A bicycle, depending on the production quality, amount of wear and tear, care, and regular maintenance, can last from 4 years up to a whopping 40 years.
You may be surprised to hear about a 20-year-old bicycle remaining in good health. But it will blow your mind to learn how long do bikes last.
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Everything You Need to Know About a Bicycle’s Lifespan
There is no such thing as bikes for life. But a regular bicycle life isn’t as simple as having an expiration date or a best-before date.
There are a lot of different factors that decide a bicycle’s lifespan, and you must first understand what bike you have OR what bicycle you plan on having.
1. Types of Bikes
Currently, we have many types of bicycles that can be categorized according to their design or the activity they are used for. Listed below are some of the most common types that can be found even in your local cycle store:
- Road Bike – They are usually lightweight bicycles that are meant for road or gravel-type paths. Bikers avoid using road bikes on unpaved trails due to their Approx. Lifespan: 5-10 years
- Mountain Bikes (MTB) – These bikes are built to withstand harsh terrains for a smoother off-road trip in comparison to regular bicycles. They also have subtypes for different activities, such as Cross Country Bikes, Trail Bikes, and more. Approx. Lifespan: over 20 years
- Folding Bike – Perfect for traveling and leisure riding, these two-wheelers are literally foldable into a more compact frame that can be stored and reassembled easily. Approx. Lifespan: 15-20 years
- Hybrid Bike – Hybrids combine features of different bike types, so they have a mix of almost everything. These are perfect for leisure town rides and some casual off-road adventure. Approx. Lifespan: up to 5 years or more
- BMX – These small framed two-wheelers are commonly used by bikers who love to do neat tricks and short dirt races. Approx. Lifespan: 2-6 years
- Fixies / Single Gear Bikes – As the name implies, these vehicles only have a single fixed gear, so the back wheel should move the same way the pedal does, be it backward or forward. Approx. Lifespan: up to 5 years or more
- Electric Bike – Powered by electricity, electric bikes provide you with power and support, especially on uphill climbs for faster travel time. Approx. Lifespan: 3-5 years
- Tandem Bikes – Unique bicycle design that can accommodate 2 or more people. These bikes can be used by fit people, those with disabilities, and even kids and old people. Approx. Lifespan: 10 years
- Touring Bike – One of the tough bicycles that can carry heavy loads. These are designed with multiple attachment points, so you can pack your baggage securely either at the front or at the back. Approx. Lifespan: up to 5 years to a lifetime
- Fat Bike – Created to tread on snowy, muddy, and rocky terrains with maximum stability. The fat bike has actual fat wheels that can ride past obstacles easily. Approx. Lifespan of Fat Tires: 2,500 miles – 3,000 miles
Bicycle parts also have their own life expectancy that can be determined through mileage (or even in meters). Check out the approximations below:
|Bike Chain||1,500 – 2,000 miles|
|Bike Cassette||3,000 – 5,000 miles|
|Wheels/Tires||3,000 – 6,000 miles|
|Brake Pads (based on wet or dry condition)||500 – 7,500 miles|
|Belt Drive||20,000+ miles|
|Spokes||186,400 miles, maybe forever in quality wheels|
|Aluminum Handlebar||18,600 miles|
|Aluminum Crankset||Same as handlebar|
3. Bicycle Frames
Bike frames can sustain hundreds of thousands of impacts per season before breaking. If the manufacturing and materials are top-notch, the only thing that will wear them out is abuse.
Types of bicycle frames and their life expectancy:
- Carbon Fiber Frames
Carbon fiber is a super strong material that doesn’t bend or break easily but is proven to be lightweight, which is why it is very popular among cyclists.
The expected life of a carbon fiber frame is up for debate, since you can use it for as long as possible. However, it is recommended to change your carbon frame after 6-7 years of usage.
Did you know: Apart from carbon fiber frame, carbon wheels are also popular with cyclists who crave lightweight yet aerodynamic wheel materials.
- Aluminum Bike Frames
Aluminum is one of the lightweight materials out there, but it is also prone to cracks and tears. The expected lifespan of aluminum bikes is at least 5-10 years. Depending on other factors, these frames can either wear down faster or last longer than usual.
- Steel Bike Frames
Similar to aluminum frames, steel bikes can last you for up to 10 years or even longer. Steel is the second strongest metal; thus, roughhousing is fine as long as the frame receives regular maintenance.
What Factors Affect the Lifespan of a Bicycle?
The lifespan of a bicycle not only relies on your bike’s quality but also on several outside factors, including how often it gets used and how well it is maintained. See the details below.
#1 Manufacturer & Care
One of the biggest factors affecting the lifespan of a bicycle is its budget. A high-quality bike can last for many years if it is properly maintained. Meanwhile, a cheap bicycle with flimsy materials will need replacement quickly.
In addition, if your bike gets damaged frequently or you neglect to clean it regularly, parts may wear out quickly or break altogether, leading to a shorter life.
#2 Travel distance and path
How many miles do you usually ride? What are your average kms? Or do you only travel once in a while for fun?
If your bike is new and you use it to travel long distances daily, then the average lifespan can be up to 4 years. If used for short distances, then the vehicle could go for as long as 30 years.
#3 Overall damage from wear and tear.
Rocks, dirt, and grime can damage your bicycle, especially if not handled and dealt with quickly.
If your bike has no cracks or broken parts, it will probably last for many years. However, if your bike was used for racing and was exposed to harsh weather conditions, the frame may deteriorate faster than normal.
When is a Bicycle Considered Vintage?
Whether a bike is vintage depends on how many years ago it was manufactured. A bike that is at least 25 years old or more, but not less than 20, can be considered vintage. If the bike is 100 years of age, then it is antique.
The average lifespan of a Harley Davidson may be indeterminable, but if you have a 1917 or 1922 model from the brand, it would be vintage.
How Can I Make My Bicycle Last Longer?
The way you care for your bike is a key factor in its lifespan. If you want to keep your investment in good condition for longer, then regular check-ups and minor repairs are necessary.
Try keeping in mind the following:
- Regular cleaning
- Component maintenance
- Lubrication and greasing
- Regular chain inspection
- Safe storage
What Is High Mileage For A Bicycle?
When we say high mileage, we mean an above-average distance for a vehicle. For a two-wheeler, the high mileage is about 10,000 miles and above.
Why Cheap Bikes Don’t Last As Long
Cheap bikes are generally made from inferior materials and with less care, which means they will wear out much sooner than a good quality bike.
Why? Inexpensive materials and technology are more likely to get damaged in crashes.
In other words, you get what you pay for.
How Often Should I Replace My Bike?
The average lifespan bike can offer will heavily depend on your care and maintenance. But the great news is that as long as your frame and fork do not suffer from any serious damage, you can still repair them for future use. No need for replacement!
You already know how long bike frames last from the information we shared above. As for forks, expect quality carbon types to last 50,000 cycles under 170 pounds of load. Metal forks will deteriorate a bit quicker.
Do bikes have a lifetime warranty?
Most bikes are covered by a standard manufacturer’s warranty. A typical warranty is 1- 5 years, but the coverage depends on the bike maker and how their policies work.
If you find a good store, some of them can offer a lifetime warranty, BUT it applies only to certain parts such as the frame and fork. For instance, Trek Bikes offers a lifetime warranty on their frame sets.
For cyclists and bike enthusiasts, life on a bicycle is very important to them.
If you take care of your vehicle, it will probably last you until you’re ready to trade it in for a new one.
No matter what level of cyclist you consider yourself to be, understanding how long does a bicycle last can set your expectations when purchasing one.
“I ride my bike to work for years, but is that enough? Our carelessness towards our surroundings has taken a toll on the environment. And now, everyone is responsible for changes; even the most minor contribution is counted. With this hope and spirit, I started with my partner to establish Biketoworkday to help more individuals commute to their work sites on their bikes.”