What actually wears out on a bike in winter?

Gav888 Posts: 946
edited December 2008 in Road beginners

Sorry bit of an essay here, but does anyone know what actually wears out on a bike at this time of year... will things like chain, wheel bearings, crank bearings, wheels, frame wear out due to the gritted roads??

Ive recently picked up my new pride and joy - a Saracen Tour 3, and im desperate to get out on it but im worried I could do alot of damage as the roads are horrible this time of year. I only plan to ride on the road when its damp or dry, im not a wet weather person unless I get caught out in it!!

Ive been considering getting something 2nd hand for about £100 to use during the winter, but then if its only things like wheel bearings and chain that wear out, surely these are cheaper to replace than buying another bike which will also need looking after, or are there alot more things that would need replacing after a year or 2?

Ive seen another post regarding your winter bike, but nothing specific is mentioned about what actually wears out on a bike.

If I used my bike say 2/3 times a week on damp / dry days, every week for a year and say max 20miles a ride, how long would things like a chain or wheel bearings last? (providing you look after them)

Cheers............. :wink:
Cycling never gets any easier, you just go faster - Greg LeMond


  • cj504
    cj504 Posts: 110
    The only things I've replaced are brake blocks and a chain&cassette in the spring ready for another winter!
    My aksiums have done two winters now (about 5000 miles) with I have to admit no maintenance apart from a clean every so often. They still spin like new and the braking surface is just starting to get on the thin side so I wouldn't worry too much

    Enjoy the crisp, if a bit chilly air :D
    Thresholds, 60-80%, HRM's...I'll just go for a ride
  • meagain
    meagain Posts: 2,331
    Brake blocks, chain, cassette, rings, rims....probably in that order! BUT longevity of most can be significantly increased by regular cleaning (and where appropriate lubricating), especially if ridden in really wet and dirty conditions. Rims for example wear quite quickly if dirt and grit build up.
    Modern wheel bearings don't seem to mind damp. I have doubts about external bearing bottom brackets.
    Oh and remove and grease seat post if out in the rain very often.
    Cleaner the bits are, longer they last!
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    Chain and cassette wear out much faster in winter. Even on a day like today when it has been dry for some time the roads do nt dry out because of the salt on them. This gets sprayed on the bike. The front wheel throws it straight on to the chain. It also gets on the rims, especially the rear one. This mixture acts as a very good grinding paste and wears the rims out as you brake. A rear rim usualy lasts me about 2 winters, the front maybe 3. The extra washing means more chance of water getting in to the hub bearings and freehub. Any salt left for long on alloy parts soon marks the finish, not terminal but does not look good on a nice bike. Regular maintenance will keep these problems to a minimum.
    I do about 2000 to 3000 miles in 'winter' conditions often on roads covered in farm muck and will need to change the chain every year and with a bit of luck the cassette will do 2. Rims as above. My winter bike is a cheap Ribble Winter frame with mostly stuff that has come from my other bikes when they got upgraded. It also has a good set of mudguards and a long flap on the back one to protect whoever is behind me.
    You can use a good bike in winter but expect it to look a bit tired by the end of it.
  • Hi Gav,

    I did exactly the same thing as you last year; bought a really nice new bike just as the weather was getting grotty. I was a bit worried about it getting knackered over the winter but rode it anyway (no brass left over for another bike!) When I took it in for an overhaul in the spring, after having done a fair few miles on crappy Dales roads, nothing needed changing at all. I'm thus a bit sceptical as to the need for a winter bike, especially when you consider that the cheaper components on that are going to wear out anyway, and probably faster than the pricier stuff on your good bike will.

    I'd only get one if I was really keen to keep my 'good' bike in absolute tip-top nick, which I'm not!
  • Gav888
    Gav888 Posts: 946
    Thanks for the advise guys, I didnt have much of an idea of what gets worn out on bikes, but that doesnt sound too bad, I dont mind buying chain etc every couple of years... at present being a newbie I have no idea how many miles a year I will cover, but cassette, brake blocks, chain all come to approx £70 and rims are about £130, if I shop about probably less?

    So I can use my bike for around £200 for the next 2/3 years, possibly longer... not bad considering I was, and still am for now, paying £400 insurance and £45 tax a year, and £30 a month on fuel just to use my motorbike...but it is fun though :wink:

    I think I will be getting out and about and not worry too much, although regular cleaning is in order. Next, cleaning products and winter clothing!!

    I think I read that motorcycle chain spray is good for chains, and general spray grease for the bearings and cables, and car shampoo is better than washing up liquid.... sound about right?

    nasahapley - good to hear, mine is a first road bike costing £400, but for me thats alot, and I want to look after it. Im sure people on here spend more than that just for there winter bike, and ALOT more for the summer special.
    Cycling never gets any easier, you just go faster - Greg LeMond
  • A useful thread this - I'm in the same boat Gav888, just bought a new bike and keen to ride. Think I'm just going to avoid those days when there's loads of surface water or just following a gritting. A quick rinse down afterwards should help.

    I've ridden my MTB through rain/grit soaked roads though and haven't noticed any significant damage in the last 4-5 years...I wouldn't think the components are are more hardy, but could br wrong?!
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I too got my first road bike in September. I knew I could only afford one bike so I made sure it would take full mudguards (Racelight TK) First few rides were in glorious sunshine, but then the weather went downhill rapidly. Nearly every weekend we've had gale force winds, copious rain, sub-zero temperatures or combinations of all three, but I've kept on riding and enjoyed it. (I do avoid it when the roads are actually icy)
    Bought some decent lights so I could go out in the evenings and take advantage of any weather window; after 7pm the wind drops and most of the commuters have found their way home so it's quite enjoyable and I feel safer than I do in daylight. Biggest danger on the Suffolk lanes I ride is a pheasant or a muntjac going through the front wheel.

    I give the bike an occasional wash when I've been out on damp roads after the gritters, and keep the rims free of that grinding paste someone's already mentioned. I also wipe down and relube the chain after a wet ride.

    My mtb survived 10 years of sporadic on / off road use with minimal maintenance and only a change of tyres, brake blocks, and one duff shifter, and is now being used by my son at university. I'm assuming the road bike will be similarly long-lived. I don't think they are as fragile as some people make out.
  • timpop
    timpop Posts: 394
    All I can say is to keep your bike as clean as possible, give the chain and cassette a good scrub when you get the chance. If your bike is clean and clear from grit etc it'll last ages and roll a lot better. Lots of good advice above. Have fun out there.
    Many happy trails!
  • 6288
    6288 Posts: 131
    what wears out ,,, warm water and hard work ...

    i've ridden all my bikes over winter and all have survived no probs ... but then i keep my road bike in the house so it needs to be spotless before i can bring it in ... it's a good motivator to keep it clean ... especially rims and tyres which you can easily not boher to give a 'quick wipe' ...

    saying that i have a badboy for winter riding ... but thats only cos i live in scotland and ice and 23mm tyres don't mix too well ...
  • Gav888
    Gav888 Posts: 946
    edited December 2008
    Thanks again guys, loads of good advise.

    keef66 I will keep an eye out for the pheasants, but no idea what a muntjac is? As long as its not something that will chase you down the road im fine!! :wink:

    Just thinking.... i know, its becoming a habit!! :P after a ride on damp roads, the frame etc is a bit grubby from the roads, would a quick rince down with plain water be ok to clear it of, or does this stuff stick firmer and a sponge a soap is required?

    Also, would one of those squirty bottles used to spray plants be ok, or a proper hose down?
    Cycling never gets any easier, you just go faster - Greg LeMond
  • Mucoff (or similar), a bike cleaning spray is good. Spray it on, then rinse off 30 secs later.
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Muntjac are the little deer you sometimes hear barking in the woods. One sprinted alongside me for a few yards a while ago; fortunately it decided to turn left and back through the hedge rather than right and into my spokes.

    Our border collie wasn't so lucky; she cornered one and got gored as it put it's head down and charged to escape. Blood everywhere, 2 days at the vets, stitches like Herman Munster's head, £850 bill fortunately covered by insurance.

    Back on topic, every couple of weeks in the winter I use a bucket of soapy (car shampoo) water & soft brush to clean frame and wheels / tyres, then gently rinse off with hose and dry as best I can. Wipe down the chain with a dry cloth and relube.

    Chain gets a wipe / lube after any wet ride.

    Read some threads about Muc-Off spoiling some finishes.

    Some people use car wax or Mr Sheen on the paintwork for a shiny, dirt repellant finish.
  • To get more wear from your cassette which are quite expensive have say 2-4 chains which you swap over regularly,say 1000 miles.They then all wear together and there is no meshing problem with the cassette.So alot more life from the components and in the long term less money!
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    keef. You must have clean roads. My bike needs cleaning after each ride at the moment. A month ago I could get away with every 2 on average. It will be 1 or 2 from now till mid March.
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    John T. Not really, I'm just a lazy bugger. Not helped by the fact that I live on a hill and feel obliged to sprint the last half mile uphill, so when I get off the bike I can barely walk and unconsciousness seems more appealing than bike washing.
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    Most of us feel like that. I did not say my bike got cleaned that often, only that it needed it. Hence some things get a bit tatty looking.
  • Steve I
    Steve I Posts: 428
    At this time of year, I find cleaning a bike grimmer than actually riding it. It's well worth neglecting it for a few months and fitting a new chain and cassette in the spring.
  • snakehips
    snakehips Posts: 2,272
    If you have a Christmas break from cycling it's definitely worth checking the chain before you start again. A couple of years ago my chain broke 50yds from my house on my first ride in January. I got deposited on the ground , just missing some frozen festive vomit that somebody had left there for me.

    'Follow Me' the wise man said, but he walked behind!
  • rhext
    rhext Posts: 1,639
    One word of caution: watch out for salt on dry roads. It quickly gets ground to dust which will settle on the bike. If you then leave the bike without cleaning it, the salt will attract water and start eating exposed metal. Then before you know it you've got a bright orange drive-train. If you're not bothered about the bike staying pristine, and you use it every day, you can get away without cleaning it every ride. But if you've been out on salty roads, even dry ones, don't leave the bike for more than a day or two without washing it. The 'grinding paste' isn't just abrasive, it's corrosive too!
  • vorsprung
    vorsprung Posts: 1,953
    The saracen tour 3 is a bottom of the range road bike with mostly Sora drivetrain and shimano wheels.

    If you ride it in the winter and wash it, and clean the drivetrain it will be fine. If you do destroy a derailluer/chain/cassette, well no big deal they are cheap as chips

    One other weak(ish) point that hasn't been mentioned is the freehub. This is the part of the back wheel that controls the freewheeling when you are not pedalling. They aren't difficult to maintain but you do need special tools (thin cone spanners, splined cassette remover, chain whip and 10mm allen key) and might need a packet of ball bearings.

    The reason people have a winter bike is that their posh bike's cassette/chain/brake blocks probably cost more than a saracen tour 3, complete.

    Me? I have a single speed I ride all year round when I know it will be crap weather. And a nice bike I ride when I hope it isn't going to be crap weather.
  • oldgit
    oldgit Posts: 29
    Gav888 wrote:
    ...I think I read that motorcycle chain spray is good for chains, and general spray grease for the bearings and cables, and car shampoo is better than washing up liquid.... sound about right?

    I wouldn't use motorcycle chain spray. It's designed to not be flung off by naughty biker boys hooning about way too fast - you know who you are. They are far too sticky for a bicycle chain, and would attract cr*p like a magnet.

    Washing up liquid is bad (as in bad, and not as in good) as it contains salt and wetting agents - neither of which you want near your pride and joy. Car shampoo, Muc-Off etc don't. Which is bad (as in good, and not as in bad) :D
  • e999sam
    e999sam Posts: 426
    After a return to cycling after a 15 year break I'm surprised at how quickly brake blocks wear out and how expensive they are. I've got through 3 sets in the last year on my training bike.
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    Get Koolstop Salmon blocks. The ones in my winter bike are in their second winter and still have plenty left. The set in my summer one have been in since 2003. They are kind to rims as well. They do not seem to pick up alloy debris. Not the cheapest but worth it in terms of performance and long life.
  • e999sam
    e999sam Posts: 426
    John.T wrote:
    Get Koolstop Salmon blocks. The ones in my winter bike are in their second winter and still have plenty left. The set in my summer one have been in since 2003. They are kind to rims as well. They do not seem to pick up alloy debris. Not the cheapest but worth it in terms of performance and long life.
    I'll try them next time I change they don't seem any more expensive than the std ones.
  • BigLee1
    BigLee1 Posts: 449
    Don`t use motorbike chain lube, as said before it`s too sticky! Use a dedicated bike lube, even gt85 little and often on your chain if it`s raining. Cheap enough to keep a can at work if you like.
    BTW my motorbike is shaft drive :D (12GS)
  • pneumatic
    pneumatic Posts: 1,989
    I get worn out on my bike in Winter. Somehow, it is just a whole lot less fun. :(

    Fast and Bulbous
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)