This question has been asked before, and there have been several answers to it - including links to interesting articles and scientific analyses. The general consensus appears to be 5-10 years, depending on factors like design quality, accidents, rider weight, riding style, environment, etc. I'm prompted to ask because I was recently considering a components upgrade on my 2003 Specialized Sequoia road/tourer bike, and raised a forum question about Shimano 105 upgrades. That's where I discovered that, at 20-years-old, the bike might not be worth upgrading. Shimano Components Upgrade
So, I thought about the fatigue factors. Over those 20 years, I've looked after the bike and not treated it roughly at all. It's had regular maintenance. I'm also one of those riders who cannot put the bike away dirty after a ride. If it's been muddy, or even just splattered with the usual crud from wet-weather cycling, it's always had a wash off, wipe down, polish and full lube before going away. Even recently, I've had comments that it looks like new! Well, not quite... but still, I think, pretty good for its age. It's never been used off the road (though our roads around here are quite rough and pot-holed anyway). It's never been in an accident, and throughout those years my weight has remained around 13 stones, +/- a few pounds. Plus, I think Specialized frames come quite high in the quality stakes. I do, though, live on the coast, and most of my cycling has been in a coastal environment.
I have now (reluctantly!) decided to go for a new bike. But I'll keep the Specialized, too, as a bit of a runaround. I've had a good look over the frame and can't see any signs of cracks. There are quite a few areas of aluminium oxide 'whitening', but I've been given to understand that it can actually form a protective barrier for the metal underneath. Even so... time and stress take their toll, I know, so it's hard to know for sure what might be going on underneath it all.
Here are a few photos I took to illustrate. The main areas that concern me are those on the left chainstay, near the bottom bracket, and the pitting around the pannier bolts on both of the seat stays.
What do people think, based on these examples? Could there be many more years left in the frame, based on the use it's had (and other factors)?