I tried to formalize the maintenance of a bicycle. Every component must be periodically checked using the following algorithm:

    1: Wait for appropriate time
    Measure the component wearout
    Is it ok?
        yes: go to (1)
            Is the damage critical?
                yes: replace
                no: repair

Every component has a method of measuring it's state. The best one is a special tool, giving the precise value of wearout. But not every one has it. I created a table for all the components I could think of:

| Component                    | Measuring method                            |
| Chain dirty, needs           | Visual inspection.                          |
| cleaning and lubrication     | Chain links become stuck to each other.     |
| Chain elongation             | Special tool                                |
| Rear cassette gears worn out | Special tool                                |
| Front chain ring worn out    | ?                                           |
| Tires                        | Visual inspection.                          |
| Tubes                        | ?                                           |
| V-brake pads                 | Feeling of bad breaking. Visual inspection. |
| Disk brakes disks            | ?                                           |
| Cables                       | ?                                           |
| Fork                         | ?                                           |
| Oil inside fork              | ?                                           |

There are more component that also require inspection and replacement.

Can somebody fill in the question marks in my table?

  • Wheel bearings, frame pivots (MTB Soft tail), wheel bearings/hubs, spokes tension/wheel true., quick release, bottom bracket, headset.......
    – mattnz
    Jul 25, 2015 at 22:23
  • search this site using the maintenance tag and you'll find a pile of related questions, some of which are pretty comprehensive. But a lot say "it depends" because there's a lot of difference between riding a pro time trial 500km a day and riding a BSO to the shops once a week.
    – Nuі
    Jul 27, 2015 at 21:27
  • @Nuі "there's a lot of difference between riding a pro time trial 500km a day and riding a BSO to the shops once a week" - that's why I'm talking about special tools giving a precise value of wear.
    – user4035
    Jul 28, 2015 at 9:57
  • @user4035 yes, and buying $1000 worth of tools to maintain a $100 BSO doesn't make any sense.
    – Nuі
    Aug 22, 2015 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


For most of your ?s, I would use visual inspection.

If you always check your chain for wear, the chain rings and cassette will last a long time.

Some brake pads, rotors and rims have waer indicator guides built into them.

Fork is greased, not oiled. Fork is inspected for cracking, a weak point is below the crown.

Frame should also be inspected for cracks.

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