New bikes are expensive! And once you add all of the additional gear you need onto your bikes, such as sensors, power meters, Garmin mount, pedals, water bottle cages, and more, the price really goes up. There’s no question that a good bike is an investment in your health and well-being, but how long will that investment last? What is the lifespan of a bicycle?
You can expect a well-maintained average-quality bicycle to last at least five years if used on a daily basis. High-quality bikes, on the other hand, can last ten years or more under the right conditions. By maintaining your bike, replacing worn-out parts, and storing it correctly, your bike could last can serve you for a long time.
In this article, we’ll take a look at just how long your bike should last. We’ll talk about the factors involved with the lifespan of a bike and how quickly some of the components might wear out. First, though, we’ll talk about how the quality of the bike makes it last longer.
What Factors Effect the Lifespan of a Bicycle?
The Quality of the Bike Will Affect Its Lifespan
The quality of the bike you purchase will have a large effect on its lifespan.
For example, a Walmart bike is inexpensively priced but might only last you a couple of years. With excellent maintenance, you might be able to extend that to 5 years.
On the other hand, a high-quality carbon-fiber bike could technically last for an indefinite amount of time if it is maintained and stored correctly. Higher quality bikes are made with better materials and better components, which will make them work better and last longer.
The Type of Bike Will Affect Its Lifespan
The type of bike could affect its lifespan, as well. For example, mountain bikes are designed to be sturdy and take some hard hits, so a gently used mountain bike will probably last a lot longer than a roughly used road bike with more delicate components.
On the other hand, children’s bikes are only designed to last a couple of years until they outgrow them and move on to a bigger bike.
How Much You Ride the Bicycle Will Affect Its Lifespan
The number of miles you put on a bike is just as important as how old it is. A bike that is ridden 5000 miles in a year will sustain a lot more wear and tear than a bike that is ridden just a few hundred miles a year.
In addition, a daily commute or workout will put a lot more stress on a bike than an occasional, casual ride.
Riding and Storage Conditions Can Affect the Lifespan of Your Bike
The riding conditions will also affect how long your bike will last.
If you ride your bike in the rain, mud, and grit, it will wear out faster than if you only ride in nice weather and on smooth, easy tarmac. On the other hand, if you store your bike indoors where it is well protected from weather, it will last a lot longer than if you regularly leave your bike outside in the rain. Protect your bike from adverse weather to make it last longer.
Bike Maintenance Will Affect the Life of Your Bike
Just like a car, your bike needs maintenance. And a well-maintained bike will last longer than a poorly maintained bike.
For example, your bike chain needs to be cleaned and lubricated frequently. A dirty bike chain will cause extra wear and tear on your entire drive train, which means your bike – or at least some of its expensive parts – will wear out more quickly. So keep your bike clean and well-maintained to extend its life.
Bike Damage Will Shorten the Life of Your bike
The quickest way to shorten the lifespan of your bike is to crash it. Damage to your bike can cause an early demise, so in some ways, you really can’t predict how long your bike will last. A bike crash can be an instant end to the life of your bike, while other kinds of damage might take a toll over time.
Bikes with carbon fiber and aluminum frames are impossible or at least very difficult and costly to repair, whereas steel bike frames can be fixed much more easily.
Upgrades Can Extend the Life of Your Bike
Certain upgrades can extend the life of your bike.
For example, replacing the drivetrain when it wears out will give you a few more years on your bike. However, your bike might meet an untimely end if you feel that you’ve outgrown it entirely and need to upgrade to a completely new bike. For example, you might want to give up your entry-level bike for a race bike after you’ve been riding for a while.
Although your bike might last for 5 to 10 years, it can only do so if maintained. Many bike components, such as your chain and cassette, for example, need to be replaced more frequently than your bike. But doing so will extend the life of your bike, and as long as the frame is in good stable condition, you should be able to keep riding your bike if the components are taken care of.
How Long Do Bike Components Last?
Your frame is the basic building block of your bike. Without a bike frame, you just don’t have a bike at all.
· Aluminum. Aluminum frames are lightweight and snappy. They are an economical choice, but they will only last about six years with frequent use. Once an aluminum frame is cracked, it can no longer be ridden.
· Steel. Steel makes a great bike frame because it is extra strong. But, unfortunately, it’s also extra heavy! Steel frames are sensitive to rust and can rust from the inside out. The lifespan of a steel frame is also around six years.
· Titanium. Titanium frames will last extra long, and they aren’t subject to corrosion, like steel, and they are lightweight as well. Unfortunately, they are a costly option. However, a titanium frame can last up to 40 years.
· Carbon. A carbon frame can last ten years or more. Some people say they can even last indefinitely if they are cared for properly. Carbon fiber technology is relatively new to the bike scene compared to the other types of bikes, so we are still learning about all it is capable of and how long it can last. Early carbon bikes were made differently, and those frames may not last nearly as long as the carbon frames being made today.
Average road bike tires will last anywhere from 1000 to 3000 miles. If you ride a couple of times a week, this might amount to about one and a half years. On the other hand, mountain bike tires will last for many more miles – even up to 8000.
I personally tested several sets of tires for commuting and wrote an article comparing the best commuter tires available for purchase right now. If you want your tires to last a long time, you should go and check them out.
New tires that are stored in a cool, dry place can last around 5 to 10 years. But just like on a car, tires need to be replaced regularly to keep your ride safe and enjoyable.
Your drivetrain is pretty durable and should last you a long time. The best way to keep your drivetrain working well is to replace the chain every 2000 to 3000 miles. If you continue riding with a damaged or worn-out chain, you’ll damage the chainrings and cassette, shortening their lifespan.
5 Ways To Extend the Lifespan Of Your Bike
If you want to make the most of your bicycle and you want to get the most out of it both in terms of health benefits and in terms of ROI, there are some simple ways you can extend its lifespan.
- Don’t go for the cheapest if you can afford it at all. As we’ve touched on this point several times earlier, a quality bike is going to have a longer life expectancy than a department store bike. Not even to mention that there is a world of difference in riding experience. You don’t need the most expensive bike, but even speding in the 600 dollar range is going to get you a nice bike. For example, the FX1 Disc is in this price range in makes into a perfect commuter. It is super comfortable to ride and it’s leaps and bounds better than a department store bike bought for half of its price.
- Store it properly. A bike exposed to the elements is going to age much faster than a bike kept from the elements. You don’t need to pamper the bike and keep it in a heated garage, but even keeping it protected from rain and snow is a huge benefit.
- Keep it clean. You don’t need to be obsessed with dust and minimal dirt on your bike. It may look bad, but it doesn’t damage your bike. Grime and salty water does damage bike parts on the other hand, reduce your bike’s life span. Keeping your bike decently clean, especially if your location has snowy winters, is going to make a big difference.
- Replace parts as they wear out. Chain, cassette, brake pads and bearings are moving parts in your bike and need regular maintenance. Keep an eye on them and replace them as necessary. If you don’t want to do this yourself, take your bike to your local bike shop for a tune-up once or twice a year, depending on how much you use it.
- Lubricate. Cleaning and lubing the chain is simple and makes riding more efficient. It’s a few minute long time investment that goes a long way. Get a good chain cleaning tool, like this one from ParkTool, which makes the entire process much faster.
Ultimately, a well-maintained bike is a happy bike, and it will bring you many happy hours in the saddle.