Is Your Bike Holding You Back?

20 reasons you need a new bike

There’s a friend of the Mountain Bike Action wrecking crew that we reluctantly invite on our rides. He’s tremendously talented, riding wheelies down sections of trail that inspire fear in the hearts of others. He’s also fun to be around, on or off the bike. The problem? He rides this hard on a 15-year-old hardtail that’s never seen any maintenance.

Rides with him have been cut short by everything from broken chains, bent handlebars, sheared derailleurs and taco-ed wheels to cracked frames. We’re all for getting the usable life out of our components, but riding blown- out parts simply isn’t fun. Mountain biking is a gear-intensive sport. If you’ve neglected your equipment long enough, it might be easier to start fresh. Here are 20 situations where a new bike might make sense.

Put it out to pasture: This Manitou dual-suspension bike, while revolutionary for it’s
time, is
now more apt to be used for grocery-store runs than slaying trails. 

The bike shop has a nickname for your bike, such as “The Nightmare”:

We actually had a bike with this nick- name. It’s been retired. If there’s so much wrong with your ride that the shop mechanics run when they see you walk in the door, it’s time for an upgrade.

You still have a 1-inch head tube:

The steerer tube standard has been 1 1/8 inches for years, and now the tapered style (1 1/8 to 1 1/2 inches) is all the rage. If your bike was designed to accept a 1-inch steerer, your operat- ing system is no longer supported. No, you can’t retrofit a 1-inch steerer tube into a current fork. It’s a one-time press fit. Save the phone call to the fork manufacturer; get a new bike and enjoy your old one as a townie.

Your chain has never been replaced: 

Drivetrain parts wear together. We’ve explained how a chain can wear a different spacing into the rings and cassette. When this happens,throwing a new chain on will cause more skipping woes. Also, if that’s the case, we’re willing to bet the derailleurs, shifters, cranks and bottom bracket have seen better days too.

Your bike’s components are on display in a mountain bike museum: 

Most companies will keep service parts on hand for five or so years after they stop making a product. If it’s past that point, it’s probably not worth shopping the endless eBay jungle to restore your dinosaur.

There’s a creak that’s undiagnosable:

 This could be anything from an overlooked loose suspension bolt to a cracked frame. Also, if you find yourself trying to upgrade a frame and swap parts over, you will find more compatibility issues than you can imagine.

Your bike was owned by a former pro racer: 

It’s a cool story to tell at the trailhead, but if Aaron Gwin owned your bike first, he probably rode it hard. Racers at any level are notorious for being tough on equipment. Expect parts on these bikes to have a shortened lifespan.

You’re thinking of a new paint job:

Painting a bike is difficult, and repainting a bike is way more difficult. Drop the notion that you can just take your parts off and run your bike down to Maaco for a fresh look. It’s not worth it.

You think you can upgrade to disc brakes: 

So you want disc brakes, but you need new wheels to do it. If you’re getting new wheels, you might as well get the thru-axle versions. You’re going to need a new frame and fork to support those, though. Go for a new bike instead.

The company you bought your last bike from no longer exists:

 Enjoy your bike while it lasts, but if your bike’s manufacturer has been acquired or reorganized, you can expect a serious headache when trying to track down service parts. Also, you can all but toss your warranty out the window. Companies that have gone down or been acquired have no legal obligation to honor your warranty.

Basic maintenance, such as a new shifter cable, no longer helps: 

A new shifter cable should fix most shifting woes. If it doesn’t, your drivetrain could be shot. You’ll need derailleurs, a cassette and chain.

It’s been crashed more times than Josh Bender’s bikes: 

You’ve seen the footage. If you’re a crasher, you’ll have to replace your bike more often.

Your fork has never been serviced:

Forks need to be serviced every season at a minimum. If you have never had yours worked on and your bike is a couple of years old, chances are you’ve done some internal damage. Bushing wear is the most common damage, and because stanchions are fit to the crown with a one-time press fit, it will mean replacement of the crown-steerer-stanchion assembly. It’s an expensive repair, usually about half the cost of the fork, which may be the resale value of your entire bike.

There are shifting issues when nothing seems wrong: 

Everything is dialed perfectly in the workstand, but as soon as you put the power down, pop! This could be a worn drivetrain or freehub. Either way, it’s costly.

Your frame is out of alignment:

Take a look at the rear-wheel spacing. If it’s off to one side, check the wheel dish; if it’s on, your frame is probably tweaked.

“You can’t take her house, she’s too old”:
The Fox Alps 4 shock was top of the line. It was spec’ed on bikes like the Trek Y-frame and the Cannondale Raven. Today it’s almost impossible to find service parts for it. 

Your geometry is from another era: 

New-school geometry is more fun to ride. Narrow bars and super- steep geometry are a thing of the past.

You can’t true your wheels anymore: 

If your spoke tension is maxed in a couple of spots and the wheels still aren’t true, it’s time for new rims or wheels at a minimum.

An upgrade is more than the price of your bike: 

Throwing a shiny new $1000 fork on a bike from the ’90s just doesn’t make sense. You’re better off getting new technology across the board.

Your bike weighs more than a downhill bike of today: 

We’ve seen downhill bikes at under 30 pounds. Lighter bikes are more fun to ride. If your bike has little or no suspension and it still weighs over 30 pounds, it’s time to upgrade.

Your bike has an eight-cog cassette:

Eight-cog cassettes were bulletproof. They were far more durable and less finicky than the first-generation nine-speed systems. However, eight-cog technology is from the Clinton era, and parts are very difficult to find. Ride a drive- train with a 10-cog cassette and you’ll never go back.

You want a new bike: 

Because “New Bike Day” is the best day of the year.