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I'm wondering how people manage the required (and completed) maintenance for their bikes, especially when you have a couple each with completely different component sets (i.e. a road bike, a XC, a cruiser, etc). It seems most components are intended to get service every XX hours or miles or seasonally, while others when they're worn out or broken (I guess prevent extensive damage vs. replace wear & tear).

I'm a software developer so naturally thinking of building a web app for this (amongst other features) but would rather use something that already exists if it's available.

Looking for input on everything from "I track it in a 3-ring notebook" to "my personal mechanic takes care of all that"

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@ChrisW: those are both good references, but his question isn't how much maintenance to do. It's how to keep track of whether it's done, specifically with multiple bikes. –  zenbike Jul 23 '11 at 4:05
    
@MarkD: BTW, if you know anyone who needs a personal mechanic, I'm available. :-) –  zenbike Jul 23 '11 at 4:08
    
Excel spreadsheet is what I use for my truck. –  Moab Jul 23 '11 at 13:26
    
@Moab - that or an even simpler list may do the trick. What I'm finding is that I'm unable to service just a single bike at a given interval. I'm like "well I might as well go over the other ones while I'm greasy and I've got the tools out..." I was thinking something more structured might give me a little discipline (though it's tough to argue too much preventative maintenance) –  markd Jul 25 '11 at 2:25
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2 Answers 2

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There are many different philosophies about how much maintenance a bicycle needs, and on what schedule or basis it should be performed.

As I prefer to never be worried about whether my bikes will fail under me on a ride, I am more meticulous than most. I currently have 4 bikes, each with different function.

I service each bike when it's time to change the chain. I do that at 1000 miles ridden. I have yet to need more than chains, cables, and lubrication, and I've never had a more serous mechanical than a flat tire on a ride since I started this maintenance scheme.

Your question, though, is about how I keep track of that regime. I've tried several things, including an Excel sheet, a Rails based web app I built, and just logging the miles on paper, but the problem with all of them is that they are dependent on me to remember to use them.

Given my chosen schedule, if I forget to log a day, or a week, of riding it's not going to hurt me.

But what I'd love to see is an iPhone/Android bike computer app with the ability to set more than 2 bikes, and to set maintenance reminders based on GPS miles logged for each bike. Perhaps with an "x distance or y time, whichever comes first" based reminder, with the mileage and timeframe user adjustable.

Haven't found it yet though. My bike computer will let me set a mileage reminder, but I'd need one on each bike.

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When it breaks I fix it. I check wear on the chain (with a stretch gauge) every few months, and when I need to replace my rear cluster (as evidenced by poor shifting) it's time to repack the bearings. (This works out to about 5000 miles for me.)

A bike kept inside in a dry environment doesn't deteriorate, save for the tires [and maybe, I suppose, hydraulic brake fluid]. (Yes, the lube does deteriorate, but it would take 30 years or so for it to be far enough gone to worry about.) So no need for service every 3 months or some such -- it's purely based on mileage and wear-and-tear.

What can break??

Note that the things that can actually break on a bike are quite unpredictable. If chain, sprockets, and bearings are serviced regularly, tires (and brake pads) replaced when worn/cracked, cables and shifters given a spot of lube occasionally, and the cables examined for fraying and wear on the same occasions, there isn't much else you can do.

Spokes can break, but you don't know if that will be at 100 miles or 10K, so you basically have to wait for one or two to break to know that it's time to relace the wheel. Freehub pawls, shifter pawls and springs, derailer springs, etc generally last forever but can fail without warning (though usually a bad pawl will begin to slip before it goes out entirely). A broken chain is generally the result of a seriously worn drive train, serious maladjustment of the derailers, or really lousy shifting on the part of the cyclist. Fork/frame failures occur, but only on bikes that have been seriously abused. Blowouts, of course, can occur, but are largely insensitive to maintenance.

Probably the most likely failure (other than tire problems) is simply a bolt falling out somewhere. This is most common on racks and fenders, but can, eg, occur (in rare circumstances) on the bolt holding in a derailer idler wheel. So tightening bolts isn't a bad thing to do occasionally (if you know which ones to tighten and how tight).

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Good advice - one thing I'm dealing with is suspension and pivots, plus I don't really track mileage (maybe riding days or at best approx. hours). Full suspension bikes do have a few more things to review on a regular basis... –  markd Jul 25 '11 at 2:27
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