Thursday, August 27, 2009


I finally got around to fixing my bike ahead of the Norcross Scurry on Saturday and in the process I was thinking about the weirdness of parts on bikes that are disposable. I was replacing the rear derailleur and chain. Isn't it weird that what is a bicycle's drive shaft breaks with such frequency? On my mountain bikes, it seems to be about once per year or so that I replace a chain. If drive shafts on cars with that frequency, there'd be incredible number of cars broken down on the side of road. Same thing with tubes: if cars got flat tires as frequently as bikes, there'd be dead cars littering the sides of roads everywhere.

To that end, I wonder (because I'm ignorant) about motorcycles. They're to some extent big bikes with motors, do they break down as much as bikes?

I suppose cars do have mechanical problems fairly regularly, but the problems aren't as inhibiting to movement as they are on bikes. Well, mostly I'm wondering if chain drive motorcycles break chains very often. There's a lot more torque on those chains than on bikes.

Further, why do so many bike parts seem so much more disposable than parts on other modes of transportation. Are bikes just built to break down?


Anonymous said...

I used to commute on a 1970 Triumph in the mid 90's, and its breakdowns were more a matter of small parts cracking from vibration. A motorcycle chain failure could be catastrophic. Many motorcycles come with belt drives these days. Drive belts are starting to show up on some internally-geared hub bikes and I really want one. I especially want one every time I ride in the snow and crud up my drivetrain with snow and salt and gravel. The Trek Soho is my leading belt-driven bike crush:
I don't think I'll have the spare change for that one anytime soon.
There have also been shaft-driven bikes available for the past century or so:
I'm fond of this concept as well, as it reminds me of the shaft-driven motorcycle I bought after selling the aforementioned Triumph.

Anonymous said...

The constant need for minor adjustments too. My two day old Xootr Swift, lightly ridden, has suddenly developed mysterious intermittent brake pad rubbing. Perhaps just clumsy folding on my part. Easy adjustment I assume, but the last thing I want to fool with at the end of a long day.

And since I plan to ride through the winter, yeah, I'm not looking forward to all the cleaning.

Logically, probably not a sensible investment of time and money for me, but hell, maybe it'll save me from catching swine flu on my commute.