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I bought a entry level road bike CAAD optimo for around $1000 and I've noticed that the bike required a fair bit of maintenance for example creaking noises, chain rubbing, chain skipping etc. I am wondering if higher end bikes like giant tcr has less of these problems? Or is it more of the same issues that you need to deal with.

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    Most of the issues describe sound like adjustment and wear issues. High performance components aren't necessarily more durable, i.e. a Dura-Ace chain doesn't last longer than a 105 or Ultegra one. On the other hand, better quality bearings in hubs and bottom brackets may, so there is no clear true/false answer here
    – DoNuT
    Dec 27, 2023 at 21:38
  • The chain comment is not always true. Often the more expensive chain is more cost effective: cf. zero friction cycling. @DoNuT
    – Noise
    Dec 27, 2023 at 22:56
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    At least speaking Shimano road tiers (which cover quite a bit of the market) it is usually not worth using a higher groupset's chain for cost effictiveness, referring to this old test (11-speed): web.archive.org/web/20200425164408/https://www.cyclingtips.com/… - i think that's the same in the ZFC test but I know that there are outliers like the cheap 8-speed HG-40 whch gives me headaches on my commuter....
    – DoNuT
    Dec 27, 2023 at 23:16
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This is potentially a complicated question. The short version is that higher-end bikes may require less maintenance in some respects, but if they need maintenance it will be more technically complex, and some components may compromise on durability for weight.

As you get more experienced and more into the sport, you might be inclined to buy something more expensive. By that time, a lot of riders pick up basic maintenance skills, so they can diagnose some creaks and do minor derailleur adjustments. From this perspective, the more expensive bike may not need less maintenance, it's just that you were able to address the minor problems. In the meantime, you should get the store that you bought the bike from to address them.

It's also possible that higher-end bikes are assembled with more attention to detail on average. A lot of the creaks and derailleur rubbing could be basic assembly issues that could have been caught in principle. But it's not a guarantee, necessarily.

Many higher-end groupsets are electronic. These don't suffer from cable contamination or wear, so in one sense they take less maintenance than cable operated groups. Of course, if you get a good set of cables, those can last and perform well for a long time. Hydraulic disc brakes may have longer service intervals than cable disc brakes - but when you need to service them, they are probably harder for a less experienced consumer to service.

Last, this isn't under maintenance specifically. However, sometimes, top-end components may be less durable if they are built to minimize weight. That often means thinner or otherwise lighter carbon, which will have lower maximum torque and probably less of a safety margin with regard to torque. As far as we know (from testing by Adam Kerin of Zero Friction Cycling), Shimano's 11s Dura Ace and Campagnolo's 12s Super Record chains are low-friction but less durable than other chains. Some top-end cassettes use aluminum or titanium cogs, which wear much faster than steel - past Campagnolo Record cassettes, Shimano Dura Ace and XTR up to present, at least some SRAM Eagle cassettes are examples.

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  • If you need to charge a battery in a human powered bike due to electronic groupsets, they require more maintenance, not less. Battery charging is maintenance. My Bowden cable derailleurs require maintenance practically never, 9000 km and counting, on the first chain and cassette, never any derailleur adjustment once I got it perfect in the first 1000 km or so. And this is entry-level (Tiagra).
    – juhist
    Dec 28, 2023 at 16:37
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    @juhist you seem to be defining the amount of maintenance as the discrete number of times someone does anything to the bike. That's fine. But another valid definition would be the amount of time someone spends doing certain things to the bike. For instance, I don't include putting air in my tires in my mental list of maintenance tasks that require time. Charging batteries could reasonably be classified similarly, especially if you can go several weeks to a few months between charges. No need to be so black and white about it.
    – Paul H
    Dec 28, 2023 at 19:14
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    @juhist -- I'm also surprised it took you 1000 km to get your cable-actuated derailleur properly adjusted. From what I understand, with electronic groupsets, you set the lower and upper limits upon installation and it works from there. You can redefine those limits in the case of a moderately bent derailleur hanger and the like. So that'd be a notch in the "less maintenance" category for the fancy stuff.
    – Paul H
    Dec 28, 2023 at 19:20
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the bike required a fair bit of maintenance for example creaking noises, chain rubbing, chain skipping etc.

Assuming the bike in question had these issues before actual wear and tear has started this sounds like issues that are related to things missed during assembly of the bicycle.

A CAAD Optimo should not have creaking noises, chain skipping and chain rub any more than a Giant TCR.

From a new bike perspective the two main factors in low maintenance are design and assembly. By low maintenance I mean how much adjustment is required once a customer takes possession of a bike. This is maintenance before wear and tear kicks in.

Design includes things that are taken into account when the bike is on the drawing board. Someone, somewhere decides the specs list for a given bike at a given price point. Some parts work together better than others. It also includes things like chain alignment considerations, frame alignment tolerances, ride characteristics, etc. If design is done correctly there will be a well thought out foundation for the bike mechanic to work with.

Assembly includes the work that is done for final assembly. This can take a big box bike and make it less annoying if well done. It can take a bike shop bike and turn it into a nightmare if poorly done.

The bike mechanic should assume that everything done at the factory is wrong. Everything must be checked. Good assembly includes pre-stressing cables (if applicable), pre-stressing spokes, checking every fastener, making sure all adjustable bearings are correct, etc. and a thorough test ride.

Proper assembly will prevent the kinds of problems described in the early days of riding.

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I would say generally yes, but it needs to be looked into at component level rather than the range of the bike in general. Frame material (that can often justify a premium) doesn't matter in terms of maintenance. You can also mix and match components, and replace worn components by better ones without having to change the whole bike.

So a few thoughts:

  • chain related maintenance remains the same regardless of the range. High quality chains usually last longer, but you still need to clean and lube them regularly if you want them to last.
  • bottom brackets: I don't know what crank you have, but if it's an Hollowtech II (available from Claris for cranksets), you can fit any Hollowtech II bottom bracket (even Ultegra or Dura-Ace), that are should last longer (better sealing, higher quality bearings).
  • cable contamination: higher-end cables are often coated, and there might be some protections to limit dirt ingress, so service interval is typically longer. You can also install such cables on an entry level bike when you replace them.
  • wheels: entry level bikes often suffer from uneven spoke tensioning and bad hubs (sealed bearing also require less maintenance - entry level cup and cones may not be sealed properly and need then regular cleaning and greasing). Uneven tensions can also be a reason for creaking noises, but in that case, the problem is not so much "entry-level" vs "upper-level", but rather the care during lacing, that can be less accurate for entry level products.
  • there are also technological options that are available on higher-end bikes, that have different maintenance requirements. Electronic shifting is an example, that require generally less adjustment, but are more complicated to service in case of failure. Tubeless tires are another example, they require more "workshop time" (topping up sealant, cleaning up residues), but are avoiding a good proportion of punctures when riding so may be a net gain. I'd also put hydraulic disc brakes in this category: they are easier to live with (automatic pad wear adjustment, that require manual adjustment on cable-actuated brakes), but if you have a problem, service is more complicated.
  • some high-end components are not designed to be durable, but light and performant. They will require more maintenance if they are less durable (because of the more frequent replacement). They can also be more sensitive to bad adjustments.
  • Entry level parts may also be from materials that wear faster (but not always), but the most durable options are not the most expensive ones. Tiagra and 105 are probably in the sweet spot in terms of maintenance/durability.
  • related to some rattling noise, if the bike has internal routing, it's also possible that an entry level bike will be more basic in terms of "rattling mitigation". For example no foam around hoses that are running inside the frame, which gives a bad impression in terms of rattling, but is not the sign of something going wrong. That kind of problem can also be easily solved.

But as others have pointed out, some of the problems can also be linked to maintenance practices that need to be learnt.

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  • Sorra or 105 bottom brackets? I only know Tiagra (RS500) and then Ultegra and Dura-Ace. Each with a different external diameter. Dec 27, 2023 at 22:31
  • @VladimirFГероямслава by external diameter, you mean the diameter of the cup? That does not mean that the interface with the frame (standard BSA or pressfit) and the interface with the crank spindle are different, just that you need an adapter to assemble them (I'm on my side using XT bottom brackets on an Acera crankset for example) - and when I wrote "available from Sora", I meant the cranksets, not the bottom brackets.
    – Rеnаud
    Dec 27, 2023 at 22:42
  • Of course the interface is the same, the BBs are interchangeable but each requires a different tool. However, if you mean for cranksets, then they have been available for Claris for many years (at the same time for R2000 and R3000, they are almost identical). Dec 28, 2023 at 7:27

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