Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bicycle Maintenance

Apologies to those of you who don't care about bicycling, as that's pretty much all I'm going to talk about the rest of the week.

My 2½-year-old bicycle has been through a lot. It has 4,800 miles on it, and it's been dragged down the interstate at 70 mph, among other things. (A few things had to be replaced after that incident, but many things were not replaced.) How's it holding up?

Well, it depends on your standards. Lately, my bicycle has been running okay, albeit not exactly "brand new". The going isn't as smooth as it used to be, but I considered it to be "good enough". Certainly, any non-serious bicyclist would agree with me. It gets me where I need to go.

However...if you ask the people at the place where I bought the bike (REI), then, not so much. I don't know what a "bike tune up" does, exactly, other than that I got the first one free way back when, and that I hadn't had another once since. Amber took it in for a "tune up" while I was un Utica a couple of weeks ago, and...yeah. How much of the repairs were really "necessary" is up for debate, but I can say that it's running much better now than it was before. On last weekend's 35-mile ride, I averaged about 2 mph better than I had been.

The total amount I've spent repairing the bicycle (which, unlike car repair, I don't keep track of) is now up to about 75% of the original cost of the bicycle itself. That's a lot, right? All this time I thought I was saving money (albeit not much) by bike commuting every now and then, but now I'm not so sure. Bicycling isn't free. But saving money isn't why I do this in the first place.

Interesting fact: My rear tire has gone flat four or five times, but my front tire has NEVER gone flat. The front tire still has the original inner tube that came with the bike.

The bike is a "hybrid" bike, which means it can handle unpaved surfaces reasonably well in moderation. It can, but I think I'm done off-roading. For example, there's an unpaved stretch of the nearby American Tobacco Trail that gave me my most recent flat tire. Not only did I have to replace the inner tube, I also had to replace the tread. (Whatever punctured my tire left a pretty big hole.) But besides that, off-roading doesn't make for as pleasant a ride, and getting dirt everywhere probably isn't particularly good for the bike, either. So, I'm going to keep it on paved roads for the most part from now on. If I want to go off-road, I'll borrow Amber's mountain bike, which she pretty much never uses anymore anyway.

My next bike purchase will be a pure road bike, but after this recent round of repairs, I'm committed to keep this one for a while longer. In any event, it's prepped and ready for my next fake cross-continental bicycle journey, which begins tomorrow. Yay!

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Nothing is more deflating than getting a flat tire...