I only cycle about 4 miles per day, on roads and paths, which although a little bumpy in places, I'm not off roading. I'm finding something is breaking or coming loose on my bike after only a couple of weeks or less after servicing it, and I'm having to take it back to the shop every couple of months.

I'd specifically asked for a bike that wouldn't require much maintenance and on questioning the shop I've since been told that ANY bike I bought would be the same, but I just don't really believe them. People must be able to do 100+ miles without problems regularly surely?

The bike they sold me is a Claud Butler Windermere, which was way lower in price than I was prepared to pay (I was prepared to pay more specifically because I wanted to get something low maintenance that I didn't have to think about). I also know/knew next to nothing about bikes.

In the 18 months I've had it

  • Bottom bracket worked loose twice (so it makes a clunking noise), once just 2 weeks after a service
  • Rear (metal) mud guard cracked through
  • Chain gaurd cracked through
  • Pedals loose, broken and replaced with metal ones
  • Pedal arm thing loose
  • Rear wheel loose (although they admitted that was their mistake??)
  • Mud guard bolts dropped out
  • Handle bars loose 3x
  • 1x puncture
  • Saddle loose
  • Gears mis-aligned almost constantly (just make do with what happens to work)
  • Front break squeals almost constantly (fixed for about a day after service)
  • One set of rear pads worn, breaks need frequent adjusting, often "stick" on one side.

I have done less than 2000 miles so far, and it hasn't had any impacts - this breaks/cracks have all just come from vibration from riding.

My bike shop has simply told me "no there is nothing they can do in a service to stop these things happening, even the next day, it's just random" and "no you can't buy a bike that is better for any price, so there is no point replacing it". I don't have access to many bike shops to shop around. Are they fibbing?

My ideal would be to be servicing it about twice a year. Is that just unrealistic?


Just add some details on the roughness of the ride, as I may be a tad rough based on some answers.

I'm about 65kg but also impatient so tend to cycle quite quickly (in a non athletic sense). Top speeds 20-25mph on flatish.

There are three cobbled speed bumps on the route (i do slow down)

There is a short steep hill, which i just keep in highest gear (middle at front, smallest at back) and power through (160m long 12m rise). I don't really use the front gear.

This is the uk so plenty of rain.

At home it lives in the garage. During day in a covered bike rack.


Just to add closure to this in case anyone is interested as it has been a few years now. I followed the advice and switched bike shop AND bought a new bike - more expensive Raleigh Strada 5. Totally different experience with this bike and shop - reliable and no comparable problems. The new bike shop gave the old bike a good going over and it is now my back up bike - it is clearly nothing like the same quality as the new bike, but none of the alarming problems since switching shops. It does go to show that even as just a commuter rather than a bike enthusiast, there can still be a big difference paying a little bit more.

  • 5
    Do you feel comfortable sharing your height and weight? Both very cheap and very expensive bicycle components have pretty unrealistic weight expectations for the average commuter. Like you mentioned, your bike is very cheap. For the same price, a used bicycle would provide a much more durable ride. You're likely going to spend twice the bikes original price keeping up with repairs.
    – BEVR1337
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 6:11
  • 1
    @BEVR1337 5"8 65kg, so not too much weight, but i do cycle it quite hard, so maybe I am putting strain on it. Thing is i specifically wanted a durable bike, but don't know how to identify one.
    – Corvus
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 9:47
  • 5
    But note that how you treat the bike when NOT riding it can make a big difference. If you drop the bike on the ground when dismounting or are rough at placing it in a bike rack you could cause some of the above problems. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 13:47
  • 2
    And (@DanielRHicks) how others treat it in e.g. shared bike sheds. I've lost a few plastic accessories to damage from neighbouring bikes
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 16:55
  • 1
    It is worth adding that the rear wheel became lose only a couple of rides after a service - i can only assume they didn't tighten the nut properly but that has made me suspicious the rest of the problems may be their fault.
    – Corvus
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 16:57

12 Answers 12


The bike you have is a decent low/mid-range hybrid bike with entry-level name-brand components. It should absolutely be mostly trouble-free with basic maintenance for a daily 4 mile commute. While replacing the cheap plastic pedals with a decent set of metal or high-quality poly pedals is standard business for any new bike, the other problems are worrying.

To be honest I don't think it was assembled correctly at the shop, and the mistakes in assembly - mis-alignment of the derailers, improper torquing of components (too loose for the bottom bracket and crank, too tight for the chaincase), etc. - are causing new issues to pop up on the regular. If you bought the bike from the shop who's been fixing it, find another shop. Heck, find another shop, period - any pro bike mechanic worth their salt should be finding and fixing these issues on their work-stand before you find them on the road.

It may be that there are so many problems on the bicycle that need remediation, a new or gently used bike might be a more economical solution than trying to bring this one into some semblance of repair. Find a different shop to buy it at and to maintain it.

  • 22
    Upvoted because "find a different shop" is essential advice based on the OP's experience with their current shop. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 21:58
  • Yup, sounds like although you've been unlucky you're also being done over by your LBS.
    – John Hunt
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 10:03

Firstly, I do agree with some of the other answers that riding better can help - my main hazard is glass, and I simply got fewer punctures as I got better at spotting and avoiding it. Knowing how to avoid or handle bumps and potholes is similarly useful.

Why does my bike constantly break/need servicing?

Some of your issues are normal, but some are worrying. I went through the whole list below.

My ideal would be to be servicing it about twice a year. Is that just unrealistic?

Depends on riding style and conditions. Brake pads and chains are consumables anyway, so you just need to replace them when they wear out. If the bike gets very dirty, that tends to wear drive components faster, so some cleaning and re-lubrication will help extend the lifetime of the moving parts.

But, I definitely don't expect a commuting bike to need a mechanical service more often than once or twice a year.

My bike shop has simply told me "no there is nothing they can do in a service to stop these things happening, even the next day, it's just random"

They can't control when weak plastic breaks or metal fatigues, but they can fit, lubricate and/or threadlock, and tighten everything appropriately during a service. Some of the items on your list are things they should be able to avoid.

and "no you can't buy a bike that is better for any price, so there is no point replacing it". I don't have access to many bike shops to shop around. Are they fibbing?

Sounds like it. (Is there a name-and-shame policy on here?)

I found your bike in the Hybrid/Lifestyle section of Evans, since that's a fairly large chain. It's listed at £300 and has a single 3-star review. At a glance, there are two Bobbin bikes for a bit more (£375 for the 7-speed and £410 for the 21-speed) which are a broadly similar shape, with what look like metal pedals, a possibly metal chainguard, and metal mudguards with stronger fittings. They each have a 5-star review and caliper brakes, which in my experience are good and very easy to centre. They also have nicer (rapidfire rather than revoshift or ez-shift) gear shifters.

I can't say whether they're definitely better, or would suit you - but you definitely can get bikes with better-quality components fitted. Most manufacturers outsource bulk frame fabrication, and then mix components to hit price points determined by their marketing.

For reference, although I described your model as cheap, I don't mean that badly - I paid similar for my first adult bike (although I got it in the end-of-year sale and the list price was higher): the bottom bracket lasted about 4 years, while the brakes, levers, bars, stem, headset, saddle and seatpost are all still going with no problems at all. It's been through a few chains, lots of brake pads, one chainring, two sets of wheels and good few tyres. The drive chain is simpler than yours, but that's my frame of reference for what you should be able to expect.

Unfortunately you need to know (or to have a friend who knows, or a shop you can trust) which components are good, and which matter to you, in order to decide whether a given bike is good value.

That list in detail:

  • Bottom bracket worked loose twice (so it makes a clunking noise), once just 2 weeks after a service

    I can't think of any good reason for that to happen, certainly the second time. They're not that hard to fit correctly and they're threaded so they should tighten rather than loosen in use. (Doesn't seem likely a cheap Claud Butler is using either press-fit or French/Italian threading).

  • Rear (metal) mud guard cracked through

    Mudguards do take a lot of vibration for their weight, and good ones are (more) expensive. This one is debatable.

  • Mud guard bolts dropped out

    This, on the other hand, is just shoddy. Because everyone knows mudguards vibrate a lot, they should be using nyloc nuts or threadlock.

  • Chain guard cracked through

  • Pedals loose, broken and replaced with metal ones

    There are probably both bad components fitted to a cheap bike rather than something the shop did.

  • Pedal arm thing loose

    If the crank is loose on the axle, it wasn't fitted and torqued properly. Once it comes loose it's likely to be damaged where it fits (or is supposed to fit) the axle.

  • Rear wheel loose (although they admitted that was their mistake??)

    If they just didn't tighten the nut properly, this is sloppy but probably didn't damage anything.

  • Handle bars loose 3x

  • Saddle loose

    These definitely shouldn't happen, and either the shop are being lazy about torquing the bolts correctly, or one or more of the handlebars/stem/saddle clamp are rubbish.

  • 1x puncture

    That's not so bad. You can look into more puncture-resistant tyres, like Schwalbe Marathon, and make sure your tyre pressure is correct, but it can happen to anyone.

  • Gears mis-aligned almost constantly (just make do with what happens to work)

    If the shop index the gears for you, they should stay indexed for a good while. You can learn to index the gears yourself if you don't trust the shop or would like to be able to fix them while out - usually you just need the single barrel adjuster where the cable enters the rear derailleur from the back.

    Having said that, it looks like your bike has (RS36) Revoshift controls, and I can't find a good review of them. It could also be them, or just sloppy cabling, but it's worth a try.

  • Front break squeals almost constantly (fixed for about a day after service)

    Could be bad breaks or bad setup - I don't know much about V brakes

  • One set of rear pads worn, breaks need frequent adjusting, often "stick" on one side.

    Pads are disposable and it might be reasonable to get a new set every year - they're pretty cheap. The sticking could be bad setup, but as I say I don't know about V brakes.

  • Hmmm... so maybe i should try find a bike fan at work and get their help to buy a bike.
    – Corvus
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 17:06
  • It's certainly worth a try! There are so many components the manufacturer can mix and match to hit a price, it's not easy to know which version of each widget you want.
    – Useless
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 20:57
  • With respect to the bottom bracket, if it's a cup and cone system rather than cartridge bearings, I can believe that it would need service in this time frame. In my experience, many cheaper bikes still make use of this system. Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 3:54
  • 3
    Not tightening the back wheel properly is a big professional no-no; if it comes loose downhill all bets are off. Same with the handle bar. It actually disqualifies the shop. Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 11:23
  • 1
    When I was cycling to college (back in the day) the pads on my V-Brakes would need replacing a little more than once a year, maybe as often as every 6 months. That was a couple of miles each way with hills though, so "your mileage may vary". Being able to stop well is probably my highest priority on a bike.
    – Baldrickk
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 14:41

If it's bad luck, it's very bad luck. Some of those are issues I haven't faced in 30 000 miles (handlebars and BB shouldn't work loose). Mudguard and chain case issues could probably be fixed with self-locking nuts (they work loose, then the flexing causes breakages).

The loose cranks and a few of the other issues sound like they weren't properly tightened in the first place, but I like to tighten them after a test ride and again after a few days.

Muck in the gears can cause similar problems to misalignment, and it can be hard to get them clean.

Brake pads wear; slightly more expensive pads can last longer. They can also help with squealing, but sometimes you can't stop that. Punctures happen but anti-puncture tyres can make them rare.

With basic tools you can sort out a lot of things when you first detect a rattle or squeak,and make minor adjustments. Tyre pressures are another thing you need to check yourself.

I've found that bike sold by reputable bike shops, so while it's cheap, it's not junk. It's just the sort of thing that's good for a new commuter on short routes. I wonder if your riding conditions are harder than you think. Potholes in particular can be really jarring, worse than what you'd find on a lot of dirt roads.

  • 4
    Sound's like perhaps the dream of car style no maintenance from me is unrealistic and i need to get basic tools and learn how to do a little and often to maintain it. However also sounds like i should visit the other bike shop in town.
    – Corvus
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 17:01
  • @Corone It's unrealistic in that price segment. You can get internally geared bikes with fully enclosed drive-trains and high quality components where the only regular maintenance is brake pad replacements, oil changes (don't mix those up :) ) and maybe switching summer/winter tires. But those are much much more expensive than what you have. However most of your problems are way beyond the typical maintenance of a low/mid range bike.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 20:50
  • 1
    @Corone Your dream is sensible IMO. I described my experience here. It's maintained every few 1000 km, to replace the chain and brake pads.The only maintenance I perform myself is lubricating the chain sometimes, checking the air pressure in the tires, and taking it in if it doesn't run nicely. The mechanic at the LBS is good (recommended to me by someone who does daily maintenance on the bikes of a local/village racing team when they're touring).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 15:38

That's a lot of problems for a bicycle that's used for such short distances.

It's possible that you're being hard on the bike. One thing you should always try to do is to lift your weight off the saddle when you go over bumps: especially potholes and speed bumps. This is doubly important if you're heavy but you should still do it even if you aren't. You don't need to stand up; just take your weight off the saddle so that your legs and arms can act as suspension for your bodyweight.

It's also possible that your bike shop is incompetent. I'm particularly worried by the rear wheel coming loose. My suggestion would be that you take it to a different bike shop, either for a service at your convenience or wait for the next thing to go wrong and take it for repair. Mention that you've had a lot of problems with the bike.

A couple of the things you mention.

  • One puncture in 18 months of riding is at the low end of normal. Everybody gets punctures from time to time.

  • Good plastic pedals exist but the ones that come with lower-end bikes are often of low quality and easily broken; I always get metal ones fitted.

  • Misaligned gears. Perhaps you're being rough with them? Always ease off the pedals when you're changing gear.

  • Brakes are surprisingly hard to adjust so they don't squeal. My previous two bikes were both chronic squealers. I used it as a kind of horn. One set of replacement brake pads in 18 months isn't a lot: they're consumables. I'm guessing you use the front brake less because it squeals? The front brake gives you much more stopping power so you'd normally have those pads wear out first.

  • 1
    I have seen good quality plastic pedals which held up for decades. But I've also seen poor quality ones that were pretty much destroyed in a few weeks of rough use by a child. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 13:45
  • @DanielRHicks Good point. Good plastics can be stronger than metals, so the issue isn't plastic in and of itself. Edited. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 13:48

No your goal is not unrealistic.

I have a bike with a daily commute of around 10 km. I'm self servicing my bike as I worked as a bike mechanic for some time. I usually do two small services a year, which I do when I need to change from winter to summer tires or the other way around.

For me, the most important part was to get a bike with a hub gear (the Pinion variant works as well). This allows the use of stronger single speed chains, which wear a lot less. A single gear setup also allows the use of a full chain protector, which keeps a lot more dirt away from the chain than other systems. Hubs usually require just an oil change per year and everything is fine. And there is almost no alignment which can go wrong.

I change the chain on a yearly basis and that worked for me so far as well.

You could even go to belt drive systems with this, which should be even better.

Next were hydraulic brakes - they are a pain in the ass when something goes wrong - but during the past years nothing ever went wrong. The sealed fluid allows for maintenance free operation. Changing the pads is easy and adjusting them while the pads wear just as well. I don't have disk brakes, which I would have preferred, but even though they work very well.

Almost all bolts get loose over time, but on my bike checking them twice a year is enough. But I also use bolt securing glue on almost everything (Locktite etc.).

Punctures got "fixed" after I switched to Schwalbe Marathon Supreme (I think it was). Never had one with those up to now - but that depends on many factors.

I haven't had any failures because of vibrations - I guess that is general build quality. A washer under a screw will provide some wiggle space or distribute the force over a larger area for the mudguard, so it won't break as fast.

I've invested around 2000 € into my bike because I wanted highest quality components to be almost maintenance free. So I ended up with a Rohloff hub gear and Magura HS33 brakes. It served me very well for over seven years now - without taking it to services all the time. Just this year the gears are worn so much that I have to replace them and my rims are starting to look a bit bad because of the brakes - but should be okay for another year.

I guess you can get a cheaper bike with a Pinion gear which will hold up just as well.

As the shop didn't mention this at all - I'd try to avoid them. It is simply not true that all bikes wear or break down equally often. Sure you can have bad luck, but someone who asks for a low maintenance bike should at least be told that there are hub gears available (from either manufacturer) which reduce the required maintenance.

  • 4
    This is all true but it shouldn't be necessary to spend approximately ten times what the asker spent just to have a bike that doesn't break down every hundred miles. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:45
  • 2
    @DavidRicherby I have no idea what a "claud butler windermere" costs if it is just 200 €, I'm not surprised then. No - you absolutely don't have to spend 2000 € to get a bike which is reliable. Go for a decent bike with a Shimano hub gear with hydraulic brakes and you are looking at around 600 €. You don't get all the comfort from a Rohloff and the HS33 but you end up with a bike which should get you around with much less trouble.
    – Arsenal
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 21:53

Pedal replaced with metal, Bottom bracket loose, Rear wheel lose

I guess You have cheap bike. Sealed bottom bracket should not become loose. And mid quality bikes comes with metal pedals. It sounds like a 21 speed bike with freewheel, where every bump can bind / break rear axle, and it's bearings become loose immediately.

Pedals broken, Guards broken

Your bike gets hits constantly.

Handle bar loose, Saddle loose

Maybe too cheap parts, or bad assemble, or maybe your weight/force applied to those is too much. I disagree with @kifli that these bolts can become loose 3 times per 18 months.

Gears misaligned, Pedal arm loose

Gears could become unaligned (if it's happens all the time) if the derailleur got bent. If it's not bent, it should work perfect for years. Pedal arm should not become loose if had a good assemble. It should be checked from time to time, may require some tighten. But if it becomes loose fast, it's bad assemble. And at this point you can find many answers on this site, that once it became loose, it's shape damages, and in most cases will loose again. Sometimes the axle itself got damaged and then you should replace the arm and the axle.

Buying a bike for about 450-600$ should come with:

  • Sealed bottom bracket Almost doesn't need maintenance, serving you for years.
  • 24 - 27 gears, with cassette and sealed bearings on rear wheel Which makes to it's axle durability. Such a wheel should not become loose.
  • Disc breaks that doesn't need to be realigned often.

For fixing some problems that occur on really every bike:

  • On the rear derailleur place a guard, so even if it get hit, most of the force will apply to the guard.
  • Anti puncture (will it be a kevlar tire, or special rubber inside the tire, or some liquid in the tube) are very effective.

Last: Cheap bikes (with unsealed bottom bracket and a freewheel), will have all these problems if you ride a little bit aggressive or with rider that weights more than 70-80kg. Better bikes supporting riders up to 120kg. If someone tells you that you can't get a bike without all those problems, it sounds very inaccurate.

  • 1
    24 - 27 gears, with cassette and sealed bearings on rear wheel Which makes to it's axle durability. Such a wheel should not become loose. For a 4 mile commute, I would use either a single speed or a hub gear. Way less maintenance and things that can go wrong Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 10:20
  • @MaartenFabré Yeah you are right. I'm live in a very hilly place, so I don't realize a ride without gears.
    – Alexander
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 10:23
  • how you disagree whit me if I told to literally bring a multitool for keeping the bolts adjusted
    – kifli
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 10:54
  • @MaartenFabré hub gears are expensive, and we don't know how hilly it is where the OP is. My regular commute isn't much longer and would kill my knees on SS (or take forever).
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 16:53
  • if you factor in all the adjustments, repairs and vulnerabilities of (especially cheap) derailer gears, especially in a rainy climate, hub gears are worth the price Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 9:39

I would separate your problems in the following categories:

1. Things which should not happen

Most of these things point to bad bolt tightening, i.e. bad craftsmanship. Note, however, that a complete check and maintenance is recommended a few (not many, if you ride daily) weeks after purchase. Many parts set properly only after there have been varying loads on them, and consequently connections between them will acquire a bit of play. These screws and bolts must be re-tightened, or they will continue to loosen.

A good dealer will give you a free first check. But that's once. After the initial check all these parts should almost never come loose.

  • Bottom bracket trouble: One of the most sturdy parts on a bike, should last years. If cheap and badly sealed and driven through water a lot, may need a lube job after a year or two.
  • Pedals loose or broken: Usually one of the parts which just work, even when plastic. If it breaks it was really lousy (I may have experienced that once in my life).

The following items are a sign that bolts and screws were not tightened well enough:

  • The handle bar should never come loose, obviously.
  • The rear wheel should never come loose.
  • The saddle should not usually come loose. That depends a bit on the mechanism though: The cheap ones (horizontal bolt with two a nut on each end) may come loose every other year or so.

2. Things which can sometimes legitimately happen

  • Rear (metal) mud guard cracked through: These can break, particularly when they are not firmly screwed on. Re-tighten the screws at the first sign that they need it. When mounted properly they should hold many months though, with lots of riding (obviously depends on the terrain and speed).
  • Chain guard cracked: Can happen, but should take a long while if mounted properly. Make sure it's tightened properly here, too.
  • "Pedal arm thing" (crank arm?) loose: Ok, the bolt attaching it to the bottom bracket can come loose and then needs to be tightened (and timely, because riding like that damages the arm). But here, too: It was probably not tightened enough to begin with, and is a typical part of the first mandatory inspection after some pedaling.
  • Brakes need frequent adjusting: Hmmm... My V-brakes usually stay aligned. Occasionally, especially after re-mounting the wheel (in a slightly different position, presumably), I must turn the little adjusting screws on the sides (assuming V-brakes).

3. Things which occur frequently

  • Brake pads: They are ridiculously thin and do wear quickly. Buy the cheapest ones.
  • Punctures. There is a huge difference between tires. I switched to the German "Schwalbe Marathon" (the plain version) 25 years ago and never looked back. Punctures come perhaps twice a year, if at all, with more mileage than you, probably. Downside: A set of tires costs 30% of your bike price ($50 a piece).
  • Front brake squeals: A constant nuisance on some bikes. Reasons complex and unfixable. Let it squeal.

Let me add that it is expected that little issues occur on a bike and that most riders just tighten a screw themselves. Most experienced bike riders would not visit a shop for most of these things except the bottom bracket trouble (needs exchange or special tool), perhaps the crank arm (needs special wrench to reach the sunk-in screw with sufficient torque) and perhaps the chain guard (out of laziness); so most issues you had wouldn't bother us that much.


Firstly, you get what you pay for. The bike you have is quite cheap for a bike that's ridden daily. Secondly, this looks like an urban hybrid. It claims to be OK for trail riding but it's really meant for riding on paved roads and no funny stuff. If you are travelling on cobblestones or unpaved roads or hopping up and down curbs, you could really do with something more rugged. I would suggest you really need a hybrid based on a mountain bike form factor, preferably equipped with front suspension with a lockout that you can enable when on rough ground and disable when in town. Stick to a well known mountain bike brand (most of them make the sort of hybrid I am talking about), and expect to pay about £400-£600 RRP (£300-£450 discounted) for a decent bike that is able to take the sort of daily punishment you're giving it.

NB Claud Butler used to be a brand owned by a British manufacturer of quality bicycles but that was a long time ago. Nowadays its owned by Falcon Cycles who just re-badge commodity bicycles made in China, or so I heard.


As others have suggested you may also want to consider your riding style as a major contributing factor to the myriad of problems you've described.

Unlike others I've had similar problems with my commuter bicycle. My primary bicycle for many years was a single speed BMX style bicycle with 20 inch wheels and low center of gravity.

I grew accustomed to standing on my pedals, push/pulling my handle bars, and using a low gear while climbing. The combination of these bad habits ends up loosening bottom brackets, crank arms, handle bars, and spokes. In addition I tend to prematurely stretch chains and wear down cassettes and gears.

You also mentioned gear mis-alignment, I find I have this issue if my rear derailleur is bent to a position not parallel to my rear gears. This often happens for me if I transport my bicycle in a car after taking wheels off. I could see something similar happening in a bicycle rack with a lot of bicycles.

My riding style is particularly poor, but eventually my bicycle and I came to an understanding regarding the frequency of replacing parts. You may find the higher quality parts you are replacing your originals with will also enable you limit your visits to the repair shop.


I'll take another stance from previous answers, as I am quite an agressive rider despite being low weight, and my bike is something I don't want to look after. I just want it to work and endure my style of riding. Over the years, I've broken quite a few bikes. And from my experience, I can tell that your daily routine is nothing excessive, and your goal of two servicing a year, is already more that I'd be willing to do.

Some things to consider when buying a bike :

  • Cheap bikes come with cheap components. Cheap components either break fast or require constant maintenance. The problems you mentioned are in my opinion typical of a cheap bike : bearings getting loose, components wearing out fast, gearing changing, chains snapping. If you cycle everyday, get a good bike. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble while having more pleasurable rides.
  • Most bikes come with absolutely crap tyres. The tyres of my 2500£ bike punctured four times in two weeks ! I swapped them with my old ones and never punctured again in a year and a half of commuting in London. The old tyres were expensive, but in several years of riding I only punctured twice with them.
  • Famous brands often provide cheaper components on a bike priced the same as an indie one (e.g Canyon vs Cannondale).
  • Read real world reviews.

I really dislike it, when people put the responsibility back on the rider. What good is a bike that doesn't endure simple everyday use ? Is rolling on cobble so extravagant ? People have probably forgotten what it's like to ride a 70's or 80's bike such as a Motobecane. These were sturdy and troubleless. Most bikes produced today are not built to last at all.

TL,DR : You should most definitely go to another shop.

  • Great thanks - the irritating thing is i was very happy to pay a lot more but they just had nothing to sell me! Are you able to make any specific recommendations on brands/components/bikes?
    – Corvus
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 13:47
  • @Corone, that's very opinion based :-) It really depends on your budget and what you're after. Examples of decent bikes would be : Canyon Commuter, Cannondale Tesoro, the Brompton, Trek Lync, Fuji Touring. Or at the end of the spectrum sthg like a Decathlon Hoprider 500. Generally, I'd definitely aim for something more 'touring-y', while keeping a similar geometry as the one you own. A touring oriented bike is by definition meant to be a lot more durable. Evans Cycle, Chain Reaction also offer some great deals sometimes. Maybe you can find some, on new '2017' bikes. Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 14:47
  • Meh. Any product is designed to operate within certain parameters. Any design has features that are good for some applications and bad for others. You're basically saying that it's the manufacturer's responsibility if you use a bike in a way they didn't design for. The problem with this is that it's simply not possible for all bikes to be suitable for all uses. Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 15:42
  • @DavidRicherby according to this logic, the bike mentioned by OP is not designed for a short steep hill and 3 cobble speed bumps ? There is obviously a limit in use cases, but what the OP describes seems perfectly inline with normal use. Let's not forget he got advice from professionals and that planned obsolescence also applies to bicycles. Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 15:57
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby dear lord, if I didn't lift my weight over the cobbles I wouldn't be able to sit for a week! I don't have any suspension...
    – Corvus
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 22:03

lets cheek one by one:

Bottom bracket worked loose twice (so it makes a clunking noise), once just 2 weeks after a service

newer happened to me this is strange really. Only happens or really old abused low quality bikes or any bike under heavy loads.

Rear (metal) mud guard cracked through

Low quality maybe ?

Chain gaurd cracked through

they are weak. chain can move from side to side some times hitting the chain guard breaking it eventually. I not longer use them.

Pedals loose, broken and replaced with metal ones

cheap pedals it some thing that happens. did you actully hi some thing to break them?

Pedal arm thing loose

that is easy to fix even by you self some times happens to low end bikes.

Rear wheel loose (although they admitted that was their mistake??)

hub loose ? hubs get loose over time you can fix it by you self but be gentile I broke mine once.

Mud guard bolts dropped out

they have bolts ? I am gassing that they are cheap and bolts have tendency to do that under vibrations.

Handle bars loose 3x

those bolts get loose over time.

1x puncture

most common bike breakdown

Saddle loose

same as handle they get loose over time. Every bolt in a bike does.

Your only real problem is Bottom bracket punctures and loose bolts it is some thing that you have to be ready for every time you take a bike. Bring a multi tool whit you and may be a spare tube or/and kit for puncture fixes and inflator.

  • 2
    For puncture repairs, the asker will need a spanner, too. Bikes at that level usually have nuts rather than quick release. Since the asker is only going two miles each way, I'd suggest repairing punctures at home. But it's definitely a useful skill to have! Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 9:21
  • true, I added that that more as a suggestion but a multi tool is a must.
    – kifli
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 9:30

A lot of these do sound bike and bike shop related. I'm assuming you have a very cheap bike and a rubbish shop.

Bottom bracket worked loose twice (so it makes a clunking noise), once just 2 weeks after a service

Any mech worth their wrench would cringe at this. Bottom bracket working loose 2 weeks after a service is a big red flag

Rear (metal) mud guard cracked through

It's possible this is a component fault, depends on how the mud guard is treated and where it was. Also possible the bike is being bashed a bit by hanging bags / incautious neighbours at bike rack / other. Keep an eye - I ended up with a bent front wheel after parking mine at a bike rack shared with motorbikes. Managed to negotiate segregated parking with management after that, but it was a bugger getting home that night!

Chain gaurd cracked through

Again, possible component fault. Given the gearing issues I'd be questioning shop setup too...

Pedals loose, broken and replaced with metal ones

Pedal arm thing loose

Both are big bike shop red flags. I never had my pedals wear loose in years of cycling, even on cheap bikes. Bike pedal arm too.

Rear wheel loose (although they admitted that was their mistake??)

Red flag banner. Just, what the actual? I mean, how the hell do you NOT check that a wheel is properly attached to a bike. That's an insurance claim waiting to happen right there.

Mud guard bolts dropped out

Red flag. thread locker is there for a reason people!

Handle bars loose 3x

BIG Red flag. either the parts they're using are so cheap that they're not fit for purpose or you have pondlife outsmarting your mechanic. Either way, change shop.

1x puncture

Meh, watch where you're cycling more. That or get something like Marathon Plus tyres which promise not to get punctures. Never had a puncture with them

Saddle loose

These can work loose over time, but if it's more than expected, you have a component problem.

Gears mis-aligned almost constantly (just make do with what happens to work)

How are they after a service? if they're still rubbish immediately after, get a new bike shop. Any shop that can't align gears properly doesn't deserve to sell bikes.

Front break squeals almost constantly (fixed for about a day after service)

  • Again, sounds like poor quality components.

One set of rear pads worn, breaks need frequent adjusting, often "stick" on one side.

  • Poor quality components.

To be honest, sounds very familiar to some issues I used to have. There is a market for very cheap, badly made bicycles for people who barely ever use a bike at the (then)£100 mark. These suck. When coupled with a dodgy bike shop like one that I used to use you only compound the errors.

I went through a series of bikes for a few years, before shelling out for a decent bike at a slightly higher price point, with no issues after.

To give you an idea, in short order I had a wheel buckle under load whilst heading uphill, a rear fork buckle whilst heading uphill, front brakes which worked intermittently from new, and to top it off, a rear disk brake mounted with one of the mounting screws subbed out for a dome-headed screw. By the time I found the issue (and a few trips to the shop later), I'd worn a deep groove in the disk and the dome off the head of the screw.

I then bought another bike from a different local shop, which was incredibly reliable. Twice yearly service and some slight upgrades, and nothing like what you're describing happened. Ever.

Ditch the shop. Never pay them a penny more. Find a shop that actually knows a handlebar from a rear derailleur. Ask them to take a look at your bike. If they refuse to touch it, then contrary to expectation you may have found a good one. The one I changed to said they wouldn't touch the bike because it was that bad. After buying a decent one, they then looked after it to the point where all I needed to do

Just as an addendum, my eventual bike was a Python Rock, with the addition of metal mudguards, bar ends, better pedals and decent tyres. Never needed more than servicing and accident repair.

Happy cycling!

  • "I'm assuming you have a very cheap bike" Current UK retail price of the Claud Butler Windermere mentioned in the question is in the £200-300 range. Definitely not a high-end machine but it shouldn't be total junk at that price. Halfords, for example, will still sell you a bike for £112. Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 17:44
  • Thanks David - didn't see that part of the Q - sounds definitely like a bike-shop problem then. @Corone - take the bike somewhere else and see if they'll service it - might solve many of your issues for minimal lay out :)
    – Miller86
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 11:32

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