My friends say it will last forever, and not to worry about it. Online results show anywhere from two years to 25. I have no clue what to expect!!

Let me give some context. I bought a decade old Specialized Epic Comp for about $550. There are no real problems with it. I needed to bleed brakes and replace the rear wheel, but that's beside the point.

The m5 alu frame shows no signs of fatigue (eg, no cracks, dents, etc). Based on what the previous owner told me, I calculated that he has probably rode about 45 000 km on this bike. Note that this an XC bike so I don't assume that there would have been much opportunity to abuse the frame.

So with all of this in mind, can anyone give me a rough estimate of how long this 10 year old bicycle frame might last?

Sorry if this question is too vague/specific or already answered to a degree. Im new to this forum 😀.

  • 3
    It might last another 10 years, or it might die tomorrow. Really impossible to predict. 45,000km is already a lot further than the typical MTB will cover in its lifetime.
    – Andy P
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:29
  • 3
    A vast majority of frames are scrapped in usable condition or from accident damage where its not economic to repair the bike. Fashion and technology improvements play the biggest part in when a frame is retired. Sometime (soon?) you won't be able to get a replacement fork for that bike, then the frame, while perfect, becomes unusable.
    – mattnz
    Jun 21, 2016 at 20:14
  • 1
    I have a 1998 aluminium bike which is still going strong at 18 years. I'm not the original owner, but I'm doing a documented ~6,000 km a year. So the frame has done anything from 25,000 to 100,000 km in its life. You should look for cracks and dents and any other visible damage (clean it first) Here's an aluminium frame that is terminal bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/36375/…
    – Criggie
    Jun 22, 2016 at 21:29

3 Answers 3


The slightly sarcastic-sounding comment is correct, unfortunately.

Even if you used a high-end xray imaging system to carefully analyse the frame, the best you could say is "there are no obvious defects found". You might find major defects, in which case you'd probably recycle the frame rather than riding it, but if you don't you haven't really learned a huge amount - there might be defects just below your ability to detect them, or of a type that you can't detect. In general this is a class of problems summarised as "you can't prove a negative".

More practically, if you carefully inspect the bike for obvious cracks, dents and other major damage, and don't find any, it's probably safe to ride. I have bought and ridden bikes like that for years, generally until so many things are worn out that it's cheaper to buy a new bike than repair everything. That is not unusual with bicycles, barring crashes the frame is often the last part to fail, and the failure is often "it wore out" rather than "it broke". Threaded parts get too worn to hold whatever screws into them (bottom brackets), friction-fit parts get loose (like headset cups), parts that wear, wear to the point of being dangerous (dropouts).

  • 3
    As a rule of thumb: steel lasts longer than alloy lasts longer than carbon, at equal care!!
    – Carel
    Jun 21, 2016 at 19:24

It may last for years and years as we are talking of an alloy frame, but it is not unbreakable. I have a friend of mine who broke a Trek Alloy XC hardtail frame and Trek replaced it with its latest model. Still, neither the front derailleur nor the headset were compatible, so he had to invest in both to get the bicycle back to work.

According to Specialized LIMITED WARRANTY POLICY FOR BICYCLES (https://media.specialized.com/support/0000009968/0000009968_r3.pdf)

Frames and forks on complete bicycles and framesets for the lifetime of the >original owner (subject to exclusions under the 1 and 5 Year periods below). ALL SPECIALIZED BICYCLES AND FRAMESETS SHOULD BE PERIODICALLY CHECKED BY AN AUTHORIZED SPECIALIZED DEALER for indicators of stress, potential problems, inappropriate use, or abuse. This Limited Warranty is not transferable and does not apply to: Normal wear and tear. Wear and tear parts (as listed below) are subject to damage as a result of normal use, failure to service according to Specialized’s recommendations and/or riding or installation in conditions or applications other than recommended. Corrosion. Damage or failure due to accident, collision, crash, misuse, abuse, or neglect. Improper assembly or installation. Improper alteration or installation of components, parts or accessories not originally intended for or compatible with the Specialized bicycle as sold. Failure to perform maintenance or service at appropriate intervals per manufacturer manual and instructions and supported by records of such maintenance. Non-genuine Specialized products including without limitation counterfeit products. Specialized bicycles not purchased new from an authorized Specialized dealer.

Just remember that frame parts such as bushings might need to be replaced once in a while.


It can last many years. So many that you will probably have already got a new bike by then... For example, I bought an Ideal Hillmaster in 2005 or 2006 with an 6061 alloy frame. I learned what mountain biking is really all about. Although being an xc bike, I hit lots of jumps, sick trails and gravity tracks. 2011 I got a full suspension to take the madness further and go downhill (on an 120mm trail bike :p). 2016 and I just changed wheels on my beloved hardtail and I use it to ride around some dirt and in city. It will never break. So yours won't. If you are not into gravity riding, you can keep it forever.

  • I have my doubts it will last forever... lol that's a long time.
    – Nate W
    Jun 21, 2016 at 15:07
  • 1
    Trust me, its not... Jun 21, 2016 at 15:31

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