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This question is about the economics of owning and maintaining a bike.

I bought a brand new mountain bike for $250 some months ago. I ride about 30 miles a week on paved trails for occasional exercising. The cost of a yearly tune up in my area is about $80.

Should I forgo the tune up and buy a new bike every 2 or 3 years? The bike was bought online and is of similar or better quality than those cost $350+ at REI. Entry level but for my purpose it is fine.

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I guess I do most of my own "tune ups", so I don't know what a typical charge is, but $80 sounds to be on the high side. But a bike needs to have cables and brakes adjusted roughly once a year, and the need is actually more with a relatively new bike (though the shop should provide the first tuneup for free). So you can't really forgo the tuneup and expect to have a good riding experience. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 5 '12 at 3:32
Why is this a comment, not an answer? – user unknown Feb 7 '12 at 2:07
Probably because it only deals with one aspect of the question. – Neil Fein Feb 7 '12 at 19:04
up vote 10 down vote accepted

My answer would be:

Politely ask the bike shop what you are getting for that $80 tune-up.

I'm of the same mind as @danielrhicks, $80 sounds a lot for a tune-up, unless they are trueing your wheels (in which case you're paying for the mechanics skills), and replacing parts (in which case you're paying

Depending on what they are doing for that $80, I would be trying to do some/all of that tune-up myself - regular cleaning, pumping of tires, checking "stuff" isn't loose, visual check wheels aren't buckled.

If you don't have the basic skills of bike upkeep, maybe there is a local community centre, or bike club that give free classes on how to take care of your bike...or even ask questions here! :)

To me, if you take regular care of your bike then the big jobs are seldom and cost less.

I'm not saying don't get those regular tune-ups, but maybe you can ask them to focus on the brake cables/wheel straightening - jobs you can't do yourself.

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  • Bikes should not be disposable.
  • A nice and good bike that fits you is worth much more than the material value of the bicycle itself, even if it is expensive.
  • Finding a good bicycle is more (and much more difficult) than just paying for it.

So, my (biased) suggestion would be: keep riding, keep going "stronger", keep getting pleasure from it, and notice how much you can benefit from quality over cheapness.

And, if you ride for fitness (or even SPECIALLY so), your health (or lack thereof) due to bicycling itself in the first place, might be worth way more than the elusive cost savings of buying and spending "cheap".

From personal and lots of friends' experience:

  • A good bike makes you ride more;
  • A bad bike makes you ride less;
  • A good bike lasts WAY longer than a bad one, and you will always ride with best quality;
  • A tune-up on a good bicycle lasts WAAAAYYY longer than the same tune-up on a low-profile bike.
  • You can get your money back, but you cannot get your time back, or your health back, or your pleasure back;
  • (this I got on the web) "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten."
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I started doing my own maintenance way back when rather than pay "shop rates". Simple adjustments of the sort you mention are easy to learn to do and require a minimum of tools.

For the price of one "tune up" you could buy a nice repair book and a set of basic tools.

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+1 With one of these Lennard Zinn books + a few tools the OP should be good to go and save $$ every year. – user313 Feb 6 '12 at 19:18
ParkTool is a nice resource as well. – user313 Feb 6 '12 at 19:24

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