A Lemond Alpe D'Huez comes thru the door, and I ask the customer, "How can I help you?". The customer says, "Well, I think my bicycle needs a little TLC". At first glance, you could tell the bike had been ridden a fair amount. One tire was flat, and the bar tape was coming un-raveled. The first time a mechanic looks at a bike they are trying to get a wide perspective of what needs to be done. Its difficult to see everything until the bike is set-up on the workstand, at eye level, and carefully inspected.
The purpose of this article is to help you diagnose the warning signs of a bike that is in need of "TLC", as our customer put it. Below are a series of photos showing what mechanics see as serious warning signs of extreme wear, potential failure, or perhaps total replacement of bicycle/frame.
Note: These are only a small sampling of what could be going on with any given bicycle. If you're bike looks like this... I suggest you get ready for a very large repair bill.
The front chainring is extremely worn, as pictured next to a brand new chainring behind. Notice how "pointy" the ring teeth are on the black, worn ring and how flat topped the new ring (rear) looks. What happened here is the bike was ridden too long with a worn chain. Chains, cassettes, and chainrings ultimately will wear at the same rate. Depending on riding style and conditions, the rate can vary. However, common practice is to have your chain checked for wear at a minimum interval of 400-600 miles. Again, wear rates can vary from rider to rider, so you'll want to pay attention to what kind of rider you are. Best case, you have a trained professional keep track of this for you. This could have been avoided by replacing the chain at the appropriate time. The case here, we needed to replace the chain, cassette, and chainrings. Ouch!
Serious corrosion present here around the spoke nipples, and the nipple bed of the rim. Scored grooves in the brake track. These wheels arent in great shape. Likely to have a failure soon. This also could have been avoided by simply wiping down the rims, spokes, and nipples thoroughly with a mild soap and water solution. After the wheel dries a teflon or lightweight oil treatment would have been good also.
This bike hadnt been into a shop for maintenance in a very long time. This cable didnt work at all. Totally frozen. Just needs a little "TLC" and she'll be back on the road again, right?
The corrosion on this frame/bike never stops. Its everywhere. In fact, too many places. This last photo could be the most alarming. Corrosion is failure waiting to happen, and the last place you want your frame to fail is at the headtube. If this frame were to suddenly split at the headtube, while riding, it would be a very nasty picture. This was a very nice bike frame, but the owner apparently didnt think to highly of it. At least not enough to get it into a shop that will take care of it for him.
These types of things can happen to any type of bike. Nobody is immune to regular maintenance of their bicycle. Either you do-it-yourself, or you have your LBS do it, it needs to be done. Personally, I know how to paint a wall, but that doesnt excuse me from not painting my house. It needs to get done! Therefore I hire a painter and its done. Next.
If you're training for an event or simply have only a few hours a week to ride your bike, you dont want to spend this valuable time riding a poorly running bicycle, or worse have something fail on you. If you know its been some time since your last maintenance, dont wait much longer, these things can only get worse.
If you have any questions about our repair service, perhaps this page can provide some answers, or just stop by the shop with your bike.