There’s a creak that’s undiagnos-able: This could be anything from an overlooked loose suspension bolt to a worst-case cracked frame. Also, if you find yourself trying to upgrade a frame and swap
parts over, you will find more compatibility
issues than you ever imagined.
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 hard 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 since you purchased it, 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 closed down or been
acquired have no legal obligation to honor
Basic maintenance, such as a new
shifter cable, no longer works: 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
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 never have and your bike
is a couple 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, and that may be the resale
value of your entire bike.
There are shifting issues when
nothing seems wrong: Everything is
dialed perfectly in the work stand, 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 that’s
on, your frame is probably tweaked.
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 spots and the wheels still aren’t
true, it’s time for new rims or wheels at a
An upgrade is more than the price
of a bike: You can’t polish a garbage
scow. 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. The old
adage “light, strong, cheap—pick two”
is all but dead. If your bike has little or
no suspension and it still weighs over 30
pounds, it’s time to upgrade.
Your bike has a nine-speed
cassette: Nine-speed cassettes were
bulletproof. However, nine-speed cog
technology is from the Bush era, and
parts are very difficult to find. Ride a
drivetrain with a 10-cog cassette and
you’ll never go back. o