (fairly overdue) routine maintenance on my roadbike the other day (this and my geared mtb are the only complete bikes I have with derailers, but I have a project or 2 in the works with derailers as well); what a PITA compared to my singlespeed/FG/IGH rigs. Unbelievable how much more there is to clean and lube with the derailer gears...
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Old 10-19-13, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Alekhine View Post
My main ride is a Mercian custom with Rohloff OEM setup and cartridge-bearing BB & front hub (Phil) and headset (King), with all manner of heavy duty parts for loaded touring. Maintenance is as minimal as I've ever known, which was part of the purpose of the design.
Pics of the KoM, please. Also, did you have to pay customs/duty fees?
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Old 10-19-13, 05:05 PM
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I keep them in working order.
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Old 10-19-13, 05:10 PM
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Interesting

I mean as far as the maintenance, yeah I know I probably clean and lube my bike more than your average bear. I'll cop to that. And I spent about 3 hours today trying to track down a squeak I was getting, and trying to kill a brake squeal. And I kind of noticed... working on my bike is pretty relaxing. I guess maybe I should jot it down on my Zen list. (I know, I know, it was a book. I know)

I guess I can kinda see both sides. While it might seem to some as useless to do cosmetic stuff... I kind of like having a nice, clean bike. Maybe subconsciously I feel like the haters we talk about in the other threads who think I have a DUI or am some bum or something... if my bike is clean, quiet, and looking slick... they'll know I'm not those stereotypes.

With me though, I think it's more of a pride and Zen thing. I can respect someone who wants as little maintenance as possible, but I suppose if it's relaxing, its okay.
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Old 10-19-13, 05:37 PM
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My Kona needs next to no maintenance; seriously, the obvious chain lubing is about the only thing I have to do with the bike more than once every two months. Even keeping the tires inflated is a minimal thing. (Unless you count twirling barrel adjusters every now and then to be "maintenance"....)
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Old 10-19-13, 05:40 PM
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I work on my bikes for the enjoyment of it, some I do more to than others. I spent today taking the brakes and levers off of my wife's Raleigh Twenty and polishing them with Simichrome, they are aluminum but look like chrome plate now. I am going to be tearing my Raleigh Roadster completely down over the winter and giving it a thorough cleaning as well as polishing all the chrome bits. It is also getting a few add on things, like a new rack and a full chain case. Also have some wheels to build for a couple of project bikes I have coming along. I also need to head down to the thrift store... they called and have what appears to be an old recumbent that has come in, from the crappy cellphone picture it is either a homebuilt or possibly an early Easyracer (mid 70's).

FWIW I always have at least one bike ready to roll.

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Old 10-19-13, 05:40 PM
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About five minutes a week, distributed.
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Old 10-19-13, 06:18 PM
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I used to work on my bikes constantly, then I finally realized that I was buying bikes that could not stand the rigors of my commute.....then the buying spree commenced. Now with bikes that can better handle what I demand from them, I hardly ever work on them.

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Old 10-19-13, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by surreal View Post
Pics of the KoM, please. Also, did you have to pay customs/duty fees?
Sure thing.

I haven't taken a photo of this bike in 2 years, so this is an older incarnation of the KoM from when I lived in the city. Maybe I'll dig out the camera and post some up to date pics tomorrow in the "what do you ride" thread. I have since switched to a regular Technomic stem and the Nitto Noodle bars, and no longer use the Ortlieb handlebar bag. I went with Sheldon Brown's solution for the Rohloff shifter with the drop bars, mounted to a sawed-off MTB bar end extension.



Closeup of the Rohloff OEM sliding dropouts on the Mercian frame:



Loaded for touring, again in its original form.



Love this bike.
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Old 10-19-13, 07:14 PM
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Hottness. Nice choices for colors, and an excellent build.
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Old 10-19-13, 07:20 PM
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Thanks! Couldn't resist the British racing green. I also redid the lug lining about a year ago with a gold paint pen after a dose of afternoon courage. I must have been high in choosing white when I ordered the frame built, which ended up reminding me of those really dark 1970s jeans with the white threads. Much prettier now!
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Old 10-19-13, 08:20 PM
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If it's broke I fix it, if it needs lube I lube it. When it gets super filthy I wash it. I would rather ride it than work on it.
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Old 10-19-13, 08:26 PM
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I think I washed my bike twice in twelve years and about 28,000KMs, I lube the chain when it starts to get loud and that's about it... Oh I replaced the chain once and the brake pads once...
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Old 10-19-13, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
My Kona needs next to no maintenance; seriously, the obvious chain lubing is about the only thing I have to do with the bike more than once every two months. Even keeping the tires inflated is a minimal thing. (Unless you count twirling barrel adjusters every now and then to be "maintenance"....)
I disagree. On a daily basis I encounter cyclists with chainring scrape, wobbly wheels, noisy chains, creaks... all indicating the need for maintenance.

There is nothing nicer and safer than a bike that functions correctly.

I don't completely agree with the frequency mentioned here, but it will give a good idea. One example is the need to true wheels on an annual or semi-annual basis. You don't have to do this, but you'll be replacing the wheel well before its prime.
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Old 10-19-13, 09:07 PM
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Good advise about the wheels, I have a winter and summer set of wheels. During the winter the summer ones get any needed attention and vise versa for the winter ones. It's nice having 2 sets, I am never down do to wheel problems like broken spokes etc.
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Old 10-19-13, 09:29 PM
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I don't tinker a whole lot... but I will go once a week and give her a real good once over. Go through and wipe off a lot of dirt/road crap, excess grease, make sure everything is rolling and moving or not moving how it should, and just make sure nothing needs doing. Again, I'm kind of obsessive about everything running silent and smooth.

Today was a rare moment, but if I didn't find that squeak... I was gonna re-think my stance on pacifism
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Old 10-19-13, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Blue_Bulldog View Post
I work on my bike a lot.

One, because she's my only mode of transportation and having her in tip top at all times, well that's just common sense. It's like keeping oil changed in a car. Difference being, a car has more automated systems, and a bike, you have to do a little more manual maintenance. For two, I happen to like my bike a lot. I put a lot of work into her to get her just the way I like, and I take pride in that. When I go somewhere, I don't want to be squeaking or creaking, or grinding chains. I don't want her looking like a piece of junk.

I had this roommate at the last place I was staying, who would break my onions all the time about how much I'd work on my bike. He'd make cracks like I was working on it "like it was a chopper or something" and that he saw my bike upside down more than right side up (which is a lie). I've had other people make comments like "If you're working on it so much, why don't you get a newer, nicer one?" and I have to explain I'm not fixing, I'm maintaining. And anything I'm fixing, is when my bike is in anything less than perfect working order. But I know there's lots of people who don't do that much.

How are you fellow Car Free/Light folks on this? How often to you work on your bike? How often do you leave the house with chain grease under your nails? Is it a chore or a pleasure? Chime in.
Riding a bike is a mostly utilitarian experience for me, but the aesthetic part is important, too. I'm not quite a maintenance geek, but I do try to take care of things. I clean and lube my chain about once a week. In the winter, I clean the rims at the same time I'm cleaning the chain. I ride about 70-100 miles/week, and I replace the brake pads about three times a year, the chain about once a year, and the rims about once every 18 months. I can tolerate some noise from the contents of the panniers, but generally, any kind of odd noise, especially from squealing brakes, is completely intolerable to me, and I will not rest until I can figure out a way to quiet things down. Recently, my new Brooks saddle started making creaking noises, and I seriously considered getting rid of it before I managed to solve the problem. Sometimes I suspect I'm being a bit fussy, but at the end of the day it's way more rewarding to ride a well-maintained, high-quality bike than it is to ride a rusting, squeaking piece of Sh*t.
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Old 10-19-13, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by bragi View Post
I replace the rims about once every 18 months.
Holy Cow! Why?
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Old 10-19-13, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Blue_Bulldog View Post
With me though, I think it's more of a pride and Zen thing. I can respect someone who wants as little maintenance as possible, but I suppose if it's relaxing, its okay.
It's a pride thing. That you find it relaxing says it all and says "Go for it."

I'm in the keep it simple camp, that's why I don't go in for exotic "high performance" gear. I want dependability. There are other things in my life that I'm focused on. A bike is a way to get there.

I really don't care much what others think. While my bike is in good mechanical condition, dust on the fenders keeps the lookie-loos away, and my saddle, while comfortable looks ragged and does not invite thievery. I love my squeaky brakes. They warn traffic of my existence precisely when I'm coming to an intersection.

So I follow the Tao not Zen.

You are doing everything right, and so am I.
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