I'm looking to get 3 family bikes functioning as well as possible. I've replaced all the cables, but now want to get the gears as close to new as is sensible. All bikes old >10 years I would guess:Trek 4300, Kona Lana'i & Ridgeback mx24. Initial Q is, apart from the chain & cassette, which gear components degrade the most? Rear mech, front mech, shifters & chainring. Trying to do a cost-benefit analysis. Ta

  • My rule of thumb is that a chain lasts 2000 miles, and a rear cluster lasts 5000 (though it will wear out faster if the chain is worn). Chainrings are good for 10-15K. And of course, cables corrode and tires wear out or rot and crack. First off get yourself an inexpensive chain wear gauge. Sep 20, 2015 at 12:07
  • Just done some quick & dirty calcs on a 10 yo bike that would be 10 miles/wk every week, every year. Hasn't happened on any of those bikes, esp as they've been variously laid up sor misc years here & there. Sep 20, 2015 at 13:27
  • 6
    Yeah, I spend two afternoons a week rehabbing donated bikes for Christmas Anonymous and other charities. It is very, very rare to find a bike with a worn-out chain or cog (though there have been more than a few chains rusted solid). The biggest single problem is busted shifters, then corroded cables. And tires -- new tires are expensive, and probably a third of the bikes coming in have rotted tires. Sep 20, 2015 at 13:47
  • Thanks, Just done some quick & dirty calcs: on a 10 yo bike 2k would be 5 miles/wk every week, every year. That probablyhasn't happened on any of those bikes, esp as they've been laid up for misc years here & there. So notionally, the chains & cassettes should be OK, let alone the mechs. Therefore is poor gear shifting purely down to cables & adjustments? That would be good news as I was planning on replacing any/all worn parts & taking them to get the gears adjusted by a pro. May not be as simple as that & may need to get them looked over with an experienced eye. Sep 20, 2015 at 13:54
  • 1
    @ChrisH - The problem is that the push button shifters often have a button broken off or some such. Sep 21, 2015 at 2:20

2 Answers 2


Depends how they've been stored. If they were inside a garage or otherwise dry, then that's a lot less work. If they were outside or damp, everything will be that much closer to EOL.

Gear changes and brakes: if there's been moisture in the cables then they can suffer but housings and inner wires can be replaced.

Tyres and tubes can degrade in heat. Oils and greases will thicken and congeal so an all-round service of bearings can be in order.

Finally, why were they unused for a long time? Was there a fault that was too hard to fix at the time? Look for function.

On the other side, sometimes a good wash, and a lick of paint can make an old bike appear very much nicer too.

  • 2
    Depending on maintenance before storage the various bearings might need maintenance or replacement too. And don’t forget to replace old brake pads.
    – Michael
    Sep 20, 2015 at 12:29
  • 1
    Storage-aged (as opposed to worn down) brake pads can often be rehabilitated with some sandpaper on a flat surface, if you've got more time than money to spend. Sep 27, 2015 at 1:16

In my personal experience the order is roughly the following

  • Chains and cassettes
  • Cables
  • Rear derailleur pulleys
  • Chainrings

Derailleurs don't really wear out but can be accidentally broken. And as already commented, the best way of managing this is replacing parts when they wear out.

  • Thanks, none of the rear mechs are broken and only 1 front mech is, so I think I'll stick with the existing ones - maybe look for wear on the pulleys though. Sep 20, 2015 at 13:43
  • Thanks, none of the rear mechs are broken and only 1 front mech is, so I think I'll stick with the existing ones - will look for wear on the pulleys though. I've done all the cables with Jagwire SS/teflon jobbies, so hopefully they will be OK for a while. And I'll live with the chainrings. Sep 20, 2015 at 13:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.