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the Cost of Maintenance for Road Bikes

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$ 150
Feb 2008
Tempe, AZ
high-end racing bike
Preseason tune-up and replacement parts  more... close row

Description of service

The price included a complete preseason going over of all the mechanical parts, along with replacing the chain ($40) and the brake and shifter cables ($30). As it is a full service bike shop, a variety of mechanical services are available including tune ups, frame straightening, wheel building and truing, as well as sales of a wide variety of bicycles, from commuter bikes to specialty downhill race bikes. Prices vary from the completely reasonable ($50 for a for a "well=loved" Dutch-type commuter bike in good nick), to the totally obscene ($10,000+ for super-high-end, limited production bikes in exotic materials).

Review of Service

As I'd put off riding the year previously thanks to being busy most of the time and injured part of the time (excuses, excuses) I figured I should make sure the bike was in riding condition before I started piling on the miles this year. I'd planned on replacing the chain and cables as one of the cables had seized in its housing, so they were definitely getting done. And the chain had almost 3000 miles on it, so if it had stretched significantly, it was going as well. While I was getting that done, I figured I could have the shop re-grease all the bearings and (as needed) the mating surfaces and check if there was any other work that needed to be done. I've a fair bit of mechanical aptitude, but fixing bikes, like fixing cars, consumes a lot of time that I could use working, or even riding.

The shop was very professional in its services. Got the usual comment of "Steel, huh? Don't get many of those these days. Nice bike." They asked me what I needed, and what else I'd like done and, since it was a couple hours before lunch on a week day, they got straight to work while I busied myself looking at the shiny, expensive bits in display cases.

It took about an hour and fortunately there was nothing else wrong other than the stretched chain (could break at an inopportune moment, not to mention the stretch could ruin the gear teeth on the chain rings and cogs) and the seized cable.


Chains stretch from use, bits rust from non-use, lube slowly goes bad in bearings whether it gets used or not, all this means that tuneups are inevitable if you care about the condition of your exercise equipment (or transportation, if you use it as such). Whether you do them or not is up to you, but for the price of a professional tune up, you can buy an adequate kit of tools that will (mostly) last you your lifetime, if you're just taking care of your family's two or three or so bikes. And for another #30 or so, you can buy excellent books (at bike shops, no less) on bicycle maintenance instructions that takes you through all the steps of each procedure needed to keep your bike running.

But wrenching on a bike is dirty, laborious work, and it takes time and practice and patience to get it right. Sometimes it's just worth the money to pay someone else to do it so you can avoid the inconvenience. It is hard to screw up most of it, so just about any bike shop can do the basic stuff, but for more technical things like wheel building, frame straightening, bicycle fitting, and frame prep for initial build up, look for the guys in greasy shop-aprons with callouses on their hands and disproportionately large forearms. They're the ones with experience.

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