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I think there is a subjective feeling of "newness" to a bike which is straight out of the box. What is it mechanically and aesthetically that creates that? What can I do to prolong, preserve or restore this state?

N.b. I know of course that simply maintaining the bike goes a long way to doing this, but is there anything specific that can be done?

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As long as you do not believe, that it is YOUR bike, you will feel it like new. –  Alexander Jul 10 at 20:07
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Why would you want to? A good bike is like a comfortable pair of shoes -- they fit you, you fit them, they take you where you need to go, and you're happy. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 10 at 20:38
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@DanielRHicks: right on. Bikes are meant to be ridden. Every scuff in the paint is a reminder of a previous adventure. Anyone can buy a new bike, but the wear of thousands of miles ridden has to be earned. –  whatsisname Jul 11 at 4:25
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I think that most of "new" feeling comes from bike (or shoe, computer, whatever) not being regulated properly (for you). As Daniel said (wrote?), it is like with shoes. After setting it up and getting used to it you stop noticing it so much. Rest will be keeping it clean and shiny. –  PTwr Jul 11 at 7:11
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@whatsisname - it isn't that I do or don't agree with you but the question is a not whether it is a good thing to want a bike that feels new. The question is about what contributes to a subjective sensation of newness for a bike and what can be done to maintain or restore that. –  user12879 Jul 11 at 7:39

6 Answers 6

Aesthetically, it's just a case of keeping it clean. Use a toothbrush to clear accumulated dirt out of the little nooks and crannies, like the joints between tubes (especially around the bottom bracket). Waxing the frame can help keep it keep that brand-new lustre.

The back of the chainring and spider, sprockets, rear hub, and dropouts, can get grotty pretty quickly, so use a gentle degreaser to keep on top of it. Same for the chain. Use a brush to get all the little bits of road dirt out of the links, then, with a clean brush, apply oil liberally. Brush it right in there. Wipe off any excess afterwards. As far as the feeling of mechanical "newness" goes, a clean, well-oiled drivetrain is the biggest contributor IMO.

Edit: Bike cleanliness pr0n

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One proven way to retain the "new" feeling of a bike is to keep adding new parts to it.

It's a well known (I would say proven but can't find the article) fact that people experience a noticeable performance boost when riding a new bike or upgrading gear. This expectation of better performance actually does lead to a small performance increase. The same thing happens when upgrading a bike, you think these wheels will make me faster and lo and behold you rode a little quicker that day.

There are cheaper and more mundane things you can do to retain a bikes newness feeling such as clean and maintain that other posters have suggested. But the bottom line is each time you ride a bike things stretch and wear. Little things such as listed below Will help to maintain the new-ness feel of a bike.:

  • tightening you gear shifter cables occasionally can have a big impact on how crisp your gear changes feel.
  • a periodic brake bleed on hydraulic discs will keep them feeling new.
  • tighten everything back to the right torque will stop creaks.
  • ensure your cockpit hasn't moved around too much will keep the feel right.
  • service suspension every 30/40 hours.
  • keep air at your chosen level will maintain grip and feel.
  • and keep everything lubed.
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I got that faster new bike bike feeling when I went back to my old favorite. Sigh. –  andy256 Jul 11 at 9:43

Usually when you take a bike out of the box, it's disassembled. I'm guessing that this isn't what you are referring to :P.

If you want your bike just like when you got it from the bike shop, there's a few easy things you can do.

Keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure. If you get a decent pump, it should be easy to keep the tires inflated. Depending on what type of pressure you have in your tires, you should probably check the pressure at least once a week.

Keep the chain clean and lubricated. You can use a chain cleaner to clean the chain. How often depends on how dirty the conditions you ride in. Then apply some new chain lubricant and wipe off the excess.

Other than that, you should check for loose parts every once in a while. It's usually easier and cheaper to fix it when it first becomes loose than after you've been using it for a prolonged period when it was loose. Crank arms are known to come loose and can be easily damaged beyond repair if you used when loose. Along the same lines, replace brake pads when they need to be replaced, not after you hear the sound of metal grinding on metal.

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Yes, I was just trying to avoid re-using 'new' in the sentence! Thanks for the tips. –  user12879 Jul 10 at 17:09

Good answers above. I would add::

  • new bar tape
  • wash and service your bike weekly
  • buy yourself new gloves or jersey occasionally - this one is about the bike/human relationship :-)

These things keep the bike running at it's optimum. And yes, allow the bike to mature. It gains character. If you look after your bike, it's not the bike that changes but you.

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I agree with what everyone else has said, but i'd add.. aside from your frame, your bike SHOULD be pretty much new.

A well maintained bike will have all these components replaced on regular inteverals:

bar tape (I do this once a year) Chain (I do this once or twice a year) bottom bracket (maybe every 5 years) brake/derailleur cables (once a year) Big chain rings (when they get warped) Brake pads (once a year) Bike tires (once or twice a year)

You get the idea...

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I agree with most answers, clean it right afer use in dirty/muddy environment, regurarly clean and service it and periodically change gearshift cables and brake cables (if it applies). Avoid keeping it unprotected outdoors or in humid places. If this doesn't conflicts with your budget: don't let the saddle and grips or bar tape get too old, because depending on design and quality they degrade and show wear marks that the perfectionist eye hates.

But I would add: do not install (too much) accesories or decals. Some people tend to add more and more accesories with time. Adhesive dacals, ties, etc. look good when recently applied or installed but over all, they alter bike aesthetic design intent, so when you look at it the image you get is far from being the catalog's photo.

Use paint and plastic/vinil protectants that smell like new plastic/rubber. When you first get the bike it was probably recently trated with such protectants / embellishments, and if you went to a store, you probably got a lot of that smell, and your brain most likely asociated that smell with the new bike. If one gets slopy with cleaning, sooner or later the bike smells like old lube mixed with dirt, yikes!

Finally: keep an old bike near, change friend/ride buddies regularly, show them the old bike a couple of times then appear with the new one. Nothing says "new" like a few compliments! Hehehe.

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