At What Point Do You Replace Your Bike?

I was talking to my buddy today about his bike. He had told me that he was experiencing some mechanical problems and considered parting out his bike. As I dug deeper, he was able to describe the problem. Basically his freewheel isn’t grabbing anymore. During the conversation he talked about buying one of my old road bikes from me. I reassured him that it wouldn’t cost more than $30 to fix the problem on his bike and recommend he go that route. But somehow I think he has it in his mind to buy a new/different bike instead.

Personally I would only replace bike if:

1. It was stolen.
2. If the frame cracked.

Otherwise, I’d fix things as they broke. What about you, when is your breaking point having to buy a new bike?


  1. Moe

    When I get bored from it…

  2. Drew

    When the cost of repair exceeds my perceived value for that particular bicycle.

  3. Ghost Rider

    +1 for Drew’s assessment…although I’ve been known to throw money at expensive problems even though the bike is no longer worth fixing.

  4. Ghost Rider

    The freewheel “fix” is free, too. Just unscrew it, soak the entire freewheel in solvent for a couple days, blow dry with an air hose and drip motor oil into the back of it. I like to put my freewheels into the toaster oven at low heat (225 degrees) so that oil gets down deep into the pawls and bearings. Unless the pawls are sheared or the toothed ring they catch on is worn away, this method fixes 99 % of such problems.

  5. Elliot

    Buy a new one every year…its good for the industry. I work in a bike shop in NJ, a new career for me, I’ve adopted 3 bikes since I started working. This year I may actually buy a bike that we sell – Cervelo.

  6. stevierayfan

    i have been kicking this very week on this very topic! i commute on a 1984 Schwinn le tour,with a trunk & panniers, full fenders etc,i just really finished completey dressing it within the last couple months ago,it’s smooth and not given me one bit of problem.i made the mistake of jumping on a 08″ (not shwinn)model at my LBS,bad mistake!,how things have changed!,it’s lite,upright bars,thumb shifting,the last time i had this feeling was when i saw the “new” girl in jr high!

  7. Michael

    I have different bikes for different needs. As those needs change the style of bike may need to as well (i.e. from a road style bike to a more cyclocross style as the route to work now uses more trails). Also for generating new ideas. A new frame or geometry style can start the creative juices flowing and may give you a whole new excitement about commuting. For example, my folding bike comes inside with me at work instead of leaving outside to weather the elements.

  8. Noah

    1) Stolen

    2) Broken Frame

    3) Damage beyond the cost of replacement (totalled)

  9. Joel

    Well, there’s replace like you mention: stolen, cracked frame. Then there’s “replace”: take a wee-little bit of necessary repair as justification for more equipment. My current finances being what they are I’m leaning towards the first definition, but dream of the day when I can go by the second.

  10. Quinn

    For, I too am facing this issue right now, I bought a used bike, I was told it was an ’05, I had it about 6 months, did some research and its an ’02, its aluminum, I know Al fatigues, and I have No idea about its previous use, so IM thinking heavily about replacing it.

    Otherwise, I replace bikes, when I feel they are worn out or the repair is above the value

  11. Mike

    Unless something is wrong with the frame, repair, repair, repair… until I get bored with it and sell it. Upgrading and doing my own work and maintenance is rewarding. But there’s always something new try, even if it means totally disassembling a favorite (or only) frame and building it up into something new to try a different position or style.

  12. Val

    Replace my bike….the words sound like english, but I can’t make them seem meaningful…repalcing components, now, that happens periodically over time. Frame is cracked (or in several peices, for me), time for a new frame; pay enough attention, and all the parts get replaced one at a time, the same way all the cells of your body die and are replenished every seven years. This means the expense is spread out, and lower in impact, and the bike is forever fresh. I did have one stolen 28 years ago (more than enough), and wound up recreating it with nearly identical components and similar frame. I didn’t really consider it a replacement, merely another iteration of the same bike. I still have it.

  13. Mike Myers

    I haven’t “replaced” a bike yet. I’ve added to the collection several times. 🙂 Seriously, I’m going to replace my grocery getter next year when the Gary Fisher Simple City comes out. I’m using an Ibex flat bar road bike for that purpose, and it’s been great, but the Simple City has the cool basket and all.

    According to the email I got from Gary Fisher, the Simple City will be in shops in March 2008, barring any unforeseen problems.

    I would only replace a bike if it was wrecked beyond belief—-or if a comparable bike I preferred became available.

  14. RL

    I recently fell inlove with this bike…

    I may just turn my 925 to make it look like that….

  15. Ben C

    Replace the bike if you are not using the right equipment for your purpose. I use a converted mountain bike for commuting in the streets of Fullerton/Anaheim. I can’t get any more speed than 35MPH when I am going down Brea Blvd. I pedaling as fast as I can and I have run out of gears.

  16. Ghost Rider

    I don’t think you really need to replace the whole bike in a case like that…merely dialing in things like stem length and saddle height can help fit an old bike to a new purpose, and you can always change out the gearing to get more speed — slap a bigass ring on there!!

  17. Dominic Dougherty

    30 dollars to replace the freewheel?! Hell, I can go to Walmart and get a brand new bike for that!… or something along those lines. Bikes fatigue and eventually become worthless, but the memories become priceless. Take pictures, sell the bike. Go get yourself some brand new memories.

  18. Ghost Rider

    Dominic, SOME bikes fatigue and eventually become worthless…you know, bikes with aluminum frames or poorly-made “bike-like objects” sold by the big box stores.

    On the other hand, I’ve got three bikes in my stable that are each well over 20 years old (a ’71 Astra, an ’83 Bianchi — with about 20K miles on it — and an ’84 Trek) and are in perfectly functional condition…with a little care, a steel bike lasts forever! That old business about bikes losing their strength over time is a myth.

  19. Dominic Dougherty

    Sure thing Ghost, I’ve got a 52 Columbia that an old man sold me out of his barn… so that I could have some good times cruising along the beach with my girlfriend… You’ve got 3 20 year old bikes to create memories on… what about the poor guy that doesn’t even have 1 20 year old bike? Pass along the fun!

  20. Greg Raisman

    “when is your breaking point having to buy a new bike?”

    Well… can I get away with it? Will my wife be mad at me? If so, for how long?

  21. PushingWind

    GhostRider is right by saying “slap a bigass ring on there!” I had a 1996 Gary Fisher Wahoo frankenstein bike with 1.25″ slick tires. An XT rear cassette with a 56t up front. Monster legs were built pushing that thing around Denver. I could sustain 25 with moderate effort, once you got going that is. A little minor grind on the rear chainstay for clearance was all it took. Sadly, frank died 2 years later with a cracked rear chainstay. On to the next frank bike.

  22. Tom

    Whenever my wife isn’t looking

  23. Lance

    I’m seeing this question a lot today (for some reason), and from my own 60+ year experience with the two wheel wonders, the life-expectancy of a bicycle is best stated as ‘identical to a car’. Now, plug in what a car-lover would think of a 1964-1/2 Mustang vs a 1981 Chevette vs a 2003 Ford Taurus. Ok, in a nutshell, there’s your bicycle lifespan answer. Do you want to maintain it (chains, chainrings, brakes, cables, bearings, BB’s, etc.)? Did you wreck (total) it? Is it worth maintaining, or did you buy it to ‘drive the wheels off it and toss it’? I mean, I’ve bought ‘Wally World’ $79 wonders and rode them like I stole them – until some fool stole them. What was I actually out? I’ve got a nice 2007 Cannondale that set me back almost $2k in the garage that I value far more than my daughter valued her purity, and if stolen, the FBI would HAVE to be notified! Some like to buy-and-sell yearly, some every 5-years, some are hoarders, some, well, you get the picture. And, of course, just like any car collector, yes, I have a couple of ’63-Corvettes’ (bicycles, actually) in the garage, I also have a ‘1976 Chevette’ (a Wally World ‘Pacific Bike’ in there too). I maintain my bikes, some I ride far harder than I should, some have claimed me crazy for doing so much as ‘replacing the chain’ on my Wally bike…but hey, it’s like a really ugly dog, it actually rides smooth, and well, like the dog, ‘who’s going to steal that ugly thing?’ (I can just LAY a chain across the frame, and no one comes near it…no lock needed!)

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