Bike maintenance costs – who knew?!

I just picked up my bike from the local shop.  I’m riding in the city’s big, annual century ride in a couple weeks and I wanted it to be in top condition.  Over $250 later (as much as my wife’s entire bike cost!), I now have a smooth-running machine!

This comes as a bit of a shock to those of us who have owned bikes for dozens of years and have never spent more than a few bucks on them (maybe to replace a tube, for example).  But when you start getting “serious” about riding (i.e. you’re riding a couple hundred miles per month or more), you’ll notice that things simply wear out!

My total above consisted of a full tuneup ($80), which means they adjust the front and rear derailleurs, adjust the brakes, clean everything, etc, a new chain ($85 – I had to get the fancy, extra-light one of course!), new cables ($60, again, I sprung for the high-end Teflon-coated ones), and of course I had to pick up some nutrition supplements while I was there, as well as some chain lube!

All of these are normal maintenance items, by the way, that need regular adjustments or replacements, depending on how much you ride.  A chain will typically last 2500 miles or so, I’m told, which in my case was about 8 months.  Tires are less – more like 2000 miles.  Adjustments are even more frequent – most you can do yourself, but you probably want a professional to do it once per year or so, to fix everything you’ve messed up!  Nutrition supplements are a constant money drain, but that’s a whole other discussion…

I could have saved a bunch by buying this stuff on-line and doing the adjustments myself, but I wanted to have a professional do it, and I figured I’d give them some business as well.  (It’s good to keep the local bike shops in business!)  I’m a mechanical engineer, and it’s not even obvious to me what needs adjusting when.  Plus, it’s much easier to mess things up than it is to make them better, I’ve found!

So, in conclusion, although cycling doesn’t have the huge “recurring costs” of some sports like golf (I was spending $250-$350/month when I was golfing), it does require more than most people would think.  So, be forewarned, when you buy that fancy, all-carbon bike, you should also be prepared to continue buying fancy maintenance parts for it as long as you’re riding!


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